My other half went to an antiques fair in Bolton between Christmas and New Year with a pal and they decided to have a halfway break. ‘What are your breakfast sandwich choices?’ asked the OH. ‘Bacon or sausage,’ said the café waitress. ‘Do you cater for vegetarians?’ he asked then. ‘Do we ‘eck’ she replied. They don’t take any prisoners those Lancastrians do they?

It was fascinating to read the piece in last week’s Chron about Raymond Pearson (not Jepson as reported) who received his ‘nuclear test medal’ – after volunteering to take part in testing in Australia in 1957. He stood within 5 miles of the blasts going off, which is basically a stone’s throw for explosions so huge. At the time it must have seemed like a lark because Raymond got a trip around the world for his troubles and I imagine he didn’t think it would be that dangerous, or at least none of the volunteers did.

The medics obviously thought differently as one of them said to them, ‘You lads shouldn’t be out here because by the time you’re 40, you’ll all be dead by radiation’. Raymond is now 86 and I think he’s been lucky and the survivor’s badge that he also received should have been made of solid gold. Many of Raymond’s colleagues didn’t fare so well and are obviously suffering the long-term effects of radiation, at least the ones still around are. They were little better than human guinea pigs. But Raymond is obviously made of Teflon. They should be testing him now for his indestructibility gene.

I don’t mind telling you my December was beyond crap. I thought I would be able to compartmentalise, but the spectre of my mum’s funeral was a dark cloud hanging over Christmas.

Throw in a houseful of testosterone, pressure and grieving and it made the worst cocktail you could think of. Losing one parent does not really equip you for losing the second because then you are really facing the end of an era. And just to add some more cack to the pile, my beloved godmother died the day before mum’s funeral. Ironically she died more or less the same number of days after mum that my godfather died after my father four years ago. I just hope they have found each other because Hogmanay would have been a good one for them all reunited, four wonderful people.

You don’t get over losing your parents, you just learn to reside alongside the boulder inside you that is formed from the pain and in time it will lose its sharp edges and will throb less often. I was dreading the funeral, but being able to give mum the send off she deserved was truly cathartic.

It was beautiful, from the poignancy of the piper, to the perfect flowers from Fabulous Flowers in Athersley. From the sensitive service delivered by the wonderful celebrant Sue Miller to Hammerton’s who stopped all my nattering by telling me ‘We do all the worrying about putting it all together so you don’t have to’ and they made it a truly special stress-free goodbye. Thank you to her old friends who turned out on a dreadful day, some not well themselves, to pay their respects.

Thank you to my old school friends who remembered mum from old and came – how touched I was. And thank you for the donations which totalled £410 and have been duly delivered to BIADS. I am deeply indebted to you and I feel now as if I can take a step out of my grief and face this new year.