Monthly Archives: May 2017

Giving Voice: It Was Children – and – It Was Intentional

Andrew James MurrayMy blogger-poet-friend, Andy, is a native Mancunian. These are excerpts taken from his account of and reactions to this attack of the innocents.

Quote symbolAround the time I went to bed the bomb went off.

I was totally unaware of what had happened until around 3.00am, when my wife woke me. Friends from around the country, indeed the world, had messaged us. Then, bleary eyed, we tried to process just what had happened.

There was footage of the panic; people searching for lost children; a distressed woman rang our local radio station with a horrific account of what she had witnessed; friends of ours announced that they were safe.

The friend of my little girl was at the concert with her family. There were other people attending that we know. My daughter herself was at a concert in that same venue just a couple of weeks ago. The arena can be accessed through the train station which I have been commuting from. Not so long ago I attended the Young Voices competition as a staff member with my children’s school choir. 8,000 children were present that day. Suddenly the horror that regularly unfolds throughout the world was on our doorstep…

…Manchester is no stranger to such atrocities. There was the IRA bomb of 1996 which utterly devastated the town centre. The Manchester we know today rose from the ashes of that day. But back then everybody had been evacuated, miraculously nobody was killed. Last night it was people targeted.

It was children.


Today has been a difficult day.

-The girls from my daughter’s class crying this morning in the playground in fear for a classmate who attended the concert. (She did not come into school but she was safe.)

-The tales related personally to us by people who were there, as well as someone who treated the injured in hospital.

-The distraught woman begging on television for news of her (still) missing daughter.

-The story of the homeless man, normally passed by and ignored on the street, who ran to help the injured, cradling a dying woman in his arms, comforting a young girl who had lost her legs, pulling nails from the faces of children.

-The victims beginning to be named, the ages, the photographs.

-The kids.

…It was announced that today the country would observe a minute’s silence to honour those killed on Monday. Where else could I go to honour this but Manchester? Despite the unprecedented step of the army being deployed to assist the police throughout the country and the government warning that another attack was imminent, avoiding this crowd was never an option.

andy's german student and manchester solidarity

Manchester solidarity in Germany

My fellow Mancunians came good again: what a fitting and emotional morning it was. There were tears amongst the defiance, balloons filling the clear blue skies. And the fantastic moment when the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Manchester band Oasis, followed by thunderous self-congratulatory applause.

How ironic that an action designed to cause division has created a unity I have never witnessed before.

Adding to the emotion of the day: while gathered in the square, I received a message from a former student of ours, telling us that his family were standing with us in support, and here in Germany his family were flying at half mast a British flag in solidarity for his former adopted city.

Update/Addendum

For local news videos of the various marches held in Manchester – go here for the laying of flowers at St. Anne’s Square after the minute of silence and here for the Muslim families marching to the arena in sympathy with those who lost loved ones in the blast.

Andy’s comment below servess as a sort-of followup to the above excerpts:

I’d like to put on record how proud I am of my fellow Mancunians. Not just the emergency services but the everyday people, how they came together in response. A page was set up on FB with people offering beds for the night, transport to and from Manchester, baby food, clothing, etc. The local hotels took in children separated from their parents, taxi drivers ferried people from the city centre free of charge, queues formed outside places for donating blood. Thousands are having the ‘Manchester bee’ (the worker bee is a symbol for Manchester in reference to its industrial revolution past) tattooed on their skin with proceeds going to charity. Over five million pounds have been raised in three days. It is not often I’m moved to be proud of where I live, but this week I have been. Immensely. The best of humanity has been witnessed emerging in the shadow of the worst.

Oh-and that homeless guy. He has been given a house, money, a job. As he said at the time: “Just because we’re homeless doesn’t mean we aren’t human. People, children, needed help.”

My SwS Project: from there to here

My blogger-buddy Anna visited Las Cruces, New Mexico for the first time a few weeks ago and posted a few photos and thoughts on the desert.  What a treat to see the familiar through her newbie eyes.

How serendipitous!

Mama Goat, Tater & Kids

Final Goat Family Portrait: Larry, Terry Scape, Mama Goat and Tater

I’ve been immersed in that period of time during our between homes journey lovingly referred to as living ‘on the compound in the desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico’.  Place where my Goat Suite Saga was born.

In less than two weeks portions of my Swimming with Swans project are going to be presented for the first time to the general public. MamaGoat, Tater, TerryScape and little Larry along with all of us humans and critters of the compound will be introduced to a group of locals as far away from life in the desert as one in the US can get. I often joke that we came from a Mile High here to the Swamplands…but we also came by way of the High Dry Desert.

Most readers of this blog know that I received a Puffin Foundation Grant for the recording of my Swimming with Swans: the music. One of the requirements for gaining the grant involved the pre-securing of a venue in which to present completed grant-proposal material.

Here’s the thing, The Goodwill Cultural Center found me.

Goodwill Parochial School with restoration sign

Goodwill Parochial School becomes The Goodwill Cultural Center

If not for Camden Writer and author, Brenda Bevan Remmes, I would have never known of this special spot nestled within an isolated area between Mayesville and Sumter, South Carolina*. Steeped in a long history of struggle, nurture, and yes, healing – The Goodwill Cultural Center aka The Goodwill Parochial School was recently restored to serve as a local heritage and arts center – offering historical, cultural and educational events to the public.

Brenda introduced me to this gem in the swamp about two years ago when the GCC held one of their first sponsored events by the Magnolia Singers from Charleston – shortly after the Emanuel AME Church shootings. I was amazed at the group’s desire to reach out in their hurt and offer insights into their culture while spreading a healing balm through their talented singing.Goodwill Cultural Center logo

WINDOW TO THE WORLD

REFLECTING ON OUR PAST AND ENVISIONING OUR FUTURE, WE AFFIRM THE RICH HERITAGE OF THE GOODWILL SCHOOL THAT OPENED DOORS OF OPPORTUNITY IN 1870, AND THAT IS A WINDOW TO THE WORLD TODAY THROUGH THE GOODWILL CULTURAL CENTER.
(mission statement)

I don’t pretend to understand the South. However, I have found a slice of something I like to call the ‘true spirit of a southern community’ in the Goodwill Cultural Center.

Over the course of these two years in attending various events at the GCC, I’ve observed the interactions between the locals. It’s obvious to this outsider the love and commitment these individuals have towards each other and towards working through its own healing-path. A sort of living reconciliation rooted in historical interconnectedness which touches me deeply.

This is a slice of the South I admire; a slice of the South not often seen by outsiders.

As such, I am both humbled and honored to be a small part in the GCC’s continuing legacy as a featured guest on Saturday, June 3rd.

 *about a 45 minute drive SW of FloTown

Happy Okay-Mom’s Day Musing

 “World’s Okayest Mom”

I saw that phrase at a blog I follow – she has the t-shirt and everything – I really related; albeit I’m not in the trenches of hands-on childrearing anymore, it still rings true. At least for me – an older gen Mom. Yeah, I’m a GrandMom, too, but not hands-on due to circumstances way beyond my control (sigh – it is what it is) so that’s why maybe memories of being a younger Mom still resonate loud and clear.  Here’s the poetic part of her blog post (be sure to visit it for the rest of the story)

World’s Okayest Mom, by Angelica Battista Bonin of Comically Quirky  Continue reading