Ex-Oasis singer Noel Gallagher made some unusual public comments about terror and the establishment recently. Unusual only in the sense that they were true, which is a rarity when those with celebrity status talk about the disagreement we currently find ourselves in with jihadism.
Noel comes from my home city of Manchester, the same Manchester where 22 concert goers, mostly young girls, were murdered by a suicide bomber on May 22 of this year. Musicians from around the world came together to play tribute gigs and offer much appreciated solidarity and support to the city after this unthinkable crime. As to be expected though, no one involved would actually name what it was we required solidarity in the face of.
In a show of solidarity with the people of Orlando and with LGBT people everywhere, hundreds gathered at Canal Street, Manchester today. Similar gatherings also took place in a number of cities across the UK to mourn the dead and to support the living.
Canal Street in my home city of Manchester is a sort of hub for the local LGBT community and more popularly known as ‘the gay village’ – housing a number of gay bars and restaurants.
The Lowry, Manchester
Wed 7th Oct
I love comedy. I imagine most people enjoy laughing, but I mean to say that I truly respect the craft of making people laugh. The timing of it, the delivery of it. Playing god with the emotional responses of an entire room.
There’s painfully funny people who would die on stage, and there’s also sombre types who would bring the house down given a microphone and a crowd. Such is the mysterious character of this particular art.
I clearly remember my commute home from work on the 22nd of May 2013. Checking for news on my smartphone, I read in horror as the gruesome and cowardly murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby began making headlines. My throat tightened as further details emerged – details confirming this was not some random encounter which had ended fatally. This was a planned act of Islamic Terrorism.
At the time, I was unaware Drummer Rigby was from my home city of Manchester, but knowing this gruesome act had played out on the instantly recognisable streets of London was enough to shake me up in a way that distant atrocities can’t always achieve for whatever reason. It shouldn’t matter – but knowing this could happen on an English street in broad daylight suddenly provided a new level of reality for Jihadism that I couldn’t quite handle emotionally. It was too close to home.
I came through my front door and instantly began sobbing for this person I’d never even met or knew existed moments ago, all fury and helplessness. The injustice of it. The pointlessness of it.
Nearly two years later and I’m sat in Euston train station in London, waiting for my 18:37 service back to Manchester. I’d been in the capital for The Secularist of The Year Awards where Charlie Hebdo magazine took the main prize. I remember having similar feelings to the above when seeing footage of gunmen running through Paris streets yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’. The problem is home. Read more
Image Credit: www.independent.co.uk
There was a bit of a buzz around my office on the morning of Friday the 20th of March. Soon enough, we’d be able to view an eclipse – and as the time approached we gathered near a 4th floor window and attempted to locate the sun in a gloomy Manchester sky. No easy feat, let me assure you.
As the clouds parted just long enough for us to catch a glimpse of this beautiful natural event, I was filled with a sense of awe and contentment at having experienced something truly ‘special’. I felt lucky to be around, and to be around in a time where we can understand why these things occur no less. Then back to my desk and reality.
I check-in with BBC news on my first break of the day to discover the article ‘Can religion and science bury the hatchet?’ It’s not long before I’m tutting at the usual mix of “But how can Science explain awe?” and – “both science and religion compliment each other” type sentiments. The fact remains that so long as religion makes objective claims about our reality – not only will it trespass upon the domain of science, but it’ll have its trousers pulled down by it. Read more