Monday 18 December 2017

Mancunians don't look back in anger despite recent horrors

Crowds look at the floral tributes after a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester, to remember the victims of the terror attack. Picture: PA
Crowds look at the floral tributes after a minute's silence in St Ann's Square, Manchester, to remember the victims of the terror attack. Picture: PA
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

It was the most Mancunian of moments - a flash of the old, spiky swagger for which they have long been known.

Officially, it was only a minute's silence, shared across the UK - but in reality, the people of Manchester stood there for far longer, still and unmoving as the church bell in St Ann's Square tolled for 11 o'clock.

It ended with ringing applause before one man shouted: "Rock on, Manchester."

And then the iconic sound of the Oasis 1996 hit, 'Don't Look Back in Anger' lifted, first in the brave lone voice of one woman, but soon joined in by hundreds of others.

Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow explained later she had begun to sing because "that's what this is about".

"We can't be looking backwards to what happened, we have to look forwards to the future," she said.

"We all joined together and we're all going to get on with it because that's what Manchester does.

"It really touched my heart and gave me shivers to hear everyone joining in with me."

It was the third minute's silence held in the city since the terror attack.

Hordes of workers poured out of their offices in a body as they headed down to attend the event.

"I wonder if the police are expecting this to be this big. I certainly didn't," said one man as he marvelled at the size of the moving crowd.

But it seemed an important thing to do - to stand there in solidarity and inclusion together as they formed the beating heart of their beloved city, mourning the terrible loss of the 22 victims, whose names and photographs had by now all been released.

Each one vibrant, fun-loving, young and tragically snuffed out all too soon.

The tributes from their families were devastating in their sadness: "Precious, wonderful, beautiful, vivacious, always smiling."

Amid searing temperatures of 27C, the city seemed cloaked in an air of unreality.

The weather struck a carefree tone but heavily armed police officers in bullet proof vests stood on all the streets where people were gathered.

The terror alert was still at 'critical' level as authorities warned the public, security and health services to be prepared for the possibility of another attack.

The area around the Manchester Arena remained sealed off, while reports surfaced of houses raided, abandoned cars inspected and towed by bomb disposal teams.

Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to the young victims at the Children's Hospital, describing the attack as "very wicked". Meanwhile, people of all ages were continuing to come to lay bouquets of flowers, pot plants, teddy bears and balloons at the ever-growing shrine at St Ann's square.

One woman laid a simple peach rose tied with the red and white ribbons symbolising the Polish flag, in memory of Angelika and Marcin Klis, who died in the blast while waiting to collect their two daughters from the concert.

"I just wanted to come down again because I can't stop thinking about it," said local woman Margaret Roberts, who left a pot of purple daisies at the shrine.

"I can't get it out of my mind. I think this is the only way we will ever get over this - by looking after each other."

The shock of Monday night's bomb attack has abated, replaced by sorrow and anger. Sorrow for the victims and anger that their beloved city was the target.

But, above all, urgency, with the battle continuing apace to find those responsible before they could inflict more devastation and misery on communities.

Irish Independent

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