Friendly fire

February 9, 2007 at 3:17 pm (Double espresso)

Woman in lift notices my boat-shaped shoes.
“They’re for flat feet,” I say.
“Guess that means you can’t join the army.”
“That, and the fact that I’m Iranian.”

The other week in Manchester I met a 25-year-old woman, let’s call her Maryam, who manages a fashion store. Seven years ago she was set on being a fighter pilot, but the Royal Air Force turned her down. “Your arms are too short,” they said. She went away for six months — stretching. She came back with longer arms. The woman who measured her said: “You’ll never join the air force.” You’ll never be top gun. Heartbreaking. Maryam was born in Iran. One suspects this is why the RAF refused her. And she had, literally, reached for her dream.


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