One month after the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena how has the city reacted.
We have just celebrated Manchester Day – a colourful parade of community groups through the city centre – in steaming hot temperatures.
I live in the city centre, the main road always rings with the sound of sirens as we are a direct route to a large hospital – that Monday evening we saw the 60 ambulances racing to the scene of the carnage. People took shelter with strangers as the city was locked down. Taxis, hotels and individuals offered any help they could – the emergency services were outstanding and ordinary people stepped up to show the city at its best.
Manchester is a party city – any event – music, theatre or simply getting together – always finds an enthusiastic audience. In the Northern Quarter – my home – bars are open into the early mornings – the large student population make this a vibrant area where every race, gender and sexuality is welcome.
Did terrorism end this? Of course not.
In 1996 the IRA bombed our major shopping centre – another hot summer day – when the city was full of visitors for the European football Championship. The next day I was at a packed Old Trafford watching Germany and Russia. There was increased security, as there is today. On a visit to the theatre last weekend my bag was searched. We have become accustomed to seeing more police on the streets, some armed with fearsome looking guns. Do we like this? No. Will it stop us living our lives – definitely not.
We smile at each other more – we have cried together, but we have also danced and laughed and got together as we always did.