Violent horror on our doorstep
Speaking to people on Tuesday, it seemed most either knew or knew of someone who was at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Monday night when a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured 59 others.
We did, our nephew was there, as well as loads of our daughters’ friends.
And many of you reading this will have dropped off your teenage kids at the venue and waited to collect them after the show in the same foyer where Salman Abedi detonated his home-made bomb as thousands streamed out. Taking your kids to see their favourite pop star in concert is a rite of passage, it’s part of growing up and should be a magical experience they’ll never forget. I’ve collected daughter #1 and her friends from that foyer after gigs by Florence + The Machine, Fall Out Boy, Bastille and countless more.
Like many of you, we’ve been to Manchester Arena loads of times, to see the likes of Prince and Depeche Mode, as well as the Disney On Ice performances, packed with families with very small children.
Maybe this is why this terrorist attack was felt so deeply by so many of us. This isn’t some far-away place you see on the news, we’ve all been there and, more often than not, we were with the people who mean the most to us.
Abedi and his handlers knew Grande’s fan base is predominantly made up of young girls. He knew the time they’d be leaving the arena in droves after the show and blew them up with his bomb packed with nuts and bolts. This doesn’t make him a jihadist or a freedom fighter. It makes him a child murderer who goes after little girls. So where do we go from here?
The vigil in Manchester on Tuesday night was a life-affirming show of defiance. We like going to football matches, concerts and festivals which draw crowds in their tens of thousands, it’s what we do. Glastonbury is as much a part of the British summer now as Wimbledon.
So should we all stop going out until this blows over? It’s a personal choice but it’ll take more than a murderer like Abedi to keep me away from gigs at Wembley Stadium, Hampden Park and Manchester Arena over the next six weeks.