It’s only natural, with Christmas approaching and a new year on the horizon that we all think about the year that has gone by. I will be glad to see the back of 2012. It has been without doubt the worst year of my life. I think 2005 is the only year which could compete with 2012 for twelve months of unalloyed personal misery. I failed to win the North Norfolk seat at the election by a massive 10,600 votes after a campaign which nearly bankrupted me, and then I spent six months working on the failed David Davis Tory leadership campaign. I was glad to see the back of 2005. Seven years on I have the same feeling about 2012. Funnily enough, I have never been more financially solvent, I do a job I thoroughly enjoy, and I had the privilege of attending Super Saturday at the Olympics where I witnessed Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford win gold for Britain. But all that cannot mask the fact that 2012 will always be the year that I lost my mother. That single event means that this is a year I wish to banish to the furthest recesses of my mind, for my life will never be the same. Only those who have lost their mothers will be able to understand what I mean by that. She meant everything to me, and six months on, there is still a tremendous feeling of emptiness. A void that can never be filled. Her funeral was on June 25th. Six months later, on Christmas morning I shall drive to the village church in Essex where she was buried and have a good cry by her grave. I’ll have breakfast with my father and sister, and them drive back home to Kent to spend Christmas with my partner for the first time in the 17 years we have been together. You see, I could never bring myself to say to my mother, “Sorry, I won’t be there for Christmas this year.” Call me a sentimental old fool, but I always thought the first year I did that would mean that inevitably one of my parents would die in the following twelve months. I loved our Christmas rituals. I loved the fact that my mother would put a single Brussels sprout on my plate each year knowing full well that I would immediately put it back on hers. Brussels sprouts – invention of the devil. I loved our present giving rituals, with my mother unable to hide the fact she didn’t like a particular present. I’ll so miss her telling my father to ‘wake up’ as he would inevitably fall asleep by the fire. Christmas Day this year will inevitably be filled with tears, not only for us but for families throughout the country. But thank goodness we are able to show our feelings for those who are no longer with us. It’s what makes us human. A very happy Christmas to you all, and thank you for reading my columns throughout the year.