And Yet So Much To Say
Last night, terror encroached on childhood.
Last night, evil robbed innocence.
Last night, cowardice struck the defenceless.
Those watching the early report of events in Manchester would no doubt have hoped that this was a small scale technical problem or an inconsequential structural failure at the Arena but as time went by, the images of ambulances racing to the scene, the sight of armed officers and then the arrival of the Bomb Squad began to confirm the worst fears.
Confirmation was a while coming but when it came, via a briefing from Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, hearts sank and words seemed impossible to find.
The images being broadcast – the brief video clips from inside – began to take on a new context. Now we knew what that noise was. Now we know why those people were running and screaming.
It is perhaps unfair to draw any comparisons between any terrorist atrocity. In any and all of them, innocent people have lost their lives terribly and for no good reason – but this one is different.
Once again innocent people have lost their lives. Once again the method was indiscriminate and appalling but the individual behind it has not just targeted joy – they have targeted our children.
This has happened in other countries for sure and it is not the first time in the U.K. that children have been the victims but to walk in to a venue full of happiness and innocent young lives and do this…. deliberately …. is simply incalculable.
Against this backdrop of misery and the very worst of humankind we saw the best. The emergency services rushing to the scene, the police, ambulances, fire service, bomb squad. We knew that hospitals across Manchester were going to be inundated with young people with terrible injuries and the staff would do whatever magic they could to save life. The staff at the Arena; the taxi drivers who offered lifts; the hotels who opened doors and rooms; gig goers who rallied to help and support one another and a local community who sent out messages and displays of love and kindness to those who had visited their city.
The usual press circus has arrived and whilst there is huge public interest in this terrible event we have seen journalists hounding desperately worried families and even interviewing young children and making them re-tell events to cameras without any apparent thought for their long term wellbeing.
Claims of responsibility have been made but we don’t care who you were. We don’t care what you believed. We know that you were worthless and we know you were wrong. That’s all we ever need to know about you.
The press would do well to ignore you completely and focus solely on the lives that do matter – those taken away at a time when they should have been on an all time high.
It is actually very easy and hugely upsetting to consider the happiness in that place moments before this happened.
And now there is this – a nation struck again by something completely against human nature and without rational explanation.
At times like this it is often hard to find words to comment on anything – but there is so much to say.
To those injured and killed – we are so very sorry.
To those involved and who witnessed events – we feel for you.
To the families – we can offer little but distant love but a lot of it.
To the emergency services and first responders – thank you.
To the people and city of Manchester – we stand with you.
To Ariana Grande – an artist whose show was so mercilessly targeted – this was not your fault. You brought joy and music to these poor people before this happened.
Above all else – to our children – we love you.