Manchester

I’d intended to post a drawing today alongside a whimsical story of my teenage years in my hometown of Manchester, but the cruel attack on the people of that city last night renders any emotion other than profound grief irrelevant.

So far, 22 people have died and scores have been injured when a suicide bomber decided to attack the thousands of mainly teenaged girls and their parents attending a concert in the city. Only two of the victims have been named as I write, one an eight year old girl. Once again, the children are the victims when ideologies clash.

The Caliphate are rejoicing; ordinary, decent Muslims will be caught up in the backlash; the forces of hate and prejudice will cynically use this for their own ends. Meanwhile, families in Manchester and elsewhere are grieving and an as yet unspecified number of kids have had their teenage years stubbed out in the flash of an explosion at a Monday night pop concert.

Why?

 

Save

Suffer the children

Refugees (20 cms x 40 cms charcoal and pastel 2016)

It’s always the children, isn’t it? It’s always the kids who get it.

When the strutting despot, Putin, decides to help out his old pal, genocidal tyrant Bashar Al-Assad, before too long hospitals and schools and aid convoys are bombed; the UN Security Council gets angry and the usual suspects play their veto cards like this is some bizarre game where the person who wins is the one who does the least. Before you know it, Iran is implicated. The EU discusses sanctions but somehow nothing happens. The British government says it’s OK to sell fighter planes to countries where human rights mean even less than women’s rights. Refugees pour over borders and citizens panic: far right-wingers make a play for government by stoking up fear and dread in the electorate. Desperate people cram boats made of scrap metal and hope and drown in the Mediterranean, their bodies washed ashore in Greece and Italy. For some reason we cannot remember the lessons of Auschwitz, Hiroshima, or the killing fields of Cambodia.

Then, in a town called Khan Sheikhoun, government aircraft drop bombs one Tuesday morning while everyone sleeps. Mohammed Rasoul, the head of a charity ambulance service, tells the BBC that his medics had found people, many of them children, choking in the street. Blue lips, foaming from the mouth, eyes reddened and sore: it seemed certain this was a chemical attack. Putin condemns the ‘groundless accusations’ of Syrian government responsibility. Trump slams the stable door knowing the horse left long ago.

Once again, there they are, wrapped up in blankets torn from someone’s unmade bed or held in a weeping father’s arms – the children. The collateral damage. Twenty-seven short lives lived in fear snuffed out, just like that.

Some time later, Bashar Al-Assad wakes up with a start in the middle of the night; all around his bed are the pale, ghostly faces of all the children he caused to be murdered in order to cling on to power. They do nothing but stare, the room feels airless with pity.

Save

Save