I think that so far, this is my favourite picture taken with my brand new Canon digital camera Mr B gave me for Christmas. I took it from my bedroom window yesterday thinking about what was probably the most difficult writing assignment I have ever been given in my life. I know I have written a lot of rubbish. Usually I haven’t cared – they were for the confession market and the cliched situations and cheesy dialogue were almost de rigeur. All I cared about was that the story was entertaining and that I’d get paid. But this was different. My brother asked me if I could write something for Fran’s funeral on the 14th, to be read out by her friend Leslie. My mind was churning all day and I never felt more not up to a task. Even knowing Fran as little as I did, she’d made a great impression on me, but what could I say? What wouldn’t sound over sentimental, how could I sum up the kind of woman she was? I thought about it as I cooked and reorganized the house post-Christmas and watched these little birds fluttering around. I looked at Fran’s Face Book wall, which has filled up with tributes and memories since her death. So many friends have posted funny pictures of her, so many have written of her passion and commitment to her work, her great love for her son, my nephew Fin, and the caring side of her that always had time for listening. I called my Mum and her memory of her last day with Fran came spilling out, a day together in early December, Fran buying her a little box for Christmas. And in the evening I wrote a short poem and sent it to my brother, and this morning he wrote back saying he thought it was wonderful and Leslie would read it out on the 14th. That’s next Monday. Everyone who loved her will say goodbye to Fran, not in mourning clothes and singing sad hymns, but in bright colours and with happy memories, the celebration she wanted rather than a misery-fest, although I know there will be tears.