- Quick Disclaimer, I am not trying to take away from the tragic events that happened in Manchester nor am I trying to brush it off, however I’m making this post as outsider simply talking about my own person experience of the day itself, Thank you.
On the 4th of June 2017, I decided that I was going to do something I had NEVER done before….I decided I was going to travel to a place out of London to go to a concert, alone. If you would have told anyone that knew me a year ago I was planning on doing something alone, they would have laughed at you. Don’t get me wrong, I love to do simple tasks alone, maybe even take a trip or two to the cinema alone but I have never been able to fully take myself far away from my safety net which I call home and travel alone. Being blessed with the curse of major anxiety issues means that simple tasks like getting on a train for even 10 minutes can feel like I’m about to be on a plane for over 12 hours. It’s only recently that I’ve stopped asking my boyfriend to sit in the bathroom with me while I had a shower so that I didn’t feel alone or get bored, but I knew I had to be in Manchester that day. If you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, One Love Manchester was a benefit concert set up by the fabulous Ariana Grande to help raise money for the victims and families affected by the tragic events that happen on May 22nd. A suicide bomber entered the Manchester Arena and detonated a bomb which killed 22 victims and injured 119 others. I had tickets to Ariana’s following London shows but they were cancelled, and I can totally understand why. I knew that I had to be at this show, not for the performers and amazing line up but to prove a point. Love always wins.
I woke up early Sunday morning and began my journey to Manchester. At this point I should explain that I’m from South East London and Manchester is 5 hours away by car. I didn’t know this until I was on the train heading to Manchester, it’s fucking far. After the loudest train journey I have ever experienced while travelling with a bunch of excited Man United fans, I arrived in Manchester and couldn’t wait to sleep. I headed to my Hotel and had a quick power nap before starting my journey at 4pm.
When I say this was the highest security I have ever experienced in my life, I am not joking. All 4/6 roads closest to the Arena were closed, so no cars could enter or leave. Each road had at least 20/30 Police officers guarding them with vans and guns, It was equally the most terrified and safest I have ever felt in my life. Because I went alone it meant that I as going to be stood alone with no one to talk to unless I wanted to drain the battery on my phone, luckily a lovely group of girls took me under their wing and let me hang out with them. I can not begin to thank those girls enough, so if any of you are out there reading this, thank you for the giggles and endless gummy sweets you supplied me with that day! I would like to say at this point, I had a standing ticket. STANDING. STANDING WITH 50,000 OTHER HUMAN BEINGS…ALONE! I wasn’t too far from the front so I’m so thankful I didn’t look back, because if I did, I would have left in a heartbeat. As people began to pour into the stadium, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and many local familiar faces began to give a bunch of speeches about not letting fear win and how strong Manchester really has been and always will be. Then the Arena fell to silence for a minute to respect the victims, and then ended with a giant roar with screams and cheers as the magical night began.
Everyone performing did such an incredible job, The Summertime Ball didn’t even have a line up this fabulous this year. People from Take That to Robbie Williams to Miley Cyrus to Justin Bieber came to Manchester to show their love and endless support for Ari and everyone that the tragedy affected. Although I would love to go into endless detail about how hearing 50,000 people chant “Manchester, were strong. We’ll keep singing our song” in-sync and in perfect harmony, I couldn’t because this blog post would turn into a bloomin’ novel. The only people I want to really talk about is Ariana and Coldplay. Im going to begin with my personal experience with Coldplay because that moment was something I had dreamed about for years. Coldplay have played a massive part in my life. Fix You isn’t just a favourite song to me, it’s something that has given me the strength and love I needed in the darkest times in my life. It makes me cry from the second I hear the first note, and its my go to Karaoke song every single time. If Coldplay ever heard me sing it, I think they would be highly offended. Given the reason for Coldplay to be there and really putting what happened into the song, it was an experience I will never forget. Without making it a pun, tears literally streamed down my face as the angel that is Chris Martin sang the words I have painted on my body forever, ‘Lights will guide you home’. A Coldplay performance wouldn’t be a Coldplay performance without a colourful explosion and luckily I managed to get the footage on camera. I’ll insert a few photos but I want to make this post as chatty as I can without making it longer than it needs to be with photos. I would like to say thank you to Coldplay, thank you for playing the song I and millions of people needed to hear that night. I’d like to finish this blog post with an open letter to the queen herself, Ariana Grande.
Dear Ariana Grande,
Thank you. I feel like that isn’t enough, but thank you. Thank you for not letting those awful people win. I know it’s easily one of the worst things you will ever experience in your life, but thank you. You showed true power and pure strength the return to the heart of Manchester so soon after it happened and actually did something about it. I know you were publicly criticised by muppets like Piers Morgan who thought that you returning home was a cowardly thing to do, but people who actually adore you and are fans like myself completely understand. Like I said above, I had tickets to your London O2 shows and had many arguments with people who were angry that you decided to cancel your show. I couldn’t understand why people were treating you any less like a human. You were in that Arena, you were a victim too. I couldn’t understand how people could be mad, if they would do the same if they were in your shoes. You didn’t ask for this to happen, so why were people not considering you to be a victim?
I’m not going to say that I was a hard core fan of yours, because that would be a bold-faced lie, but I was a fan. I purchased every album and would have your songs on repeat and drive everyone around me crazy. I’m a big concert go-er myself and I couldn’t imagine being In that situation and I couldn’t imagine wanting to ever step foot into another Arena again. Im so sorry that you were a target of this, no one should ever even have to be. The second you graced that stage and all 50,000 of us with your presence, I have never seen eyes light up like it. I have never felt reassurance like it. “Manchester, were going to be alright!” You sang, and you were right. Hearts won’t fully heal and lives are changed for many people forever, but everyone will be alright.
The time you took to visit the victims and families is something admirable. Raising money for everyone involved is truly respectful. You are a woman of beauty and strength and don’t let anyone question it ever again. You had Piers Morgan apologising to you, you wouldn’t get that with anyone else. The love and happiness in hearts you filled not just in Manchester but worldwide is incredible. I had friends texting me saying they were watching from home and crying while I was stood front and centre experiencing it all in front of my face is something I’ll never be able to explain to anyone. Photos are great and videos are wonderful but the way I felt all night is something that I will never be able to string a sentence together for. It was true love that I felt radiating from everyone.
I don’t want to sound tacky and lame, but I just want you to know you are loved. You are respected. You are appreciated. You handled that tragic experience better than I think anyone I have ever know could. I hope that although this is something that will affect every choice and move you make in life, I hope it doesn’t hold you back from being the role model you were and always will be. I want you to know you are a diamond in the rough and the bloody big light at the end of the tunnel. Please come back to London as soon as you can, I would like to feel that love and care again!