#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 3°C Monday 25 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: 'The day I discovered my parents were Russian spies'

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

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. Our parents were Russian spies

shutterstock_283045727 Source: Shutterstock/GrAl

Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley had two sons – born in Canada – and lived in America. Family live was exceedingly normal… until the evening the FBI called around.

(The Guardian, approx 31 mins reading time)

When he emerged on to the landing, it became clear the FBI was here for something far more serious. The two brothers watched, stunned, as their parents were put in handcuffs and driven away in separate black cars. Tim and Alex were left behind with a number of agents, who said they needed to begin a 24-hour forensic search of the home; they had prepared a hotel room for the brothers. One of the men told them their parents had been arrested on suspicion of being “unlawful agents of a foreign government”.

2. My miscarriage

shutterstock_304132586 Source: Shutterstock/Robert Kneschke

Miscarriages are common – but they aren’t always talked about. Angela Garbes writes about her miscarriage, and what the experience taught her.

(The Stranger, approx 24 mins reading time)

The clinical term for miscarriage is “spontaneous abortion,” which feels, yes, clinical. For everyday life, I prefer the term “pregnancy loss,” because that’s exactly what it is. What exactly is lost, though, lies entirely in the heart and mind of each woman who experiences it.

3. The foul reign of the biological clock

shutterstock_115924825 Source: Shutterstock/InesBazdar

Moria Weigel delves deep into the history of the term ‘biological clock’, finding out it’s not quite what we think it is.

(The Guardian, approx 23 mins reading time)

The spate of stories about the biological clock sometimes alluded to these broad demographic trends and anxieties. But mostly, they focused on individuals. The media glamourised professional women who decided to have children while pursuing demanding careers, and warned women who put off having children that they would regret their diffidence later. (The idea that a woman might not want to become a mother at any point rarely came up.)

4. Living together

shutterstock_197062571 Source: Shutterstock/Radiokafka

The idea of co-op housing might seem unusual, but it’s coming back again as young people find themselves living in big cities where accommodation is hard to find. But is there a price to pay for it?

(New Yorker, approx 29 mins reading time)

The proposed solutions to the housing crisis are endless: more zoning (so that luxury apartments don’t take over the city); less zoning (so that developers are encouraged to build more); micro-apartments (a tower of three-hundred-square-foot units is currently being leased in Kips Bay). Adam Neumann, the co-founder and C.E.O. of WeWork, told me, “The future is more expensive and less room! That’s just a fact.” Co-living is about rejiggering our expectations.

5. The rise of Marine

France Far Right Source: Kamil Zihnioglu

Marine le Pen is a far-right leader who wants to make France great again. Here’s the story of her rise.

(Harper’s, approx 40 mins reading time)

A few days after the Paris massacre, Le Pen had been invited to consult with Hollande at the Élysée Palace — an early sign, to many, that the attacks might benefit the F.N. politically. But the first real test of Le Pen’s clout was the French regional elections, which would begin less than two weeks after our meeting in Strasbourg. Le Pen was running for president of the regional council in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, in northern France. She had temporarily suspended her campaign after November 13, and she was well aware that she would need to make up for lost time.

6. Superstar Machine 

shutterstock_317935109 Source: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

You might not have heard of Superstar Machine, but according to Jezebel, its ex-members describe it as a “cult preying on new York’s creative women”. Here’s what’s been happening.

(Jezebel, approx 35 mins reading time)

It was, the young women who joined were told, an exclusive, in-the-know group of likeminded people in similar fields, who would learn together to supercharge their careers and dust their romantic lives in magic. For some of them, it probably seemed like a fast track or a last option, an alternative to the other things they’d been trying that weren’t yielding the desired effects: improv classes, yoga training, speed-dating, the bar scene.


Album charts Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Back in 2003, Pete Paphides interviewed Radiohead. Depression, creativity and fame are all discussed in the deep and wide-ranging interview.

(Hidden Tracks, approx 40 mins reading time)

Yorke himself seems unerringly bullish throughout the three days Mojo has spent with him. This is something he attributes to his diet – although, later, some more deep-rooted reasons surface. He’s been wheat-free for the last two years and, as a result, feels sufficiently energised to make it through the longest of days. All of which is just as well, because for Hail To The Thief Radiohead have hit the promotional trail with a fervour that would shame the politicians Yorke wrote about on OK Computer’s “Electioneering”. The group chortle their way through a Time photo-shoot by discussing their alleged invitation to play at the Hollywood wedding of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. ”If they sent us an invite, it never arrived,” says Colin Greenwood.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

Read next: