Another weekend in the Smoke, another birthday surprise, this time from my old dance partner, Ian. We were treated to matinee tickets for Once, a new musical recently imported from across the Pond. I’d never heard of it but since we’re living in the sticks with our fingers off the pulse, this will surprise no-one. When we realised the set was based around a Dublin bar, we were immediately hooked. By the end of the performance, we were on our feet (as was everyone else). I’m a sucker for a love story and Once ladles it on with a trowel. Cue the brooding young busker with a broken heart and the sassy Czech lass with a quick tongue and a dodgy Hoover (don’t ask). Boy meets girl supported by a catholic cast of Celts and Slavs. Everyone sings, everyone dances and everyone fiddles, strums, beats and blows: the ensemble is the chorus and the orchestra, all wrapped up in an emerald green bow and a Bohemian flourish. Funny, touching and tender, we wept in the aisles. ‘Twas a love story to gladden this old cynic’s heart.