As we enter the festive season, I’d like to wish every reader a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a great Kwanzaa, or a pleasant Mōdraniht/Yuletide for the pagans among us 🙂 I hope 2018 brings you good fortune, though I expect most of our New Year resolutions will break faster than anything electronic bought on Ebay. In fact, I might make a few realistic resolutions this year to end my constant cycle of failure. It’s time to accept I’ll never have a six-pack, run a marathon in under three hours, or play football for Sunderland AFC.
2017 has been an odd year for me, packed with a mix of emotions centred around the Manchester Arena. It kicked off in January watching the Impractical Jokers live. The show was great and anyone who hasn’t watched it on TV is seriously missing out on hours of entertainment. James Murray is one of Jokers, and for those of you who don’t know, I worked on a book with him called AWAKENED. James first wrote the novel ten years ago and it’s due out in June. The fact that his concept stood the test of time for a decade before seeing the light of day is a testament to his creative and writing abilities, and I’ve loved working with him.
Fast forward to May, when I was drafting a manuscript late one night… News broke of a loud bang in the Manchester Arena. At first, people thought a speaker had blown up at the end of an Airana Grande concert. I think most of us in the city knew someone in attendance that night, and my heart sunk when a more frightening picture emerged. Ambulances racing through the city, many casualties reported, Victoria station closed. As we know, a suicide bomber had detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel in the arena’s foyer. Twenty-three people were killed, including the vile creature who carried out the attack, and over five hundred were injured. I can’t tell you how much this filled me with sorrow, and I don’t mind admitting that I wanted to lash out… But to who and where? The perpetrator was dead and I couldn’t smash his twisted ideology over the head with a baseball bat. It was a selfish feeling, all things considered. All I could do was donate to and share the Manchester Evening News’ fundraising page for the victims and their families. My heart goes out to every one of them.
But… this great city doesn’t bow to terrorism. We moved on in the only way we could. Work soon started, repairing the damage and helping anyone who had suffered. On September the 9th, Manchester Arena opened its doors once again with a benefit concert. The Impractical Jokers returned a month later, kicking off a UK tour. I know from speaking with James, the attack cut the guys pretty deep. Their home city is no stranger to terrorism. and they donated all of their show’s proceeds to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. I’ll certainly never forget how James, Q, Joe and Sal stood strong by our side. The arena was bursting with emotion at the end of their October show and it was an unforgettable night.
That last paragraph has brought a tear to my eye. I’ll create another post about how I wore make-up for the first time courtesy of Harper Collins and other fun stuff from my trips to London and New York. It doesn’t feel right continuing here. I’ll end by wishing you the best for 2018! If you’re feeling generous this festive season, please donate to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund here.