For once I’m not quite sure where to begin. It seems so long since we last spoke. Do I be brutally honest as always or think of other people’s fears – and my own – and hold off the horrors of the last few weeks? After all, my touch and go moments may not, please God, be yours. Beyond that, for now, you need not know too much more.

I have fast acting metastatic lung cancer. Already fragile, the chemotherapy more or less flatlined me with insupportable pain. In fact I’ve just discovered that for a week it was touch and go whether I’d live or die.

They may try one more chemo at 50 per cent or 20 and then decide to try further or not – either way we’re talking months, and more than that I cannot say.

I begged them to just let me die. And today my hair fell out in clumps.

It’s a bit late now but I’ve finally learnt some lessons I should have accepted long ago and I pass on to you for what they are worth.

Independence, solitude, pride in work and only work are all marvellous when fit and gregarious, travelling the world with a calm viewpoint.

When older and shocked by illness – alone and fearful and worried sick about César’s future there is little glamour and excitement in living in the south of France alone unable to walk as muscles have atrophied after months in rehab.

In fact I cannot live alone again. The French system will help me but not night-times and the truth is I need someone to live with me and speak comforting words in English and make me laugh in English.

And I wish I’d told my son more often how much I loved him and how proud he made me instead of expecting him to know it. I wish I realised he loved me too in the same way and I hope he knows too the joy I get from seeing his love in his two small daughters.

I wish I’d accepted the love offered from the odd, kind decent man instead of seeing it as a weakness – discovering too late it’s a strength beyond price when wrapped in strong arms as night falls.

And I wish I’d told you all this as it slowly dawned on me as I wrote the bravura words I both meant and feared not. I wish, too, I’d admitted my loneliness and the stubbornness that drove me here and kept me here.

But as many things in life all is understood just that little too late and anyway it was fun at the time, wasn’t it?

Were I still well I’d have no intention of leaving France but the last year has seen me long for walks in the rain, good non-French food, wind feathering the tree tops, cool weather not 40 plus heat and dust mired tiles.

It’s made me long for old friends, black taxis, carol singing in city streets, drives to proper pubs. I’ve never ceased longing for M&S food halls, fish, chips and mushy peas, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. Strange how food, after so many years of dieting, fills my dreams. Or maybe not.

Made me long for the mixed age range of friends we take for granted – not the segregated ages and sexes of rural France.

Makes me long for home.

Now, confession time. Pride brought me here and, laterally, pride kept me here.

Pride, and lack of cash have kept me trapped – in beauty, yes, but trapped all the same.

Never let pride be your downfall when enough is enough. Enjoy while you can and, despite all I’ve said today, have no regrets….well, almost none.

And laugh, always laugh – after the first few years the raucous laughter of Glasgow disappeared as did friends and I was left here with the Shires and the country folk. It was never enough but, thank God, you’ve been there and I’ve loved, yes, loved, you all.

And you, God knows why as you’ve shown these last weeks, have loved me. I have been truly blessed and believe me I know it.

Your prayers, your thoughts, your confidences, have made me feel a far better person than I am.

Ah dear, this is starting to read as my farewell…let us pray not. There is always hope; there is always a groundswell willing one on…you, dearest friends are mine.

So once more….onwards and upwards?