Two Years Ago Tonight

…they tried to break my City. They attacked us, killed the young among us, expecting us to bend and shatter. They had no idea who they are dealing with. We are Manchester. We do not cower from you, we will never kneel to you, we will not change for you, and in the end we are too many and too much for you. We are Manchester. We will stand side by side. We will laugh in your faces and if you dare try to do this again, we will have you. That lot down the other end of the East Lancs Road say ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Cross us once more, and You Will Never Walk Again. We are Manchester, and you don’t mess with us, mate.


Niki Lauda R.I.P.

I’m not a fan of motor racing. it doesn’t do much for me, and the last time I actually took genuine interest in a race was the one in which Lewis Hamilton had the chance to win his first World Championship (and because I had to go collect my younger stepson from his mate’s, I missed the moment he won it by seconds).

But I remember the crash that nearly killed Niki Lauda, that burned him unmercifully. And I remember that he was back behind the wheel before that season ended. You don’t forget that sort of thing. Respect is too small a word for the man who can do that.


**** Off And Die

A Br**it Party leaflet has just been shoved through my letterbox by the Post Office, ahead of Thursday European Elections, demanding I vote for them to save Br**it. I voted Remain.

For the first time in my life, I have deliberately spat on something.

I am putting the leaflet in the bin rather than the paper-recycling pile. I wouldn’t want anything to escape from it and contaminate paper that might have something decent printed on it.

**** Farage and the snake he slithered in on.

Terminus Est

Ladies and gentlemen, we have lost a master.

It doesn’t matter how much we may have expected it, for he was 87 and had not published a book in four years, it still comes as a deprivation from which it seems impossible to recover, that it has been announced that Gene Wolfe has died.

He leaves us his stories, and we should be content for those stories contain not just worlds but Universes, and not just Universes but trickery and puzzles and things that go bump a long way beneath the surface of the words you are reading. Wolfe never explained. And now he never will explain, and we are left to use our own imaginations and intelligences to try to divine what exactly he meant in hundreds of cases.

He leaves us whole books, concealed with the pages and the lines of books we have read, and as long as one unguessed at secret remains unpenetrated, he will not die. He will live a very long life that way. And we will thank the God in which he believed so deeply that we shared those years in which he wrote, and not an era in which such things did not exist.

Terminus Est.

Notre Dame de Paris

I am not a great traveller, but when I was married, I was taken for a weekend away in Paris one Easter. I loved the City. On our first full day, we caught a river bus from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame Cathedral. I have seen that ancient and beautiful building for myself. I watch it burning, taking centuries with it, and I am hard pressed not to cry, which is important because I am still in work as I type this. I am not Catholic, but something irreplaceable is going out of the world and I feel a kind of survivors guilt, that I saw it and millions now will only ever know of it from photographs and a tale that ends in tragedy.

Thirty Years

I am a Manchester United fan and proud of it.Both as a Club and a City, our most intense rivalry is with Liverpool. So much so that at the moment I am willing on our local rivals to win the Premier League, rather than the Scousers.

But all that animosity fades away to nothingness in one area. That is Hillsborough, and wanted happened there thirty years ago today.

Like those of my parent’s generation, for whom it was the Kennedy Assassination, I will never forget where I was when I learned about Hillsborough. I will never forget putting on my car radio, an hour after the match, unknown to me, had been abandoned, and the first thing I heard was silence. No-one was speaking. All I could hear was the crowd. I had an instant, sick feeling that something had gone horrbly wrong. It was the same sound that I had heard when I’d put on the TV for the European Cup Final at the Heysel.

Rivalry was forgotten then. These were people I understood, people who but for their affiliation were me, with a different scarf, different badges.

Thirty years on, the loss remains undiminished, an awful disruption to lives and loves. Justice has come to the 96 and their families, but even now the bastard who was responsible, who allowed it to happen, has escaped conviction. Given thirty years, he may end up escaping permanently, without suffering the least punishment for his craven stupidity.

Thirty years today. Our hearts are on the ground for our brothers and sisters.