In 1990, during a trip to the United States, I took my son, then aged eight, to visit Washington DC. We peered through the railings of the White House, where at the time, to the best of my knowledge, Bill Clinton was not having sex with an intern in the Oval Office; we gazed up at the Lincoln Memorial, where hope and rectitude prevail; and we paused to salute the statue of Churchill outside the residence of the British ambassador on Massachusetts Avenue.

We also visited the Capitol Building, home of the United States Congress, which at the time could be accessed by the simple expedient of walking up the front steps, and carried on in the direction of Statuary Hall. At one point, having exited the Small Rotunda (not to be confused with the Great Rotunda), we walked along a corridor, through a set of open doors and found ourselves on the floor of the Senate, where a debate was going on.

It took me a moment or two to realise where we were, at the conclusion of which a silver-haired Senator looked round and motioned to us to leave. “You’re not supposed to be here,” he whispered.