Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis captured the spirit of the mid-90s. At 15, I remember that time as one of optimism; we knew that something better was en route. Find me someone who doesn’t appreciate the magnificence of this song and I’ll show you someone who is anti my city: Manchester.
Just over three years ago, on 22 May 2017, terrorists hit my city. The bomb at Manchester Arena – a venue I had visited many times – targeted children and parents at a pop concert. 23 people were slaughtered, half of whom were kids. Hundreds more were injured. The horror is unimaginable. Targeting kids.
Yet this recent barbarism is rarely spoken about. But why?
Awaking to this news on 23 May 2017, as a Mancunian living here in Harrogate, I felt compelled to act. I just had to do something, but what. Assisted by social media, I organised a vigil at The Cenotaph. Around 30 people showed up. I handed out the words to Don’t Look Back in Anger. Led by the tour de force that is Michelle Beckett, we sang. It was beautiful, moving, cathartic. Kindly, staff from Bettys provided us with free teas and biscuits.
When I consider acts of terrorism in my lifetime, I think of 9/11, 7/7, the first Manchester bomb in 1996, Dunblane of the same year and the Warrington bomb of 1993 which killed two boys. One of those poor boy’s names is burned into my memory: Tim Parry. But I’m afraid to say that I cannot tell you the names of anyone who died in the Manchester Arena, just three years ago. I should know some of their names.
Pondering this puzzle this evening, my conclusion is that the people of Manchester didn’t let this event define them. Internecine conflagrations did not commence. Months later, the Arena was used again for a concert. Manchester did not look back in anger.