A brief extract from my memoir The Catholic Orangemen of Togo
On the other side of the equation, Roger Moore came out as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Fiona and I hosted a small dinner party for him. He was charming and suave, just as you would expect, with a fund of brilliant stories beginning with lines like “One day Frank, Dean, Tony and I decided to play a trick on Marilyn…” But while he played the role of Roger Moore to perfection, there was much more to him than that. He was genuinely very well briefed about children’s issues in Ghana, and was prepared not just to do the PR stuff, but to get his hands dirty helping out in refugee camps without a camera in sight. I was impressed by Roger Moore.
When I said get his hands dirty, I meant dig latrines. He really was a much better man than people realised. A celebrity who did not seek personal publicity for his good works, quite the opposite. Remember this re foxhunting:
Having now seen the numerous bits of video being shown across the various Breakfast news programmes, Manchester should be very proud of itself. The audience were quite remarkably orderly leaving the arena. Of course there was a certain amount of panic, but much less than you would normally expect in such a situation. The discipline and stoicism are much more remarkable than the areas of panic, especially given the age of the audience.
It also bears repeating that the social media picture is heart-warming amid the terrible sadness. So many messages last night from people offering rooms to stay, cooking food for strangers in the middle of the night, the almost universal offers of a “brew” and a landline, the reposting of countless images to help parents re-unite with their children, the people (including taxi drivers) getting their cars out to offer free transport. In the immediate aftermath of an apparent bombing, it is plain people were much more concerned to offer help than worried about putting themselves in possible danger by opening their homes or moving into the crowds.
Finally, I have been heartened by the contempt Manchester people are showing online for those seeking to use this dreadful apparent atrocity to promote racism, intolerance or a political agenda.
If it was a home made bomb, it was a remarkably powerful one. It would be very unusual for a lone terrorist to be able to make a bomb this powerful. It is hard to think of any incident where an individual acting entirely alone has successfully done that.
Twitter gives an astonishing immediate insight into events in another city. Our thoughts are with those the police say are killed and injured in Manchester this evening. From eye witness reports and pictures posted on the internet, this is what I can tell so far.
There certainly was at least one large explosion, and this was consistent with a bomb. But a bomb was not the only possible explanation. however contrary to reports, the bombs does not appear to be inside the Manchester Arena.
I am somewhat handicapped as I do not know how to post short pieces of video from Facebook onto the blog. But the best evidence of the explosion so car is this video apparently from a nearby car park.
These two frames are a fraction of a second apart. It is much plainer on the video than on these stills, but in the second a huge flash of light has gone off behind the building. The area of rising ground or low structure immediately to the left of the building is more lit in the second frame, and the aurora of city light in the sky above the building is lighter and reaches further. The back of the building would be substantially illuminated. As I say, the flash is much more obvious in live action than in comparing the two frames.
A little less than a second after this flash, a major rumble is heard. This is a loud explosion. Given that from the gap between the light and the sound it is over half a mile away, it is really a big explosion.
UPDATE I now have a video I can post and you can plainly see the flash just before the sound reaches the camera. Just to the left of the building shows it best. This explosion was not confined inside.
But it is not within the Manchester Arena itself. There are plenty of photos and again videos from inside the arena.
The video from which this still is taken, for example, is apparently after the explosion because there is a certain amount of panic and screaming going on. But the video pans round the entire indoor arena and nowhere is there a sign of any damage, certainly not commensurate with the size of the explosion, and certainly nothing which would affect the integrity of the walls and ceiling sufficient to emit that great flash of light outside. Also an explosion of that size, if a bomb, would emit a very large amount of smoke, and there is very not enough smoke at all in this indoor area (there is a very little haze, but more consistent with concert pyrotechnics or dry ice). Finally, while there are the first signs of panic, an explosion of that size would have caused vastly more panic if it had not been some way distant. Most people are still holding their balloons.
There are many pictures of lobby areas too but none of these shows bomb damage or smoke either.
The dominant narrative now seems to be a nail bomb or bombs inside the arena. Nail bombs typically are not on the scale of the explosion caught outside. A nail bomb might be consistent with the lack of major damage inside the arena and lack of immediate generalised panic, but it is not consistent with the big bang and flash visible outside. It is of course not impossible there was one or more small nail bombs inside and a further bomb outside. But it is also possible the explosion was outside and the inside injuries due to panic and crush.
We should avoid jumping to conclusions on the cause, and if it is a bomb we should avoid jumping to conclusions on who planted it. There is terrible tragedy in Manchester tonight, the worse for affecting young people. But my trawl through social media also revealed a fantastic communal spirit, with ordinary people looking after each other, opening up their homes, running people around in their cars and helping reunite families. It is also excellent how many Manchester people are reacting against those trying to use this to promote racial or political agendas. I pray the number of casualties proves to be not as bad as first thought.