Thank you for the music.

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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

 

Friendship and turning 4-OH.

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.

The Spice Girls.

There are many reasons why I’m glad to be a girl / woman (what are you supposed to call yourself at 39yrs?) And one of the top ones is because of my girlfriends. Men can’t do girlfriends the way girls can. It’s something we’ve got all to ourselves, like growing other humans, they’ll never be able to do that either.

For many of my crew (including myself) 2016 is the year our lives rolls over into our 4th decade. Cue lots of parties and excuses for weekends away, the first of which took place last Saturday for Naomi who has been my BF since I was in double-figures and has enriched my life in countless ways. For twenty-four hours I was surrounded by amazing women, ate great food (that I didn’t have to cook myself), drank lots of champagne and danced to the wee small hours. What can I say? My cup runneth over.

When I am surrounded by my womenfolk, most of whom I’ve known for at least twenty years, I defy my 5″ 2inches and become 10ft tall. It feels as though time has stopped and not a day has passed since we were all teenagers, or bright young twenty-somethings. Whether we see each other every week, every few months, once a year, or for those even further afield (JAM I’m looking at you and counting down till August!) less than that, we can still pick up exactly where we left off and run from there. Why? I hear you cry. Because that’s the power of love; it’s ageless. When we fall in love the clock stops. Think about it: if you’re married your partner remains the youthful version of themselves they were when you met, our children remain the babies they were when they were placed in our arms, our parents remain the same fresh-faced versions of themselves they were when we were growing up. And so, I’ve concluded, it’s the same with  girlfriends. We never age. We are exactly how we have always been to each other.  How beautiful is that?

I am blessed to have an amazing bunch of women that I am lucky enough to call my friends. They are smart, beautiful, stylish, they have proper jobs (unlike moi): I’m talking solicitors, teachers, barristers, a few of them even run their own businesses -for example-  have you ever wondered what Ireland smells like? Well then you need to check out www.bogstandard.ie My friend Alix started it at Uni way before scented candles were even ‘a thing’! A real-life mum-preneur and she still manages to read every crap draft I send her and give me honest, detailed feedback! There’s also a professional equestrian rider among the mix who does some seriously gutsy stuff on horseback and manage three kids. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg – you get the gist. A-MAZING! Some have been to hell and back, some are married, some are not, some have children, some have not. But we have all had our ups and downs. And we are in this together. We started out in unison; wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and now forty years into this thing called life we are all a little bit wiser (sometimes!) and plan to party the heck out of 2016. In a world where older women are deemed insignificant and  invisible we’re not going to be put on a shelf, we’re not going to be silenced and we’re not going down any hills!  It’s only the start of our 2nd Act and it’s going to be girl power all the way!

Put in a call, text, or send a cartoon picture of a cat to a girlfriend just to tell her she rocks!

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The grainy night-club shot when we all should have known better!