The message we hear is of cleaning up, carrying on, rebuilding – but for a few people life will never return to normal

It was an unusually beautiful day in Manchester, not a cloud in a deep blue sky, when that huge IRA bomb blasted the heart of the city 21 years ago; and this week when terror struck it turned out eerily sunny again. But as the devastating news of so many deaths and injuries hit on Tuesday, and people made their way quietly along Cross Street to the evening vigil held in Albert Square, the differences from what happened last time were dreadfully clear.

Back then, on a busy Saturday, 15 June 1996, the explosives in a truck parked outside Marks & Spencer wreaked astonishing damage to buildings, but there was a warning, and 75,000 people were evacuated. Although people suffered injuries, some of them serious, from the debris and glass that rained beyond the cordon, miraculously nobody was killed. The Mancunian pride and make-a-brew spirit that has been broadcast to the world this week could get on with a story which has become straightforward in the telling since: clean up, carry on, rebuild.

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