Hamid Farahi Alamdari was full of stories. When he was living out of his car in a Tesco car park in Harlow, Essex, he told anyone who would listen about his exciting past as an avionics engineer, Iranian war veteran and physicist. Then there was his pièce de résistance: the time he was shortlisted to be Stephen Hawking’s assistant. “I took it all with a pinch of salt at first because he was telling me all these stories and I could tell he was a drinker,” says account manager Adam Protheroe. “He could have been anybody. He could have told me that he was the king of Iran and I wouldn’t have known any better.” Protheroe became close friends with Hamid in 2017. “I’d seen him around and he was living in a Peugeot 206 that was parked up just around the corner. I came back a couple of days later with a bag full of clothes and bits and pieces and socks. My wife cooked him a nice meal and I took it down to him in a little box and started … [Read more...] about A gifted physicist reduced to living in his car: what killed Hamid Alamdari?
Best gifts for seven year old boy
In July 1997, a Yugoslav army officer named Milan Gunj received an urgent phone call at home in Belgrade. Something strange was happening at work and he was needed immediately. Staff Sergeant Gunj’s job could best be described as that of an army hotelier. He had risen through the ranks from barracks cook and caterer to the rather pleasant task of looking after a string of gated and guarded holiday homes the Yugoslav military had traditionally provided for its top brass. The man calling him on this summer day was a soldier who worked in one of these bucolic retreats, at a place called Rajac in the wooded hills of central Serbia. Some unexpected guests had arrived. The soldier dared not say any more on the phone, but he was insistent Gunj come as soon as possible. A few moments later, he received a second call. This time it was from an aide in the office of the Yugoslav chief of the general staff, ordering Gunj to get to Rajac immediately and deal with his visitors. He would be … [Read more...] about 14 years a fugitive: the hunt for Ratko Mladić, the Butcher of Bosnia
For more than 30 years, Kate Bush's voice seems to have come out of nowhere. I remember the first time I heard it; the release of Wuthering Heights in 1978 coincided with my third year at grammar school in Birmingham studying Emily Brontë's novel in our English lessons. We were 13, it was a boys' school; hormones were running high. Bush seemed, uncannily, to be talking just to us. All the plotlines that had been written up on the blackboard – "Discuss the importance of windows in the novel"; "Describe the extremes of Cathy Earnshaw's character in terms of the landscape" – were suddenly writ large in unsettling eyeliner and lipstick on Top of the Pops. It was spooky practical crit set to music: cue strangled choruses of "I'm so co-o-o-old", in breaking Brummie adolescent voices, from the back of class, and much ardent, after-hours imagining of subconscious female archetypes. Punk had been in the air, but Bush, with her scary hair, seemed just as anarchic (Johnny Rotten … [Read more...] about Kate Bush: the return of pop’s most resonant voice