So I got through this week. I got through it and I don’t know how. I somehow did my work and I completed my edits. I wrote a story outline and set it to my agent. All the while I was on a kind of remote control, sleepwalking through the day. Brokenhearted.
You see, I love my city. I was raised on a 1970’s world where love meant romance and boys – wasn’t that what the pop songs said? It wasn’t until I was much older that I realised there are different kinds of love. I love my children and I love my partner. I’ve loved the animals I’ve looked after, dogs and cats.
I first knew that I loved Manchester when I was stranded in Cyprus, miserable in the sunshine and missing the rain. I missed it and I dreamed of the Arndale every night. I missed the flat vowels and Piccadilly Gardens. I missed Oldham, too, where I was born. But I ‘lived’ in Manchester. I discover punk there and inadvertently saw the bands who would forge Madchester in local bars.
Wen I returned I went clubbing and sat on the pavements late at night eating chips, tipsy with joy at the sound of the Manchester accent. I got a job there. I worked in the city for fifteen years, spending every lunchtime drinking it in. The libraries, galleries, and theaters followed pubbing and clubbing as I matured. I watched the gargoyles high on the roofs and marvelled at the underground tunnels and the gems of libraries.
I studied there and became a doctor there. I shopped, danced, ran a race, laughed, cried, sang. Manchester people are my people.
I met the person I will spend the rest of my life there, at the Apollo Theatre watching a Manchester band and he moved to my Manchester to be with me because he knew that I couldn’t bear to leave again.
I danced at the Hacienda, Sankey’s, South, and a multitude of tiny venues. I saw hundreds of bands and singers at the Apollo, the Ritz, Band on the Wall, The Roadhouse. And Manchester Arena. I saw Prince there two years ago, one of the best nights of my life.
Most of the people I have come into contact with this week have shared my sorrow at what has happened here. An unspeakable act of violence against, primarily, people attending a concert at the Arena. But also against my city. Mostly, people have been kind to each other, helped each other. Talked and understood the vivid grief. Felt my quiet fury and shared theirs with me. Understood.
But some people haven’t been kind. Some people who have somehow arrived my life have told me that ‘they’re not interested’ or ‘it’s washed over them’ because ‘they are used to it’. Which, if true, is their business. But anyone who knows me knows I love my city. So why would they say this to me? It can only be to make me suffer more. I pride myself on tolerance, but I know when something, or someone, isn’t in my best interests and when to step away. This is one of the few times in my life that I will close ranks and disassociate myself with those who simply don’t care.
I feel desperate sorrow for the families if the victims of the attack on Manchester. I still can’t speak about and I can only just write about it. Innocent children were killed. My thoughts are with the families that have lost someone in this atrocity, I have no words for that. The city is numb with grief for them and I am part of that grief, but I will also be part of its recovery. Pull together. I’ll find a way to contribute, to help the families who have lost people and to explain to my grandchildren that life is somehow sometimes like this.
I love Manchester but I’m heartbroken.