I’ve been sat on this post for a good month and a bit now. Re-writing, deleting and getting frustrated with how I was portraying it. I didn’t want to write something that was upsetting or triggering or anything that could leave a negative feeling on anybody. However, the main story behind the post makes it somewhat impossible for this. You could just not write it, I kept telling myself as I deleted yet another paragraph. But that’s just what I do. People gain closure in many different ways and I know for a fact that word vomiting it into clumsy sentences on a tiny little blog is good for me. So here we are. I hope it makes sense.
First of all, I’d like to thank you for being my home city for my entire 23 years of living. You’re an absolute belting place to grow up – I live a ten minute train journey from the busy city centre and a short car journey from some of the country’s most gorgeous countryside. I have never missed out on anything.
I remember my first ever trip to Manchester with my friends when I was 13. Obviously, I’d been a thousand times before this with my family, but this time it was just me and the gals. I put on my most delightful Bench jacket and Ugg boots and off I went. I think we just went to Debenhams, Primark and the Arndale Centre, and then went to the food court for some dinner. I felt like such a little grown up. But, all those years ago (10!! years!! ago!!), I literally thought Manchester was just Piccadilly. I’d never ventured further than Piccadilly Gardens or the big Boots.
After a solid five years of the odd shopping trip to Miss Selfridge and Urban Outfitters, my friends took me on my first proper night out at 18. I’d never seen the point of me ever trying to get a fake ID or use someone else’s because there’s no way it would have been believable. I still look about 15 now. So, when I hit legal drinking age, I went to the one and only Fifth Avenue. Everyone from Manchester knows how absolutely tragic this club is, but when I was 18 (and for a couple of years after that, admittedly) it was the best place on earth. Being a fresher, being young and being a Northerner in general, Fifth was absolutely mint because back then, everyone thought they were little Indie Cindy’s (Note: Fifth Ave claim they are the ‘number one indie experience’ but tend to play more Kanye than Kate Nash) (Remember Kate Nash) (Foundations was such a sick song) (Petition for a Kate Nash club night at Fifth).
I went through that usual stage, at the age of 18 and 19, where I’d go out all the time and never get sick of it. Starting off in Font for those £2 cocktails and going to a club night that was free entry and £1 vodka mixers. I loved my youth. Then, at around 20, my pals and I would venture to the different areas of the city. We have the Northern Quarter and Spinningfields and Castlefield, and the city was just as exciting as it was when I was 18.
Some of the best days have been in Manchester. When you start off saying ‘lets just have a quiet one’ and you end up rolling through your front door at 3am the next day. Or even better, the ones where you say ‘shall we have a sober weekend?’
The city has been in my life forever. I went to my first concert in Manchester (Shaggy, if you were wondering), at the Arena, and I’ve seen many since then. With a heavy heart and my mind still in a clouded confusion, I find it odd to talk about how I attended the Ariana concert on the 22nd May 2017. I find it odd because I never expected anything bad to happen there. It sounds very ignorant to the state of the universe that you never think it’ll happen when you’re around, but it’s true. You can never prepare or expect anything like that.
It was a warm and clammy day in Manchester. My best friend and I were dolled up to the eyeballs even though we knew no one would be able to see us in the dark. We went for pizza and prosecco, we bought cat ears and sang at the top of our lungs for the entire show. Ariana was a angel. She was pop perfection and the arena was filled with love.
At around 22:40 we found ourselves near-running from the arena. There were kids screaming, people crying on the phone and parents looking for their children. We heard panic attacks and sirens.
We got home around 23:10. We got home to the news reporting an attack on the venue we were just at. We got home to floods of messages asking if we were safe. We got home to social media praying for us and our city and the pop star we had just watched put on a show.
Like I said, you never expect anything like this to happen when you’re there. You never expect to be in a situation like that and it’s hard to understand how you actually feel. Terrified, angry, heartbroken. Time heals and don’t live in fear was plastered everywhere and I absolutely agree with that. But that doesn’t stop my heart from aching for the lost and injured. For the ones who saw it first hand and the ones who are still having nightmares. For the ones who were performing and the crew backstage and the staff in the arena. Time absolutely heals but there is also no time limit on how long you can be sad about something.
Everyone jumped to their feet to help. Taking lost kids in at hotels and trying to calm them down. Taxi drivers offering free lifts home. Locals providing a sofa to sleep on and a shoulder to cry on for however long they need it. Tattoo artists donating the ‘worker bee’ profits to the emergency fund. The nurses and doctors and firemen and all the other emergency services who worked longer hours.
Manchester, you are quite possibly the most compassionate and best city in the universe. The whole place is buzzing with bee’s and sticking together. I always knew I was proud to be from Manchester but now it has a completely new level.
Thank you, Manchester, you absolute legend of a place.
All my love,
*photo source: soup kitchen