They came on stage together: Barack, Michelle and the two girls (look how they’ve grown). For a couple of minutes all four of them basked in the applause of the crowd. The children touching their father now and again: hand, arm, shoulder. Partly passing on to him the goodwill of the American people: this is for you, Father. Partly to claim ownership: let the People know this is my Daddy. The President, also and for the last time President-Elect (second time round the same, cropped hairstyle seems less black, now it’s shaded grey), knew exactly when his wife and children should leave the stage: having lingered long enough not to appear curt or arrogant; appreciating the adulation without milking it. Only George Burns’ timing was ever better. Now the slight touches came from him to them: fleeting hugs and they’re away, back to the Presidential apartments in the White House; no need to pack away childish things any time soon. Barack had signalled for his family to leave the stage without hesitation or any sign of a second thought. His parting gestures were affectionate but brisk, unconcerned. However, as he turned to speak to the crowd in front of him, and behind them the millions watching on TV, his face froze for a moment. In that moment, it looked as if he was having to hold his mouth in place between his chin and his cheeks. Preventing the lower half of his head from collapsing into a Fright Night fantasy, but only by an act of will. Four more years in the public gaze stretched out in front of Barack Obama like the life of Dorian Gray. So many half-truths and not-quite betrayals: don’t they amount to their own kind of debauchery? But then he composed himself, broke into a rueful smile (behold the private man for public consumption), and began his second term.