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.