Standing Proud In Resilient Red

On this day in 1996, around 9.20 in the morning, a 3,330 lbs device was detonated in the heart of Manchester, the biggest bomb explosion in Britain since the Second World War.

While it devastated the city centre and injured 200, with an estimated 75,000 people present at the time it was both incredible and a miracle that nobody was killed. That was down to the bravery and rapid response of the emergency services, shop management teams and security guards who, acting on a coded warning from the IRA, had just an hour to evacuate everyone while stopping all transport heading into the city.

The last shoppers and staff were still running for their lives when the bomb went off.

I was working that morning on the outskirts of the centre, and in those days before mobile phones or internet, had no idea of the drama unfolding. I remember hearing the explosion and all conversation suddenly ceasing as we all looked at each other before heading to the windows to see the pall of smoke rising above the familiar landscape. Everyone of us knew people working in or visiting our city centre that morning, and in our silence were turning unspeakable fears around in our heads.

It wasn’t the first time, and God knows we now know it wasn’t to be the last, that our home city would suffer this way. But it could have been worse, much worse, the death toll could have been horrific.

And Manchester did what Manchester always does-it came back. It rebuilt. It regenerated.

Despite all of that devastation, the Phoenix of the modern Manchester that we know today arose from the ashes of that morning.

And, as a reminder to me whenever I see it, nothing stands more as a symbol of Mancunian strength, of Mancunian resilience, than that surviving red post box that can still be seen there today.

Rosemary’s Bay Bees

What a beautiful day it was today.

In fact, do you know what kind of day it was today? It was a Rosemary’s Baby and Fosters kind of day today.

So much so that I felt that I had to share with everyone on Facebook just how I’d passed the afternoon.

Why have you poured Fosters into a glass?! my daughter Courtney commented.

Because the glass wouldn’t fit into the can, I replied.

Obvious, isn’t it?

One pay-off to be made for the good weather at this time of year is that we have to share it with others. Other creatures, that is. A few days ago I noticed some bees flying around the end of the guttering at the front of our house, guttering that is close to both Courtney’s bedroom window and also her sister Millie’s bedroom window. Courtney and Millie are not the most bug-friendly girls you’re ever likely to meet.

When one of the bees turned up in our living room today I thought, while catching it to release outside, I’d take the opportunity to photograph it in an effort to identify the species. As it dropped onto the window ledge, I placed a glass over it (yes, the Fosters glass) and took a snap of it.

That’s right-the bee was doing what bees do and wouldn’t keep still, flying to the top of the glass. Eventually though, I got a close up.

From this, and from what I’d read when scientifically googling bee nests in gutters I deduced that the bees were most likely to be Tree Bumblebees. Eat your heart out Attenborough.

(Though don’t ask where the tree comes into play.)

And from what I’ve learnt I’ve decided not to take any action and leave them bee (😀) as it’s likely that they will leave the nest by the end of July anyway.

That’s only two months away. Eight weeks. Ish.

You can imagine how thrilled my daughters are by this decision.

Just wait until that sun is out again tomorrow, and the temperature rises, and how those windows should be opened to admit some fresh air.

I’m thinking now that tomorrow could be a Cool Hand Luke in the sweatbox kind of day.

Farewell And Thank You, Sergio

Say to any blue “Ninety three twenty” and they will know exactly what you mean. Chances are that any football fan, who isn’t even a City supporter, will on reading ‘93:20’ know exactly what it refers to.

Today, before he left us behind in this rainy city, he set yet one more record to go along with all the others. A list of achievements that will elevate him above most others who follow.

2011-2021. In his very first home game, ten years ago, he came off the bench and bagged a brace. Today, in his very last home game, he came off the bench and bagged a brace.

It’s poetic. The career of an adopted Mancunian in symmetrical balance.

I can’t help waxing lyrical. Even that photograph of him climbing those stairs for the final time: the player in front has 16 on his back which was his first squad number. He follows wearing number 10, his last one.

Loved by all City fans, man, woman and child. I’m thankful that my son was upstairs while I watched the curtain closing on Sergio Aguero’s Manchester City career. He thinks his Dad is a tough guy.