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“Oh God,” I said under my breath as my wife, my daughter and (the shame of it) my son all bounced around the room boisterously. I held my head in my hands. What was the cause of the excitement?

Was it because it was my birthday? It was my birthday but, no, that wasn’t the reason.

Was it because Leicester City had just won and were sitting pretty in third place in the championship? No.

Was it because we were having jacket potatoes for dinner? No

The sickly, yet addictive theme tune presaged my misery: Ta, ta ,ta, ta, ta, ta, taaah, ta, ta, ta ta , ta!

In my household it isn’t the flight of the swifts or the closing in of the nights that heralds the coming of autumn. It’s that infernal  pantomime that half the nation seems to adore and the other half hates. Strictly Come Dancing is back on TV.

Up until now, it has been a pretty even split. My wife raves about it and I ignore it. She assiduously watches every episode with a lobotomised grin on her face and I grumpily read the newspaper and make myself scarce. However, this year it’s different. My five year old son has started showing an interest. Can I interest him in sport? No. The names Quisling, Brutus and even Judas spring to mind.

However, it’s much worse than that. My three year old daughter has decided that she is going to be a ballerina.  Every Friday afternoon, she now attends ballet and tap classes with Miss Hannah and Miss Holly. My wife was on a course this Friday and so I had the privilege of watching ten three and four year olds flounce, prance and trip their way around a church hall for an hour. Despite my affected blokey scepticism, I found it simply delightful. My little girl is developing her own interests and tastes completely independent of her parents (indeed, quite how she is such a girly girl is beyond both of us). She’s becoming her own little person and loving every minute of it.

So, as I harrumphed my way around the lounge watching my manic family moronically dancing to the Strictly music I couldn’t help but break out into a smile. Just don’t tell anyone that I did…


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