It hurts more when it’s close to home. When lives are lost in faraway parts of the world, people on social media ask why we pay less attention to those tragedies than ones which happen nearby. And they’re right, of course, a human life is a human life, those who are close to us are not more valuable than any other. But the fact remains, whether it’s fair and just or not, that it hurts more when it’s close to home, when we can imagine it happening to us.
Manchester is not my home now, but it was for over a decade, from age 18. It is the place where I found my closest friends, some of whom live there still. It is the place that took a shy, miserable teenager, and showed him how joyful life could be. There was no better city to be a young music lover. My life in Manchester revolved around concerts, record shops and nightclubs, at venues from the tiny Star and Garter to, inevitably, the Manchester Arena.
I get a lot of people coming up to me for a chat when I’m with my daughter, so it wasn’t a surprise when we were sat in the cafe and a woman, perhaps in her sixties, wandered over to us. Her opening gambit was to stare at my daughter in a mildly unnerving manner, which worried me a little, but when she started talking to me it was the usual questions “what’s her name?”, “how old is she?” and so on. This woman had a tendency to repeat herself, and her memory seemed like it might to be starting to go a little, but it wasn’t the difficult conversation with the crazy stranger I had been concerned it might be.
A few minutes later, a man she was with, a little younger, wandered over too, his conversational skills consisting mainly of non-sequiters like “we’ve been to Derby on holiday”, but he was pleasant enough, and my daughter happily munched away on her croissant while I chatted with these strangers. Presently the man wandered off, and the woman seemed as if she was going to leave too, but changed her mind. She started to talk about the man, it becoming apparent he was her son. “He has that Aspergers, have you heard of it?” “It was hard, because they didn’t know for a long time” “It was hard”, she kept repeating.
On a Good Day is coming to end. Well, its first phase in at least. When I started this blog, it was intended to be a personal blog about being a dad, a way of preserving of my thoughts and memories of fatherhood. But I love music as well, and so I thought, why not make it a blog about both fatherhood and music.
Problem was, I never really able to crowbar those two subjects together in a way that really worked. I was also constantly torn between blogging just as a hobby, and trying to make the blog ‘successful’ (whatever that means – lots of readers I guess). Eventually I came to realise that trying to make it successful was taking all the enjoyment out of it for me, and that at this point in my life I didn’t have the time or inclination for blogging as anything other than a hobby. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years though, and now have dozens of others ideas for blogs and websites, some of which may even come to fruition in future years.
This is not primarily a political blog, but in times like these ignoring the political situation should not be an option. The first week or so of Donald Trump’s presidency has been worse than I possibly imagined, and my expectations were extremely low. More concerning even than any of the individual policies he has put in place, is the disregard for the rule of law and the constitution. It is also very apparent that our own government here in the UK is not going to do anything to stand up to him, regardless of what he does.
So I joined a few thousand of my fellow citizens at a march in Leeds last night, protesting against Trump’s travel ban, the man himself and our governments craven subservience. I’ve been cynical in the past of marches, protests and petitions, believing there is little chance of them having any impact. I’ve come to realise though that, although protesting has only a tiny chance of making a difference, sitting on my arse doing nothing has absolutely zero chance of making a difference, so I know which I’d rather be doing right now.
I thought I’d start doing a monthly round-up of the best bits of the blog, for those of you who, understandably don’t have time to read every single thing I write. So here are September’s highlights: