My sojourn in Manchester is slowly coming to an end, two and a half days of authority induced mayhem whilst they arrest every man with a slight hue, give him a cup of tea, ask him how he is then release him. It is musical chairs time in Manchester Police Stations. There is lots of work building up for me in Boyle and I will be glad to get home but life here is so exciting in this working class capital of working class ideals. For some a wonderful time to be active. For a few a life that was not wasted. These people will be remembered as much as the people of Peterloo.
Sunday morning dawns, a grey muggy Manchester morning. There has been rain overnight. This should suit the runners. This is the day of the Manchester Run, 35,000 hell bent athletes aiming to decrease their life span by a few weeks over a 10km run for a charity and I think the biggest beneficiary will be the Lord Mayors Fund for victims of the bomb last week. Hoping to see a few relatives later on when the roads are cleared because there will be more spectators than runners, but at the moment the roads of Manchester belong to the trotters.
Posters and tee shirts are being sold all over the town declaring the fact that the wearer and the shopkeeper all love Manchester. “I (red heart) Manchester as become a bill board ensuring it drags customers into retail outlets to provide more and more profits for businesses. Thoughts of the 22 dead are no more, profiting and propagandising Manchester ensuring customers and tourists spend more is the key. A disgraceful turn of events. Even Selfridges have got the slogan splashed all over their various doorways. Printers, sign writers and tee shirt manufacturers are making hay while 22 funerals are being arranged. Facebook have even set up a page dedicated to the modern and ridiculous fetish of people wanting to get involved in the ghastly narrative. With the forthcoming funerals I hope these glory seekers both amateur and professional will leave the grieved to grieve, will leave the various families to remember quietly their deceased loved ones and for the occasion to be remembered in silence and not in razzmatazz.
This morning I have it on good authority from high class butchers who supply the hotels and restauranteurs who feed the hungry that they were really expecting a turn down in business in the run up to the Bank Holiday weekend, but in fact business is up and soaring dealing with the mad influx of visitors and tourists gaping at the maudlin antics of the masses of Manchester displaying their total unawareness of tragedy. At 8.30am in Chorlton in south Manchester this morning there was a queue 150 metres long outside a tattoo parlour waiting to have a bumble bee tattooed on various parts of their anatomy for £50 a throw. The bumble bee for the unknowing is the symbol of Manchester, or so they tell us. The young people of this town are going off their rockers trying to be as good if not better than the rest of their cohort. Why this outpouring of madness, this insincerity, this unbelievable propulsion to be disfigured. Why, because 22 innocents have died. Madness is to mild a term for it. Population dumb down, societal suicide, fraternal fuck up are more accurate terms. People are far more stupid than I ever thought, certainly in Manchester, the place I once called home.
Richie Allen in his radio show broadcast out of Manchester said he was amazed at this generation of 20 something Mancunians honed on fancy mobile phones and social media for their lack of empathy for what has happened taking a totally narcissistic view of the proceedings. All wanting to be part of a tragedy that they were not a part of. It shows up this generation and I suppose they could have come from any town, the first to be really subject to this digital influence. It bodes ill for the future.
So enough of the gullibility of youth, my life has still to steer its course and so it is back to the party house for lunch, for a post party party, to scoff all the food and wine left over from yesterday. We become vacuum cleaners. So then on to see younger brother who has been down town for the Manchester Run. He had a team of his students off in the second batch. Because of the number of runners they were letting them off in batches of a thousand with a few minutes gap between batches. I suppose it was to stop too many bottle necks. With 35,000 runners there had to be some management.
We had a couple of pints together, I was on my favourite cider, Weston’s Old Rosie and at 7.2% proof, two pints were plenty. We caught up with latest events in the family and had an enjoyable hour together. It was then back to Daughter 3’s house for oriental stuffing of face. She had been to the Farmer’s Market in the grounds of the local hospital. There was a stall selling good quality mayonnaise of two varieties. One called Theresamayonnaise and the other Jeremayonnaise. At the side of the stall was a big swingometer showing who was buying what. Theresa had hardly got out of her blocks while Jeremy was half a mile down the track. Another example of how things political are not what they seem, certainly in Manchester, verging on snobby Cheshire.
Another early night was called for, in bed for 9.00pm and up at 4.45am with a long wait for people to rise on this Spring Bank Holiday morning. I have just finished reading Hunter Davies’s autobiography up to 1960, “The Co-op’s Got Bananas”. An excellent read through his first 24 years from impoverished Carlisle/Scottish family, through Durham University, to early journalism in Manchester to eventually the Sunday Times and marriage to his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Foster, a distinguished figure in her own right. Who in the course of the book I fell in love with but she died also in 2016. An unlucky year for both my ladies and especially for me. The book is well worth reading with its voyage through the war years and the money-less 1940s and 50s to a bright awakening in the 1960s.
It is my last whole day in Manchester and it’s off back to Boyle tomorrow. It has been an interesting, exciting and sadly tragic few days, although I doubt I could ever live here again but it is good to smell the air. There is no doubt that Manchester owns itself and does not need to cow-tow to anybody, least of all to Tory government ensnared London. If only Manchester would only halt a while in its rapid forward progress and let the city fathers throw a few quid into a pot to do up the roads of the city. They are in a god awful mess with pot holes you could hide a mini in. Besides their being a safety hazard, it is not good enough for a city trying to embrace the 21st century.
Whilst writing this my Son2 who was visiting showed me an article in the Daily Express, now it seems called the Express, about a missile being launched by the RAF at ISIS, with the words “Love from Manchester” written on the side of it in both English and Arabic showing that higher brains were at work other than the poor squaddie. A poor, poor message to send to Johnny Foreigner. The Express said it was a brilliant message from the UK. God help us all and God help the poor bastard kids it was aimed at.
I went down to see Daughter 1 who had been forgotten in all this party going, and although the cordon had been lifted, the police were still lurking three days after the raid. She was telling me of the wanton damage done to people’s property when Manchester’s might invaded Fallowfield gardens. I hope they compensate those involved.
The police have about 15 under lock and key but no doubt most will shortly be released. It’s what happens on all these occasions. A sign to the public that they are doing well and are on their toes and then they say the bomber was not part of a network and then let the arrested go. A line of thought is going the rounds that most experts in these situations do not think that this was a false flag event. It is thought that Salman Abedi, the so called bomber had doors opened for him. The fact that he travelled to Libya, Tunis, Turkey and Germany in the days before the explosion suggests to some that the security forces would have been aware of his intent and opened the doors for him to walk through and carry out his ghastly deed. There is some mileage in this theory but I doubt if we will ever know. The true sadness is that 22 people died who did not expect to and through no fault of their own. I feel for them and their families. There will be a lot of hard times ahead for those and for the badly injured of whom, I understand, there are a lot.
My visit is more or less complete, it has been a different one than I imagined. I must thank Daughter 1 and 3 and her extended family. I am not the easiest of house guests but I have ate some good food, drank some good beer and marvelled at the cheapness of decent wine in England . Where in Ireland would you get a bottle of Malbec, bottled in Mendoza for £4. Our last meal was lamb marinated in spices, spuds and salad, but cooked with such finesse you would have paid £30 for it in a restaurant. Full of middle eastern flavours, the potatoes roasted in garlic, rosemary and harissa until crisp, I could have eaten all day. In our parting chat Son 2 explained how he is still having a hard time of it over his mother’s death but we explained that he was not alone, it affects us all and we all have to find our own way of dealing with it. He went away hopefully in a decent state.
Up now on my parting day at 5.00am ready for my return journey in 10 hours time, although the airport is only a hop and a step from this house. I like to be well prepared. Goodbye Manchester, nice to have known you. I am shortly off to France and Belgium. Another step through tightly controlled security cordons. It seems this is life these days.
Arriving at Manchester Airport I noticed how security had been tightened up. Half the bags were being sidelined and opened and property confiscated with an extra hours delay for those people. The airline had reduced the size of cabin bags and mine, which had been on hundreds of aircraft over the last ten years, did not fit. I was ordered to pay£40 to put the bag in hold. FlyBe was the carrier and I considered that to be an unfair practice. The standard bag cost more than the ticket, the trick of a cheapskate. I would ask you all to reconsider if you are thinking of flying FlyBe. They have certainly lost one customer in me forever. They are the only carrier to reduce the size of bags when the whole world have bought the standard bag.