Fresh Lonely Air In Manchester – Part 4

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.

Fresh Lonely Air In Manchester – Part 3

After the bomb in central Manchester interrupted my advent into the city of my birth, I have settled down to write.  What would have been a blog about finally coming to grips with my grief in the city where we courted and raised our family, is now an episodic story in many parts as I slowly try and come to terms with what happened this week in Manchester.

It is now 7.00am on a lovely warm sunny morning, the house is awakening from its slumbers.  One child already watching the early morning television designed for kids attention whilst hard working parents grab a bonus 30 minutes of sleep.  Coffee being made, children being clothed and breakfasted, showers working overtime as the house becomes vibrant and prepares for the day ahead.  It is my favourite time but unfortunately to my regret I missed most of this daily discipline during my working life as it was my duty to be up and at it before everybody awoke.  To this day I cannot eschew that habit.  I certainly see more 5.00ams than 10.00ams but on a morning like this, it is a pleasure.

The kids are roaring, the Grufaloe is on screen and they are quickly prepared for school and nursery by parents who are also preparing themselves for the outside world.  Some of us are off to the country to see rustic relations, others to work to put petrol in the tank.

I meet my aunt for the first time in six or seven years, slightly older, not as nimble on her feet but she is 89ish and she has the same indomitable spirit as always, honed in the agricultural male world where she was the only female.  Having lived with animals all her life, violence and killing was and still is on the tip of her tongue.  Photo albums come out showing groups of relations from the last 140 years and they all looked contemporaries.  Style changes very slowly in the farming world.  She used to milk 40 cows twice a day, do two milk rounds in Denton, tend a massive flock of hens, keep four breeding sows and their numerous off spring all with a crippled hand caused by tendons in her right hand being severed in an accident when she was 20.

Afterwards it was off to leafy police soaked south Manchester for a pre-party party with in-laws celebrating their matriarch’s 90th birthday.  The proper formal do is tomorrow but it’s free and easy today drinking cider at their local bowling club in Didsbury.  Besides the normal POETS day crowd (ie. for the uncertain Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday), a reporter, photographer, lighting, soundsman, director, producer of the BBC show Newsnight was there  interviewing pre-party goers, POETS crowd and general alcoholese on what they thought of Jeremy Corbyn’s latest electoral speech which amongst other things dealt with British foreign policy.

He was hoping to ask supposedly intelligent questions to hopefully unintelligent people.  He came to me and I gave him both barrels.  I said “the trouble with you fuckers is that you have your own agenda and whatever I say will turn out differently in your programme”. “No” he said “Some programmes do have a narrative, we don’t”  This is from the programme that pulled the disclosure of Jimmy Savile’s nefarious activities.  “Could I ask you a few questions” he said.  I assented and told him what I have just told you about Tony, George et al.  That to stop terrorist activity, if that is what it is, Britain has to change its policy, climb out of the 19th century approach to colonials.  Stop being the barbaric gangster and try being a humanist.  Blair, Brown, Cameron and May are the real terrorist etc, etc.

Afterwards I listened to three other people being interviewed and remarkably they came out with the same opinion as though we had got into a huddle beforehand.  But it made me appreciate I was not a lone rebel but there are lots of people with obviously the same opinion as mine.  On enquiry afterwards I found out that these other rebels were a school headmaster,  a lecturer in politics Manchester University and a local business man.  No duds certainly.  The whole country I think is not happy.

Hours later we huddled in front of the screen to watch our rebellion unfurl but except for a shot of the bowling green, they, the BBC Newsnight team who don’t have a “narrative”, pulled the item in the programme.  We are left unheard, unrecognised, unaccepted.  What harm!

Saturday morning and it is formal 90th birthday time, 40 honoured guests to be fed and entertained but first flowers to be bought, wine to be purchased, hair to be combed by those that have it.  And before we set off daughter 1 e-mails to say her road in Fallowfield has been closed off and the bomb disposal squad have introduced themselves.  We know no more.  The party cannot wait so we leave Daughter 1 at the mercy of the Bomb Squad.

The party was good, lots of old folk like me celebrating the life of an even older person with plenty of food and drink and I met some really decent if rebellious people.  This Manchester thing spreads through the ages and they have been known to be a little bolshie when faced by opposition.  Since Peterloo in 1814 when 1500 armed soldiers and cavalry charged into a 60,000 crowd of protesting unharmed Mancunians, killing 18 and badly wounding about 700 men women and children.  The people of this town can fight their own corner.

Everybody I have met this week have big hopes for Corbyn and they seem to want to pull Terry May’s underpants down and smack his/her arse.  The people I am talking to are elderly, middle class, affluent and normally devotees of conservatism that lost itself after that cricket loving leader took down the knickers of a Jewish Liverpool girl in a broom cupboard of the Houses of Parliament.  They are not happy with the way they see their sons and daughters having to deal with life’s problems that the Tories have sown.  The message is that Tories are boring disinterested Londoners who have not got a clue about what the rest of the country are thinking eg Brexit.

According to the YouGov poll issued today the Tories had a 22% lead over Labour three weeks ago when the election was announced but in those three weeks, because of social and economic gaffes, they have seen that lead reduce to five points.  Old Jeremy is working hard and five points could reduce quickly in the next two weeks.  Terry’s alarm bells are ringing and don’t I just love to see Tories wetting their knickers.  An even more alarming idea is doing the rounds that the Tories are trying to throw this election knowing the approbation to fall on the next government as it extricates itself out of Europe.


Fresh Lonely Air in England – Part 2

I landed at Manchester Airport expecting tight security but saw nothing, it was possibly all centered in central Manchester where the explosion had happened 24 hours earlier.  Thoughts of Helen had been overtaken by circumstances but Daughter 3 was dutifully awaiting as I walked out of the terminal to a very busy early evening rush hour.  Food and a glass of wine, a discussion about the events whilst the helicopters droned overhead.

Up early a game of football to relish this evening, Manchester United v A bunch of teenagers from Amsterdam.  No contest really but it will keep my mind off Helen as I view sites we had always viewed together.  On top of that there is a 50 over game against South Africa tomorrow.

It is now two and a half days since the Arena disaster and with nearly 21,000 kids in the audience that night two things have become obvious.  Firstly the diasporadic spread of the victims, from all over the north of England, one young girl from Barra in the Outer Hebrides and two , I think, from Poland.  Secondly because the explosion occurred in a public area outside of the main security cordon, it looks as though the waiting parents took the brunt of the blast.

As I sit here writing in this leafy suburb of south Manchester, it becomes really scary to see how appearances can deceive.  Houses are getting raided all round me.  Most of the arrests have taken place within half a mile from where I sit.  The Didsbury Mosque where lots of the Libyan community pray is only just through the trees.  However there seems to be repulsion in the Muslim community at this act and I am sure the security forces are picking up lots of intelligence about the disenchanted brethren that infiltrate these religious places.

At least the helicopters are grounded or have run out of fuel. that nuisance is finished albeit temporarily.  I have to ask what could they have done in an emergency.  It was a psychophantic idea as to what will sooth the tortured minds of Johnny Public.  However the authorities continue to close down and cordon off public areas.  Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport and various shopping centres in town bore the brunt today.  Do we not think they are doing a good job without them over-egging the pudding?

It now seems that the security forces knew the poor unbalanced man who is supposed to be the suicide bomber, recently returned from a trip to Libya and it is now suggested he also visited Syria and Germany, or so they tell us.  If so why were they not on his tail.  Why did they not pick him up in one piece before they started  picking him up in several pieces that were mingled with pieces of other poor innocents.  It is too dreadful a scene to be thinking of.  Will those responsible for this act of omission feel in any way responsible.  I doubt it.  Psychopaths with an agenda have no emotion.  Like the troops of war, the general public are nothing more than cannon fodder in the eyes of the “Security Forces”.

Tomorrow I go to see my aunt, the last survivor of my father’s family and as I write a helicopter is circling the skies above me.  Is it me they are looking for.  Is it me who has risen their ire.  Certainly in the last hour police presence in the area has increased.  If it is not me, their geese will certainly have flown.

And one last thought today on these terrible events.  Nowhere in the media, newspapers and banal television, have I seen or heard anybody posit the question why.  Why do these bereft Africans and Asians every now or then take up the idea that they have to rid the world of some good old white folk.  Or perhaps there is another question, do they.  However if we look back over the last twenty years or so and look at the damage us poor white folk have done to their countries, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, we can begin to realise why.  When we let these poor disenchanted peoples so easily into our community, that this laissez faire attitude of refugee control enables the odd rogue male with a glint in his eye to want to start saying to himself “I’ll have some of that”.

Many people I have spoke to are considering that point of view but what if it is a worse scenario.  What if poor demented Salman Abedi was lured to that spot and the device was remotely detonated.  What if poor old Salman Abedi was not there, the authorities soon had him sorted within hours as though they had been days on his case.

Probably and its more than likely possible that the perpetrators of this Manchester atrocity were Tony Blair for his heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan, George Brown for following in Tony’s footprints, for David Cameron for his gung-ho attitude to Libya and Syria and even Teresa May for continuing the farce in Syria and for selling billions of pounds worth of armament to the demented Saudis so they canm at will continue to massacre women and children in the Yemen.  Whilst the ridiculous psychopaths of Westminster continue to aim their sights at the poor impoverished Muslim communities of Africa and Asia for reasons known only to themselves and their brainwashed acolytes in the services both civil and armed, we have to accept a bit of pay back time.

So stand up  Teresa, David, George and Tony and accept the resulting actions of a very grieved man or men.  It is you that set this explosive device off, it is you who looked down the barrel of the cannon which blew these poorpeople of Africa and Asia to kingdom come.

And so having retched that annoying lump of phlegm from my lungs, I am off to see my aunt who is approaching 90 years of age and has certainly seen better times than this before us today.  But before I go I would just like to thank Daughter 3 and her very patient husband who have boarded me up these last few days and allowed me to climb one more step in my journey of recovery.


Fresh Lonely Air In England – Part 1

It is now 148 days since Helen died.  I am off to England for a day or two to celebrate the 90th birthday of a very active lady.  The question I have asked myself time and again is why.  67 is young these days, Helen had always been fit and healthy, never saw the doctor, she used to run five miles every morning before taking the kids to school.  She ran those five miles for year after year almost 27 years except when she was in late pregnancy.  Her death hit me like a thunderbolt as though it was sudden, unexpected.  but after spending 148 days thinking about it, it wasn’t sudden, it wasn’t unexpected.  We were all kidding ourselves.

She started dying about five years ago when she stopped walking.  Walking was a real problem, she said it was her knees, she said it was her ankles, she said it was arthritis.  She dosed herself with vitamin tablets and capsules but she would not see a doctor.  She sat in front of her laptop for months on end working out a cure for her complaint.  A year before she died she started having breathless fits.  “It’s only a bit of congestion” was her diagnosis, until I called the doctor and he sent her straight to Sligo Hospital and in there on April 10th last year she went into cardiac arrest caused as they found out later by a pulmonary oedema.  She was lucky it could have killed her.  The consultant said she would be lucky to survive the helicopter dash to Galway, it was there only hope.  It killed bigger and stronger people than Helen, just look at that fine Munster rugby man, Anthony Foley.

She survived but from that day never really improved.  For the last three months she was in a chronic condition.  Massive pain controlled partly by extra strength painkillers and opiates, rapid weight loss due to no appetite.  One boiled egg for breakfast was her daily diet which removed her strength to carry out the simplest of duties.  Her mind deteriorated and with these losses of bodily function, her anger grew and the worst of it was my nursing ability was poor but she would not see a doctor until in the end that personal choice waned and she was not able to resist my entreaties.  I shudder to think what anguish we both went through, as well as the hardships the visiting kids suffered.  For weeks on end with hardly any sleep and in fact the large doses of THC cannabis oil she was taking towards the end had hardly any effect on her pain.  The truth is though that in the post mortem examination, the pathologist passed no remark on her supposed cystic kidney or the sacral metastases in her skeletal examination, for that is what they were treating her for.  Did the cannabis oil cure her.  We will never know.  What she did die of was cardiac hypertrophy.  A condition that was never mentioned or discussed with us by the medical experts.

So with the three or four months of trauma leading to her death and the emotional upheaval of her loss, I was drained in mind and body.  How I got through that first quarter of 2017 is a miracle, a dull blur.  Speaking to so very few unless confronted, the kids were fantastic, visiting as often as 21st century life allowed.

Therapeutic trips were planned, the first to Malta although still raw, swiftly followed by two weeks in Marrakech which gradually and finally teased out the pain.  I am now embarking on my third jaunt, a trip to Manchester. A walk across old ground, thoughts of courting days and bringing up a succession of kids in which Helen played a major role and I just tinkered with my duties.  But on the eve of my departure, a tragedy, 22 mainly young people killed in a suicide bombers last act.  21,000 people at a concert by a singer, Ariana Grande, I had never heard of.  How much apart from the real world am I at?

The same old story appears, a local kid of North African origins, having attended the local school of the district I am now sitting in, leaves all his personal details for the police to find all intact within minutes, whilst his body lies shattered in a million pieces. Even America knew before his name was mentioned some hours after the event.   Something smells bad as it does in most of these public executions whether in Europe, Africa or America.  Open shows of strength, automatic weapons patrolling the streets, helicopters tramping the skies.  To what accord?  To show the people how strong the security forces are, how brave are these defenders of our freedom.  Whilst the enemy, if that is what he was, plasters the walls of the Manchester Arena, pebble-dashes the grey concrete edifice in a rich red hue.  Are we all so stupid to take in this propagandising vision that the authorities would have us believe.  That a 22 year old kid with no known technical ability could put such a complicated device together and walk past security and blow himself and a load more to their deaths.

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