Four years ago, I received a phone call out of the blue to ask if I could write this column, just for a week or so, to provide a bit of holiday cover. "Sure," I said, "why not!" thinking it would be nice to try my hand at something new.
But, I have to confess, when the time came to actually sit down at my laptop and begin writing, instead of words filling my head and spilling out onto the page, the only thing taking up space in my brain were those hateful little thoughts, you know the kind I mean, the self-deprecating, even self-loathing kind that making you doubt yourself and which led to me wondering, what on earth do I have to talk about that anyone would want to read?
To quell the rising sense of panic, I thought about the great writers that I've enjoyed over the years, people like David Sedaris, Erma Bombeck and Samantha Irby, incredibly smart and funny diarists and people who were unflinchingly, searingly honest, even when it meant that they didn't always present themselves in the most flattering light.
I decided that like them I would share the day-to-day events from my life, those humorous, sometimes weird and occasionally wonderful moments, those times of great happiness and of equally great heartbreak. In short, the universal events we all go through and with which we can all empathise. That was the goal when I started and, while my writing certainly never reached the standard of those previously mentioned award-winning writers, it seemed to work given that my couple of weeks of holiday cover turned into several years' worth of columns.
I've always been so very heartened that my musings on life as a mum of three, my retelling of the occasionally treacherous path taken to navigate life in a household of hormonal teenagers and of being a put-upon staff member to an incredibly pampered pooch have struck a chord with so many of you.
There have also, I have to confess, been times when I've used this column to vent, times when I've been unable to hold myself back from railing against certain behaviours I'd witnessed, like rudeness towards those working in shops, something that seems to intensify in the run up to Christmas, senseless, casual cruelty towards animals, parental obsession with one upmanship when it comes to comparing their little darlings, or indeed their indifference to their child's needs when they've a phone in their hands.
There have been times when it felt great to just give off in print! I've been incredibly touched over the years by how many of you have taken the time, after reading my column, to get in touch afterwards, through letters, emails or on social media, to share a story or a laugh with me, empathise and even argue, in the loveliest possible way, with something I've said.
This has never felt like me writing a standalone piece but instead, the start of a conversation that continued through the rest of the week, as people came back with their own tales and adventures, big and small.
I hadn't actually realised that I had been writing this column for four years until I checked a few weeks ago, which just goes to prove that old saying, time flies when you're having fun. But, like all fun things and, indeed, every story ever written, this one must have a beginning, middle and an end and, sadly, the end has been reached.
This will be my last column in the magazine. Life has always been busy but, in recent months it seems to have become more hectic than ever and, like the tube of toothpaste I so frequently find abandoned, capless and discarded in the sink, I've become more than a little squeezed out in the middle.
If the last year has taught me anything, it's that time is a very precious commodity, and I'd rather spend it with my family than writing about them. But before I end my final column, I want to say a great big, ginormous thank you to all of you who've taken a few minutes out of your weekend to join me on my Saturday rambles. May all your future weekends be wonderful.