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Sitdown Sunday: 'I've been saying goodbye to my family for two years'

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/valbar

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour. 

1. The long goodbye

In an incredibly moving column, Joe Hammond writes about his motor neurone disease diagnosis, which came when he was father to two small children. As the world as he knew it slipped away, he still retained a sense of awe about life.

(The Guardian, approx 6 mins reading time)

I can’t be active in the life of my children. I have to see what the day brings. There was the moment last week when Tom rested his cheek into my upper arm, gently twisted the top of his head upwards against my flesh like a nestling cat, then twirled away. It was a moment that must have lasted five seconds at most but I kept it with me – held on to it – for days, as if I wasn’t just making contact, but taking an imprint.

2. A bridge too far?

In this Noteworthy longread, the drama over a new bridge for Kilkenny is examined, with new revelations about the long-running affair that has involved protests, a court case, and massive cost overruns.

(Noteworthy, approx 26 mins reading time)

At the next day’s meeting, the councillors were told by the new acting chief executive John Mulholland that no decisions they made that day would have any legal standing in respect of work already underway. Minutes of the meeting explain how Mr Mulholland had said: “The members cannot legally make any decisions today and cannot make any proposals in relation to cease [sic] works on site.” A third special meeting for 26 July was called. This time, the council management came armed with advice from their solicitors.

3. The end of The Affair

When the British actress Ruth Wilson left the hugely popular TV series The Affair, there were questions about why. Now a new report alleges it was due to the atmosphere on set and the treatment of sex scenes in the show.

(The Hollywood Reporter, approx 13 mins reading time)

Many say Wilson, who is restrained by an NDA, had long wanted to leave the show because of ongoing frustrations with the nudity required of her, friction with Treem over the direction of her character, and what she ultimately felt was a “hostile work environment,” later the subject of a previously unreported 2017 investigation by Showtime parent company CBS.

4. The end of the world

What do the super-rich do when they fear the world is going to end of the world? Build their own bunkers.

(The Guardian, approx 8 mins reading time)

Fifty-five ultra-high-net-worth residents have purchased private apartments inside the condo. Residents are understandably cagey about sharing their identities, but include real estate moguls, a financial entrepreneur and two doctors. One resident had the view from her loft in Manhattan filmed in all four seasons, so it could be piped into high-definition screens installed as ‘windows’ inside the bunker. Residents often do not have specific motivations for moving into the bunker, they are acting on a sense of general unease about the future.

5. Working on their issues

The New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis writes about the representation of men and masculinity in movies in 2019.

(New York Times, approx 11 mins reading time)

Men are in trouble. Even Olaf, the snowman from “Frozen 2,” gets that something is up. “Who knows the ways of men,” he ponders in the sequel. I laughed but wondered what the movie’s youngest viewers would think. The quip is aimed at their parents, of course, who will just nod or shake their heads. Everyone understands it’s been rough for men, never mind that we’ve been talking about the crisis in masculinity for decades. Things have worsened with the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the emergence of the #MeToo movement. Since then, the accusations have grown, as have questions about what this great reckoning means, perhaps especially for men.

6. Pizza toast

A sweet piece about a journey around Japan trying to find the elusive snack pizza toast.

(Eater, approx 25 mins reading time)

It’s also a sort of netherworld food that the Japanese don’t think about and visitors to Japan have assessed — if at all — with a mere tilt of the head. As in: Huh, pizza toast. It is a comfort food, part of the postwar food canon, falling squarely alongside the incongruity of Spam in Okinawan dishes and “Neapolitan-style” spaghetti made with ketchup. It is a food that squeezes joy from very little. Simple ingredients, simple preparation. A meal that transcends economic circumstance.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… 

In 1985, Derek and Nancy Haysom were murdered. Their daughter, Elizabeth, and her boyfriend Jens Soering, were jailed for the killings. Recently Soering has been released from prison, and new questions are being asked about the case. Here’s a piece from 2015 about it.

(The New  Yorker, approx 52 mins reading time)

The house revealed no indication of forced entry. On the dining-room table were place settings and the remnants of a meal. No weapon could be found, but there were footprints in the blood. One looked to have been made by a tennis shoe, and two more by a sock. Forensic study showed that the Haysoms had blood-alcohol levels of .22—exceedingly high. A vodka bottle nearby carried fingerprints, as did a shot glass. Four blood types were in evidence: the Haysoms’ A and AB, a bit of B blood on a damp rag, and, on the screen door and in the master suite, spots of O. DNA analysis was largely unavailable in 1985, but, from these samples, it was possible to reconstruct a sequence of events

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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