On this blog I usually write about my love of science-fiction, but today I am writing about the desperately sad events in Manchester on Monday evening when 22 people were killed in a bomb explosion at the Manchester Arena at the end of a pop concert.
I came to Manchester in 1973 to go to University and, apart from some sojourns in Liverpool and Bolton, have been living in and around the city ever since.
I have so many memories of going out in Manchester: Captain Beefheart at the Free Trade Hall; the Buzzcocks at the Electric Circus; Rock Against Racism in Alexandra Park; Xray Spex at Rafters; Iggy Pop at The Apollo; the Dexys at the Bridgewater Hall; great theatre at the Library, Contact and Three Minute theatres; great pubs like Tommy Ducks (sadly missed); scruffy clubs like The Continental; eating in the legendary Plaza curry cafe on Upper Brook street ; and countless protest marches, against war, against racism… and in favour of a decent society that values people, not profit.
In his utopian novel The Sorcery Shop, published in 1907, Manchester socialist Robert Blatchford dreamed of a future Manchester of sunshine, beautiful buildings, flowers, children, music and poetry. In this passage he talks about the treatment of children:
The children can find homes in a hundred households. They can take food anywhere. Every house is open, every table free to them, and, still more happily, every heart is open to them also. No child here is denied food, no child is denied instruction, no child is denied love… Nearly every child is taught to draw, to model, or to carve, or to do all those things; and every child is taught to sing, and to dance and draw and carve, and can read and write the universal language, as well as English, before they are in their teens. They pick up other things as well; botany, astronomy, geography, gardening – many things…the children, boys and girls, all swim, and row, and play at cricket and many other games.
and in this passage he describes the centre of this future Manchester…
The great square presented an animated picture of rich colour, and noble form, and eager, happy, human life. The place was a garden: a garden of green lawns, and bright spring flowers, and sparkling fountains, and stately trees – a garden surrounded by marble palaces, and canopied by a blue and smokeless sky. Here the people – the beautiful, brave, impossible people – gathered in their thousands – walking, lounging, laughing, talking, as though the square were occupied by troops of friends.
thanks for listening..