Don’t look back in anger

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It’s terrifically hard to come back to this blog and write a post after the week we’ve had. Manchester has been on the world stage, for tragic reasons. This photo is a still from a video recorded almost a week ago, during a 1-minute since for the victims of the Manchester bombing. Following the silence the woman in front of me (Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow) broke into a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back in Anger. I joined in (there I am in the orange shirt, behind her). Then others did, and before long the crowd was singing along. It was stunningly simple and deeply heartfelt. I recall shaking from head to toe and the pent up emotions of the occasion were channeled through a song, a Manchester song. After it ended I gave her an enormous hug and thanked her. It seemed the right thing to do.

The feeling from then has stayed with me. All week I have been thinking how strange it was that I stood there – and that she started singing, just in front of me. I had moved from further back in the enormous crowd to stop there. How random. And how random it was for those poor victims, the 22 who were killed and the others who are still suffering from their wounds. Wrong place, wrong time. Stories curtailed. Lives lost for no reason.

How very random most everything is really. Many of us spend our lives carefully planning, setting goals, thinking about the next thing we have to achieve, the next milestone we want to reach. We go to school, we write exams, if we pass or fail or drop out does anyone give a damn (points for those who know which song this lyric is from). We face adversity and deal with it – well or not. And ultimately we all pass. Dealing with breast cancer has enabled me to face up to mortality, but by golly the events in Manchester last week have offered some perspective.

The only thing to do is to keep going. To stop, grieve, reflect but to keep moving. The Manchester 10K took place on Sunday. It was a huge success (as it always is, I ran it several years ago) and friends and family participated this year. There’s a Liam Gallagher gig tonight in Manchester, and a tribute event on Sunday. Manchester keeps on keeping on. It’s a sign. It’s testament to a city that won’t be beaten, or overcome no matter how terrible the events of last week.

I’ve lived in Manchester for 21 years. Its gritty charm has penetrated my DNA.  I’ll keep on keeping on too. The radiotherapy is two-thirds of the way through now. In a week it will be over. I’m going to take the inspiration from that lone voice, in the sea of well-wishes, to heart. Manchester will recover, said Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow in her interview when asked by @JoshHalliday why she started singing. And I am recovering. I’m a lucky one. And I will not look back in anger either.

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