Manchester. Again.

I heard about the stabbings in Manchester, including at the Starbucks where my daughter, (not on shift today), and some of my friends work, when she rang me to ensure that I wasn’t in the city centre.

Scrolling through news updates, I saw on a photograph that the part of Starbucks that had been sectioned off by police was where my son and I was sat only last night. I later heard from a friend, on shift when the attacks began, how they had to evacuate screaming customers into the back, and then into a neighbouring store, before being put on lockdown.

This took place just a few minutes walk from the Arena where twenty two lost their lives in the bombing of 2017, and also another attack last New Year’s Eve.

It shows just how close these attacks can be, in terms of both geography and involving people we know, and how we all have to remain vigilant.

Six Days Grace

This is my wife’s ticket for the Trade Centre, from when she went to the top of one of the twin towers just six days before the terrorist attack.

Six days.

It’s like playing Russian roulette with the calendar.

Remembering all of those who were there that awful day.

Breaking Light At Dusk

I’ve written that much, over on Facebook, about the tragedy and travesty that is unfolding at Bury FC, that I don’t feel like adding much more about it here.

But tonight, with tomorrow’s deadline looming, a deadline after which this historic club, after 134 years, will slip from existence, I took my son to Gigg Lane.

This is his club. Not a club he inherited from me, just as I inherited Manchester City from my father, but a club that he gave his heart to of his own accord. It’s a club that I have learned to love because he loves it.

On the journey there we heard a first glimmer of hope over the car radio. A chink of light in long-gathering shadows.

I feel a little more optimistic, but the margins are tight. It will go right down to the wire. It’s not dark yet.

22 Miles; 300 Million Gallons

Yesterday, the 1st of August.

Lughnasadh, the beginning of the harvest season.

What will we harvest? Will we reap what we sow? I don’t mean to get all biblical on you.

In Manchester yesterday, some of the older buildings of Dantzic Street here are dwarfed by the omnipresent CIS tower. The blue skies obscured by menacing clouds. The transition point of old and new; the transition point of summer and autumn.

I had 19th Century ancestors that lived on Dantzic Street, though I’m not as knowledgeable about that particular branch to tell you about them. Yet.

I got home to learn about the drama unfolding twenty two miles away in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire. Toddbrook Reservoir looms high above the town, much higher than that Manchester CIS tower. As torrential rain continued to fall, it was discovered that part of the dam wall was damaged. With a 50-50 chance of the water, all 300 million gallons of it, rushing down onto, into, over, the town below, the thousand residents were evacuated.

Whaley Bridge now sits as a ghost town, a ghost town waiting to be either swamped or saved. An unwanted cleansing of biblical proportions.

There I go again.

Today, this second day of August, the battle goes on. RAF helicopters, engineers, volunteers, all working together to try and hold back the tide, aided thankfully by a dry night.

We wait to discover the nature of this harvest.

After Speaking With A Parisian

Surviving Revolutions and World Wars, Notre Dame’s spire has long been a familiar sight to generations of Parisians, puncturing the capital’s skyline for over 800 years.

Back in the 1500s, the culture that we had built in the West embraced multigenerational projects quite easily. Notre Dame. Massive cathedrals were not built over the course of a few years, they were built over a few generations. People who started building them knew they wouldn’t be finished until their grandson was born.

-Jamais Cascio

Maybe it’s hubris, but we expect our creative monuments, our works of art, to last forever. Fixed points in man’s timeline.

Last night I spoke with a Frenchman, a Parisian, who was in mourning, speaking of a devastating cultural loss. I began to think of iconic buildings whose loss would affect we British people similarly. And then, as a Mancunian, a particular building in my own city, regularly seen and taken for granted.

I struggled to make a connecting comparison.

Then, the morning after that conversation, I woke to a photograph and the idea that, within all of those images of destruction and despairing I had lost touch with: there’s always hope.