On Friday, 26th May, the Head Master led an assembly dedicated to the victims of the Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande concert on Monday night. During the assembly, Mr Paul Cunningham, himself a Mancunian, read out extracts from ‘This is the Place’, a poem written by Tony Walsh. Here are those extracts:
“This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace, it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.
Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands
We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands
And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh, take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yeah we’ve a wealth
But the Manchester way is to make it yourself.
And this is the place with appliance of science, we’re on it, atomic, we struck with defiance,
Such as housing and libraries and health, education and unions and co-ops and first railway stations
So we’re sorry, bear with us, we invented commuters. But we hope you forgive us, we invented computers.
And so this is the place to do business then dance, where go-getters and goal-setters know they’ve a chance
And this is the place where we first played as kids. And me mum, lived and died here, she loved it, she did.
And this is the place where our folks came to work, where they struggled in puddles, they hurt in the dirt and they built us a city,
And in the face of a challenge, we always stand tall, Mancunians, in union, delivered it all. We choose love!”
Tony Walsh himself read out his poem on the steps of Manchester Town Hall during a vigil on Tuesday night. One of those there later wrote: “The bombing was a public event, as well as a heartbreaking series of private losses. At times like this we need to come together to express our collective despair and bewilderment: Manchester as a city, Manchester as proud northerners, Manchester facing the world. But facing the world in tears.
“The poem is memorable. That’s part of the point of poetry – you take it with you to hold on to. You listen to it again, listen to it with others. The poem becomes part of what has happened, as well as a way of talking about it.
“We don’t need soundbites or comments when we’re hurt; we need something that feels alongside us, and lets us own our feelings. We need a way of grieving that is both private and public. A poem can do that. Tony Walsh spoke for everyone in Manchester. At the end of his poem he spoke to the world: ‘Choose Love’.”