‘He picked on the wrong place’ - why Manchester will recover from suicide bomb attack
- Credit: PA
Manchester has a swagger some outsiders mistake for arrogance.
It's actually part pride, part bluster, part self-parody. It's why Mancunians, no matter how biting the cold or how relentless the rain, will swear their hometown is the greatest on earth. It's what made Ian Brown of the Stone Roses, at a time when the city had one good nightclub, two good bars and three good bands, declare, 'Manchester's got everything except a beach.'
That swagger is missing today but it won't be for long. If the attacker who struck in such a cowardly fashion at the Arena hoped to turn a multicultural city of bravado and fun into one of fear, introspection and suspicion between races and religions, he picked on the wrong place.
Manchester's history is one of continued triumph out of adversity. When Liverpool tried to tariff Cottonopolis out of business in the late 19th century; the Ship Canal created Britain's third-biggest port in a city 40 miles inland. When the Busby Babes were all but wiped out in the Munich Air Disaster, the survivors claimed the European Cup within a decade.
When brutalist 1960s rebuild followed devastating World War II bombs to leave swathes of the city as wastelands studded with concrete crescents, bands like Joy Division created enduring art in the rubble. When they lost singer Ian Curtis to suicide in 1980, the remaining members regrouped as New Order, producing a brand of confident, upful electronic music which continues to define a front-facing city.
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When police chief James Anderton victimised homosexuals who he said were swimming in a 'human cesspool of their own making', we built our gay village. When the rest of the country laughed at our failed Olympics bid in 1993, we hosted the Commonwealth Games instead, building a stadium which allowed Manchester City to attract foreign investment, win two Premier League titles and completely regenerate the broken Eastlands area.
When the IRA flattened much of the lower city centre in 1996, intelligent rezoning opened up forgotten areas of Manchester's heart. People flocked back into the city centre, not from it. Just as people flocked there after the Arena attack, offering free taxi rides, offering shelter, offering their own blood.
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Manchester always comes back.