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. …


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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