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The real heroes of Manchester

The numbing tragedy that placed Manchester in the national consciousness a week ago defies explanation.

We have read of terrible carnage alongside reports of heroism and human kindness that should leave no-one unmoved. People struggle to get things ‘back to normal’ despite the knowledge that normality will never quite return.

The graduation through the stages of bereavement means grief will inevitably turn to anger with answers demanded of those we look to protect us.

Politicians on all sides understandably attempt to offer solutions without perhaps fully appreciating the nature of the problem. This is because there is no recognisable Western equivalent of Jihad, where religious and political motivations spur individuals to martyrdom through terrorist acts.

Inevitably the challenge wavers between containing or countering the threat and occasionally a combination of both.

The question now is not simply how security services failed to pick up on repeated reports – including the attacker’s alleged trail through Libya, Syria and Turkey – but also somehow missed the existence of an apparently substantial network that has seen fourteen people arrested at the time of writing.

Official calls for the Muslim community to be more vigilant sound fatuous in this light. Perhaps we should be asking how the same officialdom can get rid of thousands of Police and Community Support Officers across the country and still expect community links to function.

I’m a little too old-school in my ways to be impressed by news reporters ‘on the scene’ breathlessly portraying themselves as somehow part of on-going events.

The real heroes are the emergency services, the NHS staff, the taxi drivers and the homeless who all won through with their resilience, compassion and even humour in the face of heartbreak.

I recently spoke to a colleague based in Didsbury who went along to give blood only to discover that 3000 residents had already made the same offer.

I have no time for the numpties who reproduce photos of blitzed London streets and berate people for crying and lighting candles.

The people of Manchester show that you do not become safe by wrapping yourself in the flag. They have also taught us a lot about solidarity.


When retirement is no longer an option

I’m very conscious that I belong to the last of a generation able to take early retirement and go do other things.

I took up consulting as a paying hobby. It really had to start paying when my pension fund went belly-up but that’s another story.

So I’m not sure what to make of a report by the World Economic Forum which says retirement age should rise to at least 70 by 2050 in better-off countries.

The number of people over 65 will more than triple by that date with the number of workers per retiree halved to just four.

A government report earlier this year suggested workers under 30 may not get a state pension until 70 despite auto-enrolment meaning more than six million workers are now automatically tied to a private scheme.

The bottom line though is how do UK households with a total of £1.5 trillion of consumer debt save for the future? No answers here.

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