IT started as an ordinary late summer morning, and quickly became one of those "where were you when you heard the news?" days.

I was washing up when I heard the news, 20 years ago today. I was vaguely wondering why there was no DJ chit-chat, only sad music, on the radio. I was still processing the words "Princess Diana"..."killed"..."car crash" when my news editor was on the 'phone, calling me into work.

I was a reporter in the Midlands, covering a rural patch; a picture-postcard place with pretty villages and old farms, and not much hard news. I was one of two reporters based in a district office (in the days when local newspapers had such things), and didn't venture into the city newsroom very often.

But that Sunday morning I was there, caught up in a whirlwind of reporters and sub-editors, sleeves rolled up, getting on with producing a special edition of the 'paper. "I want reaction from the great and good," barked the news editor. We called MPs, civic chiefs and community leaders, barely out of bed, bleary-eyed and some not yet aware that Princess Diana was dead. The news was still unfolding. We were shocked, but very aware that this was the biggest news story of the decade. The place was buzzing.

I have only experienced a newsroom atmosphere like that twice since then; the September 11 attacks and the Manningham riots a couple of months earlier - the weekend my first newsdesk shift on the T&A turned out to be an eventful one.

But there was nothing quite like the week of Diana's death. There was an eeriness about it; a collective, national sense of uncertainty. Even as a journalist, I wasn't prepared for the fall-out. I remember being miffed, later that Sunday, when a TV drama I liked was cancelled due to the extended News. "Is the Diana stuff STILL on?" I muttered.

I wasn't a fan of Princess Diana. I acknowledge the positive things she did, but she manipulated the Press, and enjoyed the attention, yet she was quick to complain whenever media coverage didn't suit her. I was, however, shocked that a woman in the prime of life had died in such a terrible way, and I felt sad for her young sons. You couldn't watch TV that week and not feel moved, in some way.

What I didn't understand was the huge outpouring of public grief at her death, the like of which hadn't been seen here before. I watched TV open-mouthed as people wailed in the streets. That peculiar grief over someone you've never met is something Princes William and Harry have mentioned, in one of the countless Diana documentaries aired in recent weeks. It seemed to baffle them too, at the time.

I get the "People's Princess" thing, but I felt uncomfortable watching people consumed grief. Two weeks before Diana died, I'd lost my gran to a particularly aggressive cancer. I felt quite offended that people could be so openly upset about a princess they didn't know. How could they possibly feel bereaved? I had a nagging feeling that they were wallowing in it.

The weekend of Diana's funeral, I was visiting friends in Ealing. We decided to go into central London the following day, naively thinking the crowds would have dispersed by then. Instead, we found hordes of people wandering among the flowers outside Kensington Palace, it was as though they were reluctant to leave it all behind and return to their real lives.

It was a week like no other, and its legacy is still being felt. People seem to cry more openly now, and piles of flowers wrapped in plastic appear whenever there's a tragedy. I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or not.

* ONE of the best things about my job is that occasionally I get to meet inspiring people.

People like Derek Clegg, who I went to see a couple of weeks ago. Derek (pictured in his shed) has vascular dementia, but is determined to live life as well as he can. As a member of Bradford's Facing it Together group, he visits public places to see if facilities meet Dementia Friendly criteria. "It makes me feel useful," he told me. "And if it helps someone-else with dementia, that's a good thing." Derek's enthusiasm is infectious. And the work he's doing is vital.

* LOVE the T&A story on Keighley businessman Thomas Black's anti-litter film, which includes a song inspired by George Formby's When I'm Cleaning Windows.

The film, Cleaning Up the Lay-Bys, hits out at those who dump litter in the countryside and built-up areas, which Mr Black rightly calls "a disgrace". It includes a song called When I'm Dropping Litter, with lyrics by John Hirst, accompanied by a ukelele and performed by a dance troupe.

It's a light-hearted approach but a serious issue, which makes Mr Black's message - "dropping litter is anti-social, bad for the environment and eventually hits us all in the pocket" - even stronger.

Well done to him for tackling something we should all be shouting (and singing) about.