Monday, September 12, 2011

Dollywood comes to Manchester

It was a miserable September day; the edges of a hurricane made the already dark and miserable Manchester even colder and bleaker. The date was September 11th, and the world was mourning the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York. So there was a lot to go against the Queen of Country achieving her goal of everyone singing and dancing in the MEN Arena… but Dolly managed it anyway!

With a two and a half hour show filled with old songs and new, Dolly Parton rocked the stage like it was 1967. Dolly was here to promote her new album, Better Day, an album, which certainly lives up to her musical legacy.

But like any living legend, the crowd wanted the hits, and she didn’t let her fans down, as she played the classics such as 9-5, Coat of Many Colours and Jolene. She even did some covers such as Walking on Sunshine and Stairway to Heaven.

The atmosphere was electric as the audience embraced the fact that they were in a room with one of the most famous women in the world. Dolly is 65 now, an age in the UK when many are getting ready for retirement, but she showed that she was far from it.

She ended the show with I Will Always Love You, which she mocked Whitney Houston’s version, but pointed out that she liked the cash back she gets every time Whitney’s cover gets played. It was a perfect ending to a fabulous show and it was clear that everyone in the audience will always love Dolly too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

10 years ago, I was sat in Mr Nunn’s class in a History lesson at school. We were in the middle of reading about the Holocaust; an historic event we thought we certainly wouldn't see of again in the Western World. Suddenly another teacher came in and went up to Mr Nunns and whispered something in his ear. He turned to us and told us that when we went home that night we would hear news that would change the world forever.

On the bus people were mumbling, something about bombs, planes, explosions. People have been killed. No one would explain to us what had happened. Fear surrounded the bus, but no one could understand why.

While walking home with my friend Barry, a friend of his mum’s ran out of his house and told us the World Trade Centre had been blown up and that World War III was about to begin. I had never heard of the World Trace Centre; I was 13 years old; but I knew what I had just heard was big. Bigger than big.

I ran home and switched on the news. The horrific view before me suddenly put everything into focus. The visions on the news were something that you saw in movies. It was scary, frightening and inhumane. I knew Mr Nunns was right. The world really had changed forever.

10 years later the world is a different place. It is hard to find an area of the world the event hasn’t affected or even an area of our lives. It has hit all of us some way, whether it is trying to get on a plane or simply logging onto the Internet. Even at work, we have processes in place in case anything like 9/11 was to occur again, we have an evacuation procedure to make sure no one has to die like they did back on that dreadful day.

10 years on, I remember the events of that day like they were yesterday. I still see the towers collapse and people jumping to their deaths to save themselves from burning. I don’t believe that what happened that day will ever leave me. The fact that people died simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time will scare me for eternity.

In 2007 I was on the subway in New York. Suddenly four Asian men stood up and together lined up across the train. For those few seconds the colour in everyone’s faces disappeared while everyone froze in fear. Suddenly the four men began to sing and collect money for charity. As much as it was those men trying to spread a message, it showed the fear that was still distilled in all of us all those years later.

As much as I hate the extra security checks at the airports and often feel like Big Brother really is watching me, I focus on the fact that these processes are in place so that none of us ever have to go through what happened on that day ever again.

I’ll be sparing a moment for all those that died that day today; those who reluctantly and unknowingly became martyrs for the freedom of the western world that each and every one of us take advantage of daily.