If there was one thing Mary had learned in three years in Afghanistan, it was as banal as this: Love and war are a terrible combination.
Also: never get into a Chinook helicopter piloted by a drunk member of the royal family.
Mary was as an official war artist, just like everyone else. Due to a British Council error in late 2009 hundreds of artists had been sent to the country to interpret the conflict. During the second Helmand offensive you couldn’t set up a mortar emplacement or sweep a road for mines without tripping over a mixed-media collagist or a site-specific sculptor.
Eventually the army decided they’d had enough and revoked everyone’s visas, so the artists all drifted up into the mountains, where they held community outreach events and private viewings and opening night cheese-and-wine parties for the bemused local tribespeople. Occasionally a performance poet or someone who worked in ceramics was kidnapped and beheaded by the local Taliban franchise, but for the most part relations were good.
And it was in the mountains that Mary had fallen in love with a United States MQ-1 unmanned Predator drone. Read the rest of this entry »