Ivan Cameron

I don't want to write about normal politics this week.  Westminster - and, I think, much of the country - has been shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Ivan Cameron.  The front pages of today's newspapers, with the pictures of David and Ivan, are almost unbearably poignant.

One commentator said that there should not have been statements, and Prime Ministers' Questions should not have been suspended.  I think he misunderstands the real sense of shock at Westminster.

Here, David isn't just a national political leader whose family commands much public attention.  He is also a fellow member of the House of Commons, someone we work with.  No-one wanted to go through with the usual confrontational question time, and I think many people appreciated the Prime Minister's statement.

Almost every week, our leaders pay tribute to the soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan or Iraq.  I've often felt that these marks of respect are all too brief, all too regular.  Behind the brief reading of the names there are parents who have suddenly lost a son, often still only in his teens.  It's hard to imagine what they must go through.

By co-incidence, this week I received a letter from the father of an old friend who had gone abroad.  I didn't know that Roddy had died of cancer.  My friend was no longer a child, but he was a son, and his parents are still alive.

His father said they were beginning to come to terms with Roddy's death.  I wonder.  I'm not sure that any parent ever really gets over losing a child.  I'm reminded of the first line of Jon Silkin's moving poem, "Death of a Son": "Something has ceased to come along with me ...."

I've received many messages of sympathy for David and Samantha from local people.  I hope they will be comforted by knowing how much people feel for their loss.

Michelle Taylor