All my friends will tell you, I love Manchester. It is true, that I occasionally have a brief love affair with London but I am always thrilled to come back home to my beautiful Manchester. I’m passionate about it. Of all the cities in all the world that I have been lucky enough to visit, Manchester for me, is my favourite. It really is the “Bees knees” and never before has this phrase meant more or been more powerful.
I grew up on Manchester’s outskirts in Saddleworth. When I was little, my brother and I would have to wear our Sunday best to go on a trip to Manchester. It was a day out. An experience. A complete treat!
Manchester is where I’ve spent some of the best times of my life. It is the home of my favourite Italian restaurant where many a belly laughing hour has been spent. It is where my Dad, Brother and I chant in the stands of The Etihad stadium “Come on you Blues” until I am hoarse. It’s where, in its exquisitely stunning Town Hall, I will marry the love of my life.
I champion Manchester. It’s a small big city. It’s diverse. It’s friendly. It’s full of everything needed for every walk of life. No matter how much or how little you have, Manchester has something for everyone. Manchester is a beautifully faceted, complex Diamond that I love to visit. As you study the crown of the diamond, the girdle twinkles and catches your attention and takes your eyes in another direction that offers something new. Before you know it you’re studying the Pavilion of the diamond and you’re in. Hypnotised by its intricate beauty. A new sight or a new experience at every single part of the incredible jewel that it is.
However, there is one thing Manchester has in abundance. Love. So much love. Love for comedy, love for music, love for theatre, love for culture, love for its people, love for its visiting people. Love for its Shoppers, love its businessmen and love for its city break visitors. Whoever or whatever you are, Manchester makes you smile with its pure, genuine love. It invites you in with its intoxicating promise. It proudly shows its abundance of wares from stunning architecture both antiquated and modern to restaurants, bars, museums and many other delights.
And then, from behind, she gently creeps up and wraps her arms around you, tenderly embracing you in homely love, making you feel safe, warm and at home.
Manchester is at it’s very heart, unity, love and solidarity. The action 6 days ago, that was designed to divide us and cause hatred has done exactly the opposite. It has brought us together in a way I have never in my life experienced and if something good has to come out of the total and utter atrocity that was last week, that single act has brought out the best of Manchester. This week I have witnessed or read about some of the thousands of acts of kindness and humanity to come out of it. Already Manchester is triumphing over adversity. The massive gash that will leave a scar, is being tended to by good, kind, genuine people that want the wound to heal the best it can in the long term. That single act has undoubtedly united us. It has let us show the overwhelming love we have to give. And although we would all much rather not to have had to show it, the fact is, we have. We are now showing the world, and I mean that quite literally, that we are the most human city you will ever be able to visit.
Humanity is the best response to hate and the people of Manchester have shown that in the last 6 days.
You will never defeat Manchester with hatred because Manchester loves too much, too hard. Its passion pumps too vigorously for anything to be able to spoil it. You can try and try again but that love will always, always remain.
Unity, love and compassion are a more powerful weapon than anything that seeks to divide us. Thousands of people are being tattooed with the “Manchester Bee” in a show of solidarity so powerful, that even I am tempted to get myself inked.
We are currently united in an incredible grief, but we will mend. We have before and we will again. We will carry on loving. We will especially love the families of those that had loved ones taken away so cruelly here. I know that. They will always be loved and their loved ones will never be forgotten by us. Never. We will go on to the next stages in the grieving process but Manchester and its bees that are still buzzing, will love so fiercely that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.