Greater Manchester, United
Reflecting on this week's attack
On Monday night, I was woken by lots of Police sirens heading past my house towards Manchester. A quick Twitter search told me that something was happening in the City centre. As the minutes ticked by, the news filtered through.
I didn't go back to sleep on Monday night. I sat up and watched the news. I talked to friends online, to relatives on the phone and to my husband, who was sat with me. I, like so many others was born and bred in Manchester. I was transported in a flash, back to 1996 and the terror which unfolded immediately after the IRA bomb. I was silently telling myself that we got through that, we would get through this.
Between the tears which flowed once we'd learnt the Arena had been packed with children, we heard news of taxi drivers offering free lifts to people stranded in the City Centre. Of a homeless man holding a lady as she passed away. Of businesses offering shelter to stranded civilians and lost children. Of Manchester residents opening their doors to offer people a safe place to stay.
THIS is what defines my City. Not one person in a suicide vest, or a tiny group of people who claim religion is their motivator. Manchester is a multi cultural haven. No matter what your religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, you are welcome here.
YES, we have been targeted - in the worst way imaginable. Our children lost their lives. Manchester's people grieve. We are angry at the person (or people) behind this attack BUT we will stand strong together.
I have seen three videos since the attack which made me cry, and made me proud to be a Mancunain. I want to share those with you now....
You may have seen on the news how Stephen Jones - a homeless man from Manchester helped the victims immediately after the bomb went off. We could all learn a thing or two from this man - and his friends who he mentions in other, longer videos...
The night after the attack, a vigil took place in Manchester City Centre. The crowd looked like this....
(Image by Paul Feeley)
One of the people who spoke during the vigil was a Mancunian Poet, called Tony Walsh. He read his poem - "This is the place" - I wasn't at the vigil as I couldn't get there with Sam in tow, but the poem brought me to tears....
The final video is one I watched on Wednesday morning. It literally gave me goosebumps and made me cry like I can't even begin to explain. This video isn't available for me to embed, but can be viewed here - It shows pupils from Chetham's School of Music singing at their Vigil last night.
This is a prestigious school, which is next door to Manchester Arena - the place where so many people lost their lives. The vigil took place inside the police cordon and your can feel the pain radiating from the children, but their message is clear - Don't look back in anger.
I am a lifelong Oasis fan - the first gig I ever attended was Oasis at the Manchester Arena (Or Nynex as it was then known) in November 1995. It was my 12th birthday present from my older sister. I can still remember the excitement I felt when they got up on stage and sang "Don't look back in anger". I'm secretly hoping someone will bang Liam and Noel's heads together, and they'll kiss and make up for long enough to re-release the track and donate all proceeds to the families of those hurt and killed in the blast.
It's pretty scary in Manchester right now. Everyone seems to be on edge, but the fact the police and soldiers are on the streets and actively pursuing people is hopefully a positive thing?