Stephanie Butland

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I often think and write about things I want to go back and tell my younger self.

Well, last night, I had the opportunity.

I went to see Duran Duran in concert. And in 1982, my parents drove my 12-year-old self and my Auntie Susan to Edinburgh, to see Duran Duran in concert.

When the old songs started, I felt as though my two selves, the 12 and the 40, were standing in the same spot. That’s the power of music and memory for you. My lovely friend Kym took this photo of me and I think you’ll agree that the 12 year old is just as present as the 40 year old:

I reckon if we’d got to meet and have a conversation, it would have been in the toilets, because there really isn’t a lot of difference between toilets in big concert venues, even if they are a couple of hundred miles and thirty years apart.

Let’s imagine Stephanie-12 and Stephanie-40 stand next to each other, washing their hands. Stephanie-12 glances at her neighbour in the mirror, and starts the conversation.

S-12: Aren’t you me?

S-40: Yes. Hello.

S-12: Hello.

S-40: I’m a size 16, you’re a size 14. I’ve done nearly another 30 years, had 2 children, and eaten enough great meals and drunk enough good wines to make one dress size worth it.

S-12: I suppose it figures that you can read my mind.

S-40: Yes. So, just so you know, you’re not fat, and you’re not ugly, in fact you’re rather beautiful, although it will take you a while to work that out.

S-12: You’re much greyer than I thought I’d be at 40.

S-40: I know. Weird, isn’t it? I can’t decide whether to dye it or not. What do you think?

S-12: Not sure.

S-40: Exactly.

S-12: So, what happens to me? Apart from the kids? I’m so glad I get children. You’re probably not allowed to tell me about them, are you?

S-40: Probably not. Well, you don’t get to marry John Taylor, although you do find out, in Newcastle in 2012, that he stays pretty handsome.

S-12: Newcastle? God, I still live in Amble when I’m 40?

S-40: No, Broomhill, but you’ll have spent 20 years in London.

S-12: That’s cool. But why would I move back?

S-40: It’s complicated, but the short answer is, there’s a lot here that you don’t appreciate yet. The important thing is that you will be happy. I’m happy.

S-12: Really?

S-40: Really. I know it doesn’t feel like that now. Almost nothing that you think will happen, will happen, but you’ll be all right. Some things will take a bit of figuring out, but we get there. You’ll get most of what you’re hoping for, in one way or another.

S-12: Not John Taylor.

S-40: Not John Taylor, no. But other men will love you. You’ll have friends who will be in our life a long, long time, and you’ll discover that friendship isn’t always tense and complicated the way it is at the moment. You’ll have some awful times but you’ll get through them, all the more easily once you learn to trust the love that other people have for you. I’m happy now. I have a great family. And – one thing that you do want that you’ll get – we write books.

S-12: I’m a writer? Really?

S-40: Really.

S-12: What do we write?

S-40: Well, I’ve had one book published, another out next year, and I’m just finishing a novel.  And there’s the blog.

S-12: The what?

S-40: Never mind. Just remember, it will all work out. Oh, and you might want to stop trying to get Just Seventeen to publish poetry. That’s not going to happen.

S-12: Thanks. But I feel as though there are things you’re not telling me.

S-40: There’s a lot I’m not telling you. I don’t want to spoil anything. Now let’s get back in there and dance.


  1. Mari says:

    Fab post, Stephanie. That’s the magic of music. It can nail a time so perfectly. Glad you enjoyed the concert … and being twelve again. xx

  2. sarah says:

    Wonderful post that had me giggling and wondering what I’d tell the 12 year old me! I guess my conversation would have had the same themes running through it. We all worried so much at that age and aren’t you glad you didn’t know then what you would have to go through to reach this point in time. But here we are stronger for all the experiences life has thrown at us. It makes you ponder what our 60 year old selves would have to say to us now….

  3. Margi says:

    There may well be a meditation exercise in this