I am in a city for the first time since Friday. On Friday I was in Leeds and it was the first time I’d been in Manchester (I rode a train to Piccadilly to get there) since the bomb. It still feels weird saying it. There’s still some strange disconnection, some weird feeling of there’s this other world where kids and teenagers went see a show by a pop star and ended up dead.
When I heard, I didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing. We’re a week further on and I’m still lost for words. I’m still devastated. I’m still reeling. I’m still upset. Yes, there’s anger, but that’s not a healthy thing to dwell on because anger doesn’t lead to redemption and it puts nothing right. People died. And it was only a matter of time before I heard that a friend of a friend was one of the victims.
I’ve often found it odd that people who grew up where I grew up say they’re from Manchester. They’re not. Manchester city centre is a twenty-five minute train ride from there. But there is a familiarity. Manchester’s a place I know well. It’s on my doorstep. I have been in that arena so many times before – I even saw my first gig there as a fourteen or fifteen year old (Pulp – a couple of days after Jarvis got his arse out at the Brits – they were wonderful and he was hilarious) so I can picture things. It’s a horrible thing to happen full stop and it’s affected an awful lot more people than me; but it has affected me and I think it’s always going to when it’s somewhere you know. Somewhere you’ve trod; laughed, danced – even felt slightly overwhelmed by the scale of the place and the amount of people there. So, while Manchester hasn’t been home – not like a brother or a sister, it’s felt like more of a cousin you really like and, after seeing the reaction of the people of Manchester this past week – it’s a cousin I’m so, so proud of and one I love more than I realised because they were brave in the face of something despicable. There was so much pulling together and help and support and blood being given and lifts home and shelter being provided (by ALL faiths and ALL creeds and races) and so much and so many amazing thing by our police and medical staff and, no-one, it seemed, lost their temper. And that’s the part I’m most proud of. Yes, I’ve read hate crimes have increased (STOP IT! PLEASE!) but, what I’ve seen the most of is unity. And that’s a good thing. It’s the best thing.
And I’m not really sure what I’m saying in this post, to be honest. I’m not sure I’ve got anything to say, or even if I had that it’d be worth listening to. I doubt I’ve got anything to say that’s going to change anything (if I could, I’d be saying vote Labour when it’s time because, among many other things, last Monday would have been one hell of a lot worse had the NHS’ systems been hacked while the incredible staff were dealing with that, which would have been avoided if Theresa May hadn’t decided it wasn’t worth investing in security for the system).
But I’m not saying that. (Well, I am, but that’s not the point.)
What I’m saying is I’m still coming to terms with what happened and it’s affected me a lot but so, so-so much less than so many other people. And I’m saying, keep your tempers, even when angry feels like the only thing to be or do or get. And I’m definitely saying I’m proud to be Manchester’s cousin. Manchester, our kid, my mate: you did good. You should be proud.