On Monday night, an impossibly horrific thing happened. What should have been the end of a fun night filled with pink balloons, glitter and gleeful giggling was cut short when a bomb was detonated at Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. So far, 22 people lost their lives and another 59 remain injured.
When things like this happen it can be hard to know how to react. What exactly are we meant to do when the world gets scary? Should you sit in a bunker constantly refreshing your Twitter feed? Should you turn off your phone and the TV and just hug your mum? The truth is, there’s no right answer – you’ve got to do what feels right for you.
We might never fully be able to understand what happened in Manchester or why, but sharing stories helps to honour those who died, and it’s the way that we heal.
In the hours and days after we saw the very worst side of humanity, we have also seen its best.
There were so many acts of kindness in Manchester
In the face of a deeply devastating day, Manchester refused to give up. There were the taxi drivers who were offering free rides to anyone who needed them, the locals offering cups of tea and sandwiches to emergency service workers, and people using the hashtag #RoomForManchester to open their homes to anyone who needed somewhere to sleep. One moving story was Steve, a homeless man who ran towards the explosion to help the injured. People have since set up a JustGiving page for him that has already raised £29,000.
There was one terrorist.
There were hundreds of everyday heroes – emergency workers, hoteliers, taxi drivers, neighbours.
Talk about *them*.
— Jack Xatzinikolas (@MxJackMonroe) May 23, 2017
The Manchester Evening News set up another JustGiving page to raise money for the victims of the bombing, and so far over £1.3 million has been donated with Manchester United and Manchester City football teams pledging to donate an extra £1 million to the cause. Blood banks literally had queues around the street and had to turn people away as they were so overwhelmed by the amount of people offering to donate. People can be amazing.
— jenny (@jennyamygreen93) May 23, 2017
And around the world…
Countries all over the world lit up iconic landmarks with red, white and blue in solidarity with the UK, while the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building turned off their lights altogether. The Boston Globe sent pizzas to the staff at the Manchester Evening News to keep them going throughout what will probably be one of the most difficult days of their careers.
— Ciara Doherty (@ciarathedoc) May 23, 2017
There have also been numerous outpourings of love and support from musicians around the world. Mancunian Harry Styles gave this moving statement about his hometown during a performance in Mexico, Celine Dion asked everyone present at her concert to hold hands with the person standing next to them to honour those affected, and James Corden opened The Late Late Show with a moving tribute to the victims. Back on home turf, Her Majesty the Queen paid a visit to recovering victims in the hospital.
— Olly Barratt (@ollybarratt) May 25, 2017
Remembering the characters we’ve lost
Among the 22 victims who died in the attack were parents and aunties, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters – and his week, some beautiful stories have emerged.
One of the victims was Martyn Hett, a beloved figure on social media. The Corrie megafan and pop culture blogger became a viral sensation last year when he made a plea for his followers to buy things from his mum’s craft stall. His boyfriend, Russell Hayward, tweeted a statement saying, “He left this world exactly how he lived, centre of attention.” His brother joked that Martyn would be loving that fact that he was trending on Twitter. Even Mariah Carey paid tribute to her late fan.
The power of teenage girls and pop
What made this attack so heartbreaking, and so close to home for us at betty, was the targeting of teenage girls – many of whom were attending their first big pop concert. There have been many beautiful articles written about the importance of that rite of passage, your first ever concert, like this one by our own Alice Vincent, or this piece by fellow betty writer Emily Baker about her hometown, and how music will always hold a special place in Manchester’s heart.
This won't stop teenage girls ruling the world.
— Lucie Britsch (@LucieBritsch) May 23, 2017
In the aftermath of the attack, Manchester’s city symbol, a bee, felt so incredibly accurate as the characteristically hard-working people of Manchester went about their lives while commemorating all of those who were lost or suffering.
— bernadette kelly (@bernadettekelly) May 23, 2017
At the vigil held on Tuesday night, Tony Walsh recited a poem about the strength of Manchester that bought nearly everyone to tears. And yesterday, after a minute of silence was held in the city centre, the crowd spontaneously began singing one of the city’s anthems, “Don’t Look Back In Anger” by Oasis. Goosebumps.
We all stand strong, together
The world may seem scary right now, but as always British people are responding with poise and grace and of course, an unshakeable sense of humour. When Theresa May raised the threat level in the country to ‘critical’ on Wednesday, almost immediately Twitter proved that we wouldn’t cow to terrorism and started sharing things that truly terrified Brits with the hashtag #BritishThreatLevels.
Saying goodbye to someone and then walking off in the same direction as them. #BritishThreatLevels
— Daisy Buchanan (@NotRollergirl) May 24, 2017
Pretending to be looking at a different item in the shop until the other person moves to avoid saying 'excuse me'. #BritishThreatLevels
— Mimi (@mimiookbooks) May 24, 2017
Saying "bless you" when someone sneezes only for them to sneeze again leaving you stranded in etiquette limbo#BritishThreatLevels
— mark (@sparkythrill) May 24, 2017
Manchester, you’re in our hearts x