Manchester 

I was in Manchester weeks ago. 

My friend and I took the train and had an early evening stroll before a delicious meal and gin cocktails in Gorilla. 

Manchester is not my city: Liverpool is my home city even though I have never lived there. Yet Manchester, like Liverpool, is a symbol of the north and I am a northern lass through and through.  I feel pride in my homeland and the culture, history and beauty of the place where I was born and where I live.  

Life has gone on this last few days. I’ve put dishes in the dishwasher. I’ve picked up stray socks off the floor. I’ve taught lessons, phoned parents and sent numerous emails. 

Yet a stunned silence has covered my northern home like a shroud. Tales of pupils who left the arena minutes before the explosion, whose tears and guilt at living catch in the back of your throat. Candlelight vigils in neighboring villages, where innocents have lost their life in this tragedy. 

I drove yesterday and questioned my own fear that this could happen to anyone, at any time.  Questioned my quiet mourning for those souls I have never met. Questioned why anyone would want to kill innocent people. 

And then I realised that, that was the point. Terrorism is not about death and grief. They won’t celebrate the successful murder of 22 people. No, their target was me. Me and the hundreds of thousands of people who live in and near Manchester. The many people that have been there to visit the theatre or museums, to shop or dine, to go to a concert. Murder and death is a means to an end. And the end is fear. Fear to live the life that we have. 

Don’t get me wrong, I understand what terrorism is. I’m sure most people do. 

Yet the reason that the incidents keep happening is to awaken that fear. To chase away the hope that “it will never happen to us”.  So they will continue to target different towns and cities, different countries, awakening the fear that gives them power. 

Today I witnessed eleven years old bow their heads in respect. The boisterous, the conscientious, the cheeky, the shy…. Each one, so innocent and young, devoted that minute with utter respect and empathy for those in pain. 

And in them there is hope.  

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