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7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: The couple who fell in love in their care home

Settle down in a comfy chair with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. Last love

cropped-shot-of-elderly-couple-holding-hands-while-sitting-together-at-home-focus-on-hands Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

A wonderful yet poignant read from Sophie Elmhirst about two people who found love in old age. 

(The Guardian, approx 19 mins reading time)

The man winked at her. Cheeky bugger, thought Mary. It’s not entirely clear when this was. Two years ago, maybe three? Timings, the order of things, time in general, can be confusing. But there are some things we know for sure. Mary is Mary Turrell, nearly 80 years old. She had been living at Easterlea Rest Home in Denmead, near Portsmouth, for a little while, a year or two, perhaps, when the man with the voice arrived. And his name was Derek Brown.

2. ‘Girls in the Windows’

Taken in 1960, Ormond Gigli’s picture might be the highest-grossing photograph of all time. But why do people keep buying it?

(The New York Times, approx 8 mins reading time)

Over the last 30 years, roughly 600 signed and numbered copies have been sold, at prices that typically range between $15,000 and $30,000. The image is offered at galleries around the world — in New York, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, Cleveland, Atlanta, Boston, Santa Fe, London, Paris and, until the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow. Buyers who want to cut out the middleman can buy directly from the artist’s estate. “Girls in the Windows” is also a darling of the auction market. More than 160 have been offered over the years at Phillips, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and other houses, according to Artnet. In 2017 alone, an amazing 13 copies were put on the block and instead of depressing the prices, one of them set a record for the image, at $56,906. Seven have been sold at auctions this year, and on Tuesday another one sold at Phillips in London for 30,480 British pounds, roughly $38,000 and well over the high estimate.

3. Point blank

Eren Orbey was only three-years-old when his father was murdered. In this essay, he writes about piecing together what happened to him. 

(The New Yorker, approx 27 mins reading time)

My dad’s murder was as fundamental and as unknowable as my own birth. My grief had the clumsy fit of a hand-me-down. As far as I can recall, no one in the family explained his death to me. My mom considered my obliviousness a blessing. “He’s a normal boy,” she’d tell people. From a young age, I tried to assemble the story bit by bit, scrounging for information and writing it down. But G always seemed protective of her recollections from that night and skeptical of my self-appointed role as family scribe. She, too, had written about our dad over the years, and she’d point to the chick story as an early sign of my tendency to cannibalize her experiences. We’d quibble over the specifics—had my writing filched details from hers?—but to me it was an epistemological problem. I wanted what she had, which was firsthand access to the defining tragedy of our lives.

4. The Sphere

las-vegas-nevada-usa-november-7-2023-the-msg-sphere-lit-up-at-night The MSG Sphere lit up at night. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Las Vegas’s latest concert venue is a giant, shining orb that is currently home to U2′s residency. It cost $2.3 billion to build and it’s blanketed in 580,000 square feet of LED lights. Charlie Warzel writes about what it’s like to experience it. 

(The Atlantic, approx 13 mins reading time)

When I approached the Sphere on the ground, around dusk, the building awoke from its screen saver (an unpleasant advertisement for a Spider-Man video game) and began to emit a strange burbling noise. A semi-realistic animation of a womb-bound fetus appeared and spoke the words “This is not a rehearsal” before bursting into flames, flickering violently, and shape-shifting into the following series of images: a blinking eyeball, a thunderstorm, the ocean, some plants, the moon, more flames, all to the pounding drums and metallic guitar clanking of U2’s “Zoo Station.” Even in the context of the pulsing neon goat rodeo of the Vegas Strip, this was a sensory assault.

5. Netanyahu

A fascinating analysis by Joshua Leifer about how Israel’s longest-serving leader has shaped the country in his image, and how his approach is likely to outlast his political survival.

(The Guardian, approx 23 mins reading time)

After he returned to power in 2009, Netanyahu vowed never to lose it. As Israeli journalist Ben Caspit details in his book, The Netanyahu Years, Netanyahu crushed or expelled any potential rivals within Likud. By 2015, he had “metamorphosed”, Haaretz editor Aluf Benn wrote, “from a risk-averse conservative into a rightwing radical”. He transformed a party that, while always staunchly and even violently nationalist, had once included economic and social liberals into an authoritarian populist party centred on his charismatic personality. Encouraged by his wife, Sara, and his son, Yair, Netanyahu also began to think of himself as indispensable, as the incarnation of the national spirit, as identical to the state itself. “Without Bibi,” Sara Netanyahu has repeatedly said, “Israel is doomed.”

6. Temple Bar’s kerbstone carvings

An Irish wolfhound, an elephant, and a fish and fishing rod are among some of the carvings that can be found along the edge of Temple Bar’s footpaths. The sculptor who created them explains how they came about. 

(Dublin Inquirer, approx 6 mins reading time)

When Joynt undertook the project in 1989, she had just graduated from the National College of Art and Design, she says. “I was just starting to do a lot of work in the ground.” Her first major commission had been in 1988, she says. That marked what is known as Dublin’s Millennium Year, when Dublin Corporation – as the city government was called at the time – leant into several new civic works, creating public spaces and commissioning public art. Joynt’s contribution was “The People’s Island”, bronze and aluminium footprints set into the footpath on the traffic island south of O’Connell Bridge. “I was a student, looking for ways to earn money,” she says. “And then, as an idea I went around the different shops, like the fishing tackle shop, the Bad Ass Café, the shoe shop, and said, ‘Would you like me to do something?’” In the summer of 1989, she got permission from the corporation for the kerbstone carvings, she says. “I think I did one, and then somebody else would see it and ask for the same thing.”


astronaut-floating-in-space-astronaut-capt-bruce-mccandless-in-the-untethered-manned-maneuvering-unit-mmu Astronaut Bruce McCandless floating above the Earth in 1984 in the untethered Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In 1984, Bruce McCandless floated above the earth using a device he had helped to create. In this article, the astronaut – who died in 2017 – talks about how he did it.

(Smithsonian Magazine, approx 7 mins reading time)

When I was growing up, we didn’t have astronauts. But we did have comic strips—Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, people of this sort. When I mentioned to my parents that I wanted to fly like Buck Rogers, they would say, “Well, man may eventually fly in space, but surely not before the year 2000. So why don’t you come down to Earth and do something practical, like learn to drive a battleship, or something of that sort.” 

Instead of learning how to drive a battleship, I opted to go into the U.S. Naval Academy, and was firmly committed to nuclear submarines, the first of which, the USS Nautilus, had come to the Naval Academy on a visit. I was headed in that direction until one afternoon in October 1957, when we heard that a Sputnik had been launched. I happened to have a short-wave receiver in my room as a lordly senior upperclassman, and so we dropped a wire out the window, five stories down to the moat, and we were actually able to receive the beep-beep-beep as Sputnik went by.

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