Jean Taylor – Deja Vu Diary

Jean Taylor continues her diary of lockdown begun in Bent Street 4.1. We pick up the trail once again in June …

Monday 29 June
Just back from a twenty minute walk to Methven Park where all the tall trees are holding up the sky with their bare branches, along the irregular bluestone laneways where I felt a physical connection with my Irish father’s family who moved from rural Donaghadee to the city of Belfast in 1915 and my Scottish great grandmother who arrived by boat from Leith Scotland in 1882 and lived in Richmond and Northcote and finally Brunswick East, just three streets away from where I live now. In fact I walked past my great grandmother’s old house in Jarvie Street, and back along the laneways where I feel at home, all urban grunge, tags and small single-fronted houses and tiny gardens competing for space with the three bins, for rubbish, green waste, and recycling.

Tuesday 30 June
Daniel Andrews says there have been 233 new cases of Covid-19 detected in Victoria since last Thursday, 64 of those were in the past 24 hours.

Wednesday 1 July
Tonight at 11.59 the ten postcodes, of which ours, 3057, is not one, although we’re within spitting distance of Brunswick West, 3055, which is, go into stage three lockdown.

Thursday 2 July
All I really want to do today, I decided again this morning, is to live companionably with Ardy, do the final corrections to a book I wrote in ‘79/’80, A Trios Travels, Trials and Tribulations on the Overland Route From Melbourne to Istanbul in 1977, and see whatever else eventuates before sitting on the couch with Ardy this evening to watch our regular TV show, The Project and Celebrity Gogglebox USA, and the next episode of either or both of our on-going Netflix shows, After Life and Grace and Frankie. Being able to see my grandchildren and my lesbian friends from time to time, knowing they’re all out there, is a comfort.

Saturday 4 July
Sixty-six new cases in Victoria because security guards, who were in contact with infected returned travellers while in quarantine in a hotel in Melbourne, took it back to the north west suburbs where it’s been a bush fire out of control ever since, from postcode 3012 to 3064 where 300,000 people most of whom through no fault of their own are now in Stage 3 Lockdown and ‘going it alone’. It’s increasingly unlikely that any state, let alone Queensland, is going to open its borders anytime soon to anyone from Victoria, so goodness knows when I’ll be able to get to Cairns to see my daughter and her family.

Sunday 5 July
One of the better pieces of news is that according to a COVID-19 Epidemiology Report for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: Sixty-nine cases (0.8%) have been reported in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons since the start of the epidemic in Australia, almost half of whom had been infected overseas and the majority lived in large cities. No cases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons have been notified from remote or very remote areas of Australia … and no fatalities have been reported. All because the Aboriginal communities, in conjunction with the government, acted quickly to protect themselves.

Tuesday 7 July
A five-day lockdown of 3,000 mainly migrant people in nine high rise towers, ‘vertical cruise ships’, while they’re being tested, which some people are seeing as racist. Not too surprisingly, NSW will temporarily close the border with Victoria at midnight tonight, the first time this particular border’s been closed for over 100 years.

This afternoon, Premier Daniel Andrews announced a stage three Lockdown for the whole of metropolitan Melbourne as well as Mitchell Shire in the north for the next six weeks starting at midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, because there were 191 new cases today, 69 of which were the infected residents in the Towers, which totals 772 active cases altogether, 35 of whom are in hospital and nine in Intensive Care. Once the intensive testing of all the residents in the nine Towers has been completed and appropriate measures taken for their ongoing welfare they’ll go into Stage 3 Lockdown like the rest of us.

Cafe and restaurants will close again and go back to takeaway only. No more films, plays, swimming pools, libraries, bookshops or art galleries, but it was business as usual on-line and being the middle of NAIDOC week I enjoyed Lou Bennett’s interview about her illustrious music career with Tiddas and The Black Arm Band.

Wednesday 8 July (final day before stage three lockdown in Melbourne from midnight)
Not happy about going back into Lockdown, even though I can see with the spikes of infections in the ten postcodes and the nine Towers, that it has probably got completely out of hand and calls for drastic measures.

However, with the sun shining and our last day of ‘freedom’, and knowing I wouldn’t see the three grandchildren for six weeks if I didn’t go later this afternoon, Ardy and I drove to Carlton, the tram still being a bit too dangerous. We parked just before Elgin Street, put on our masks, mine was a scarf, and arm-in-arm we toddled up Lygon Street to Readings Bookshop. I waited in a queue till someone came out, used the hand sanitiser at the entrance, went in to admire my four books on the shelf, The Archives Trilogy plus the latest, What Are Dykes Doing: Collected Non-Fiction, (turned front cover out, much to my delight), and bought Aileen Morton-Robinson’s Talkin’ Up to the White Woman: Indigenous Women and Feminism, with my gift voucher. I waited on the bench under the tree outside till Ardy returned from her visit to the Kathleen Syme Library with an armful of the books she’d borrowed. And since the Nova Cinema had closed at midday for the duration and because Brunetti’s was only doing take-away we went to Trotters Bistro for coffees and cake sitting outside with our backs soaking up the bright sunshine.

Friday 10 July
I put the following on Facebook today: While the actual National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee Week has sensibly been postponed to November, this is to wish all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a very productive, politically active and celebratory virtual NAIDOC with many thanks for all the interesting and entertaining events online for the benefit of us all to learn from and show our respect to the creative, vibrant, talented and hard-working Indigenous people here in Australia.

Sunday 12 July
It is so long since I sent the COVID-19 article to US-based radical feminist journal, Rain and Thunder, that when I got the rejection I had to print it out to see what I’d written. I can see why it was rejected because it was wishy-washy personal stuff, I forget I need to be fiercely radical feminist focused and politically oriented if I want to be published in R&T.

Wednesday 15 July
Another day another Zoom at 11am with Jamie Lowe, Michael Mansell and Professor Megan Davis, in conversation with the Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss, as part of the National Treaties Summit, which shows how complicated the concepts of Sovereignty and Treaty are in terms of coming up with a workable legal solution.

I fixed the corrections and emailed both The Circus Women’s Memorial Bench and the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives blurbs for Heritage 100 to the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. I also emailed the article, The Best Laid Plans Gang Apt to go Astray or Why We’re No Longer ‘All in This Together,’ plus the Fruit of the Backyard Monstera photo to the Matrix Guild News.

The PM’s boast that ‘we’re all Melbournians now’ rang a bit hollow in the light of footage of him watching the Sharks lose badly, and then the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk boasting that as the AFL teams and their families had moved to Brisbane to train and play, that the Grand Final would also be played up there as well. No solidarity whatsoever, it seems to me, let alone ‘we’re all in this together.’ And I’m not even a footy fan.

Friday 17 July
Yesterday it was announced that Wiradjuri writer, Tara June Winch, won the Miles Franklin award for her novel, The Yield, great news! And there were 428 new cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, another daily record.

Saturday 18 July
Wow! Two hours on the Moreland Reconciliation Network Anti-Racism group Zoom this morning was more familiar and I felt more confident about speaking out and felt invigorated by the discussions, this is only my second meeting with this group, but now it looks like it’s going to turn into a Me & White Supremacy by Layla F Saad Book Circle because everyone is keen on that idea.

Then the Four Corners episode with Stan Grant, ‘I Can’t Breathe’, about the destructive racism in the US and Australia and making connections between what happens to the Aboriginal people and the African Americans in terms of the murderous and brutal cultures of both countries that continue to cause harm on a daily basis.

As a final entertainment for the afternoon, even though I attended the premier of the play in Melbourne in 2010, I watched Jack Charles versus The Crown by Ilbijerri Theatre Company filmed at Belvoir Theatre 2011 and showing free on YouTube as part of the Arts Centre’s NAIDOC week’s virtual Program July 2020.

Thursday 23 July
The third week of stage 3 lockdown has now morphed into Stage 4, with the introduction of the compulsory wearing of masks. Not too surprisingly, given another 374 new cases and three deaths on Tuesday, and 484 new cases and two more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total number of deaths in Victoria to 44. These consist of mainly the elderly with more cases and deaths likely with the virus spreading and 383 residents testing positive in Aged Care facilities, and 69 in one of the facilities alone.

Friday 24 July
A productive working day, I didn’t do too much, but I got a lot done. I got up to correcting page 52 of a 60-page transcript of an interview with me by a PhD student who is researching the herstory of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Melbourne, and also did a bit more knitting of the cover for my 60-page book of words and photos, ISO Lockdown for the forthcoming Counihan Gallery Summer Show.

Given masks are now compulsory I did the right thing and wore a mask when I went for a walk through Methven park this afternoon, but found it very difficult to breathe and my glasses kept fogging up all the time. It’s a damned nuisance, but I don’t want to be seen as one of those who are resisting wearing any face covering out of sheer bloodymindedness, so will persevere with it.

Saturday 25 July
What’s happening in Melbourne is not good at all: 300 new cases and seven deaths, the Victorian toll now 56, as announced last night, the highest in Australia. Forty schools have closed for deep cleaning, 101 people have been fined for disobeying the regulations; and Dutton had another go at the Tamil family of four, with two young children who were born in Australia and have a home waiting for them in Biloela Queensland, (and the mother in a Perth Hospital with severe abdominal pain), for wasting taxpayers’ money by being detained indefinitely on Christmas Island. Talk about victim blaming, the man’s mad!

The statistics reveal another 357 cases and five deaths as well as double figures of COVID-9 in Geelong and Colac and the news announced that Bunnings sausage sizzles have opened again in SA, WA and Queensland. Why it is that Melbourne, The Most Liveable City in the World for several years in a row not so long ago, is now the most dangerously virus-ridden city in Australia?

Monday 27 July
We enjoyed watching the Women’s Circus’s free show on Facebook yesterday afternoon, Ghosts in Shed 14, performed by friends we recognised and directed by Andrea Lemon in 2003. I was a founding member of the Women’s Circus in 1991, performed in their first five shows and afterwards supported all their annual shows by volunteering with the front of house team.

Wednesday 29 July
Aged Care is descending into crisis with 804 cases and 45 deaths. Eighty-seven facilities have known outbreaks, 99.4% of cases in privately owned and run facilities. Andrews said he wouldn’t put his mother in one, having a return shot at the PM whose job it is to make sure that all of the 822 Residential Aged Care facilities in Victoria are adequately funded and run efficiently. One private facility alone has 80 cases, whereas there are only five cases in all of the state-run facilities.

According to online information: The Commonwealth government is responsible for the Aged Care system in Australia. Aged Care falls under the Department of Health. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for the provision of residential Aged Care services in Victoria.

So much for Morrison blaming Andrews when according to online reports into Residential Aged Care in Victoria, it was discovered there were no government regulations about staff-to-resident ratios, no requirement that at least one registered nurse needed to be on duty at all times, and no properly recognised training qualifications were required to work in a nursing home. It’s no wonder that the under-qualified, over-worked, under-paid staff working across several of the large privately-owned Aged Care facilities in any one week were unable to curb the PANdemIC when it hit with a vengeance. But while the staff survived, many of the residents in their 80s and 90s did not.

Thursday 30 July
Up and at the laptop by 10am, we relaxed on the couch and watched the Koorie Heritage Trust’s Zoom event of Nornie Bero from the Torres Strait and Mabu Mabu Café, making three dampers, (pumpkin for brekky, wattle seed for afternoon tea and salt bush and pepper berries for dinner), and eating them hot out of the oven with lashings of butter and golden syrup.

Saturday 1 August
The Saturday Age: The stats for Victoria are very grim and somewhat alarming: Confirmed cases, 10,577 and 113 deaths, far more than any other state, more than double that of NSW; nationally there 16,906 cases overall, 5,983 active and 197 deaths; world total 17,303,253 confirmed cases and 673, 284 deaths and 10,137,875 people recovered. All of which is the reason I’m not in Cairns celebrating my grandson’s 24th birthday today, as planned.

Sunday 2 August
As there were another 671 cases and seven deaths overnight, from tonight there’s an 8pm–5am Curfew, and Greater Melbourne is in a State of Disaster in Stage 4 lockdown: only one person to do shopping per household per day, any travel restricted to a radius of five km, all schools closed except for special needs and essential services, takeaway still allowed, exercise for an hour and compulsory mask wearing, with regional Victoria in stage 3 lockdown.

Wednesday 5 August
It seems we had an existential dilemma this morning trying to adhere to the new regulations, with me going for a drive this afternoon to buy grog and out again this evening to pick up takeaway burgers from Brunswick East for dinner. But I’ll combine my exercise time with picking up the takeaway. Another good thing, after Ardy had told me to make a twist on the elastic loops on my mask, I have been able to breathe a lot better and my glasses don’t fog up at all.

I’m so enamoured of Zoom these days that I watched two yesterday, including At Risk: Older Women Facing Homeless in Australia. Now up to my favourite, book 8, called 1222, of the Hanne Wilhelmsen series by Anne Holt and it has been an absolute pleasure to be rereading these books in chronological order.

Over 700 new cases today, a total of 13,035 active cases in Victoria, and fifteen deaths including a man in his 30s. Andrews reiterated that all the new restrictions were painful and difficult but necessary with 250,000 workers affected by the closures of businesses, 155 fines and many more warnings issued by the cops to people breaching the stage four lockdown regulations and grandparents are advised not to mind their grandchildren.

Friday 7 August
Rather too ‘down’ today to be productive but I did add to this Diary as usual. The Anti-racism Book Circle Journal is also almost up-to-date, and while the questions are not designed for Australia I’ve just adjusted them to write about my complicity in racism towards Indigenous people here. The biggest thing is that I finalised the first draft, with photos and script, 60 pages in all, of the ISO Book for the Counihan’s Summer Show, so that was a good thing,

Saturday 8 August
The Bent Street 4.1, Love From a Distance: Intimacy and Technology in Time of COVID-19 anthology was in the PO Box this morning and not only does it look great but Ardy says my contribution, Dark POMO, based on extracts from my COVID-19 Diary reads well. The editor has kindly asked me to do more of the same as a follow-on in the next edition at the end of the year.

I am buoyed by the warmer weather this morning and the promise from the weather person of more to come this week in the region of 15 to 17 degrees, which is a lot better after all the icy cold temperatures and the bitter wind the past few days. And in this mood, I opened the Zoom and we all got stuck onto the first introductory session of the Me & White Supremacy Book Circle discussion which went extremely well.

Monday 10 August
One thousand health care workers are now COVID-19 positive and apparently while we have a stockpile of masks and sanitiser and all the rest of the necessary equipment, they’re not being distributed to hospitals where they’re needed most. Five million infections in the US and Trump wants his head on Mt Rushmore alongside the other four presidents … That could be arranged.

Wednesday 12 August
The New York Times Coronavirus Update 11 August 2020: Russia announced today that it has approved a vaccine for the coronavirus, the first country in the world to do so. But the claim has been met with international skepticism because the vaccine has not been thoroughly tested …

While the Melbourne Writers Festival Zoom event, Are You Paying Attention?, featuring six Australian womyn writers, Jess Hill, Michelle Law, Leah Jing McIntosh, Favel Parrett, Ellen van Neerven, and Alison Whittaker hosted by Jamila Rizvi and supported by the Office for Women, was extremely well done, it just wasn’t the same as being in Fed Square and mingling with everyone and joining the long queues and hanging out and generally feeling like I am part of a community of writers.

Thursday 13 August
Unfortunately, after 100 COVID-free days, there were fourteen new infections in Auckland and seventeen altogether in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Saturday 15 August
As I returned from buying The Saturday Age, followed by a short walk (the arthritis in the second toe on my right foot is very painful at the moment), I was astounded as I crossed Lygon Street, which is always busy with the usual Saturday morning shopping stream of cars, that there was not a single car in sight in either direction.

Sunday 16 August
The Sunday Project: There were 279 new cases and sixteen deaths, fourteen in Aged Care and the stage four lockdown had been extended by another four weeks taking Melburnians up to Monday 12 October before there’s even any consideration of relief from the restrictions.

Monday 17 August
Typed up my day 6 anti-racism homework in the Journal, did a few more of the corrections to my other novel written 1986-1993, In Sisterhood, In Struggle, and emailed Let’s Not Kid Ourselves, We’re No Longer ALL In This Together, off to my lesbian community and even went for a quick walk late in the day, before I heated Ardy’s chicken curry leftovers with steamed veggies and a salad to try and calm my agitated and overly stimulated mood, which was to no avail because I made several more mistakes: after printing out the pages of the ISO book wrongly, I had to pull out some of my crocheting as well as knitting because I’d used the wrong wool.

Wednesday 19 August
I read bits from several books I have on the go at the moment while I have my coffee: first, one of the backlog copies of Spectrum; followed by Sinister Wisdom #117, Lesbians in the City edited by Erika Abad for the lesbian stories and poetry. Third, Bent Street 4.1, reading the lesbian contributions first. Fourth Me & White Supremacy by Layla F Saad, homework for the Anti-racism Reconciliation group. Fifth, a start on Aileen Morton-Robinson’s Talkin’ Up to the White Woman, and finally Offline by Anne Holt, something light to finish off before I meditate for an hour. These books change as the days go on depending on what is on offer.

Another day another Zoom and this time an Australian lesbian film, Ellie and Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt), part of the limited online Melbourne International Film Festival, which we thoroughly enjoyed for its quirky home-grown humour and its inclusion of lesbian-feminist politics in Sydney in the 1970s.

Sunday 23 August
On this wet and cold Sunday we had bacon and eggs inside with the gas fire on while we watched episode four of the Danish comedy drama series on Netflix, Rita, and afterwards played a game of Banarama, I had halva and coffee for arvo tea and over dinner we watched The Sunday Project: There were 208 new cases and seventeen deaths to bring it to a total of 415 deaths compared to four new cases in NSW and two in Queensland; the vaccine when it arrives eventually will be free and a ‘no jab no play’ policy might be used in certain instances; a dancer on The Masked Singer tested positive with several others becoming infected, so everyone has gone into quarantine and the final episode put on hold; a Click for Vic has started as online support for Victorian businesses.

Monday 24 August
Heard back from BookPOD this morning that as printers were considered an essential service the Long Breast Press Travel book could be done and dusted by the end of the year. Our previous idea for our collective LBP photo on the back cover has been knocked sideways by COVID-19 but I emailed the others with the novel suggestion that we could do individual photos of ourselves wearing masks!

Tuesday 25 August
This is odd I know, but over the past few days I’ve felt a kind of calmness at the core of me, as if I’ve settled into and have now accepted life the way it is and that to keep myself safe I just have to stay at home and wear a mask if I go out for exercise. I’m comparatively well-off financially on the Old Age pension, I live in a small comfy house and it’s not as if I don’t have enough at home to amuse myself between my writing work, Zoom, the ISO and LBP books, the anti-racism group, umpteen books to read, TV shows, Netflix and my darling Ardy for company.

In fact, there’s a certain pride in us Melburnians managing to get ourselves through Stage 4 lockdown in the State of Disaster without too much bother and fuss. Every time I go out with my mask on and see everyone else with their masks on I feel there’s a sense of community because WE really are all in this together, in a way the rest of Australia is not.

Saturday 29 August
I cut my hair first thing, one of the advantages of doing this since the age of 16, before I went out and bought The Saturday Age and walked further than I have lately. I’ll mainly be sitting on the verandah today with 19 degrees predicted and no wind, having lunch and doing a bit of this, the knitted cover, and a bit of that, answering emails, having already ordered Sheila Jeffreys’ autobiography, Trigger Warning: My Lesbian Feminist Life, online from Spinifex, which will be delivered hot off the press shortly, as well as Born Still: A Memoir of Grief by Janet Fraser.

Over another delicious Lebanese takeaway meal from Tete Mona we watched a lesbian film on Netflix, Good Kisser, about a lesbian threesome that didn’t go according to plan, not too surprisingly, and with a definite feel of a stage play with all the exits and entrances and a gay neighbour in the back bungalow and a lesbian taxi driver to add to the mix.

The Saturday Age: The hotel quarantine inquiry is still front page news with lot of mismanagement as far as social distancing and sanitiser are concerned; more family violence during lockdown; ‘Victorians more resilient than nation may realise, Community support for the second lockdown remains at remarkably high levels despite blame-shifting between Morrison and Andrews’; Naked City by John Sylvester: ‘Time to admit our national shame, the sorry truth is that every week, a woman is killed by her partner… Police deal with a family violence victim every six minutes,’ (never mind that radical feminists have been screaming about this for decades and are well aware of this national disgraceful and violent male truth); there were 113 new cases and eighteen deaths bringing the death toll to 496 in Victoria and 583 death nationally and 831,615 deaths world-wide, 180,844 of those in the US.

Monday 31 August
The start of the fifth week of stage 4 lockdown and settling at the computer to get this COVID-19 Diary up to date. Ardy told me over the weekend that she is really really missing being able to go to Libraries not only to borrow books but to browse and hang out and also she is missing her weekly volunteering at the University of Melbourne Archives and ALGA, where she felt she was making a significant contribution towards lesbian community and culture. Whereas I think that Ardy doing the food shopping and creating some amazing signature dishes for our dinners in the evening are both vital aspects for our wellbeing.

Made a start on the next article for Rain & Thunder #75 about Nursing Homes in the 1960s and the deaths in Residential Aged Care facilities during COVID-19 in 2020 and then answered the questions in Layla’s book for Week two Day thirteen.

Wednesday 2 September
A notice about Brazen Hussies (the film) popped up in my inbox and there’s no doubt now that there’s definitely a heavy emphasis on middle class womyn, and it looks as if it bears little resemblance to the grassroots WLM as I experienced it.

After spending a great deal of the afternoon in the back yard soaking up the warmth of a 23 degree day with no need for a cardie while sewing the knitted cover onto the ISO book and taking my washing out of the drier and folding it, by 6.15pm I was onto the Wheeler Centre site to watch and listen to Aileen Morton-Robinson, who wrote Talkin’ Up to the White Woman, being interviewed and was utterly impressed as Aileen discussed her late-in-life academic career and her take on racism and life from a Quandamooka women’s point of view.

Friday 4 September
An interview on Zoom at 11am about The Rise and Fall of Lesbian Nation with the lesbian writer and herstorian, Lillian Faderman, who wrote many award-winning books including: Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (1991). Lillian covered all the main aspects of radical lesbian-feminist cultural and political pursuits during the 1970s and 1980s and into the early 1990s, all much the same as happened here in Australia, albeit on a smaller scale.

Saturday 5 September
Another day, another two Zooms with three down and one to go tomorrow which will make six Zooms altogether this week, a record. But first, the fortnightly two-hour anti-racism Book Circle discussion with Moreland Reconciliation at 10.30am.

The Saturday Age reported that the general population in Melbourne is largely COVID-19 free and ‘it is largely healthcare and Aged Care workers getting sick… Of Victoria’s 2060 active cases yesterday, 993 were related to Aged Care and 297 were amongst health care workers—between them about 63 percent of the total.’ With 19,415 confirmed cases and 650 deaths, most of those in Aged Care, Victoria has had an enormous number of cases and deaths compared to the rest of the country: a total number of 6,722 cases and a total of 87 deaths in the rest of the states.

At 7pm, the launch from London of Sheila Jeffrey’s autobiography, Trigger Warning: My Lesbian Feminist Life, was well done and I found all three speakers, Sheila, Linda and Renate and the interviewer, Jo, made for a lively and interesting session.

Sunday 6 September
Up and at the computer by 7am for a June Mazer Lesbian Archives session from West Hollywood with Katherine V Forest, Curious Wine, (1983) and the Kate Delafield Mysteries including Murder At The Nightwood Bar (1987), but it was definitely worth it to see and hear Katherine read from her latest Kate Delafield-in-progress which was intriguing.

I was pleased when a cardboard box was delivered to the front door, imagining it was from Spinifex with the two books I’d ordered, but even more delighted and surprised when I opened it to find a Care Package Hamper from my daughter in Cairns, on top of the bunch of yellow roses she’d sent a couple of days ago, full of edible goodies to let us know they were thinking of us down here in house-bound and plague-ridden Melbourne.

For financial reasons there is pressure on Daniel Andrews to start opening the state and easing the restrictions for Melbourne but the plan that the Premier announced this afternoon sees the Stage 4 Lockdown extended for another couple of weeks with slight easing of restrictions, curfew at 9pm, two hours of exercise and a designated visit if living on your own and nothing more till 28 September when pools will open up again and I might get to visit my grandchildren for the first time in about twelve weeks!!!

Tuesday 8 September
After a lot of concentration and perseverance I finally completed and submitted online the Summer Show application for the 60-page story book of words and photos, now called ISO Lockdown in Naarm / Birraranga in the Grip of the COVID-19 PANdemIC, which clears my desk for all the other things, like the Long Breast Press book, and the articles for Bent Street, Rain & Thunder and Matrix Guild News.

Saturday 12 September
Another red-letter day, I emailed all the details, the photos, the graphic and the blurbs for the Cover of LBP’s Walking to the Edge to BookPOD to design us a fantastic cover, as usual. Then emailed my article, (without a title, I’ve just noticed), with a photo of my old thongs nailed to the side fence above the strip of garden in the backyard, for laughs. A rainy cold Saturday afternoon and just spent a delightful hour and a half watching two episodes of the Danish series Witch Hunt and now off to hunt and gather our takeaway Thai dinner from Thaila Thai.

Sunday 13 September
I was in the middle of doing the dinner dishes before watching the Cathy Freeman doco about her running career, culminating in winning the gold medal for the 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 which was excellent, when my granddaughter rang to let me know that she’d colour-printed the photos for the ISO Book which is good news.

Tuesday 15 September
Just as it seems as if the pandemic is under control, with people doing the right social distancing plus mask thing, there is a spike in infections, in Sydney, mainly, at this stage, because the commonwealth government wants it to be capitalistic business as usual to restore the economy, when it’s perfectly obvious from what is happening in countries like India and Brazil that COVID-19 is still out there and as infectious as always and that the slightest mistake, as happened here in Victoria, can spark another resurgence of the virus.

Wednesday 16 September
I finished reading Aileen Morton-Robinson’s Talkin’ Up to the White Woman and can feel a review or two coming on because this is an extremely important book for lesbian-feminists in particular to read.

I was thoroughly impressed by the Wheeler Centre event hosted by Amy McQuire, a Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton, who questioned lawyer and human rights advocate Nyadol Nyuon, author of All Our Relations, Canadian Tanya Talaga of Polish and Ojibwe descent who wrote Seven Fallen Feathers, and the African American author of White Negroes, Lauren Michele Jackson. All of them womyn activists who know absolutely from their lived experience the terrible effects of racism and are doing their darndest to change the social conditions in their respective countries but also know that these terrible conditions are not going to change anytime soon.

Thursday 17 September
The Project: Some returning travellers are complaining about having to be in an hotel room for the fourteen day quarantine and how terrible it is and how they can’t go outside and the takeaways are terrible, with no understanding or compassion that the reason Melbourne has been in stage four lockdown for months is because of travellers like these being careless and not respecting the strict quarantine rules and passing the virus out into the community. Shut the fuck up, I yelled at the TV screen, and suck it up like the rest of us are doing.

Friday 18 September
The New York Times Coronavirus Update 17 September 2020: India has reported 97,894 new virus cases, its highest one-day increase. With 5.1 million confirmed cases, or 378 per 100,000 people, the country has the worlds second-highest caseload, after the U.S.

A bit stunned and very disappointed that after all the work I put into the ISO book, the Counihan Gallery, for good and obvious reasons, is making the whole Summer Show a virtual one. But that’s the new normal life in Melbourne until such time as a vaccine is available, and in the meantime …

Jean Taylor

Wurundjeri Woiwurrung country Bulleke-bek Naarm


Jean Taylor is a radical lesbian feminist writer, publisher and activist who lives on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung country in Bulleke-bek Naarm. More of Jean’s written work can be found on and her activist work is included in the Victorian Women’s Liberation and Lesbian Feminist Archives which is stored at the University of Melbourne Archives.

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