I’m struggling through my latest book edits at the moment. I’m full of self-doubt and the seeming impossibility of the task. Then, two weeks ago, I got a recharge when I went to see Take That headline at Hyde Park. Some of you will groan at that, my Dad will say, ‘take what?’ (he’s been saying that for twenty-five years – with my dad there’s no such thing as an old joke) and others will wish you could have been there too. Music is one of the things, like books, that can unite or divide. It’s subjective. It’s personal. It reaches into our soul and touches each of us differently.
I went to my first TT concert when I was sixteen so it’s fair to say I’ve seen them more than a few times and most of those have been with the same person. We’ve been best friends since 1994 when we were allocated the same halls at Uni. On our first night out together we discovered our love for TT. It wasn’t cool to like them then ( I appreciate some would say it’s not cool to like them now). Anyway, they were our first strike on the ‘what do we have in common’ list and they remain a lasting bond in our friendship nearly twenty-two years later. For us, their music encapsulates a lifetime of highs and lows. It transports us to when we were carefree students; young and untethered to any place or anyone, when we didn’t need to worry about our grey roots or the signs of age on our bodies, when our most pressing decision was where we were going on our next night out, when we swapped clothes incessantly, when we lived and breathed our daily lives, when we went to the students union for the day to drown our sorrows because Robbie left ( any flimsy excuse would do!) A time before marriage, before children, before grown-up heartbreak, before she found a lump and told me not to cry, before social media, almost before mobile phones, before ‘selfies’ were called ‘selfies’ they were just ugly, mostly drunken, photos!
Last Saturday was a beautiful warm summer evening the sky blushed pink before tipping over into a navy night sky. We were only 2 among 65thousand others but for one and a half hours we were in a world of our own. It’s been proved that music can alter the way you feel. It can make a bad day better. It can make a good night feel amazing.
They say you never really know someone until you live with them – we lived together for three years and she knows me in a way very few others do. She truly knows the shade of my soul. It’s time trickery that we’re now closer to forty than twenty. And even though there are only three where once there were five, their DNA has not altered. Gary Barlow has gone from hero to zero and back to hero again. Their brand is unashamedly ‘pop’ and they are as far from being a ‘boy band’ as Bieber is from his pension, but we still (unashamedly) love them!
I counted my blessings in Hyde Park that night, so thankful to have my wonderful friend beside me healthy and well. Life is busy, it gets in the way all too often; she’s in London, I’m in Belfast. When we meet we push the reset button; reminding each other of the girls we were in the 1990’s; young, ambitious, fearless. We remind each other of who we still are when you strip away what we’ve become. And because she thinks I can do it, I know I can do it.
Thank-you Julie and thank you ‘boys’ for the music and all the excuses you’ve given us over the years to get together. Could it magic? Definitely. x