Manchester Attacks.

Sigh, I’m really unhappy that news stories like these are ones that keep appearing. Yesterday, on a lovely Monday evening in Manchester, the biggest terrorist attack since July 2005 happened at an Ariana Grande concert at the MEN Arena. We know the attacker died, but so did 22 people and 59 people got hurt.

I haven’t said much about it yet because we are still not sure about the events, or the culprit, or the 23-year-old man arrested in connection to the attack.

This is what we do know:

  • Shortly after Ariana Grande left the stage, an explosion was audibly heard from the stands.
  • The explosion came from the foyer area of the arena. This explosion has killed 22 people and injured 59 others.
  • The culprit was a lone male, and he died in the explosion. He’s been named by the Greater Manchester Police as Salman Abedi. He was 22, and of Libyan origin.
  • The bomb used was homemade and contained nuts and bolts.
  • Police and Ambulance response evacuated the arena within minutes.
  • Hotels in the area sheltered those affected overnight.
  • Police have raided several properties in connection with this incident.
  • Daesh (known to English-speakers as ISIS) have claimed responsibility, but we still don’t know if they actually were behind the attack.
  • The youngest victim was eight years old.

My thoughts and prayers naturally go out to everyone affected by this incident. What I’m calling for now is unity. Terrorism by definition, creates division by means of mass panic and fear. But also, I’d like to make a point. I’m too young to remember the events properly, but when I was less than four years old, Manchester was hit by a terrorist attack by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The method was somewhat similar, but fortunately, despite the bomb going off, nobody was hurt. Manchester didn’t stop working, complaining about the weather or drinking their cups of tea. They carried on with their lives, and nobody panicked too much. They won’t do so now, or ever. Daesh or whoever was responsible literally picked the one city in the UK where people don’t panic. Armed with a coat because of the rain, a smile and a mantra of “It’ll be reet, our kid”, the Mancunians are the embodiment of Dunkirk Spirit. They will carry on, regardless.




Can I have a rant? (This is the result of too much coffee)

Can I have a rant? Please? I’ve had less than two hours of sleep and over 15 cups of coffee today, and I’d just like a little natter on the subject of Brits abroad.

I did some work three years ago, shadowing travel reps in Sa Coma, Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands. Now I should explain that Sa Coma is on the east side of the Island, normally populated by Catalans and German tourists, until the summer season, where things get very, very British.

Now, as a rule, the Brits abroad don’t do my country any favours, per se, but in Sa Coma, I saw the very worst of us abroad. These are the people who spend the majority of their lives living off government handouts, displaying generally poor hygiene, drinking too much beer and refusing to try local culture. Some of Europe’s finest beer, lager, fish, and Tapas comes from Mallorca, but I challenge anyone to get it in Sa Coma. The Beer and Lagers are easy to come by, but Tapas and decent Hake, for which the island is famed, is nonexistent in the town. I’m not exaggerating for effect, literally no sign of Catalan culture can be spotted until Sundays, where the local Catholic church is packed and nothing outside of the hotels are open.

Instead, the strip is covered in mock- British pubs which had previously been local cafes and restaurants, selling tacky, low-quality food that’s guaran-fucking-teed to give you food poisoning. These cafes sell booze at rock-bottom prices, and if you drink liquor, the bartenders have no idea about standard drinking measures. There’s also no real ID checks by the bartenders, so under-age drinking is very, very easy. It’s ridiculous. The lights in the evening are strong enough to cause epileptic seizures, the dry ice is suffocating, and all you can see as decor is St. George’s Flags.

I fucking hate the Brits abroad.




Notes on the big country- The USA Part One

So, for background-

I moved to Texas in the United States of America and lived there for 6 months in 2000. I was 10 years old at the time.

Can I let you in on something? Something I find absolutely hilarious?

The first time that our new neighbours came to visit, they drove. They genuinely got into their Chevy and drove the fifty metres to our house to say hello and welcome us to the neighbourhood. They were nice people, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that they burned up fossil fuels to travel a short walking distance made us realise that we were in not just another country, but in another world.

The people were nice, don’t get me wrong. Texans are the most welcoming people I have ever met. They never like to see somebody hungry, and they are very relaxed people who have a mañana attitude most of the time. They just happen to have massive portion sizes. I have since visited the USA and let me tell you, even when compared to other states (I’ve visited New York, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida and California), the portion sizes are huge. What we’d call a large burger in the UK is what Texans would define as small! Well, to be fair, for the most time, this is true. Austin however, seem to worry more about their arteries and general health. Plus, their attitude towards keeping fit is better than it is in most places that I’ve visited in the USA. I unfortunately, spent most of my time in Houston.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. Houston has a brilliant mixing pot of cultures, and if you’ve never been there, I highly recommend you take a trip. Their food is awesome (if not GIGANTIC), the people are lovely (albeit mainly conservative Christian), and it never seems to be cloudy over there, just very hot.

I digress… getting a little off-topic here.

The one thing people had to get used to over there was my walking to and from school. Now the school I went to over there was less than a mile’s walk away from where we resided, but the first day, second, and pretty much every day of the school “semester” (funny word for term) people offered me a lift to school.

By far the funniest experience we had over there in regards to cultural difference had to be going to a cinema. For legal reasons, I shan’t mention which one, as I fear the person involved may still work there, and she turned out all right in the end.

We’d gone to watch a film (I can’t remember which one, due to the sheer hilarity of this event), had popcorn and everything. It was just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was about 25 degrees Celsius. The sun was shining, and the locals were wrapped up in coats and scarves. Overall, the day was a lovely one for anybody British in Houston.

On our way out of the Cinema (what was generally referred to as a Movie Theatre- I don’t know why when Houston ha got a theatre district that rivals Broadway), we cheerily waved at the person behind the ticket counter. Her eyes, normally small, went wide open. To this day, I have never seen somebody jump out of a booth as quickly as this twenty-something did. It was only eclipsed by the following exchange.

“Wow, don’t you have coats for those children, sir? It’s freezing cold outside! Oh, for god’s sake!” (She takes off her work fleece and wraps my little sister in it)

Before any of us could answer and explain that we came from England, and for us, this was a heatwave, she carried on.

“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! You have come to the movies in the middle of winter and not one of you is wearing a coat! Well, it’s all right for you (gesturing at my father, who was a big man, even by Houston’s standards), but what about the children! The tall one on the crutches (I have Cerebral Palsy, and needed to use crutches for most of my childhood) is so skinny! How on earth is he supposed to keep warm in shorts and T-shirts! Right, that’s it! I’m getting the manager!”

Reflecting on this, it has to be said that the woman had her heart in the right place, and we were grateful that she didn’t call the police, but it was still a stupidly over-the-top reaction for us Brits.

My father, who wasn’t exactly the master of diplomacy, held his hands up to get her attention, and politely explained about our nationality and the heat. For me, it was sweltering hot anyway. The woman, as soon as she’d heard our accents, became incredibly apologetic, and we became good friends for the rest of our stay. I still laugh about it, even today.

This is the end of part one, of which there will be several parts published in the oncoming weeks. I hope you found this as funny as we did.