Scrolling through Twitter on Monday night, I was already tucked up in bed when a minute after the Manchester bomb I saw a tweet saying something was going on at Victoria Station. We often get these “I heard a big bang, what was that?” kind of tweets in Manchester, so at first I didn’t think much of it. But I decided to dig around Twitter to see if there was anything else in it.
Within minutes it was apparent there was a real situation unfolding at the Manchester Arena. I got online and started chatting in a Facebook group with some friends, all of us scrolling and searching for info. We all hoped against hope that it was a popped balloon, that it was a speaker which had exploded, that no one had been hurt.
We all stayed up, screenshotting and sharing statements from Greater Manchester Police. We checked as far as we could that people we knew weren’t there. We realised in the darkness of our early hours chat that this was deliberate, this was timed for maximum impact and it was designed to hurt children.
The swear words and tears flowed. This was our city. Our beautiful, cosmopolitan, inclusive city and someone wanted to hurt our children. It was about as low an act as it could be. We couldn’t do anything but re-tweet and share information. Helpless and despairing we all went to bed at 3am knowing we would wake up to terrible, terrible news.
Tuesday brought a whole range of emotions. Anger, pride, sorrow, love, anger again and fear. We all hugged our little ones close, were extra vigilant when we were out and about. They started to give names to the dead and the missing. All young, vital, full of joy and promise. I’ve wept for every one and each of their mothers too.
We heard tales of bravery. We were scared and brave and bold and devastated in equal measure. We watched the vigil. We wept with pride, passion and sorrow when Tony Walsh known as Longfella, a local poet and Mancunian legend read his poem, This Is The Place.
We are broken.
Less than 48 hours after the attack I am numb. My heart is broken for the children and families caught up in this atrocity. My heart is broken for my friends who are sat by hospital beds with their poorly babies. My heart is broken that someone could do this to my city. My home town. To our children. To our people.
I love my city. Manchester gets under your skin and flows through your veins. It fills your heart with pride. I’m a Proud Manc. I could never be anything else but a Proud Manc. Those who want to divide us will only ever unite us further.
This is Manchester. We are Manchester. This is The place. Our place.