Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today.

We were planning to go into town shopping.

Over indulgence the night before had delayed our plans. Getting ready to leave, we hear a boom, not thunder, not a lorry back-firing, not gun-shot...not sure…we shrug it off.

Then P phones. Don’t go. Something’s happening. Evacuation. City centre closed. Turn on the radio.

K is on GMR. Different stories coming in, conflicting information, breaking news.

An explosion? A bomb?

A bomb.

And in that moment everything changes. A standard Saturday morning of proposed shopping turns into worry…friends to be accounted for. Who was planning to meet us there? Have we covered everyone? Why is H not answering the phone? Is R definitely out of town? Our close knit group turning inwards, checking-in, coming together, listening to news, no one wants to be alone.

And all the while K is on the radio, separated from us, in the heart of it all, keeping calm, the voice of the BBC. At least we know she’s safe.

At last we find H. She was in Lewis’. Blown off her feet, but ok. She’s ok. She’s back with us. She’s ok.

Then thoughts turn to the outside world. Families to be reassured. My aunt rings. I’m ok, we’re ok, we don’t know yet, we just don’t know yet. My parents are off on their holiday, Mum knows I was planning to shop today. I don’t want them hearing and worrying, so via the travel agents I track down the hotel. I’m ok, we’re ok, we don’t know yet, we just don’t know yet. I ring my brother who is singularly unperturbed “I assumed I’d hear if you were caught up in it”. Ah well.

The rest of the day in shock. What’s happened here in our city?

Thank God, no one killed. But look at the devastation. The heart ripped out the city.

But the post-box on Corporation Street stood firm.

The aftermath. The days, the weeks, the months, the years.

Apparently the smell in the Arndale fish market is unbelievable.

M&S announced they would return. In a glass building, top-to-toe – how’s that for a one finger tribute? The Corn Exchange outlets moved to a new home and we tried not to mind too much. They moved Sinclair’s Oyster Bar and the Wellington again; beam by beam, peg by peg.

The city stood firm.

And rebuilt and improved and dreamed up a new better way of being.

And we discovered that the heart of the city isn’t contained in bricks and mortar.


sally said...

Oh you post-boxes in manchester, stand very firrrm.....

1 i z said...


Oh Sally only about three people in the world will get why that is funny.

The rest will just have to take our word for it.

I have tears of laughter as I type.

"oh you ferry-boats, stand very firm..."