by Rachel Kendall
Being in Manchester on Saturday was a sobering experience. I wouldn’t normally go into town alone at the weekend – too busy, too chaotic. I sometimes take Vi though. As annoying as I find it, she loves the buzzing atmosphere, the religious fervour of the bible-reading folk, the buskers including bonkers Manc legends The Piccadilly Rats…
This Saturday was different though. It was really hot and I almost didn’t trek in on the stuffy 192 bus, wade through the swathes of shoppers, past the kids playing in the fountain. But a thunderstorm had been forecast later in the afternoon and I wanted to see the flowers before they were flattened by the elements.
It was busy, as usual, but different too, because of the armed police dotted around. It was noisy and bright and sweltering, but when I got to St. Anne’s Square the atmosphere changed. Armed police on every corner, with their toy-like guns and big smiles. Press tents and vans and recordings taking place. People queuing to lay flowers in the square for those killed and injured by the suicide bomber on Monday.
The scent of those floral tributes was overwhelming. As soon as I leaned over the barrier to take a photo I was hit by the perfume. The beauty of the torture garden, the living memory of children, teens, adults who aren’t going home. By the time I left the sky had begun to darken and the wind had started to bat the balloons around. The first few drops of rain fell as I got on the bus. And then stopped. The thunderstorm didn’t come after all. A shame; the day called for thunder, for noisy, bright, rain-splattered weather instead of more of the same stagnant heat.