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ROAM - Winter/Spring 2022 - ROAM 2

First Wave: Keeping a Certain Distance

Fremantle, Western Australia, 2020

Fremantle fishermen discuss the ship Artania, as it departs with crew recovered from Covid (left)

Sign of the times, Port Beach, Fremantle, Western Australia (right).   

Photos by author.  



 Three swimmers drying off at Port Beach, early morning

‘Saw that passenger liner docked in the port, whatsit called?’

‘The Art-ay-nia.’

‘It’s German.’

‘Better than being from Wuhan, I guess.’

‘Ma-a-ate. Ya never know. Could be neo-Nazis spreading Covid.’

‘There’s a theory the new 5G network is spreading it.’

‘Or that it’s a biological weapon made by the Israelis.’

‘Sounds like an ultra-left-wing conspiracy theory to me.’

‘Think again. The Israelis aren’t signatories to the international biological weapons agreement.’

‘Are the Chinese?’

‘Who knows. A law unto themselves, the Chinese.’

‘That radio shock jock’s right. Shouldn’t lettem in, no matter which kind of wog (1) they are. Sendem and their viruses straight back to where they came from.’

 ‘But you can’t turn your back on sick people. No matter where they come from.’

‘Oh yes yer can. We have before and we should again.’


‘After the war. All those Asian diseases. The yellow peril.’

‘But we depend on Asia now, mate. Yer iphone comes from China.’

‘They should just makem stay on the ship. Treatem there.’

‘Be more expensive than treating ‘em in hospital but.’

‘Not in the long term. The country they come from should pay. Must be international rules and regulations for that.’

‘Don’t want to fall out with trading partners we depend on for stuff we don’t make here. It’s a fine line.’

‘Yairs, a fine line.’

 ‘But Australia… if we can produce more of our own stuff, we won’t need the rest of the world.’

‘Sounds like that… make America great again bullshit.’                                                                                                               

‘It’s the best strategy now for Oz too, bro.’

‘My wife’s working on the Covid ward at Charlie’s hospital.’

‘Shit bro. Don’t stand so close to me. Go for another swim.’

‘Don’t forget to drain the water from between yer ears while you’re out deep. Never know what bugs might be swimming around in yer head.’

Three shoppers waiting at checkout, supermarket, Fremantle

‘Yer right there?’

‘Sorry. Keep forgetting to keep my distance.’

‘Just stand on the red dots.’

‘One trolley length.’

‘What if yer sneeze but? Sneeze droplets can spread for… a long way, anyhow.’

‘Just remember to keep a certain distance when you’re out.’

‘Best to stop going out to the shops so much. Even though we need more stuff to stay healthy. Food, vitamins …’

‘Toilet paper.’

‘Not just food and toilet paper. Used so much hand sanitizer me dermatitis is back. And hair dye now the hairdresser’s closed.’

‘Have to use easy recipes. Quick five ingredient meals. Yer can get free recipes for that here and Woolies.’

‘Least we’ve got Woolies instead of wet markets. The Covid virus came from bats at a wet market in China.’

‘Maybe not. Some new research says it came from a thing called a pangolin.’

‘What the fuck is…?’

‘Tropical animal. Looks sorta like an anorexic armadillo.’

‘They’re losing their natural habitat and being sold as pets or food.’

‘Better check what’s in that salami mate.’

‘Reckon climate change is to blame.’

 ‘More likely to be the Chinese government trying to kill off Westerners. Trump and Scomo's (2) right to get the shits up with China. No moral compass.’

‘Trump or China?’

‘Both as bad as the other I reckon. Thousands of deaths are just collateral damage to them.’

‘Scomo and Trump can afford to get the shits up. Their personal assistants buy toilet paper for them.’

‘That salami could be a bit suss, now I come to look at it. Made in Italy.’

‘A hotspot.’

‘Don’t worry luv. Our food supply’s s’posed to be secure.’

‘But how’d yer know? How do the bloody experts know?’

‘If yer get the trots from eating it, can’t buy toilet paper for love or money here.’

 ‘It’s not the trots I’m worried about. Oops. I’m getting too close to yers again.’

‘My wife here saw a woman thumping loo paper from Pier 21 restaurant dunnies last weekend, didn’t ya luv?’

‘Yeah. Nice big handbag she had from her trip to Europe.’

‘What if someone fresh from an overseas trip smears foreign virus on our food here?’

‘They’re all being quarantined. They’re quarantining them at Rotto Island.’

‘Or someone in Italy. What if some garlic muncher with Covid packed it?’

‘Takes days to sail from Italy to here. Virus’ll all be dead by the time it gets here. Dead on arrival.’

‘We hope. But we don’t know. That’s the trouble. We don’t know. Any of us could be dead on arrival soon.’

‘Your turn to pay, mate.’

‘Right. Good talking to yers. Might see yers on the other side.’


Two fishermen at Fremantle North Mole, afternoon

         ‘There goes that cruise ship.’

‘Good riddance. Some of the sick foreigners from that ship are in our hospitals taking up precious beds now.’

‘Well, if someone’s that ill, you can’t just leave ‘em to die at sea. Whoever it is got family back home what loves ‘em.’

‘Two of them died in hospital anyway. A crew member in his 40s just a day or two ago.’

‘A Phillipino, poor chap.’

‘Another Asian spreading disease.’

‘Anyone can get it.’

‘Lost me bait.’

‘What are you catching?’

‘Not any fish, that’s for sure. Not even a blowie.’

‘Could be worse. Could be catching Covid like those poor bastards on board that ship.’

‘Can’t read their banner from here.’

‘Think it says “We love you Fremantle”. Unrequited love, seems like.’

‘Yeah, saw our premier on the telly. He was that pissed off about it docking here. Be glad to wash his hands of it all. Givem a good sanitised goodbye.’

‘This is just the first wave. Let’s hope it’s our last.’

‘There it goes. Be outa sight and outa mind soon.’



1. Derogatory Australian slang for a foreign person and also a contagious diease.

2. A nickname for the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.


Simone Lazaroo

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