TURNS out it wasn’t the butler after all.

Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d played to a packed audience on its final night. With the usual red herrings, twists, turns and distractions to keep us confused, enthralled and entertained and a fair sprinkling of humour, pathos and poignancy for good measure.

Just what I needed after a busy week at work and some ill-planned dashing around the country to meet friends, watch my son play in a concert and attend business meetings. The play was perfectly balanced; enough to keep me happily engaged, but not too taxing.

“… Satisfyingly soothing…” a friend of mine said. “I always read her books when I’m in bed feeling ill.” Emotional cocoa.

We all need to find ways to relax, recover and recharge our batteries. It was the butler that did it; together with the rest of the cast; a live performance relaxes and distracts like nothing else.

Learning to manage stress is a key life skill, conspicuously absent from the National Curriculum. As a school governor, I would rather contend that our National Curriculum, school testing and exam regime helps children cope with stress in the same way that throwing them in at the deep end will teach them to swim. Some will thrive; most will cough, splutter and struggle; many will go under.

Stress is something we all have to cope with in life. Separation, being dumped by a boy or girl friend, failing to get that job, not passing a test or exam, being fired, dealing with sickness, death and bereavement, failing to live up to the expectations of others, or the disappointment of being let down; all are a part of life. Not to mention stress and pressure at work which, for an increasing number of people, is becoming overwhelming.

The difficulty many young people have transitioning from childhood through adolescence to adult life may be due in some part to their parents’ best intentions to shield them from life’s difficulties and problems. The instinct to protect and support needs to be tempered by painfully standing back and watching them learn to cope with stress and pressure as it unfolds in their lives. Some things can’t be made better; some things you have to face and can’t run away from; stress is something we need to learn to live with.

You have to make sure that you know how to care for yourself, how to take ‘time out’ and refresh and restore yourself. And you also owe it to those around you and those whose lives you shape and guide, to help and teach them to do the same. Probably one of the most important things that you can ever do for them.