March 31, 2016


No self-pity, no fear: a hostage sets new standards for British sangfroid (Jonathan Jones,  30 March 2016, The Guardian)

Now along comes another British hero keeping his cool in a mad age - or perhaps, embracing its madness. In a picture that no artist would be daring enough to stage, 26-year-old Ben Innes from Aberdeen grins merrily next to hijacker Seif Eldin Mustafa, who looks politely at the camera while wearing what appears to be a suicide belt.

The picture is utterly askew from what reality is supposed to be like. It is art. It is surrealism. It is insanity. Seif Eldin Mustafa's spectacles catch the light as he poses cooperatively. He's acting as if this is a rational situation - but the white flannel, pocketed belt around his waist is loaded with objects that may be explosives, with wires protruding like detonators. It is easy to see why the pilot of EgyptAir flight MS181 believed this was a suicide belt and obeyed Mustafa's order to divert to Cyprus. What is harder to understand is what Innes, one of a handful of passengers kept on the plane after all the others were released, has got to smile about.

But why not? There's no use brooding. As Eric Idle said, always look on the bright side of life. Maybe you are about to be blown up. Never mind, enjoy yourself! Innes is a true hero, showing us all how to live in what for all he knew might have been his last moments. His big beaming face under the sunglasses pushed up on his head shows no self-pity or fear. Suppose, horribly, the worst had happened and this picture survived. What would it mean then? Innes would seem all the more madly brave, going to his death with a grin on his face.

Posted by at March 31, 2016 1:42 PM