What price art, in a world where it no longer pays?

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Fatima turned the key slowly and pushed. The front door opened with barely a click. She smiled to herself. She’d got the whole routine down to an art now:

Wait round the corner until seven forty-five, as that’s when the evening matches kicked off, then open the door quietly. The first and fifth floorboards in the hallway were loose and creaked, so you had to dodge them. The same was true for pretty much all of the stairs up to the first floor, with the exception of stairs four, five, seven, ten and twelve.

Once you were up on the landing there was no way to avoid him hearing you, but you’d now given the landlord a choice: come up and pester you for your daily rent, or miss vital minutes of the game. The game always won out, especially with pay-per-match prices what they were these days, and by full time he was always too drunk to remember to ask. …

The Greek God of failing upward takes on a new role: Master of Intelligence.

“I’m so glad we could meet like this, Mr Grayling.” She said. “Diplomacy is better over golf.”

“Mini-golf, Miss Romanova.” He corrected, with genteel patriarchy. The distinction was, he felt, important. They were quite different sports.

Chris reflected on how his life had changed so suddenly. Just two weeks ago he’d been sat at home, enjoying the quiet life of a backbencher. He’d even found time to start a new hobby, creating YouTube mashups of Thomas the Tank Engine brio and popular music — anonymously, of course.

Indeed, he’d been in the middle of a particularly ambitious mashup— a double bridge jump and crossover set to NWA’s Fuck tha Police — when Dominic Cummings had called. …

How bad aircraft design and demand for cheap air travel helped cause two of the worst air disasters in recent history.

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A Boeing 737/8 MAX of Batik Air Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur-KUL, Malaysia

The morning of 29 October 2018 dawned bright in Jakarta. As the sun rose over Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operating Lion Air flight 610 taxied for takeoff.

In the flight deck of PK-LQP that morning were captain Bhavye Suneja and his first officer Harvino. With over 6,000 hours in the air, Suneja was no novice, although Lion Air’s aggressive approach to promotions had seen him reach captain earlier than he might at other airlines. Harvino, who like many Indonesians used only one name, was also relatively experienced, with over 5,000 hours.

Certainly, the trip to Pangkal Pinang was one they had made many times before. From almost the moment flight 610 lifted off, however, Suneja’s control stick began to shake. The aircraft was warning him that something was wrong. …


John Bull

Writer and historian (military & transport). Editor of London Reconnections and Lapsed Historian. I focus on ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

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