Howard Jacobson: Manchester, United in Grief and Kindness
Too cruel anywhere. Any attack on the innocent, whatever the location, whatever the time, and whatever the ideology it serves, offends us to our very souls. But a bomb whose target is the innocent young — children leaving a concert, excitedly full of what they’d seen, looking for their parents who had come to take them home — is outrage piled upon outrage.
Twenty-two are dead, at least 50 others injured, in last night’s terrorist attack at a concert venue in central Manchester. With every hour, we hear another fraught eye-witness account, learn of another father or mother in despair, another child still to be accounted for. I have family in Manchester. They are all right. But it isn’t only for oneself one worries. For others, too, the heart will break.
The eruption of indiscriminate violence in a peaceful place is terrorism’s purpose and our greatest dread, the horrible intrusion of menace where we had no reason to expect it, no matter how often we tell ourselves that nowhere is safe now. The unnaturalness of terrorism is its essence. It means to strike out of a clear blue sky. It means to shatter those bonds of commonality we have to take for granted or we cannot live.
So, this is terrorism’s perfect expression: the random massacre of kids coming out of a pop concert they’d no doubt been looking forward to and talking animatedly about for weeks, kids united only moments before in music and fun.
Manchester, my home town, is a music city, at the forefront of musical innovation for decades. When I was growing up there, those who weren’t aspiring musicians themselves lived next door to someone who was. I was exceptionally unmusical, but my brother played lead guitar for a well-loved band called the Whirlwinds which, after time, morphed into 10cc. They practiced in our living room.
When they spoke of their ambitions, I cautioned them against optimism. “You and everyone else in Manchester,” I said.
Liverpool had The Beatles but Manchester had The Hollies, Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits. Later, there was punk: Something about its harsh sardonic insolence — born of early de-industrialization, low wages and even lower clouds — made Manchester a congenial venue. Manchester’s music scene exploded again in the 1980s and ’90s, thanks in large measure to the legendary entrepreneur Tony Wilson.
利物浦有披头士(The Beatles)，但曼彻斯特有冬青树(The Hollies)、韦恩·丰塔纳与“心灵狂欢”(Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders)，以及赫尔曼的隐士们(Herman’s Hermits)。后来还有朋克：那有些刺耳、尖刻的粗野气息——产生于早期反对工业化、低工资乃至低云层的浪潮——与曼彻斯特一拍即合。上世纪八九十年代，曼彻斯特又一次呈现出音乐盛景，这在很大程度上要归功于传奇企业家托尼·威尔逊(Tony Wilson)。
All that Manchester was best at, all its versatility and unexpectedness, all its artfully concealed sophistication, found a home in Tony Wilson, who read English at Oxford, taught drama at a school in Oldham, near Manchester, and founded Factory Records and the Hacienda Club. If I had to define the soul of modern Manchester, I’d point to Tony Wilson: down to earth and dandified, of the people and rarified, all at once; sharp-tongued, honorable, hedonistic, more interested in art and conversation than celebrity and wealth. It was thanks to Wilson that Manchester became known as “Madchester.”
曼彻斯特最让人赞叹的特征——它的多样性与出人意料、它巧妙隐藏的世故——都在托尼·威尔森身上得到集中的展现。他在牛津大学读英文，在曼彻斯特附近的奥尔德姆一所学校教戏剧，后来创办了工厂唱片公司(Factory Records)和哈仙达俱乐部(Hacienda Club)。如果让我来定义现代曼彻斯特的精神，我会用托尼·威尔森：既务实又讲究，既下里巴人又阳春白雪；言辞尖锐、为人正直、追求享乐，相比于声名与财富，对音乐和交谈更感兴趣。就是因为威尔逊的存在，曼彻斯特(Manchester)才有了“疯彻斯特”(Madchester)这个名号。
And it’s a city of young people. Even on the most forbidding winter nights, the young congregate outside the bars and clubs, wearing not very much. The less you shiver, the harder you are. We will hear more over the coming days about about Manchester’s indomitable nature. How the city will not bend to terror. How death shall have no dominion; nor, either, the faceless men of violence. And it will be as true of Manchester as it can be of anywhere.
But there’s a suggestion of bravado, always, about these promises not to bend. Yes, we will overcome; but that’s because we have to. When those we are defying aren’t listening, we might as well be whistling into the wind.
Manchester has been bombed before. In 1996, the Irish Republican Army set off a truck bomb in the center of the city. Aiming at causing maximum damage rather than fatalities, the terrorists telephoned warnings of what was about to happen. There were many injuries but no one died. The wreckage was immense and, in the way of these things, rebuilding presented an opportunity for much-needed regeneration. It would be perverse to attribute Manchester’s economic success to that attack, but the city has indeed, and with proud self-assertion, risen phoenix-like from the ashes.
这不是曼彻斯特第一次被炸。1996年，爱尔兰共和军(Irish Republican Army)在城市中央引爆了一枚汽车炸弹。袭击的目的是造成最大程度的损失，而非致人死亡，而且恐怖分子提前打电话对即将发生的事发出了警告。结果有许多人受伤，但没有人死亡。被炸毁的区域面积巨大，重建反倒给曼彻斯特提供了它所急需的再生的机会。将曼彻斯特经济上的成功归功于那场袭击，显然有悖常理，但这座城市的确凭借骄傲的一意孤行，像凤凰涅槃一样从灰烬中站了起来。
What has just happened at the Manchester Arena after a concert given by Ariana Grande is another order of catastrophe. There was no warning. The aim wasn’t publicity through destruction of property, but publicity through destruction of life. It is not to forgive the one to insist on how much worse the other is. Terrorists talk of themselves as soldiers, but something like spite enters acts of terrorism of this sort. Though the killing is indiscriminate, it is also personal. Life itself, and the living who exemplify life, are the targets.
阿丽亚娜·格兰德(Ariana Grande)的演唱会结束后在曼彻斯特体育馆(Manchester Arena)发生的这场袭击，是又一起灾难。之前没有预警。它的目标不是以破坏财物获得关注，而是借摧毁生命引发关注。我不是为了原谅一种暴行，而去说另一起暴行要恶劣得多。恐怖分子自称为战士，但这类恐怖主义行径中却透着深深的恶意。尽管这场杀戮不择对象，但它也是针对个人的。生命本身和承载生命的生活正是它打击的目标。
There is, then, a sense in which Manchester, though it now belongs to a long list of terrorist casualty cities, can think of itself as picked out. It is a city possessed of a rare vigor. And a music arena lies close to the heart of that vigor.
So, yes, this has been an attack on the city’s very vitality. But the risk we face today is universal. If we want to find some consolation, it won’t be in speeches of municipal defiance, but in the stories, now coming thick and fast, of the assistance rendered not only by the emergency services, but by Mancunians of courage and goodwill who obeyed their deepest instincts in the face of danger and did all they could to comfort the injured and distraught. All is sorrow, but we still have kindness and pity.