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This evening I saw the English Ballet perform The Nutcracker. I was, probably needless to say, a little saddened to be going without my other half, although the mix of couples and female only groups seemed about even.

It was a truly beautiful performance and Roberta Marquez as the Sugar Plum Fairy was breathtaking. Being softer on the inside than might sometimes be apparent, I am often tempted to cry on these occasions, but tonight I seriously smudged my makeup during the Pas de Deux; a deliciously painful moment of playing the lead in my own tragedy, to a score by Tchaikovsky.

Watching La Marquez take her applause, I thought of how in our everyday lives we lose the gift of graciousness. It is so easy to be short-tempered, brusque, even rude when we are busy, under pressure and taking each other for granted. I know that I have done this often enough. How would our relationship stand now if I had tried harder to be kind, generous and loving?

Ms Marquez was so much the glorious prima donna and yet always gracious to her prince; all a beautiful act, I know, but it made me want to weep again for my own shortcomings.

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