I woke up this morning and remembered that I am not by nature very empathetic. I have to work at it, as my wife constantly reminds me. I am a little below Donald Trump on the narcissistic sociopath scale, though probably not as far below as I would like. Sixteen years ago I gasped in horror at the planes hitting the World Trade Centre, ten years ago I cried with London as the tube trains exploded, all through this century I have watched in desperation as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria all crumble under never-ending wars.
I woke up this morning to a resigned sadness that this is just how things are now, and maybe I will just shrug off the next atrocity.
I woke up this morning and went to work, where a colleague complained that they had been 'banging on about this Manchester thing' all day on the radio. He then reflected that at least it made a change from the fucking election.
I woke up this morning glad that I live in a place that will almost certainly never be targeted. I know that that is selfish, but the chances of being in a terror attack are significantly reduced when you live in a town that should really be called a village in the middle of nowhere.
I woke up this morning and before I had heard the details I was terrified that there had been an attack in either Bangkok or Barcelona, where my children are currently residing. I later discovered that there had been a bomb in Bangkok, but it had not been reported loudly here. I felt a little sick that what could have been the most devastating news I ever heard had been buried in a story that continued rolling for hours with no real change in its detail. Nobody I know was hurt in Bangkok either, but I still feel just as strongly for the strangers injured there as those in the UK.
I woke up this morning sickened by the ghoulish nature of the media as they harassed grieving relatives in relentless pursuit of a 'human' angle that they would clearly know nothing about. Lunchtime news brought a roundabout of faces that will never smile again, this can all wait. Let families grieve, let them come to you, stop the tear-inducing grief fest, and admit that you are trying to entertain and get better ratings rather than inform. I cannot help but feel that if these events were given less airtime, there would be less incentive to carry them out. Westminster should have been reported more like a traffic accident, today's awfulness could have been reported in a smaller less sensational way. Announce the news, move on, don't spend all day on it, you are giving them what they want.
'I have no words,' has been a theme, maybe you should take something from that.
I woke up this morning and, due to being a writer of tall tales and the over-politicised nature of my current thinking, began constructing my own fictitious Reichstag Fire/False flag story, whereby Theresa May's conservative party plotted the Manchester Arena attack in order to get past the total shit show they are making of what seemed to be an open goal election; putting us on the first steps towards a military dictatorship with the army on the streets and then cancelling said election. I considered making a joke about it on social media, before realising that it would be insensitive, and give the tin-foil hat brigade ideas. Please don't get ideas from this tin-foil hat brigade – it was a hypothetical fictional construct, and remains that way.
(It is later now, I see that somebody else took this idea and actually ran with it, I am glad it is not my fault.)
I woke up this morning to find friends posting divisive, fear-mongering bullshit on social media in search of revenge. The wave of right-wing, anti-islamic sentiment will never end. Despite the slaughter of innocents being an unforgivable sin in the eyes of Allah, not a single attack being carried out by a refugee and IS having as much in common with Islam as the KKK do to Christianity.
I woke up this morning and I realised that I was no more sad at this mass slaughter than I found myself a year ago at the cold-blooded murder of Jo Cox in the name of another ideology that I do not, and cannot understand. This does not diminish my sadness at today's events. I cried for Jo Cox, as I cried for those kids in Manchester when it all began to sink in and I kicked my empathy into gear.
I woke up this morning still convinced that I will continue to like and trust every single person I meet until they give me a reason not to. I would rather run the miniscule risk of dying in a terror attack (still less likely than my dying of traffic fumes, eating too much processed meat, or just all the booze and fags) than live behind barriers of fear, hatred and ignorance.
I woke up this morning and realised how difficult it is not to politicise such an overtly political act as a terror attack.
I woke up this morning determined to remember that we still have more in common than that which divides us.