Silence is golden. Sometimes it is better when you say nothing at all. Good advice for a peaceful and harmonious life but not something to be heeded by Mam. Silent mother, that is an oxymoron if there ever was one. If something needed saying, she said it. The trouble was when something didn’t need saying, she said it. The irony of it all was that while it was impossible for Mum to be silent, she could provoke a stunning silence.

Like the Sunday lunch, we were sat at the table with Mam and Dad at either end with me stuck in the middle, when Mam suddenly pipes up to my Dad “Pass the salt, you twat!”. There was a stunned silence, so Mam followed up with “Hurry up, you twat!” Dad never said a word and obediently passed the salt.

Mam struggled with diplomacy at times. There was the time when she was sat next to my mother-in-law looking through my wedding album, when she suddenly came out with “You know Doris, if I had known what you were going to wear at the wedding, I wouldn’t have spent as much on my outfit!” That was a real showstopper! The silence was deafening. I did an about turn and returned to the kitchen with the tray of tea and cakes that I was bringing into the lounge. There were no words that could follow that!

Or when my wife came back from the hairdressers after her first haircut since re-growing her hair following chemotherapy. “That’s horrible, makes you look like a boy!” No room for sympathy or silence, just tell it how it is, Mam!

Simon and Garfunkel once sang “and no-one dared, disturb the Sound of Silence”. Well, Mam did. I would not have changed Mam for the world. Life would have been so much duller. Silence is not golden, it’s boring. Silence is for the faint-hearted.