Last night, Manchester was subject to the worst terrorist attack the UK has seen in almost 12 years. ISIS have claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing which took place at an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people - including an eight-year-old girl - and injuring over 59 (though some reports are estimating 119). In light of yesterday's devastating events, Flic Everett tells GLAMOUR how her city will pull through the tragedy...
“Manchester has always been about the future. I have lived here nearly all my life, and like a tumbling, grimy river, it constantly moves forward. Its tourists don’t come for history, they come for the excitement, the buzz, the music, the sport, and the warm, open-minded welcome.
A lot of cities are described as ‘tolerant.’ I hate that word. It suggests we only tolerate people who are different, that we simply turn a blind eye and purse our lips. That’s not Manchester. It’s not 'tolerant', it’s actively celebratory of difference. The gay village — the first in the UK — has meant that thousands, millions, of young, (and old) gay men and women can meet and drink and party in peace, welcomed and appreciated by a city that doesn’t know what ‘judgmental’ means. There’s Rusholme’s curry mile, Chinatown, hordes of international students, great drifts of selfie-snapping tourists. To walk down Market Street, our main shopping area, on a Saturday afternoon is to know what ‘multicultural’ truly means. But in Manchester, it’s not something to boast about, it’s just how it is. Normal.
We complain about the buses clogging up Oxford Road, where the students mill about, we moan about the rain, and we get very angry about racism, injustice — and cruelty. There is always a protest in Manchester, almost always a peaceful one (at least till the anarchists turn up and everyone laughs at them).
The broad caricature of the Madchester years — the monkey walk of the Gallaghers, the E, the raves, the ‘Gunchester’ tag – is entertaining, but Mancunians never really took it seriously. They always took the music seriously, but not the excitable headlines. It’s a city that takes very little seriously, on the surface. The Manc sense of humour is rightly celebrated throughout the world. We know how to take the piss, without truly offending anyone.
One of my favourite stories that demonstrates the Manchester attitude — open, welcoming, sarcastic — is about the time when Johnny Depp was filming in Didsbury. He was sitting in the corner of the Railway pub on Lapwing Lane, dramatically trying to hide from fans in shades and a hat. Two Manchester girls came in, took a look and shouted, “alright, Billy no mates?” across the crowded pub. Manchester is not easily impressed.
But when you’ve invented the computer, graphene, suffrage, changed political history, introduced Rolls to Royce, founded Manchester United and Manchester City, Granada, Media City, campaigning newspapers, and icons from Elsie Tanner to Morrissey to Mark E Smith, you don’t need to be easily impressed.
Manchester has its problems, too — widespread poverty, with all the wealth clustered in the centre and the South, crime, drugs (such as the current spice epidemic) and homelessness, but it also has an understanding of social problems, and a commitment to compassion. When ‘anti-homeless’ spikes were installed outside the posh shops, the outcry was so huge that they were swiftly removed, and never spoken of again.
Manchester is a proud, generous, wild city. And it’s young, in heart, and in its population. It has the biggest student intake in Europe across three universities. Many students stay on after graduating to live and work here in the second city. They make homes and raise families here, and they make use of all the entertainment and enjoyment Manchester offers, including festivals, theatres, and concerts.
I don’t need to reiterate how terrible last night’s events are. A tidal wave of grief has engulfed the city, and beyond, as we struggle to come to terms with such gratuituous, hateful mass murder.
But I do know that when the grief begins to ebb, Manchester will pick itself up, dust itself down, and look to the future again. If it’s in the hands of Mancunians, I think we’ll be alright."
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