I went to bed last night with a post about election manifestos in my head. I woke up to the news that 22 people had been murdered at a pop concert at the Manchester Arena. There’ll be a time for politics but now isn’t that time.
My first ever gig was at the MEN. It was a Boyzone concert and I was no older than 12, painfully uncool but incredibly, overwhelmingly excited to see a band I’d idolised for years. I still remember how it felt to be in the same room as my idols, to hear them play my favourite song, to want so much to be the sophisticated older girls who were also there. It absolutely breaks my heart that, last night, someone with unspeakable hate in their heart took an experience like that away from so many people. That children as young as 8 went to a pop concert and didn’t come home.
Manchester is a home from home for me. I grew up 45 minutes away, I supported Man U, I listened to Oasis (when I’d outgrown Boyzone). When I was 18 and went away to university in the far wastes of the North East,Manchester Piccadilly station and the sound of mancunian accents always, always signalled that I was back home. It’s my cultural touchstone, perhaps as much part of my complicated identity as my Welshness. I’m heartbroken to see the city I love suffer.
I have nothing to add to the analysis of what happened last night, nothing to say other than that this was a senseless act that should never have happened. Nothing to offer but grief and love to those affected and to the wonderful, resilient people of Manchester.
When terrorist attacks like this happen you don’t have to look very far to find people using it as an excuse to further hatred and division. Fight back against people like this as much as you fight back against the hatred of terrorists. Live your life like a teenage girl going to her first gig, like every day might be your last. Life is a gift, even when the world is this dark, and living joyfully is the only way to win this battle.