This is Manchester

I was working last weekend so, although I’d started, I didn’t get chance to finish this week’s blog. As I settled down to complete and post it last night I heard about the bombing in Manchester and then following the developing story became my entire evening. Suddenly my post about creativity didn’t seem important or appropriate so I’ll save it for next week and give you something else instead.

I want to tell you about Manchester.

I wasn’t born here. I moved here to live with my boyfriend, now husband, in 1998. Until then I’d never been a city-slicker. I’d lived in a small town in Eseex until the age of eleven and then lived in the Highlands of Scotland in a village of around a thousand people. But coming to Manchester felt like coming home right from the start.  I’ll be celebrating twenty years as an adopted Mancunian next summer.

There’s something special about this city. Architectural splendours nestle between the concrete and glass giants of the CIS building to the north and the Beetham Tower to the south. The centre is compact enough to easily explore on foot with great shopping and more culture than you can shake a stick at. Surrounding this treasured pearl lie the suburbs of Greater Manchester, each its own community and its own identity but no less Manc than the city itself. It’s a clean place, a vibrant place, a welcoming place. It’s home. The people here are proud without being prideful, multi-cultural without losing our identity, we’re a city that’s still a community, and a people divided by football but united in passion. We’re musicians, and artists, inventors, and sports stars, writers, poets, and comedians. 

Twenty four hours ago Manchester suffered a horrible act of terrorism. But in the face of hate and ugliness the city came together in love, offering help to those that needed it. We’ve sheltered the lost and stranded, offered food and drink to emergency personnel, and we’ve donated enough blood to replenish supplies even in the face of so many injuries. 

So when people you follow on Twitter, or the media you read or watch, talk about this city as a “hotbed of radicalized Islamists” (yes, someone actually said that on Twitter), they don’t know us. Like anywhere, we have our share of ugly, but the generosity and strength and love in this place far outweighs it. This is a beautiful city and so are its people

At the vigil this evening, Tony Walsh, the poet in residence for charity Forever Manchester, read a poem he wrote in 2015. If you want to know our city, ignore the people who haven’t been here, watch his reading instead.

Tony Walsh, Forever Manchester

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