At my maternal grandparents’ pub, there were many rules, but my grandfather introduced an air of unpredictability to the place. He was a born entertainer. A natural musician, he played the mouth organ and the banjo for customers, while my grandmother, between trips to the kitchen, looked on admiringly.

Mitya and I got on very well from the start; so much so, that he invited me back to talk more about TV – which would, of course, involve more drinking. We both enjoyed red wine, lots of it, and Mitya had the cash to pay a couple of hundred euros a bottle for it. Who was I to turn it down? I returned for another three weeks when, between bottles, Mitya tried to make sense of what was, to him, the nonsensical workings of British TV; but there was excitement in the air, as one of the ex-talent show producers was due to start work on a new “secret” show, and talk of other ideas was filling people with optimism. Or would have done, had Mitya known the first thing about TV

Last night, she took a severe turn for the worse. She was struggling badly with her breathing and spent most of the night in the corner of the room, scratching the carpet. She is in great distress, panting non-stop, and I know what I have to do. 100%. Mum has trusted me to make the right decision. I’m spending a few hours with Maddie this afternoon before her visit to the vet at 6pm. I have no idea how to say goodbye.

This will go down as the year in which I discovered the extent of friendship. During my most difficult times, Facebook has been a godsend. I have been overwhelmed, moved beyond belief and genuinely surprised by people’s kindness: old and new friends, complete strangers, all expressing genuine concern and, regularly, offering practical help and support.

But here’s the thing: I really, really enjoyed it. I spend my life in front of a TV or computer screen and don’t get to talk to that many people during my working day. It was great to meet so many different folk and to see them having fun on what proved to be a very successful night. I’ve never been called “love” so many times in one day, and I enjoyed that, too (but don’t try it when I’m on the other side of the bar or you’ll get a smack in the gob).

I just don’t believe that we rise from the dead. I don’t even want to. It’s a nice comforting through to help humans deal with the fact that our breathing stops (all religions have their version of this), but that doesn’t make it true. I feel joyous in the knowledge that we pass things on while we are living, so many things that influence the lives of future generations; that, to me, is everlasting life, and I take immense pleasure in its simplicity. And, to be honest, there aren’t many people I ever want to see again; I’m done with most of you already.

Christmas is a very stressful time for people with phobias. It’s a dreadful time for people born in the festive season for example, if they suffer from Fragapanophobia (fear of birthdays); and for anyone thinking of substituting turkey for duck, spare a thought for anyone coming to dinner who might be suffering from Anatidaephobia, which is a fear that one is being watched by a duck.