A Final Manchester Post: Still The Flowers Grow

(Things have got heavy here on City Jackdaw, understandably so. This will be, I think, my final post on the Manchester bombing. At least for a while. And here are some final photographs: some inspiring, some personal, some heartbreaking. Thank you for acting as witness with me.)

There are still many armed police on the streets. I saw one heading for the Gents toilet in the Arndale shopping centre. “Do you want me to mind that while you go in?” I asked him, indicating his gun. He laughed. I’ve seen other officers reassuring children, placing their helmets onto young heads for photographs.

Meanwhile, outside, still the flowers grow.


Real bees-Manchester bees, were flying among the thousands of flowers, unthwarted by the barrage of moving tethered balloons.


There was a subdued air compared to the earlier staunch triumphalism, the knee jerk refusal to be cowed.

My two youngest children and I.

Then, somewhere beyond this transformed square, a lone piper began to play.


A woman took a photograph of her little girl, stood in front of the flowers. “I’ll show you this when you grow up.”

“I don’t want to grow up,” she replied. I can understand why.

Everywhere: an alternative message to hate.

Remembrance of the twenty two.


And messages to ourselves; to each other:


But also, heartbreakingly, survivor’s guilt:


My kids stayed a little longer, quiet and thoughtful among the reflecting figures.


This place of memorial draws the creatives: the musicians; the poets; the painters. I’ve seen them everywhere, and of course I’m one too. Bleeding our art through open wounds.


Victoria train station, through which the Arena (site of the bombing) can be accessed, has now reopened. Samaritan volunteers were present everywhere, handing out cards for anyone who may need help. Above the platform scaffolding shows where the damage is still being repaired, draped by one of the We Love Manchester signs that adorns the city.


And also this, a memorial to the dead, and a tribute to the people:


This has been laid, naming and depicting the dead as angels. The five males in white, the females in pink, the girl with the balloon the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie.


I left the centre still, even more so, a proud Mancunian, moved by the resolve of the Manchester people.

Manchester, Eleven O’Clock

It was announced that today the country would observe a minute’s silence to honour those killed on Monday. Where else could I go to honour this but Manchester? Despite the unprecedented step of the army being deployed to assist the police throughout the country and the government warning that another attack was imminent, avoiding this crowd was never an option.

My fellow Mancunians came good again: what a fitting and emotional morning it was. There were tears amongst the defiance, balloons filling the clear blue skies. And the fantastic moment when the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Manchester band Oasis, followed by thunderous self-congratulatory applause.

How ironic that an action designed to cause division has created a unity I have never witnessed before.

Here are some photographs of the day.

Here you can see a tribute from the Mayor of Salford, the city divided from Manchester by a river.

In the background you can see St.Ann’s church.

Everywhere there was balloons, for the children who were killed or badly injured.

Teddy Bears too.

Here is an artistic likeness of the Manchester Bee. A symbol of Manchester, the worker bee represents the city’s industrial past. Thousands of people are now having this tattooed onto their skin, proceeds going to the fund set up for the victims.

There are now even more flowers here, people were still queuing to lay bouquets long after I left.

The poster ‘Arianna we love you’ is to the distraught singer whose concert was targeted by the terrorist.

The square beginning to fill behind me.

Flowers being prepared to be laid-a bunch for each of the twenty two dead.

Afterwards I saw this-free coffee for members of the emergency services.

I’m not sure if the heavy presence of armed officers reassured or made me more nervous. Spotted these passing from a pizza place.

Adding to the emotion of the day: while gathered in the square, I received a message from a former student of ours, telling us that his family were standing with us in support, and here in Germany his family were flying at half mast a British flag in solidarity for his former adopted city.

Spend-A-Penny Pops

A great old photograph here, with “Momsie, Rita, Hazel and Dorie” written on the back, along with the year – 1910.

The four women look into the camera as they are about to leave on a journey, or perhaps they have pulled over along the way, because if you look carefully you can see someone in the background.

Is that Pops?

When you gotta go you gotta go.

Suffer The Children

I love these old photographs of these children here, but feel kinda sad for them too. Can’t help but look at them and contrast them with the lives of my own children.

City Jackdaw

I recently read about a local retired clergyman, Canon Jim Burns, who has written a book about the history of the whit walks in Manchester. He says that the first procession of Church of England members took place in 1801, between St.Ann’s Church and Manchester Cathedral.

In those days children worked for six days a week between 4.00am and 8.00pm. The local Sunday schools did not want the children, on their one day off, to become involved in cockfighting, gambling, or the drinking of gin.

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The idea they came up with was for the Sunday schools from around Manchester to have a big assembly for the children to attend, but the place to hold it could not be decided upon. Some argued for St.Ann’s church, which was more fashionable, while others argued in favour of the Cathedral.

In the end a compromise was reached in that the children would all…

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