You might have noticed that there’s been no posts from me this week. Tried & Tested went live as scheduled on Tuesday but I haven’t been able to write anything new. In fact I’ve achieved little of worth all week if I’m honest. It doesn’t feel right to just sweep this week under the carpet and carry on as if nothing has happened so I’m just going to write and see what comes out. Hopefully getting my thoughts out of my head and down on paper so to speak will allow me to leave them alone, draw some sort of a line and get my head together.
On Monday night I went to bed as normal, my head filled with lists of jobs I needed to get done the next day – filming, writing, photographs – the usual stuff and nonsense that I think about before going to sleep. Dave had fallen asleep sometime before me as tends to be the norm with his early starts and I was chatting somewhat inanely to some friends on facebook messenger before going to sleep myself.
“There’s been a bomb in Manchester”
Wait? What? Surely not. No.
Before taking to trusted news sites trying to find confirmation and finding nothing. Twitter was awash speculation, tweets from people living nearby wondering what they’d just heard, speculation, people hunting for information.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter. And it can be an amazing source of information but on Monday night it was a minefield and the lack of official information only served to make things worse whilst people scrabbled around trying to piece together what on earth could have possibly gone on.
None of us were able to sleep for needing to know what had happened, I guess we just wanted reassurance that it was nothing major, that it had in fact just been a blown speaker or some enormous burst balloon which had frightened people and caused a bit of a stampede . . .
It became clear fairly quickly that in fact the lack of official information was an indication of just how serious things were. Nobody was taking to Twitter to clear up rumours. The news websites were telling us nothing.
Now I only live about 4 miles from the Arena, not far from the main road into town from Oldham which meant I could hear all the sirens rushing into the city. That was hard. Really hard. It made it so painfully real and I think for me that was the moment I really knew that this was bad.
I spent several hours talking to the same group of girls whilst we supported each other and shared things as we found them out. Dave slept on blissfully unaware but I came so close to waking him numerous times as I cried – through shock, disbelief and sadness for the people involved, their families and for our city.
It was around 2.30am before I finally gave in and went to sleep. Dreaming about explosions and trying to escape crowded places only served to make me wake up in the morning thinking that it hadn’t actually been real.
On Tuesday morning I spent a little time explaining to Ben what had happened. I knew that the playground would be full of it and wanted to control his understanding of things as best I could first. He was sad and understandably a little scared – all the more so for being able to understand exactly where this had happened but I was confident I had done the right thing in talking to him about it and since then we have spoken about it most days.
My normal status quo is to not really pay much attention to the news – I tend to live in my own little bubble, my current affairs knowledge stretches as far as whatever Holly & Phillip are chatting about on This Morning or little snippets picked up during the breakfast show on the radio. It’s self preservation I think, ignorance is bliss as they say. My friend Molly very sensibly advised me to switch off, to log out of social media, turn off the news and protect myself for a while. Clearly I failed to listen to her and basically spent the whole day glued to the news which did me no good at all.
Each time I got a message from a friend or relative checking I was ok or telling me they were glad they’d seen me on social media that morning brought fresh tears. An appreciation that I was loved but more that things were so close to home that sensible, grounded people had needed to touch base for peace of mind. It made things feel even closer.
I was so glad to be teaching on Wednesday and Thursday as once you’re in the classroom there really is no head space for anything else and it gave me time to forget but I ended the week utterly wiped out. Emotionally and physically drained.
I’m genuinely surprised by how hard this week has hit me. I don’t directly know anyone who was involved in the attack but it was on my doorstep. Manchester has been my home for almost all of my adult life, in fact I think I’ve now lived in Manchester longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a proud Yorkshire lass but I’m even prouder of Manchester this week and the really truly awesome people who live in this city.
And so now, we carry on. We live our lives with love and we don’t let them win. This is Manchester, we do things differently here.