Well that was a full on year of learning. The first year of my MA in Creative Writing at the OU has now come an end. The deadline for our EMA submissions was Thursday. I submitted a 4000 word short story called Mornings After the Night Before. A complete departure for me and a story I would never have attempted before the course started. Its written in the third person in alternating sections inside the heads of two protagonists as they go about their seemingly unconnected day. Its written in a Bolton accent both in terms of dialogue and the narrative voice. (The narrative voice is a sort of chameleon that takes on characteristics of the protagonist it sits next to.) The story is set in Bolton, Salford Quays and Manchester Victoria, at the actual station, which is such a strange co-incidence following the awful events of last week, when the concert at Manchester Arena was suicide bombed, killing 22 innocent people.

Despite the mind-numbing awfulness of this act, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more proud to be a Manc. The coming together of the community to show solidarity and mutual support in the face of the cruel losers who’ve managed to twist their minds into believing that there is anything other than horror and inhumanity in the killing and maiming of free spirits and children, has been extraordinary. ‘Dont Look Back in Anger’ by Oasis is something of a family anthem for us Kaneens. We sing it at gatherings – on birthdays, and at Christmas – when we get together to reminisce about long ago rows and distant holidays when we moaned more than joined in and drove the parents bonkers. Its all nostalgia and love now, because we’ve done what the song says. It moved me to tears to hear the crowds singing it too. There is such power in words and music. Tony Walsh, reading out his poem, ‘This is the Place’ to grieving crowds, had everyone held in a thick silence, full of sorrow and pride and determination. Never have I been more convinced of the need for word smithery, to tell our side of things, to win hearts and minds, to stop the madness.

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