I sat here a little over a week ago to write this blog post which followed a photography mission taking photos round Manchester with a colleague. It was a fun day capturing some images of the city for her to print and display on the walls of her new Berlin home. At the time I just couldn't find the words to describe the day that would accompany the photos perfectly. I just saved it as a draft, unfinished and unread.
Across what has been a devastating week for the city, reeling in the wake of a terrorist attack, the people of Manchester have shown me what needs to be said.
Manchester is a beautiful city, inside and out.
There are many ways to react to the devastating events that unfolded, the shocking loss of life and the cowardly act of terror. Manchester showed to the world what makes it such an incredible place. It's the people that matter!! The outpouring of love, generosity, solidarity and friendship that has been on full display like nothing I've ever seen. I can't imagine what must the friends and families of the casualties are going through, everyone's thoughts and prayers have been clearly with those who have lost their lives. I am fortunate that everyone that I know is safe, there are many that can not say the same.
What was striking was that the people of Manchester showed their northern spirit at it's full potential. Stood shoulder to shoulder with the people supporting us to help support them. Our emergency services are always there to help us in times of need, working tirelessly to save lives in the darkest of hours. However the general public brought food to the city hospitals to keep staff going through the tough night shift that unfolded. People rushed to blood banks to donate blood because they wanted to help in whatever way they could. Taxi drivers took as many people away from the scene for free and without question. People brought coffee to the brave police forces standing guard on our streets, hotels opened their doors as make shift incident shelters and strangers took care of other peoples loved ones just because they could. This says nothing of the thousands that took part in the vigils and memorials in the city centre.
Manchester you are incredible.
As a self confessed country boy I love wide open spaces, lakes, hills and the general outdoors. I'm not really a city person but having said that I do really enjoy spending time in Manchester. For me personally not only a place of work, it's a place of friendship, fun, first dates and football. It's a place of culture, arts and theatre. It's a place of nights out, great music and laughter. It's a place I should probably spend more time in but to me, it's everything a city should be.
Only a few days later after the tragic events unfolded we went for drink in a city centre bar for my colleagues leaving do before she flies to Berlin. It demonstrates perfectly It will take more than this to hold the people of Manchester back. The northern spirit is still there, pounding away, it didn't go anywhere and it certainly wont be frightened off. If anything it's even stronger.
Across this week many people have done this better than I ever could, Tony Walsh's outstanding poem 'This is the place' is a prime example of the rallying rhetoric I wish I had. Somewhere in this blog post I hope I've found the right words or taken the right photos to show what an incredible place Manchester is.
To the people of this great city, You are amazing. You are magical. You are Manchester.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those effected.