Stephanie Butland

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Friday night saw me in Newcastle for a gig: The Human League. (You may scoff, but I spent my teens in the eighties, and so this was a Dream Come True, even if it was twenty-five years on from when I would have liked it to be!) The venue was Newcastle City Hall. I probably haven’t been there for twenty years, but it was a place full of memories – especially as it hasn’t changed a bit. I saw The Osmonds there with my Grandma, I saw Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and Terence Trent D’Arby there with my friends, I saw Victoria Wood and Ben Elton there with my family, and I must have been to lots of things with Auntie Susan too.

I went on my own, as my friend wasn’t well, and so I had plenty of time to remember these other times. (At least once I’d worked out that the support act was on, and it wasn’t that Phil Oakey had shrunk and one of the girls hadn’t bothered to turn up.) And it struck me that, in an experience a bit like when I went to see Duran Duran this time last year, the City Hall was a place where I meet my younger selves. (Funny to think I was wearing hand-knitted fingerless gloves rather than a single black lace one with an arm full of bangles.)

I thought about the times and places when I had sat in the (still remarkably uncomfortable) seats: as a child, and throughout my teens. And I realised something: that for all that, then, I was full of Life! and Potential! and Ambition! and Beauty! (although of course I thought I was fat and ugly) – I am happier now.

And I don’t think it’s the happiness that my younger self would have scoffed at – it’s not a settled-for, given-up version of contentment that the young imagine in the old(er). Right now, I have a couple of big difficult things in my life away from this blog: but I also have the experience to know that somehow they will work out. I have the knowledge that life will not be perfect, but it will be happy, and challenging, and grim in places, and sometimes startlingly, unexpectedly beautiful. I have a feeling of being on roughly the right road, going in roughly the right way. That’s better than even the best of batwing tops.

And now, I give you… The Human League. I love how they all have exactly the same makeup.