Manchester – This Is The Place

by Matthew Cobb

After the terrible events of last night, there was a vigil in the centre of Manchester tonight, with thousands of people crammed into Albert Square in front of the Town Hall, there to express their defiance against the bombers, and their solidarity with the dead, the injured, and their families. It was a very moving event, bringing the centre of the city to a standstill.

Here are some pictures of the scene, from opposite sides of Albert Square. It didn’t even rain.

 

The most moving part of the event was this poem, by local poet (we have quite a few) Tony Walsh, called This Is The Place. If you know little about Manchester, this will give you an idea of the spirit of the place, and its place in world and British history. I can’t be arsed to name the people on the platform with him; they didn’t speak, anyway. The event closed with a very powerful rendition of Barber’s Adagio for Strings and we all went home, feeling lucky that we could.

58 Comments

  1. Eric HJayman
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Did no one who attended the vigil realise that it was the ideal situation for another Muslim mass murderer to commit more mass murder? Just what were Greater Manchester Police doing in allowing so many people to gather so close together?

    • Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      “Just what were Greater Manchester Police doing in allowing so many people to gather so close together?”

      Not giving in to the terrorists?

      • Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      • Eric Hayman
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        “Not giving in to the terrorists?”
        No – just following the government line that Islam is just another religion – and to tell the truth about it gets one accused of the sillily named Islamophobia. Yes – I am afraid of Islam and Muslims who want me dead because I am not and will never be a Muslim. It’s in the book.

      • somer
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        +1

    • GBJames
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      There is no hiding. Those Mancunian did what we all must do. Stand up, together. If I was nearby I would have done exactly the same.

      • Frank Bath
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        Indeed, and no matter how many of us these fanatics kill they can only ever be Lilliputian pinpricks on mighty Gulliver. We were bombed and blitzed and killed in WW2 by an enemy more determined than these young wankers. I speak as an unashamed patriot: Britain can take it.

        • Eric HJayman
          Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          You appear to have forgotten we – and our allies – were bombing the enemy. Abd that included the tens of millions Germans, Italians and Japanese who were just going about their everyday lives. Today we are told not to see all Muslims as the enemy, because to do so is illegal and against the religion behind the mass murderers.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:23 am | Permalink

            I don’t think Frank for one moment forgot that ‘we’ struck back in WW2, nor was he particularly ascribing blame.

            He was just pointing out that the British can refuse to be intimidated by terrorists. No suggestion that other countries can’t do so equally.

            cr

          • Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            This, and the fact that nobody thought of massive German immigration during WWII, shows that Britain is in greater danger today.

        • Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          +1

      • ploubere
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

        sub. F the terrorists, I won’t give in to fear.

      • Mark R.
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

        Me too!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:28 am | Permalink

        Agree with GBJames there.

        cr

    • SkepticPsych
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Eric, I’m guessing maybe you’re not a Northerner. We’re a diverse and hardy folk who wear our hearts on our sleeves. Whether tragedy or terrorism hits us, we all muck in and show our love and support in word and in deed. That’s just how we do things here.

      • Eric Hayman
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        Anyone who has call himself or herself “diverse” has me wondering for a start. It is utterly irrelvant whether I am a “Northerner” or not. No one is responsible for his or her place of birth. I have lived and worked around the UK – including “the North”, including Manchester – also in Africa, Asia and Australasia. From my “diverse” experience, English Northerners are nothing special. It was utterly irresponsible to allow thousands of people to congregate in Albert Square, regardless of their desires. As for “wearing our hearts on our sleeves”, at least there were none blasted to pieces by another mass murderer’s bomb. Not last night. But just wait…….

        • Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

          Wrong.

          If we stop doing what we want because of the terrorists, we have lost. The best way to defeat them is to show them we are not terrorised.

          • Craw
            Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

            I am going to rain on this parade and suggest that, apart from brief gestures like this gathering, showing we are terrorized is exactly what we will continue to do. There will be the usual apologias for Islam, the hairshirt blaming of the west, the skirting of the fundamental truth that this was religion at work, and one particular one especially. People aren’t just afraid of bombs, they are afraid of moral clarity, and the more we need that clarity the scarier many will find it.

            • Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

              Some people will be terrorised. I gather Take That canceled a concert in Liverpool “out of respect”. I would argue that is the exact opposite of resect.

              Most people won’t be terrorised. I’m going to see John Cale in Liverpool on Friday – as long as he doesn’t also cancel. I have no intention of hiding at home. A colleague of mine is taking his son to the FA Cup Final on Saturday. He’s not remotely concerned.

              I’m sure the media will try to whip up a frenzy and some of the British media have no qualms about attacking Islam, or rather Muslims, for things like this. Also, the government will use this as an excuse to infringe yet more of our civil rights.

              But few people in Britain will actually be terrorised.

              • Craw
                Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

                With respect, I don’t think you addressed my point. I am not talking about physical fear of attack. I am talking about the moral fear of being truthful about the attackers.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:25 am | Permalink

                @Craw
                You mean ‘moral clarity’ as in ‘sharing your opinions’?

                cr

              • Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                @Craw: I don’t think the fear of being truthful about the role of Islam in these attacks comes from fear of what Islamic attackers might do to us, I think it is a fear of what the reaction of the regressive left and religious apologists might do.

                People are more frightened that some comment wrongly deemed inappropriate might lose them their job than that they will get killed by terrorists IMO.

            • Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:04 am | Permalink

              + 1

          • Eric HJayman
            Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

            Would you walk into a pack of wild dogs after you had seen someone mauled to death just to show you would not be defeated by the dogs? Would you not kill all the dogs?

          • somer
            Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            +1

            • somer
              Posted May 23, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

              And we also need to strenuously critique Islam and the extreme clannishness of the religion defend ex muslims (look at their sites – read their utube accounts!!!) and point out that the pushback to liberalism as “islamophobia” is part of a spectrum that keeps producing violence to Muslims overseas and nonmuslims in the west. Also secular societies are better than humanist societies these days – some of the latter have lately pandered to religious accommodationism re sharia (Mariam Namazie)

        • Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

          It was utterly irresponsible to allow thousands of people to congregate in Albert Square, regardless of their desires.

          It’s not bloody Korea.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Da roolz have me handcuffed Mr. Eric HJayman!

      Manchester was/is a hard, industrial place that could eat you up [I don’t mean you as in Eric necessarily…]

      There are many places like that in the UK from Belfast across & down. The solidarity that engenders is still real & it shines out of the PEOPLE. That’s why a little place like Liverpool can change the world more than once.

      The properties of a community I’ve described are not unique to the UK, but the UK is unique for the number of hotspots of a similar bent to the folk of Manchester! It’s all over from the steel of Sheffield, the coals of Wales & the Midlands/North, the metal bashing of Birmingham & the Black Country, the tin of Cornwall, the cotton of Manchester & the Pennine cotton towns/cities.

      So I’ll vent my frustration with you via The punk Bard of Salford [a bit of Manchester] – John Cooper Clarke. Can you hear the hammers & the weaving machines sir?

      JCC kicks in halfway through, but eat it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBcbc8eWz6U

      • Eric HJayman
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        ” Can you hear the hammers & the weaving machines sir?’

        The hammers and the weaving machines fell silent generations ago – when British people including Mancunians began refusing to pay what it cost to make something in the UK. That is why a series of countries from India eastwards has taken over making everything from shoes and socks to motor vehicles and now even nuclear power plants. The Midlands and the North of England were the industrial areas that produced the clothing and machinery that was sold across the world. Now, no longer. As I said, true labour costs are not what people are prepared to pay.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

          @Eric Hayman AND Eric HJayman [I assume same person]

          Your over-literal Spock-of-the-pointy-ears style reply to my post indicates you didn’t ‘get’ what I was driving at – that people, places & history make connections that outlive the reality of now. It is legitimate to discuss say a Nelson spirit long after the end of the era of wooden ships.

          Listen to the poem Prof. Cobb pointed us to, think about the last minute of what Walsh said & leave out the cloth eared lectures please.

          • Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            All I need to do is read your words Michael to know that you-all will always give the middle finger to those sh!ts who attack you.

            Well done.

  2. GBJames
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Powerful poem.

  3. Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Eric, but I disagree. We should not be cowed. Defiance like this, and pride in our values as a free society – as summed up by this poet – is was makes us strong. Don’t let the b*****ds win. For the first time in a while, I’m proud to be British, and it’s great to see Brits of all races and faiths standing together in that crowd.

    • Eric Hayman
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      It is not a matter of “being cowed”. It is common sense. As for “and it’s great to see Brits of all races and faiths standing together in that crowd”, do you realise anyone in that crowd could have been another mass murderer? Especially if he was Muslim. If you really believe the bastards should not win, then get Islam banned in the UK. Every Muslim worldwide has the same beliefs as the Machester bomber – they all believe what is in the same book. Only not all practise what they read.

      • Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        If you really believe the bastards should not win, then get Islam banned in the UK.

        That’s an excellent way to marginalise them and create more terrorists.

        Every Muslim worldwide has the same beliefs as the Machester bomber – they all believe what is in the same book. Only not all practise what they read.

        I think that is
        demonstrably false. I would argue that the vast majority of Muslims merely pay lip service to the Koran while cherry picking the bits they find more acceptable.

        • Eric HJayman
          Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

          Do you know what “lip service” means? Here it means repeating was is in the Koran, and saying those words are the words of Allah. That is why I said “they all believe what is in the same book. Only not all practise what they read” – which is – with no need for res letters – demonstrably true. That is what they believe when they go to the mosque five times every Friday.

          • Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:09 am | Permalink

            You are saying unpleasant truths.

          • Posted May 24, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

            Well in Britain “paying lip service” means sort of pretending while not really believing. The etymology is irrelevant to the current meaning in the context I used it.

            • Eric Hayman
              Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

              You remind me of Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

        • somer
          Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

          No way do most British muslims side with the attackers other than a tiny minority. I suspect theres a sizeable minority who approve in places like Pakistan though buoyed by the narrative that most things that are bad that have happened to the muslim world are because of non Muslims especially the west when far away the primary ill is because of the extreme intolerance and sectarianism of Islam itself. I think its a spectrum with a very small – but dangerous extreme which keeps being perpetuated by the pressure cooker clannishness and the obsessive rituals and sanctions against questioning that are inherent in the religion. The scriptures and orthodox traditions are deeply problematic but the vast majority of Muslims are better than their religion. Most would not have read the quran (let alone hadith) and go by the traditional norms taught them and the books telling them how to be a good muslim as its held no Muslim can be muslim on the Quran alone – it must be elaborated with the Hadith – even the 5 pillars are in Gabriel Hadith and scriptures are frankly a bit of a disparate agglomeration transformed into a way of life by ancient legal schools of interpretation. Islam does, however mandate a very clannish society and this is part of the problem.

        • Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

          Your last paragraph: Exactly as Xians do with the Bible.

          • Posted May 24, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Yes. In fact, I was going to put that on the end but I accidentally hit “Post Comment” too earl

            • Posted May 24, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

              Jeremy, I’m entirely with you. I regret taking on Eric in the first place, as I can’t really say what I think of him and his views because of da Roolz!

  4. Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    What a sad reason to get together, but good to see that people are coming out this numerous. Thanks for typing this up.

  5. ashdeville
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    This chokes me up. I was born in Ancoats in Manchester 53 years ago and I had left by the time I was 21. I grew up in a deprived part of the city and could only dream of escaping the poverty – finally got to university and I chose one as far away from Manchester as I could get.

    Still have a love/hate relationship with the place. Hate the violence and the pervasive inverted snobbery. Loved the music and the swagger that comes from knowing that your city changed the world.

    Oh and it rained every effing day of my childhood.

    • Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      Chocked me up too — and I’m a USian.

      I’d take that Manchester spirit over der Drumpfenführer and his wall nonsense any day of the week.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    On the news in the U.S. this evening they talked about a women who spent many hours after the event getting young girls back together with parents. Also a Muslim cabby who spent the night getting people home at no cost. This is what people do after tragedy and it is the same everywhere. This is why we are optimistic and why terrorism will never succeed.

    • Craw
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

      It often succeeds. Have you noticed what has happened to the Jewish population of France? It is leaving, fleeing. Look at the fraction of Egyptian Copts in the past 15 years. Look at the books on the Muhammad cartoons that didn’t show the Mohammed cartoons.

      • Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        I agree. Islamic terrorism is succeeding.

  7. Kevin
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Definitely sad, but congregating different faiths will only incentivize fundamentalists. There should be hard words of criticism against not just religious fanatics but anyone who entertains the idea that religion will ever not be capable of justifying these types of acts.

    No one gets to sit in their garden thinking God’s just a bunch of rainbows and butterflies, when there can always be a young man who thinks God’s plan is death to all infidels.

  8. Posted May 23, 2017 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Manchester is the cradle of our industrial system, the most successful system the world has ever known. Despite its current woes, Manchester will endure long after these religious zealots are dead and forgotten.

    • Eric HJayman
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      “Manchester is the cradle of our industrial system”. Manchester was one of the cradles of our industrial system. WAS. The railways came from the North East. Canals were close to nationwide. Birmingham was the heart of small industry. All now in the past. And how long do you think it will take to quell Islam? The industrial revolution began just 300 years ago. Islam is 1400 years old.

      • Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Yes, 1400 years. But the Islamic golden age was 800 years ago, and since then it has all been downhill.

        • Tom
          Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:57 am | Permalink

          The Islamic Golden Age is a myth.
          Dig around in the “Golden Age” Middle East and you’ll find a christian heresy being gradually subsumed by what we call Islam, a heresy of a heresy.
          The Kaaba al Musharfafa itself began as a christian church, one (and the most northern of the cube churches) among several in Arabia in the mythical time of the Prophet
          This is why the Saudi Muslim fundamentalists want to destroy evidence of the time of jahiliyyah, its not a Pagan past that bothers them but a christian past.
          Ironic in a way.

  9. Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Brilliant poem, well-delivered.

    Carry on you tough Mancunians.

  10. Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    What a gathering!


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