3rd August 2017
Megan Wright is a Healthcare Copywriter here at Havas Lynx. Following the MEN attack on 22nd May 2017, here are some beautifully written words about the place we call home, Manchester,
I wasn’t born here, I was drawn here. I’ve stayed for eight years, and plan on staying for many more. I first came to Manchester on a Geography trip in high school, learning about inner city regeneration. Spinningfields was still steel, Ancoats only had the Chip building and our teacher was telling us horror stories of 80’s Moss Side. But there was something about it, and I wanted more. So I moved here for uni and, aside from a depressing six months of unemployment after graduating, have called it my home ever since.
I think the place you leave the family home for, where you begin to find your feet and take those first wobbly (sometimes due to “Down it Freshaaaa”) steps as an independent adult, will always be special to you. At least it is to me.
I have so many memories scattered around the streets of Manchester. Acting out COD around campus, house parties in Fallowfield, dancing in the rain with lost friends in Whitworth Park, walking down Portland Street for my first job interview, fateful nights in Speedy Peppers after skipping dinner for doubles in the work local, crawling round Platt Fields for BMF, speed-walking the canal to work, (the closer you live the easier it is to be late. Just saying). Falling in love with bands at Albert Hall, never quite knowing my way round the Northern Quarter when drunk, or Afflecks ever. Tequila fuelled twirls in Piccadilly play park, introductions to Ingress on street corners, stolen kisses in China Town. This city has shaped me, and two months ago I fell more in love with it than I thought possible.
I wasn’t awake when the attack happened. I woke up at 3am to several messages asking if I was fine. I was, but had no clue what was happening. The situation then unravelled through breaking news reports, tweets and posts. It’s the strangest feeling. When any attack like this happens you feel horrified, and empathise and want to show your solidarity. When it happens in your city, the place you call home, it feels personal. So surreal. Yet it causes an incredible pain that means it’s anything but.
And the whole city felt that. You could almost touch the grief. In the silence of St. Ann’s Square, where the trees rustled but balloons didn’t sway. On the streets, which weren’t quite as crowded. And at the vigil, where more people than ever packed into Albert Square, emotions rolling in waves before outpouring in a chant of “Manchester.”
People didn’t understand the applause, or chant. “How do they think this will help? Pathetic.” “Yeah, a load of people shouting Manchester is really going to stop terrorism, why don’t you go and actually fight it.” Sigh. It was a vigil, not a call to arms, or a rallying cry to go to war.
We grieved for the loss of young innocent lives at a time when they should be experiencing joy. For the children who have been orphaned. For the partners who are widowed. For the friends who are lost. For the families now incomplete. For the many people in critical care and facing life changing injuries. The chanting and clapping was how we expressed our grief, anger, sadness, disbelief, love, defiance and hope. Hope that we still stand together, united. Because how else can you get through a tragedy?
We coped. Together. People were kind. From the hotels and taxi drivers on the night, to the public bringing food, drinks and gifts to the emergency services working round the clock. Conversations struck up between mourners trying to find understanding in the madness. Hugs were taken from strangers as comfort, no words needed other than a whispered thank you as tears were wiped away. Through the visible heartbreak there was an undercurrent of love. A love that came with hope, defiance and action.
I could go on. But there’s just too much to say, and no real way to say it. If you were in anyway affected by the attack, then my thoughts and love go out to you.
I do want to say thank you, to all the emergency services and incredible people that were first on scene. I don’t know how you did it. And to anybody that helped, even in the smallest way, keep us a city united. I couldn’t be more proud, or happy, to call this place my home.