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Wednesday, 17 June 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #61 – 17 June 1961

On 17 June, 1961, principal dancer of the Kirov Ballet, Rudolf Nureyev, broke free from Russian embassy guards at a Paris airport and requested asylum in France.

The 23-year-old Russian dancer dashed through a security barrier at Le Bourget airport shouting in English: "I want to be free."

It is understood Nureyev was approached by two Russian guards as he was waiting, with the rest of his troupe, to board a BEA Vanguard plane to London.

The guards informed him that he was required to return to Moscow instead of going to London, but, as he was being escorted to a waiting Russian aircraft, he made his dash for freedom.

He was taken into the airport police station by two French police officers, followed by the two furious Russian guards, and a heated argument ensued.

He was immediately granted temporary asylum in France and his case was referred to the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons.

Within a week of his defection, Nureyev was signed by the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas in Paris.  He never returned to Russia, settled in the West and became an international star.

He died at 54 in 1993.

Sources: BBC and others

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