The Big Issue Australia #627 – Happy New Year

Page 1


627 26 DEC 2020 •









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The Big Quiz Have you been paying attention? Entertain yourself over the holidays with some noodle-scratchers, debate-starters and funny-bone ticklers!


100 Small Steps


The Best from the Worst Year by Melissa Fulton

Twenty feel-good stories to make you feel fine, okay, perhaps a wee bit better about a year that brought us a whole lot of heartache, as we welcome in 2021. cover by Rudi de Wet The Jacky Winter Group


Rudi de Wet is a graphic artist whose work is characterised by bold, colourful and energetic executions. He specialises in illustration, handdrawn type, character illustration, interior artwork and pattern design.


04 Ed’s Letter & Your Say 05 Meet Your Vendor 06 Streetsheet 08 Hearsay & 20 Questions 11 My Word

24 The Big Picture 28 Letter to My Younger Self 30 Ricky 31 Fiona 41 Public Service Announcement

42 Tastes Like Home 44 Puzzles 45 Crossword 46 Click


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that this magazine contains references to a person who has died (p46).

In a year to be forgotten, Captain Tom Moore is a man to remember. The unlikeliest of pandemic heroes talks about his plans for his 100th year.

32 Big Arts 2020 wasn’t all forgettable! Check out our arts eds’ Top 10 picks for the year that was in film, music, small screens and books. It’s your summer sorted.

Ed’s Letter

by Amy Hetherington Editor @amyhetherington

Looking Back, Looking Forward


itting here at the desk in my makeshift home office, a tram rattles past my window, breaking the white noise of the traffic outside. My partner (turned pseudo co-worker) rattles around in the kitchen. An invite pings in my inbox for a video call with my real workmates later this morning. This has been my haven in 2020, harboured by a virtual Big Issue community of vendors, staff and supporters. And surrounded by boxes of magazines – cardboard towers that grow taller each fortnight as we send another Big Issue out into a world that’s changed so dramatically in a matter of months. These mags reflect a great deal of work from a great many people, and I’m thankful and proud of one and all. In this edition, we look back on this diabolical year: the good news stories easily overlooked; the best books, music, films and small-screens fodder

that guided us through; the horrors and heroes, including Captain Sir Tom Moore, the 100-year-old who became a global beacon of goodness thanks to his pandemic fundraising efforts. “You’ve got to be optimistic,” he tells us. “You’ve got to believe that things will get better. They certainly will.” Like Captain Tom, I approach 2021 with optimism. I’m hopeful because I know that you are with us. This year, you stood with The Big Issue and showed that you care. You subscribed, bought digital mags and sought out copies in Woolworths so that we could continue to support vendors and the Women’s Subscription Enterprise. You buoyed your local vendors with messages of support during the dark days of lockdown. And you came out in droves to support your vendors when they ventured back out on pitch. Every single action mattered. It made a difference. And it’s why, with this cover, we decided to look forward to 2021. We know you’ll be there with us, too.



The Big Issue Story The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit magazine sold on the streets around Australia. It was created as a social enterprise 24 years ago to provide both a voice and a work opportunity for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. Your purchase of this magazine has directly benefited the person who sold it to you. Big Issue vendors buy each copy for $4.50 and sell it to you for $9, keeping the profits. But The Big Issue is more than a magazine.


“Look, there’s David!” my three‑year‑old Christopher shouts as we arrive at the Subiaco Farmers’ Market. He loves to say hi to David and check out the picture on The Big Issue cover. His favourites this year have been the Bluey issue (Ed#608) and Bob the Street Cat (Ed#625). This week Christopher was in for an even bigger surprise when David presented him with a giant gingerbread biscuit for Christmas. Our family would like to wish David (and the other David from Subi Farmers’ Market) and all Big Issue vendors a wonderful 2021. EMILY HUNT MT HAWTHORN I WA

The concept of The Big Issue and the philosophy behind it speak volumes to me. I can’t speak more highly of you all – your vendors just blow me away with their inspirational stories. Their positive attitudes and tenacity under trying circumstances fill me with admiration. What some of your people have overcome is astounding. So thank you for a truly wonderful magazine, full of wisdom, inspiration and intelligent information. I trust 2021 will be a much more stable and happy year for all. FAY HUNTER MORNINGTON I VIC

• Our Women’s Subscription Enterprise provides employment and training for women through the sale of magazine subscriptions as well as social procurement work. • The Community Street Soccer Program promotes social inclusion and good health at weekly soccer games at 20 locations around the country. • The Vendor Support Fund will offset the cost price of products for vendors, allowing them to earn a larger margin on their own street sales. • The Big Issue Classroom educates school groups about homelessness. CHECK OUT ALL THE DETAILS AT


Emily wins a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Truths from an Unreliable Witness. You can read her Letter to My Younger Self on p28. We’d also love to hear your thoughts, feedback and suggestions SUBMISSIONS@BIGISSUE.ORG.AU


Meet Your Vendor



interview by Melissa Fulton photo by James Braund



I first got to Australia from New Zealand in 1978. I was only 18 or 19. I came here as an adventure – my older brother was here. I came over for a holiday and to have a look around, but I managed to stay. I’ve been back and forth between Australia and New Zealand quite a few times; it’s like they’re one country! My first job over here was working in the stables in Caulfield. I used to work at a cannery in Richmond and then I worked at Ingham’s. I used to play rugby for Brighton. I ended up getting picked for the Victorian rugby union side – that was a great achievement for me. It was unreal. I’d been playing since I was a little fella at school. I love the game so much. I first started selling The Big Issue back when it started in 1996. I was living in Ozanam House and this lady walked in when we were having breakfast and she goes, “Who wants to come out on the street and sell magazines called The Big Issue?” She explained it was a book from London, and I think I must’ve liked the cover or something because I jumped up and said, “Yeah, I’ll have a go of that.” Back in 1996, I was on the same pitch at Young & Jackson. Back then, my pitch was rough. I was really down and under in those days. I sold for about a year before I went to work in security. Now I’m back and it’s more peaceful, heaps more calm. I’ve picked up and got a nice place to stay and all that. Other things have changed, too. Back in the day, the tree on my pitch used to be real small, the size of my leg, but now it’s really big! It’s been a long time: The Big Issue’s come a long way. The Big Issue has always been a good option for me because of my disability. I have a pinched nerve – it’s unhealable. It’s hard for me to find a job because I can’t stand up too long because of my leg. The Big Issue is pretty adaptable with my condition. It’s a really good thing The Big Issue. People come and buy it and they’re all big smiles. People come up and ask how I am, where I’ve been. People read it and love it and it’s something that will give them a boost. I had some land in New Zealand, but there’s no building on it and I also had a big hole in my pocket, and I wanted to stay here with my children and do something with myself. I have five grandchildren now. They’re beautiful! I see them now and then. I get them fruit from the market. If you wait till just before the market closes you can get it really cheap. I’m looking forward to keeping healthy in 2021. I’ve been on a diet – I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’d like to lose 30kg more. I’m working on it and the doctors are helping. I try to get eight hours sleep, so that I can feel awake and alive all day. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, that’s a big bonus. I’m dealing quite easy. The Big Issue is an incredible help and my future is turning out alright; everything’s turning out alright.


Stories, poems and pictures by Big Issue vendors and friends



Just Another Word Freedom is just a word What does the action mean to me and you in a world absorbed by war? Trust is just a word When does that action help me and you in a world thrust to use and abuse trust? Honesty is just a word How does the action help me and you


Gnome Man’s Land




nomesville is located deep in the Ferguson Valley, hidden under trees and bushland, in the Shire of Dardanup. If you head to the South West region two hours from Perth, you will be on the right track (the visitors’ centre will put you on the right path if you get lost out there). Gnomesville is a tourist attraction that’s free to wander around in, at no cost to you or the family. It’s open to the public all year round, with no open or close times either. Make sure you have a bottle of water and you’re sun smart if you decide to spend the day out there, looking at more than 10,000 gnomes. It has been around since the mid 90s, and people all over the world check out this site (I was surprised it’s actually ranked in the top‑100 visited tourist attractions in Australia). You can ask your nextdoor neighbour for a gnome, if you don’t have one. Put your names on it and drop it off to Gnomesville to join their other friends. If your neighbour can’t let go of their gnome, you may be able to buy one out there – there is a shop up the road. Across the road from the shop is Frog Hollow, where people are laying frog ornaments around – what’s next? Remember to drive out at a reasonable time as there are kangaroos on the roads, which could surprise you at dusk. If you get hungry, head to Donnybrook. In the small town lies the Big Apple Bakery, which is rated four stars on TripAdvisor. OMG it’s the best bakery in WA! It has a huge range of pies, cakes, sandwiches etc. My favourite is their curry pie, which is filling and yummy, but their whole selection looks mouth‑watering. It’s one place I highly recommend – I know my food! DAVID L OXFORD ST, LEEDERVILLE I PERTH

in a world that dislikes honest love? Perfection is just a word Who in the hell made up that word? For you see when we become blind individuals, freedom, trust and honesty are just an illusion Perfection blessed by money and material waste is just as good as God and war And we all waste away to numbers and run with no time to think Then we often forget that flaws are freedom, trust, honesty and childhood games along the creek bed were so much better. Then the sad perfection of adulthood turns those childhood games into nightmares of hate. Then words like unique, true and blue fade away into a sea of disgrace, forgotten until... RACHEL PYRMONT I SYDNEY


I Couldn’t Breath I found out I had COVID-19 on Friday 7 August, during the second lockdown. Two days before that, I had a bad headache, and then it got worse. And worse. I couldn’t breathe properly; my right side hurt. And then I couldn’t breathe at all. One of my carers rang an ambulance. I looked horrible. I couldn’t breathe. And they came, and the ambulance man thought I had COVID. And I thought OMG. I felt terrible. They got me in the ambulance and took me



I’m back to selling now, in Canterbury, on Main Road. I feel great about it. I’ve missed the people, the selling. I’ve missed the action and the people. CRAIG CANTERBURY AND RIALTO I MELBOURNE

Having a Ball I really enjoy selling The Big Issue and I really enjoy seeing my customers in Footscray, Seddon and most of all at the Footscray State Trustees. I have a ball of a time – thanks very much to all of them. CYRIL FOOTSCRAY STATE TRUSTEES I MELBOURNE

Ronnie’s Funnies Q: Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? A: Terrific food but not much atmosphere! RONNIE CNR CREEK & EAGLE STS I BRISBANE

Strike a Pose Philip Lawrence asked me to pose for this photo. He used to be one of my regular customers and he lived up the road from me, so it was just a 10-minute walk to his place. It was a fun shoot. The day he told me it was one of 71 finalists in the Brisbane Portrait Prize I nearly fell off my seat. It says a lot of good things about The Big Issue. If you become a vendor, things like that could happen to you. I went to the exhibition at the Powerhouse. I was standing looking at this photo of me and this family who were also looking at the photo, go: “Doesn’t the bloke in this photo look a lot like you!” “Yeah, it does,” I said. They asked for my autograph. That was my 15 minutes of fame. EDDIE D CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION | BRISBANE


26 DEC 2020

2020 was a shocking year for everyone. I missed the customers, the community of The Big Issue, the other vendors and staff. I hope everything next year is a lot better than it was this year. Have a great New Year.

to hospital. The first test came back negative. I was happy, but then the next test came back positive – I had COVID. I was petrified. I was kept at hospital for six days. I was cared for by the doctors and the nurses. The doctor I was under, he was terrific. At the end of the six days, I was feeling better. Then I had to go into quarantine for two-and-a-half weeks before I went home. A couple of months on, and I feel on top of the world. It’s good to be healthy again. It was during lockdown in Melbourne, when we weren’t working and only outdoors for an hour a day. They don’t know how I got it. When I was walking my dogs, I always had a mask on. I wash my hands. What I want people to know about this disease is that whatever you do, don’t get it! Wear masks. Always keep your hands clean. When you get COVID, you feel like death warmed up, so please do the right thing.


New Beginnings


Andrew Weldon Cartoonist

Maybe One Fine Day? Though I do kiss Michelle Pfeiffer, so the twins would be, like, ‘Eeeeeeergh! Bluuuurgh!’ I think some of the Coen Brothers movies I could get away with showing them. Well – maybe not that one where I’m building a sex machine in the basement.

George Clooney on not starring in many family-appropriate films he can show his three-year-old twins. THE GUARDIAN I UK

“Even the most fortunate people – employed, healthy, with their families – they’ve all lost some level of control over their lives, and one way of addressing that is by finding something to master. That could mean learning a new language, or it could mean getting a cosmetic procedure.” Dr Evan Rieder on the boom in plastic surgery procedures thanks to Zoom close-ups and the convenience of healing during lockdown. VOGUE I US

“Receiving direct encouragement from a risk-promoting robot seemed to override participants’ direct experiences and instincts.” Dr Yaniv Hanoch, associate professor in risk management at the University of Southampton, on studies showing trouble-making AI robots are a bad influence. As every primary school teacher has said, would you jump off a bridge if it told you to? THE NEW DAILY I AU

“Now that I’m in my eighties, resilience and endurance are still my strongest assets. I’ll tell you a secret to joyful endurance. It’s to never complain, no matter what challenges life sends your way.” Tina Turner, who has been a Buddhist since the 70s, has written a book on happiness, because she believes that’s what the world needs now.




“Trying to remember what’s happened to you when there’s little distinction between the different days is like trying to play a piano when there are no black keys to help you find your way around.” Catherine Loveday, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, on why it feels like the pandemic is playing havoc with your memory. BBC I UK

“During contact with solid objects, fingerprint ridges are important for grip and precision manipulation. They regulate moisture levels from external sources or the sweat pores so that friction is maximised and we avoid ‘catastrophic’ slip and keep hold of that smartphone.” Mike Adams, professor in product engineering and manufacturing at the University of Birmingham, on why humans have evolved fingerprints – so that we don’t drop our mobiles!

“Nobody becomes an actor unless there’s something cracked; something went slightly wrong in their childhood – not necessarily that there’s any blame to be apportioned but there’s some journey you’re on – there’s something you’re trying to fulfil.” Actor Jason Isaac (Malfoy’s dad in the Harry Potter movies) on the art of acting. NME I UK

“I think whether you’re talking about art or politics or just getting up in the morning and trying to live your life, it’s useful to be able to seek out that joy where you can find it and operate on the basis of hope rather than despair.” Former US President Barak Obama.

“Singaporean consumers are open and interested to learn more about cell-based seafood and want to try it.” Sandhya Sriram, CEO and co-founder of Shiok Meats – which grows crab, lobster and prawn meat in a lab by extracting cells from those creatures – on Singapore becoming the first country to approve lab-grown meat. It currently imports 90 per cent of its food, making it vulnerable in a crisis.




20 Questions by Little Red

01 Who wrote the 1974 novel Tinker

Tailor Soldier Spy? 02 The milk of which animal is

traditionally used to make mozzarella? 03 In Australia’s pre-decimal currency,

how many pence made a shilling? 04 In which two countries would you

find the Atacama Desert? 05 What was Princess Diana’s maiden

name? 06 What is the term for using

government funds for projects designed to win votes? 07 Where are the 2024 Summer

Olympics to be held? 08 What is the name of Taylor Swift’s

new album? Bonus point if you can name the other album she released in 2020.


“I’ve worked here for six years at this airport, never felt such silence before. It was always bustling with noise and crowded before the pandemic.” Joshua Wu, ground staff at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport, on the eerie experience of working at an airport in a COVID world. CNN I US

“For my part, I am ready for interaction and contact with you.” Russian President Vladimir Putin officially congratulates Presidentelect Joe Biden. Not the most friendly of greetings, though. THE NEW YORK TIMES I US

“My family does not have money so when he told me he wanted me, I said ‘Yes’.” Marie Kamara, 16, on accepting a wedding proposal from a man in

“The pressures of the pandemic have reminded us all that life might be short and we are tasked to assess how, and with whom, we are spending our precious time.” London-based psychotherapist Noel Bell on the spike in break-ups during COVID. In the UK, leading British law firm Stewarts has logged a 122 per cent increase – with similar patterns emerging around the world.

09 In Spanish, what does gato mean? 10 What is the minimum required age

for a US President, according to the Constitution? 11 What is the name of the biggest part

of the human brain? 12 What animal is related to the job of

a mahout? 13 What is the most popular fruit sold

in Australia? 14 Australian Governor-General David

Hurley was previously the Governor of which state or territory? 15 Which of the world’s oceans is the

largest and deepest? 16 In which period did the

tyrannosaurus rex live: Jurassic or Cretaceous? 17 Which late Australian entertainer

was known for her popular phrase “Hello darling!”? 18 The snow leopard is native to which

continent? 19 Which two planets in our solar

system don’t have moons? 20 What is the name of the

controversial film being made about the Port Arthur massacre?




26 DEC 2020


his twenties. Teen marriages have boomed in Sierra Leone during the pandemic, as poor families rely on dowries their daughters can fetch.


“There is no doubt now that “I always thought that Red COVID has Hot Chili Peppers song an odour, and was ‘Under the Fridge’ the dogs are not ‘Under the Bridge’.” detecting it.” Overheard by Sam in the Professor James Geelong Public Library, Vic. Logan, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine on plans to train sniffer dogs, which could be deployed in busy places, such as airports or railway stations, to stop the spread of the virus. EAR2GROUND

My Word

by Thomas Robinson


or six months, I lived next to two train lines: a freight train line, and a passenger train line. They ran parallel; I could see them from the first-floor window of my rented apartment in Marrickville, Sydney. Now, Marrickville was recently voted by Time Out as one of the 10 coolest suburbs in the world. Anybody who lives in Marrickville will tell you this. In fact, they’ll tell you several times, leaning smugly against some street art or a micro-brewery keg as they do so. Indeed, since the article came out, the main topic of conversation here has been how envious the barristers and stockbrokers of Mosman and Darling Point must be, marooned on their five‑million-dollar balconies, gazing resentfully at the harbour views and cursing their choice to live so far from a good Vietnamese pork roll. Yet oddly, the article failed to mention the trains. Usually I liked the sound of the freight trains, which was a satisfying clunkety-clunk, accompanied by the occasional rattle of the shipping containers carried on their trucks. But on the stretch of track near my apartment the trains slowed down, sometimes stopping completely right outside my block, their brakes like dentists’ drills. One freight train came past nightly at 3am. As it slowed to a halt, its brakes would shriek; once stationary, the train would vibrate and thud and hiss and throb. It was a masterclass in industrial noise. Freight train was it taught me how to cry, sang Bob Dylan in ‘Freight Train Blues’ in 1962. I was mostly taught how to stare at the ceiling and construct a new range of train-themed obscenities. But the passenger trains, like the older siblings of a tantrum-throwing toddler, were quite different. They were sleek and civil and sophisticated. They didn’t run all night, and you wouldn’t have minded if they did. They started fairly early, and this meant I had an opportunity to stand at the window with a coffee and watch people going to work. This proved to be a surprisingly engrossing pastime. The view had an added benefit during the pandemic. It allowed me to plot the progress of the virus by the numbers of near-empty carriages passing by. It was particularly helpful in the surreal week before Stage Three lockdown, when you watched the prime minister’s announcement every evening to see what would be closed

the next day. Every morning I counted the tradies’ vests, which glowed from the carriages like sweet-wrappers in an almost-empty box of Cadbury Roses. The steadily dwindling number of passengers delivered the same message as the eerie quiet in the skies, from the planes that suddenly weren’t flying overhead. They were persistent and tangible reminders that COVID was real. My window offered more than just a view of the trains. For the entire six months there was also, in the space between the parallel tracks, a blue digger and a yellow bulldozer, working diligently at 5am under floodlights. In the tiny triangular park adjacent, you would sometimes see a parent patiently holding the hand of a small child, who’d be mesmerised by the wonders of mechanical labour. The whole vista was so much a toddler’s utopia that I sometimes found myself narrating an imaginary children’s story. Mr Digger and Mr Bulldozer would greet each other politely, ask each other what they’d had for breakfast and then agree to play a nice game, where they dug a large hole and pushed the 3am freight train into it. Perhaps part of me is still a small boy. Because, aside from the early morning wake-up call, I grew quite fond of it all. Even the freight trains offered a fascinating reminder of the intricate chain-links of industry. We have become so used to the digital economy that it is a shock sometimes to realise we still have to physically get stuff from one place to another. Yes, you can Zoom with your colleagues about redecorating the office, and click on an order for a nice new leather sofa. But the sofa can’t squeeze itself through the laptop screen, nudge aside the pot plants and shuffle itself into the wall. While Amazon is probably working on this, we will, in the immediate future, still need freight trains for a lot of our gear. I moved out during lockdown. I had mixed feelings about leaving the trains. The early morning freight train still did my head in, but right until the end the trains retained a contemplative allure. Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance, sang Paul Simon. Everybody thinks it’s true. The sentiment is apt, even when the trains are not-so-distant. After all, trains are always going somewhere else, and somewhere else has a perpetual mystery and promise. Each one us knows that all too well now, at the end of the year in which somewhere else was effectively banned, and we all got stuck at the station. Thomas Robinson is a Sydney-based writer and teacher, and part of the editorial team for the literary journal Authora Australis (@AusAuthora).


In a year that stood still, the trains rumbling past Thomas Robinson’s home transported him to somewhere else.

26 DEC 2020

Midnight Train to Marrickville




We know, we know: 2020 was an apocalyptic bin fire, with very little to redeem it. But some good things did happen…truly! We revisit 20 good news stories. by Melissa Fulton Deputy Editor

01 H O O R AY FO R L I B R A R I E S When Melbourne’s Yarra Plenty regional libraries first went into lockdown in March, the staff collated the details of every library member over 70 years old – a total of 8000 records – and started calling. These “caring calls” were mostly friendly chats – just a check in to say g’day – but librarians also checked to see if their members needed help accessing services, like counselling or tech support. It’s enough to make you Dewey-eyed. Other libraries did live-stream readings and home delivery, while City of Melbourne helped people with their tax returns. Internationally, rubbish collectors in Turkey opened a library full of discarded books, with more than 6000 rescued volumes ready to be loaned.



02 KOA L AS C L I M B I N SA South Australia’s Limestone Coast koala population is climbing. Considered extinct in the region in the 1930s, more koalas are being spotted in the area says Lower Limestone Coast National Parks and Wildlife Service district ranger Ross Anderson, including in places where they weren’t spotted 20 years ago. “I’m not convinced we need to increase the population significantly because they appear to be doing it themselves naturally,” Anderson told the ABC.

03 A NEW REEF In October, Australian scientists discovered a 500m-tall detached coral reef in the Cape York area at the top of The Great Barrier Reef – the first of its kind to be discovered in over 120 years! Schmidt Ocean Institute, who are responsible for the discovery, this year also discovered the world’s longest-recorded sea creature (a 45m siphonophore, in Ningaloo Canyon), five new species of black coral and sponges, and a deep-sea coral garden and graveyard in a submarine canyon off Western Australia. The world is still full of undiscovered wonders.

04 WE CLEARED THE AIR They called it the “anthropause”: the cleaner air quality that lockdown brought about. Nitrogen dioxide pollution over China, Western Europe and the US decreased by up to 60 per cent in early 2020 compared to the same time in 2019 – an unprecedented drop since air quality monitoring began in the 90s. Admittedly, it’s likely temporary – the result of drastically reduced emissions from factories, vehicles and industry – but it shows us what’s possible.

05 K- P O P FA N S U N I T E D ! K-pop fans made their voices heard right across the world when they started trolling the trolls. They proved allies in the Black Lives Matter movement by hijacking the hashtags engineered to oppose BLM on social media, such as #alllivesmatter and #whitelivesmatter, with memes and fancams – videos and memes of K-pop artists. Likewise, BTS fans collectively raised more than $1 million for BLM, matching the band’s own donation. Then, they even mobilised to punk the US President!





Chris Nikic, a 21-year‑old triathlete who lives with his parents in Orlando, Florida, became the first person with Down’s syndrome to finish an Ironman triathlon, completing a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run in 16 hours, 46 minutes and 9 seconds. “I learned there are no limits,” Nikic told The New York Times. “Do not put a lid on me.” His next goal: to live independently, with a partner and a family of his own.

When COVID struck, millions of litres of unsold ale went stale. But never fear, the beer was turned into renewable energy – enough to power 1200 homes a month. The Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant in South Australia used the unsellable swill to power its water treatment. In May, Lion Beer mixed 90,000 kegs of beer with wastewater to produce biogas, which was then transformed into energy used to brew…more beer.

08 W E TO O K O U T T H E T R A S H Almost a million people worldwide dressed up fancy just to take out their bins out during iso. There’s Spiderman, Princess Leia, aerobics masters, muscle men, onesie‑clad housemates…the works. And pics were posted on a bin isolation-outing Facebook group, established by a bunch of Queenslanders in March. The group has shut down, because in the best news of 2020, we can now dress-up outdoors all day.

10 FA I RY F LO S S FAC E M A S KS Here’s a sweet innovation. Physicist Mahesh Bandi, from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, developed a N95 face mask – the most effective PPE – by melting particles of plastic in a fairy floss machine until they formed an electrically charged mesh. It’s cheap, easy and uses unwanted plastic bags and water bottles.

11 T H AT ’ S TO P S ! Kindness endured in one Melbourne neighbour‑hoodie when someone discovered a lost grey top in Princes Park. A thoughtful stranger washed, ironed and folded the sweater, put it in a protective plastic sleeve and returned it to where it had been lost, with a note: “To the person who lost this top here last week. Here it is washed and ironed. J 26 Oct 20.”

15 A N I M A LS R E I G N E D All over the world, as streets became deserted, animals took over! In June, a herd of dairy cows were caught on CCTV footage at a fancy pub near Stafford, UK, congregating around the outside tables and making their way towards the front doors. In Japan’s Nara Park, the deer ventured into nearby neighbourhoods, seeking snacks. People across Spain sighted herds of wild boar. In Argentina, sea lions sunned themselves at Mar del Plata harbour. In South Africa, a pride of lions napped and frolicked on a tourist-free road in Kempiana Contractual Park. Here in Australia, emus Carol and Kevin were banned from Western Queensland’s Yaraka Hotel for stealing car keys and defecating on the floor.


17 SW E E T P R O G R E S S In June it was announced that two of Allen’s lollies – Red Skins and Chicos – will be getting new names. The company says the decision “acknowledges the need to ensure that nothing we do marginalises our friends, neighbours and colleagues”. Red Rippers and Cheekies, anyone?

18 GIVING IT UP A couple of Good Samaritans visited toy shops in Queensland this December. At Mr Toys Toyworld on the Gold Coast, a woman paid off every lay-by – over $16,000 – then returned to the store and paid for a lucky family’s entire Christmas shop. In Gympie, another secret Santa did the same, paying for 80-odd lay-bys.

G OT F R I S KY ! After 10 years of trying, giant pandas Le Le and Ying Ying finally mated in April at a locked-down Hong Kong zoo. It seems they just needed a bit of privacy! Ying Ying isn’t with child yet – there were promising reports of a phantom pregnancy – but hopefully they’ll have another crack soon. According to the World Wildlife Organisation, there are just 1800 pandas left in the wild, and doing the deed the old-fashioned way has a higher success rate than artificial insemination.

13 A D I F F E R E N T C U R R E N CY Ever wondered about the knock-on environmental effect of buying a can of tuna? Or some Italian tinned tomatoes? Or some dried figs? In a world first, Swedish brand Felix opened a supermarket where grocery items are priced on their environmental impact. At The Climate Store, customers pay for food items based on the item’s carbon footprint – the more carbon dioxide emissions, the higher its price. It’s a practical way of putting climate change on the menu.

14 END OF THE FUR TRADE? The pandemic has brought about the beginning of the end – of the global fur the trade, according to activists. Factory farming and the ’rona are great mates, it turns out, and a government-ordered mass-culling of COVIDinfected minks in Denmark has led to the announcement that the world’s largest fur auction house, Kopenhagen Fur – a co‑op owned by 1500 fur farmers – will wind down production and cease operations in a couple of years.

16 R I P P E R R I TA German grandmother and wheelchair user Rita Ebel devised a clever accessibility solution: wheelchair ramps made of LEGO. The made-to-order ramps use several hundred of the blocks and are stuck together with lots of glue. “The ramps are super stable, can be made for different heights, and have the advantage that they are mobile and have a good grip,” says Ebel. The trend is catching on, and Ebel is sending out her build-your-own instruction kits worldwide.

19 TA S M A N I A N D E V I LS

20 S C OT L A N D S H A R E D



The Tasmanian devil returned to mainland Australia for the first time since they were wiped out by dingos 3000 years ago. As the world’s largest carnivorous marsupials, it’s hoped they’ll feast on our feral cat and fox populations, so that our native wildlife can thrive.

Scotland became the first country in the world to end period poverty by providing free sanitary products to everyone, while compensating providers. The legislation was passed unanimously in November, and requires all schools and public spaces to make period products readily available.

26 DEC 2020

Sometimes a negative truly is a positive. Take Bhutan, now the only carbon-negative country in the world. Its greenhouse gas pollution is offset by its forests, plus it generates and exports renewable energy, making it carbon negative. So how did they do it? Former PM Tshering Tobgay reckons the key is in prioritising happiness over economic growth; Bhutan measures its development using the Gross National Happiness Index, rather than Gross Domestic Product.

12 PA N DA S




illustrations by Lauren Rebbeck


The Big


How closely have you been paying attention to these very pages this year? As we say goodbye to 2020, we look back at what’s made the headlines, Big Issue-style. Questions are drawn from all 25 editions, unapologetically giving avid readers an advantage! So grab your mates, and test how closely you’ve been reading your favourite mag.

a. b. c. d.

Make it go away Make it so Make that to go Make my day

02Which one of these is not a tea?

a. b. c. d.

Oolong Rooibos Earl Sweatshirt Chamomile

03Which of these TV series a. b. c. d.

09Who said: “Plastic handcuffs hurt more than the metal ones”?

a. b. c. d.

10What Neil Young lyric did John Lennon take issue with?

Life on Earth The Blue Planet Planet of the Apes Life in Cold Blood

b. “Keep on rockin’ in the free world” c. “It’s better to burn out than to fade

Cake Custard Cream Vanilla Ice

05What valuable commodity is

might get lost”

away” d. “I am just a dreamer, but you are just

a dream”

11What is borsch? a. b. c. d.

Seeds Gold Bars Milk Oil

06What does Ozzy Osborne

regret about his wedding day? He drugged the vicar He took off all his clothes He threw a TV out of the window He never made it to his hotel suite after the ceremony

07What is the name of the iconic debut album released by Archie Roach 30 years ago?

a. b. c. d.

Into the Bloodstream Charcoal Lane Tell Me Why Let Love Rule

08What was the name of the koala who starred on the cover of Ed#612, after he survived the bushfires on

A famous beach in Albania A really uninteresting person A domesticated wild pig A soup made with beetroot

12Which actor plays the lead

role in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries?

stored in a vault in Svalbard?

a. b. c. d.

Chopper Reid Donald Trump Jane Fonda Martha Stewart

a. “If you follow every dream, you

in kids’ cartoon Bluey is also the frontman in which band?

a. b. c. d.

Grumpy Happy Sneezy Doc

was not hosted by David Attenborough?

04The person who voices Bandit a. b. c. d.

Kangaroo Island? a. b. c. d.

a. b. c. d.

Angela Lansbury Essie Davis Frances McDormand Cybill Shepherd

13What special birthday will The Big Issue celebrate in 2021?

a. b. c. d.

21 18 25 40

14What’s the biggest life lesson

Shane Warne learned from his mum?

a. Always carry a hanky b. Pitch it up c. Always smell nice and have good

manners d. Always pack baked beans

15The tiny Estonian island of Kihnu is also known as…?

a. The Isle of Wine b. The Isle of Women

c. The Isle of Song d. The Isle of Rainbows

16What is the title of the

bestselling memoir by singersongwriter Clare Bowditch?

a. b. c. d.

Your Own Kind of Car Your Own Kind of Chocolate Your Own Kind of Year Your Own Kind of Girl

17Adam Lambert is a solo

artist who also performs as the frontman of which mega‑group?

a. b. c. d.

Queens of the Stone Age Queensrÿche Queen Queen Latifah

18The word “podcast” is a

mash-up of which two words?

a. b. c. d.

Tripod and simulcast iPod and broadcast Podiatrist and leg cast Pod person and castaway

19Author, activist and former fashion model Tara Moss is also qualified to be…?

a. b. c. d.

A kindergarten teacher A racing car driver An acrobat A clairvoyant

20Who did Keanu Reeves take to the 2020 Oscars?

a. b. c. d.

Paula Abdul Sandra Bullock Bill S Preston Esquire His mum

21Who said: “Spending some

time in the garden puts your mind into another place, which is the kind of therapy that people need at this point”?

a. The Morning Show’s Larry Emdur b. Gardening Australia’s Costa

Georgiadis c. Today’s Karl Stefanovic d. Sunrise’s Kochie

22The giant housing estates

Grands Ensembles located in Paris are featured in which Hollywood film?

a. Tenet

26 DEC 2020

Jean Luc Picard’s most often used command?


01What is Star Trek Captain

31Which character in Killing Eve said: “I can’t stand breakfast. It’s just constant eggs”?

a. b. c. d.

Carolyn Martens Konstantin Villanelle Eve Polastri

32By which name is rapper Adam Briggs commonly known?

a. b. c. d.

The Boss Senator Briggs The Right Honorable Briggs President Briggs

33How many people volunteer

with Australian charities each year?

a. b. c. d.

1.4 million 2.8 million 3.7 million 5.1 million

34What album did Kylie Minogue release in 2020?

b. The Witches c. The Hunger Games d. Extraction

23Which natural event has been dubbed “the world’s biggest orgasm”?

a. b. c. d.

The Kiama Blowhole, NSW Krakatoa, Indonesia Halley’s Comet Mass coral spawning, Great Barrier Reef

24If Elton John could be any

woman alive, who would he be?

a. b. c. d.

Lady Gaga Michelle Obama Melanie Trump Jacinda Ardern

25Author Victoria Hannan’s



debut novel is named after which Beach Boys song?

a. b. c. d.

‘Kokomo’ ‘Good Vibrations’ ‘I Get Around’ ‘Help Me Rhonda’

26Which famous children’s

author also penned the script for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice?

a. b. c. d.

Dr Seuss Enid Blyton Roald Dahl Judy Blume

a. b. c. d.

Disco Kiss Me Once Especially for You Fever

27An exophonic writer does not: 35Florence Nightingale a. b. c. d.

Write about other cultures Write in their mother tongue Write in many languages Write about sounds

28The Pope said that the Devil was a great what…?

a. b. c. d.

Dresser Singer Gossip Graphic designer

29What is the documentary Brazen Hussies about?

a. b. c. d.

Women’s undergarments Dog sledding Drinking beer Australia’s feminist movement

30In which Australian city was

the first milk bar established by Joachim Tavlaridis in 1932?

a. b. c. d.

Melbourne Darwin Adelaide Sydney

pioneered which field?

a. b. c. d.

Nursing Fishing Knitting Bare-knuckle fighting

36What is Facebook founder

Mark Zuckerberg’s goal over the next decade?

a. b. c. d.

To become president To get his pen licence To be understood To become a trillionaire

37To help avoid “insect

Armageddon”, one thing you can do is:

a. b. c. d.

Watch more Netflix Build an insect hotel Let yourself be bitten Go vegan

38Who is the current Australian of the Year?

a. One-time TV chef Pete Evans b. Eye surgeon Dr James Muecke

45Vera Lynn’s original version of

c. Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr

‘We’ll Meet Again’ is notable for…?

Christof Jenkins-Burns d. Tony Abbott

39Before making building blocks

for children, what did LEGO founder Ole Kirk Christiansen make? DIY furniture Ironing boards and stepladders Chemical weapons Teddy bears

a synthesiser d. Being popular with butchers

46What is a jillaroo?

a. A woman working on a cattle or

sheep station

40What does Beyoncé keep in

b. A woman called Jill who is an expert

her garden at home?

in kangaroos

80,000 bees Two dozen chickens 1000 gnomes A 25m Slip N Slide

c. When you bid hooroo a woman

called Jill d. The opposite of a Karen

47Who did singer-songwriter

41The internet went nuts

when it was claimed that blockbuster author Dean Koontz had predicted what?

a. Richmond’s AFL premiership b. A global toilet paper shortage c. A global pandemic emanating from


Kutcha Edwards collaborate with on new lyrics for the Australian anthem?

a. b. c. d.

48After Street Cat Bob’s

d. The discovery of two black holes


passing in June 2020, his pal James Bowen adopted two new kittens – what are their names?

42Which Australian author said: “Men could really learn from women”?

a. b. c. d.

Sofie Laguna Trent Dalton Helen Garner Tim Winton

43What does Boomtown Rats

a. b. c. d.

knew his character Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation would…?

44Who inspired Blue Wiggle Anthony Field to join the army?

a. b. c. d.

Elvis Presley His dad Jack Thompson Weary Dunlop


a. b. c. d.

Be a hit Change his life Grow and develop Have a substantial moustache

50Who told The Big Issue it’s not as hard bein’ green nowadays?

a. b. c. d.

Brian Austin Green Cee Lo Green Eva Green Kermit the Frog

1 B 2 C 3 C 4 B 5 A 6 D 7 B 8 A 9 C 10 C 11 D 12 B 13 C 14 C 15 B 16 D 17 C 18 B 19 B 20 D 21 B 22 C 23 D 24 D 25 A 26 C 27 B 28 C 29 D 30 D 31 A 32 B 33 C 34 A 35 A 36 C 37 B 38 B 39 B 40 A 41 C 42 D 43 D 44 A 45 C 46 A 47 B 48 B 49 D 50 D

It’s the only thing worth living for It’s corporate propaganda It’s better than Mondays It’s not that powerful anymore

Gangster and Gremlin Bandit and Gizmo Batman and Robin Robert and Bobbin

49Actor Nick Offerman always

singer Bob Geldof think of today’s rock music?

a. b. c. d.

Gough Whitlam Judith Durham John Farnham Mark Latham

26 DEC 2020

a. b. c. d.

WWII troops c. Being one of the first songs to feature


a. b. c. d.

a. Being a disco hit b. Carrying a secret message to

100 Small Steps A simple walk in his garden made Captain Tom Moore an unlikely pandemic hero. by Steven MacKenzie The Big Issue UK




n a year to be forgotten, Captain Tom Moore is a man to remember. His low-key heroics at the height of the pandemic gave a locked-down world someone to look up to. In a time of crisis, he embodied strength, determination and kindness – and emboldened others to act, too. While recovering from a fall in which he fractured a hip, broke ribs and punctured a lung, 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore decided to walk 100 laps of his 25-metre driveway before his 100th birthday, hoping to collect a few hundred pounds to treat nurses at the local hospital with wine and chocolates. Taking his first steps on Sunday 5 April, his fundraising efforts went viral. Within four weeks he’d raised A$68.75 million for Britain’s National Health System. By the time he turned 100 on

30 April, his birthday was a national celebration. Captain Tom received 160,000 cards, 7000 gifts, an RAF flypast, calls from the PM, Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres and – no standard telegram for Tom – the Queen instead sent a handwritten card. “Never in this world could I anticipate this,” he says over Zoom from the home he shares with his younger daughter Hannah and her family. “Having thought about it, it really is quite amazing. I have enjoyed every moment and still do. “We set off in a very small way trying to raise some money and it grew and grew and grew. It got bigger and better and it’s so heartening to think that we raised the spirits of so many people and so much money for such a good cause. We received

donations from all over the world, for which we thank everybody.” Captain Tom became one of the world’s most recognisable figures overnight, with people from 163 countries giving to his fundraiser. He enjoys the attention. “Fortunately I’m not displeased with it,” he smiles. What makes Captain Tom’s story extraordinary is, in the best possible sense, how ordinary he is. Leading by example, he demonstrated that small acts from any one of us can make a big difference and proved the power of positive action. His small steps resonated with people and rippled around the globe. “Certainly very ordinary,” says Captain Tom, agreeing with the description of himself. “I mean, before it all started I was just Tom Moore and




Private Moore 193763 was deployed to India and Burma, where he was a dispatch rider, relaying messages by motorbike through enemy territory (“I was determined to show my mettle as a soldier wherever I could”). After the war, Captain Tom had a number of jobs: quarry man, selling women’s magazines door-to-door, concrete supplier. Then there is the more personal history, made relatable by Captain Tom’s frankness: the relationship with his beloved Uncle Billy, a motorcycle racing champion who died by suicide. The difficult, unconsummated 18-year marriage to his first wife Billie, who struggled with mental health issues and who left him for the doctor she was working for. Becoming a father at 48 after marrying his second wife Pamela, then Pamela’s slow, heartbreaking deterioration as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s tightened their grip. Captain Tom visited her nursing home every day until her death in 2006 aged 71. Tom then moved in with Hannah. But instead of a quiet old age, his nineties became one of his most active decades, travelling solo to India


26 DEC 2020


and Nepal, ticking off an item on the bucket list by flying over Mount Everest. Then came his fall, the virus, lockdown. Captain Tom counts himself truly fortunate to have been surrounded by family: Hannah, her husband Colin and their two children Benjie, 16, and Georgia, 11. Can he imagine how tough lockdown must have been for people who were by themselves? “I’m sure it would have been very, very difficult,” Captain Tom replies. “My wife was in hospital for a long time – several years. One day she said to me, ‘If you didn’t come and see me, I would be very lonely.’ That struck me right to the heart. But where she was there were also loads of elderly people who never, ever had visitors, day after day, year after year. They must have been very, very lonely on their own. “If you’re an old person, virtually housebound, unless you have a good neighbour or a good service who will help, it must be very, very difficult. “They might not be old. Disabled people, those who are really short of income, living on the breadline. That is also difficult. We’ve got to look after one another from the beginning to the end. And that’s something I’m sure you and your outfit will help because you are there to help.” These kind words about The Big Issue from Captain Tom are heartening. Having struggled through a lot of troubled times, what advice does he have for others who find themselves struggling through the pandemic? “You’ve got to be optimistic. You’ve got to believe that things will get better. They certainly will. “Throughout the years of my life I’ve had bad times but I’ve always got through them. And I will say to everyone, whatever the problems are at the moment – and we have problems, nationally and worldwide – eventually we will all get through that and we will always be a little bit happier than we are today. “I’ve always been looking to the future. I still say tomorrow will be a good day.”


I’m still the same person. Nothing’s changed. Don’t believe I’m some mystic person. I’m not. I’m still just Tom Moore who’s doing his best, trying to help as much as I can.” As well as countless achievements and accolades, including a knighthood and number-one single (a cover of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’), Captain Tom also found the time to write his autobiography, Tomorrow Will Be a Good Day. It’s meant he’s become the UK’s oldest chart-topper and the oldest author to top the bestseller chart. “I just hope that when people read the book they won’t decide to sue me for some things I’ve said about them!” he says. Hannah, sitting beside him to repeat my questions for century-old ears (and, it seems, complete his comedy double act), chips in: “It’s alright. I think most of them are dead.” What does he think readers will be most surprised to learn? “I don’t really know,” he laughs. “So many things have happened; I don’t know what will surprise people. It surprises me that I’ve written the book at all! “I really can’t answer that question. You may be able to answer that better than me. Were there things that stood out most in your mind having read the book?” Where to begin… Like any of our parents and grandparents, Captain Tom’s story becomes remarkable in the passing of time. Born in the aftermath of WWI and the Spanish flu, his life story spans perhaps the most significant century in human history. He has witnessed unimaginable change. Speaking to him it’s hard to fathom that the man on the Zoom screen spent the first 11 years of his life in a house without electricity, lit by candles and gas lights. He remembers the Hindenburg flying over his hometown of Keighley in 1936, watching newsreels of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in Berlin. At the outbreak of war, he helped his parents fit blackout curtains. Conscripted and joining the Duke of Wellington’s regiment, 20-year-old

Anna Spargo-Ryan is a Melbourne author, editor and face mask collector. @annaspargoryan


n a Saturday night at the warm bleak end of lockdown 2020, I felt pretty done. This disaster year had got the best of me. I hate to complain (I love to complain), but as well as the deadly virus, I’d had a relationship breakdown, sick kids and a crook dog, part of my house had collapsed, and I’d just broken my finger. My existing depression and anxiety had soared. That night I was alone in my house and the only enthusiasm I could muster was for the few steps to the front door (and, even then, I wasn’t sure I would make it). Outsourcing sustenance wasn’t new. My Melbourne lockdown was signposted by takeaway pizza, dumplings, noodles, burgers. A dwindling bank account ticked off every night (and midday and morning) – I hadn’t rustled up the energy to cook. But as I scrolled through the familiar list of nearby eateries, I felt a new despair. You know, the kind of sadness that’s not actually about what’s available on Uber Eats but months of living in one room, not knowing when we would see our families, hug our parents, laugh with our friends, go outside, talk to an adult. I couldn’t spend one more night eating the same thing from the same three restaurants. Down the street, there’s a bright yellow shop with plastic ribbons for a door. It’s been here as long as I have, but I had never been inside. It has a row of bains‑marie filled with wet vegetables and three different roast meats glistening under hot lights. An increasingly rare sight in middle-suburban Melbourne, where we choose from cafes serving ingredients we have to google; woodfired pizza from a restored Kombi

26 DEC 2020

Anna Spargo-Ryan finds pandemic relief comes with a generous side of gravy.


Finding Peas

van; or “tapas” that’s just the same food but on smaller plates. This place is comfort food. Childhood food. Just right for a pandemic. No-one needs to be told what COVID-19 took from us in Melbourne. We all lived it. We lost family and jobs and income, safety and resilience and hope. For some of us, life will never be the same. In a year when mental health services have been swamped by calls, when extra services and funding have been funnelled into keeping us all afloat, I had a thought. A stroke of genius, in my mind: peas and gravy. When I was a little kid, my dad had bought them from the chicken shop on Magill Road in Adelaide – a massive (to me) tub of brown gloop and mushy green goo that was somehow the best food ever. Maybe that’s why I thought buying lamp-warmed vegetables would solve the pandemic for me. A pile of soggy vegies and meat juice, and I would once again have the energy to at least go out the front door, if not all the way to the end of the driveway. So, I got online and ordered a dinner pack from the yellow shop down the road. It came in a foil tray, with a plastic container of gravy on the side. Quarter chicken, a roast potato, pumpkin and peas. Heaven. I ate it at my desk, talking to my friends inside the computer, wiping gravy on my chair and feeding scraps to my dog. The next Saturday night, I ordered it again. This time it came with a huge roast carrot. The Saturday after that, broccoli in floury cheese sauce. I had never set foot in the physical shop but it had become part of my COVID-safe routine. Forget the bougie eateries and eat some vegetables: let the peas mop up your sadness. Every week, I looked forward to my tin of nostalgia and vitamins. And every week, the virus abated little by little. My anxiety eased. The dim depression-cloud shifted. A more cynical, less pea-positive person might call it a coincidence. A couple of weeks ago, with restrictions lifted, I went down the road. It was dinnertime, and I was holding hands with the other person in my COVID‑struck relationship. We donned our masks and pushed aside the plastic rope. “What can I get you?” said the man behind the counter. A dinner pack, please. The solo meal that’s somehow kept me going on the worst nights of the year. “Gravy?” he said. “As much as you can spare.” Into the foil container went a quarter chicken, two roast potatoes, broccoli cheese, gigantic carrot, wet green beans. And whatever magic they brew in that little yellow shop.

Mariann B is a former journalist and frequent writer for The Big Issue.


ow that the pandemic appears to be over, I just want to block it out and get on with life. If only it were that simple! At times I’m still riddled with anxiety, but have learned to manage it. Before we can heal, we need to debrief – to process all that happened during those high-alert months – according to mental health experts. After some soul-searching I saw my arrogance in believing that I was in full control of my life. I assumed that if I planned things carefully and tried my hardest to reach a goal, I was sure to succeed. The best laid plans of mice and men… At first there was shock and disbelief. Everything reminded me of war: the shuttered shops, the mass panic, dreading where the next viral “cluster bomb” might land. Many appealed to a higher power, to save them or their loved ones. There are no atheists in foxholes. I devoured books, unable to stop reading while others binged on food or Netflix. I kept re-reading Alain de Botton’s The School of Life, looking for clues to understand what was going on. I confided this in my doctor, telling him I felt all this reading was abnormal. He said, “No, it’s not – the situation is abnormal.” Meanwhile, the virus seeped out of abattoirs, hotels and nursing homes. It appeared unstoppable. No wonder we felt vulnerable. By the end of September there were more than a million deaths reported worldwide. At the time of writing, Victoria alone has suffered 820 deaths. Going outside briefly during lockdown was no help. The people I passed regularly, I took for granted. They were mere punctuation marks in my chaotic life. A dapper elderly gentleman I met each morning while he walked his Irish setter always nodded to me. He wore carefully polished shoes and combed his hair just so.

26 DEC 2020

In these abnormal times, The Big Issue’s Mariann finds comfort in the small acts of humanity.


Delving Deep

Then suddenly he vanished. From a faint comma, he turned into a bold exclamation mark with his absence. I imagined that each person in my street would disappear one by one. A young mother with dark circles under her eyes wheeled a crying toddler who looked unusually pale. The mother’s too-tight mask stifled a scream. Life became encrypted with deeper meaning. To me, the CCTV cameras became the eyes of God, observing our every move. The cleaners wearing orange vests and carrying white buckets were not just wiping down grab rails with disinfectant, they deep cleaned the tram of our sins. Our tram drivers were “protected” by a row of red triangular flags attached to a flimsy rope. This signified that the seats immediately behind them were out of bounds. I feared for their safety because viruses are not great at reading “back-off” signs. I felt angry and confused. Protection measures such as masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing appeared too puny to save us from doom. Later, I met a dog carrying a backpack strapped to him. I touched it lightly to make sure it was real. I was crying over small, stupid things such as dropping a $2 coin on the road and watching it disappear down the drain. Yet it was not all doom and gloom. Messages of encouragement brought relief from the darkness. Illuminated billboards paid tribute to workers at the coalface – from petrol station attendants to doctors. One image labelled “Thank You Dads” moved me. It pictured a care-worn father at the kitchen table looking down at his laptop, trying to get work done while his small sons, sprawled at his feet, drew pictures – he had become a full‑time teacher as well as a full-time employee. My heart leapt at the news of ordinary people leaving tons of food at the doors of those Melbourne high‑rises whose residents were ordered to remain in strict lockdown. While the authorities were late in delivering supplies, our heroic care workers soldiered on. Maybe we don’t live in a dog-eat-dog world after all. I coped with life, but something was wrong. Unwanted disturbing thoughts hijacked my mind. My doctor recommended mindfulness meditation because it breaks down destructive thought patterns, it’s free and it works. Shops and cafes closed down in Bourke Street Mall where I usually sell The Big Issue. Despite this, the Melbourne CBD is convalescing. It may well return to its former prominence and vibrancy. People are beginning to return to their jobs and workplaces and, at the time of writing, there have been no new community infections reported in Melbourne for over a month. It’s a good omen. Thank you, God, for allowing me to live to this day.

series by Doug Gimesy

Wildlife photographer Doug Gimesy shows us a colony of little penguins enjoying an inner-city lifestyle. by Melissa Fulton Deputy Editor



The Big Picture

Penguins on Parade

A little penguin at St Kilda pier, just a stone’s throw from Melbourne CBD.



26 DEC 2020


fter talking to scientist and volunteer researcher Zoe Hogg, the life of a city‑dwelling St Kilda penguin sounds pretty sweet. The colony of 1400-odd little penguins lives just 7km south of Melbourne’s CBD. “They get up about four o’clock in the morning and they stand on the rocks and have a bit of a talk to each other,” says Hogg, who has worked with Earthcare St Kilda – a non-profit group working with the penguins – for the past 30 years. “And then they go out to sea at around about six o’clock in the morning, and go fishing for a little while and then swim around and just float around, and come in at dusk.” There, they have a bit of a chat on the rocks again, “looking at each other and wondering if they want to have a bit of sex”. Then it’s off to bed before getting up in the morning to do it all over again. According to Hogg, these penguins – perhaps the only colony of wild penguins in the world to live, feed and forage exclusively in a bay – are rather enjoying the metropolitan lifestyle. “They’re fat and lazy,” she says, laughing and pointing out their size – they’re markedly larger than their famous Phillip Island neighbours roughly 70km away. The difference is they don’t have to travel too far for food – it’s about a 14km round trip per day on a foraging expedition, compared to an average of twice that for their neighbours, who also have to dive deeper for fish. Nor are the city penguins particularly worried about noise. “If there’s a party on at the kiosk, they usually sit under the kiosk and seem to listen to it,” she says. And they’re typically not too bothered by people either, who come in hordes all year round to see the penguins do their thing – between 60,000 and 100,000 visitors per year, pre-pandemic. Due to the redevelopment of the St Kilda pier, the penguin viewing area is currently closed. So how did they end up here, in this most unlikely of habitats? Hogg says there has always been the odd penguin in the area, but when the breakwater was built at the end of the St Kilda pier – to protect the yachts that were coming in for the 1956 Olympics – the penguins took notice and decided to move in, likely migrating from Phillip Island. The little gaps between the rocks are draft‑free and perfect for nesting, and over time the colony has grown. The biggest threats to the penguin colony are human: pollution – oil spills from boats can slick the birds’ fur, causing them to drown; and plastic pollution on the beach. Stress from tourism can also be a factor, and Hogg implores visitors to resist the temptation to use flash photography when admiring the penguins once the viewing platform reopens. “Be respectful,” advises Hogg. We gotta do our bit to preserve their fabulous inner-city lifestyle, after all.



Little penguins have been described as “socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous”, meaning they keep the same partner from one breeding season to the next, but seek out other mates when their partners are out at sea – ensuring genetic diversity.

Earthcare volunteers Zoe Hogg (left) and Kate Bulling examine a young penguin for fleas and ticks.

Volunteer Vicky Lee weighs a young chick before recording its sex and microchipping it.

Two little penguins nesting under the breakwater.


26 DEC 2020

Two little penguins make their way back to their nest after a day at sea.

Letter to My Younger Self

I Had to Live This Desperate Life Comedian Fiona O’Loughlin on growing up Catholic, hitting rock bottom and making radical life changes. by Anastasia Safioleas Contributing Editor @anast




grew up about three hours from Adelaide. The nearest peninsula west of Adelaide was Yorke Peninsula and we lived right down the bottom of that. I was one of seven – I was number three. Mum and Dad had six of us in eight years, then an eight-year gap before having another one – my baby sister Emily. She’s an actress who works on Mad as Hell. She’s closer in age to my oldest two children than she is to me. I would describe my 16-year-old self as absolutely full of fun, happiness and optimism. I was at boarding school at 16 and loved it. I shared a bedroom with five girls at home, but at boarding school with 80 girls I had my own cubicle with my own cupboard and my own wardrobe and my own drawers. I thought that was the most exciting thing. I had autonomy! I wasn’t much of a scholar but at an all-girls boarding school, when I was busting to get out of my tiny town and Catholic family, I loved every minute of being 16. I didn’t ever get into teenage strife. That wasn’t even a possibility. It just didn’t happen. Mum and Dad were so straight that the thought of climbing out a window and going to a party and smoking dope just wouldn’t have occurred to me. I was pretty straightlaced in that my whole family was. At 16 I was right where I was supposed to be. My best friend and I, we used to commandeer school assemblies and get 10 minutes of airtime. My interests were laughing. I laughed and laughed and laughed



26 DEC 2020


called the book Truths from an Unreliable Witness because I am an unreliable witness to that night and many other nights. Was I raped? I don’t know. He could have been an alcoholic on a bender himself. Even though I was in my forties, I knew that I was still fertile… There I am straddling a life-threatening addiction that I didn’t understand, and I could be pregnant. If I had been pregnant, I know I would have had an abortion. If you told me at 25 that one day I would be in my forties with an unwanted pregnancy not to my husband, I would have said you’re mad. That’s not who I am. Definitely my happiest moment was holding Henry, my first baby. He’s 34 now. What I did to myself with my comedy was to paint myself as…almost a bad mother, when that was never the case. I was so confident and so proud of mothering. I enjoyed every second. But I guess when my alcoholism kicked in when I was 36, a lot of absent mothering would have gone on. You can’t be a good mother when you have an addiction. You’re not a good anything. I find it interesting how long it takes people to get over the behaviours of an alcoholic. If I could go back to any particular day or time it would be when I was 13. I loved space and time that I could call my own, something you didn’t get in a big family. I loved reading and I remember waking up in our bedroom with four girls and thinking Why isn’t anyone telling me to get up and start the day? I was always the last one to wake up. But everyone was sound asleep, and I suddenly realised it was the first day of daylight savings having finished so I had a whole hour to myself. I went and got baby Emily and her bottle and put her into bed with me. She’s got her bottle, I’ve got a book and we’ve got a whole hour to ourselves and this wonderful book. I just remember thinking, Life doesn’t get much better than this. I would tell my 16-year-old self what my grandmother taught me: it is a great life if you don’t weaken. Stay strong. The world is a beautiful place, and most people are good. You’re allowed to listen to your own mind. I wasted many great opportunities not trusting my inner voice, my intuition, which is one of the biggest gifts we’re given. I feel more akin now to 16-year-old me than I ever have. I’d love to have a laugh with her. [Tell her] strap yourself in, it’s going to be a bit of a ride!



really for two years with these wonderful girlfriends I made, and life looked incredible. I was very interested in boys, but we were only allowed to meet boys at the dances. I grew up in the 60s and 70s when it was a very dangerous time for children. For instance, there was a known pervert across the road from the house in our little town, Warooka. I remember I used to go in there and my sister Kate would be horrified. I had no idea what danger I was in. Kate, she’s a year younger than me, would say “Don’t go in there!” And I’d say, “Kate, he tickles you and you get lollies. What’s the problem?” I found out years later that he got time for raping a child. I think that’s what was dangerous about those times, but my parents didn’t have it in their vocabulary to tell us that that man is what he is, because that’s not nice. You don’t talk about things that aren’t PG. But life isn’t PG. The biggest surprise of my life is how much you can change in a lifetime. From the age of 25 to 57, I’m unrecognisable. How black and white I was… It’s almost like I had to live this desperate life – 15 years I fought addiction. I work on it now; I don’t fight it anymore. Not like I used to. It’s affected everything – how I operate, my relationships with my own kids, how I vote, my beliefs. I’ve come full circle. I was a traditional Catholic until I was in my mid-twenties. It was all I ever knew. I didn’t believe in a lot of it – I thought it was scary teaching kids about hell – but I was a closed-minded indoctrinated Catholic. I remember one Sunday taking on the job of handing out anti-abortion leaflets after mass. Now fast forward to that same woman 20 or 30 years later, when I was at my worst – rock bottom. I woke up after having gone on a bender in Canberra. I used to drink when I had the opportunity but after I went public never in front of anyone. I went very public with “Yes, I’m an alcoholic”, but I had no idea what that meant or what was required to fix it. I was running blind for so many years and white‑knuckling it most of the time. White‑knuckling it is when you’re not physically drinking but all you’re thinking about is when and where you can disappear again. Cause that’s really what it’s about – disappearing from the shame and guilt. Anyway, I ended up waking up in a bed with a guy. I’m a married woman. I’ve never been with anyone but my husband. I’ve




A stranger will enter your life in late June – demand to see their COVID test first.

by Ricky French @frenchricky

Written in the Stars


s we bid good riddance to 2020 it’s time to consult the stars for (hopefully) happier times ahead. What does 2021 have in store for you? ARIES There’s no better time to take up a new hobby. Look to the sky. Pigeon-racing calls, or maybe it’s time to start building remote-control planes. Your friends and family will think you’ve gone loopy, so don’t let them down. Remember, you are always right. TAURUS Sick of waking up like a bull with a sore head? Give booze the flick this year, and while you’re at it give news the flick, too. Did any good really come of those months glued to the screen? Go for a walk in the bush, but don’t adopt a pet. Enlightenment will come through nature, not nurture. GEMINI Much as you’d love to leave 2020 behind, there’s a lot you secretly wish we could keep. You always knew hell was other people. We should have listened. Social distancing has its advantages, so play it safe and keep inside that glorious bubble. Bathe often and stay away from all surfaces. CANCER Travel beckons, and so it bloody should. 2020 was cruel and unusual, and you did your time stoically. Go rural and stay away from the beach. The hinterland suits your personality, always hinting at lush, bucolic indulgences, simple pleasures and organic produce. Grow hemp and lots of body hair. LEO You get a panic attack every time you hear the word “lockdown”. Good news: the word has been banned from the 2021 lexicon. You’ve always loved a good rebranding, so keep your ears peeled for forays into “Homebound Relaxathons” as COVID-19 drags its tail into the New Year. Now’s a good time to renew your favourite streaming subscription service. VIRGO They say no news is good news, so the bad news is there’s plenty of news. Christmas will bring routine conflict, New Year’s Eve will bestow an annoying injury on someone who deserves it, winter will be as boring as

usual. Start your own YouTube channel, grab a microphone and start calling yourself a journalist. It’s the year to make your own news. LIBRA Bushfires will burn, sunblock in the eyes will sting and a close friend will dabble in conspiracy theories. Summer will send new opportunities, spring will see them recede into the distance. Don’t worry: opportunity doesn’t just knock, it wants to knock you out. Resist – cling to dogmatic beliefs. SCORPIO It’s time for self-reflection. What have you learned from 2020? More importantly, what have you forgotten? Only you know the answers to the questions that torment your soul. A mystic can only do so much. Look within yourself and seek out the closest version of the truth you can tolerate. It might be best to avoid mirrors. SAGITTARIUS Do you really want to know? CAPRICORN New year, new you, they say. Really? Don’t listen to them, the old you was perfectly fine. Embrace yourself, and others, safely of course. Don’t do anything that brings you into contact with contact tracers. A stranger will enter your life in late June – demand to see their COVID test first. AQUARIUS It’s the dawning of the age of Really Old. Another birthday looms and the numbers ain’t getting any better. 2020 was a turd of a year, but did it have to go so fast? At this stage of your life you’ll take what you can get. Good for you. Visit cellar doors but avoid swinging ones. Live in every mundane moment, and see your doctor if pain persists. PISCES You’re a sensitive thing. Some might call you a snowflake, but you’re much more fragile and not quite so unique. Use 2021 to give more than you take. Avoid the heat and swap humidity with humility. A cruise looks likely, but so does a curse. You can’t win ’em all.

Ricky is a writer and musician with a far-gazing crystal ball.

by Fiona Scott-Norman @fscottnorman



am old enough that I remember unstructured time, when weekends were vast, slothful, stupefying wastelands of nothing to do. Back in Perth in the 1980s the weekend was such a nothing that petrol stations closed on a Sunday afternoon. Ruminate on that for a moment. If you weren’t at home in a boredom-induced coma and needed fuel, there was a roster system for servos. There would be a couple open, in a random opaque roulette that changed weekly, and you drove to your closed local petrol station to read the typed list of which ones were open. You’d then consult your UBD street directory and anxiously head off on a road trip. To the airport, perhaps, or somewhere else nowhere near where you needed to be, hoping against hope that you’d get there before your tank ran dry. Not infrequently the list was an old one. Oh, how we laughed. You could argue that if there was nothing to do on the weekend, why not spend half of it tooling around WA looking for petrol, but I speak on behalf of all sandgropers when I say that it was deeply shit. Still, are your weekends unstructured now? No, no they are not. Weekends are chockers, mate. Farmers’ markets, brunch, meeting up with friends, Tinder dates, parties, kids’ parties, kids’ sports, kids’ violin lessons, theatre, visiting your parents, art galleries, friends’ bands, dinner parties, dance parties, dance classes, birthday parties, renos, films, trips to Bunnings, a spot of laundry, a trip to the regions, op-shopping, cheese tasting, wine tasting, whisky tasting, beer tasting. And this is just normal, 9 to 5, regular-life weekends. If you work in hospo you’re fitting everything in around your weird demanding weekend hours. If you work freelance, which due to the gig economy is most of us, ditto. If you’re a performer or any kind of non-corporate public-facing human, Friday to Sunday is your working week, and you have multiple fairy parties/couples to marry/weddings to

DJ/stand-up gigs/matinees to perform/drag shows/spoken word readings to slam. This, btw, does not include festivals, which elevate the entire caper to a fourth dimension. So. Riddle me this 2021: why, WHY do diaries still insist on shoving Saturday and Sunday together on one line, down the bottom of the page? As though those days are worth half of Monday to Friday instead of twice as much? As though everyone’s weekend is just “nothing nothing church?” It has not been that way since Perth in the 1980s, and even then, frankly, weekends were only less busy because we couldn’t buy fricking petrol without packing lunch, a compass and a sleeping bag. It’s infuriating. Nearly all week-per-view diaries do this. Lured by availability and its tactile red cover, I bought a very sexy brand of diary for 2021; I’ll call it a Badgerskin to keep legal happy, and roger me sideways if it didn’t do this very thing. Oh my God – you market to creatives, what is the MATTER with you? The weekend is relegated to squinty little boxes. I can’t fit my life into those. I can’t fit my mornings. No-one can. Are diaries meant to be symbolic rather than practical? Am I just meant to wanker‑signal with my Badgerskin that I’m “cool” and a “deep-thinker”, rather than actually organise the threads of my complex life? Do the people who make diaries never actually use them? Just. Gah. If you’re not on board right now, you are either a “day-per-view” person, or someone who enjoys Google calendars. To the former I say, “Yeah but you can’t get a sense of the whole week,” and to the latter I say, “Under no circumstances will I spend more time thumb‑typing onto small devices”. It is no longer 1980. Just. Fix. The. Diaries.

Fiona is a writer and comedian who’s working for the weekend.

26 DEC 2020

Dear Me, Diary

The weekend is relegated to squinty little boxes. I can’t fit my life into those. I can’t fit my mornings. No-one can.



Top 10 Films of 2020 THE ASSISTANT KANOPY

In a year when female empowerment raked it in at the box office, Australian director Kitty Green’s intelligent Me Too drama – a day in the life of a production company run by a near-invisible, Weinstein‑esque boss – proved the real bombshell. Through the eyes of a young assistant (Julia Garner), the film revealed toxic workplace culture in exquisite, excruciating detail, from the slimy HR rep who gaslights her to dreary hours spent alone with the photocopier.



“This is how I win”– Adam Sandler’s now-iconic line sent a sickening shudder through brothers Josh and Benny Safdie’s Diamond District‑set thriller – a race against the clock that involves Ethiopian opals, basketball, high-stakes gambling, Canadian singer The Weeknd and a bejewelled 14-carat Furbie. In a career-high turn, Sandler hit pause on his signature doofus act to unleash jewellery dealer Howard Ratner, who treads the wafer-thin line between hysterical and plain horrifying.

The Tree of Life director Terrence Malick made a winner (yet again) with this deeply spiritual, WWII-era tale of faith put to the ultimate test. Brilliantly acted and exceedingly well made, the film communed with the natural world and scraped at the heavens as it moved from a farmer’s idyllic family life in an Austrian mountain village to a Nazi prison, where the pious Franz faces the death penalty for refusing to swear an oath to Hitler.


Hong Sang-soo’s prolific stream of soju-soaked, Éric Rohmer-indebted dramas have been amassing devotees on the festival circuit for many years now, so it was a joy to see the South Korean’s latest lo-fi charmer get a cinema release here. In this talkie triptych, a lonely Kim Min-hee meets up with three female friends outside Seoul. As ever with Hong, the trivial anecdotes and guarded words hide deeper truths. Features the best cat cameo this side of the millennium.



Mister Rogers impressions abounded this year, perhaps when we needed them most. Talking Heads frontman David Byrne channelled the American children’s television presenter in the gentle monologues of his concert movie American Utopia, but it was Tom Hanks who fully inhabited the role of the wholesome cardigan-clad icon. Peering at us with crinkly eyes, Hanks was pitch perfect in director Marielle Heller’s surprisingly graceful biopic. I bawled.

The shadowlands of the American Dream come under scrutiny in Chloé Zhao’s Venice Film Festival Gold Lion-winner, which follows widow Fern (Frances McDormand) as she takes to the road in her modest van. Along the way, she meets fellow drifters and misfits also struggling to make ends meet in the gig economy. McDormand’s wry smile fills out this humanist story of grief and rebirth while Zhao gets up close and personal, showing us the people and places that post-industrial America has left behind.

Annabel Brady-Brown Film Editor @annnabelbb


The high point of Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s five-part anthology about Britain’s West Indian community, Lovers Rock immersed us in a London house party in the 1980s. With documentary-like attention, McQueen portraits a vibrant Black subculture forced to create its own space – though his recollection is cast through the rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia. The result is a living, breathing mood piece that lays a Cinderella fairytale over a reggae-pop party soundtrack, leaving viewers buckling at the knees.

Clint Eastwood’s hugely empathetic account of the security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) who became an overnight hero after foiling a bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – and then the FBI’s main suspect – showcased the director’s humour and love for the little guy. With fine support from actors Sam Rockwell, Jon Hamm and Kathy Bates (scoring her an Oscar nomination), Hauser captured the real-life underdog thrust up against a crooked system with surprising poignancy. IN MY BLOOD IT RUNS VOD


Garrett Bradley’s Sundance‑winning documentary about one woman’s fight to free her jailed husband communicated something uncommunicable: the psychic weight of 21 years of waiting. With its inventive combination of observational footage, family home videos and freewheeling jazz piano, Time made a furious case against the prison industrial complex, while its epic, against-all-odds love story sought to break the stigma of incarceration. This is political filmmaking at its most seductive.

Setting a high water mark for collaborative filmmaking, non‑Indigenous documentary maker Maya Newell (Gayby Baby) observed one extraordinary Arrernte/Garrwa boy, Dujuan Hoosan, in order to highlight the ongoing impact of colonisation on First Nations peoples, particularly kids. The film advocated for increased agency for communities while handing the camera over to the charismatic 10-year-old and his family. The handheld footage shot by Hoosan ranks among the most intimate and moving in cinemas this year.



t’s been a tough year for an already shaky film industry. Before cinemas were shuttered for months, it was all about the female gaze: Adèle Haenel cast smouldering looks in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn injected new life into the superhero genre, and Elisabeth Moss showed why she’s the go-to actor for women on the verge with The Invisible Man and the devious anti-biopic Shirley. The pandemic not only delayed releases, notably Christopher Nolan’s overstuffed big-screen ballet Tenet, but also led many to side-step theatres altogether. Like mushrooms after rainfall, virtual platforms sprouted to fill the space left by cinemas, meaning that many of the year’s best titles debuted in your living room. Among the glut of content being endlessly rehashed (a state of affairs mocked sweetly by the Groundhog Day update Palm Springs), moments of weird, wonderful, I’ve‑never‑seen-THAT-before cinema snuck through. Alongside our Top 10, I’m giving 2020 honours for Best Kiss (Vince Vaughn as a body‑swapped teenage girl in Freaky), Best Ghost (the late Chadwick Boseman in Da 5 Bloods), Best Death (Spree), Best Fake Death (Dick Johnson Is Dead), Best Animal (tie between the tic-tactoe-playing chicken in Never Rarely Sometimes Always and the cow in First Cow), Best Android (The Trouble With Being Born) and Best Totally Unnecessary But Most Triumphant Reunion (Bill and Ted Face the Music). Now that cinemas are open again, let’s remember just how special moviegoing is. ABB

26 DEC 2020





Top 10 Albums of 2020 LADY GAGA CHROMATICA

In a year of despair, thank god for Lady Gaga and the extravagant, candy-pink utopia envisioned on Chromatica. A throwback to the decadent dance pop that made her – after years of Barbra Streisand turns and understated country music detours – the album is a no-ballads zone, purely populated by maximalist club bangers with a thorny emotional core. This is best felt on her synth-laden ode to an antipsychotic drug, ‘911’, which is accompanied by a music video that riffs on the cult film The Color of Pomegranates.


Written and recorded while the popstar quarantined in her LA home over six weeks, How I’m Feeling Now is an exciting, DIY electro-pop effort about boyfriends, boredom and the void. A noted workaholic, Charli rounded up regular collaborators, fans and friends to workshop songs and make artwork, with every bit of the process documented online. A testament to how Charli thrives in collaborative mode, this is more satisfying than the more polished Charli (2019).


No-one has chronicled the drama and disgust of bodies this past decade better than Mike Hadreas, who performs and records as Perfume Genius. Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is his best work on the subject yet, an expansive record that explores the perils and pleasures of the corporeal (death, disembodiment and gnawing crushes) with 90s rock distortion, shimmering 80s pop and Roy Orbison-inspired ballads. Worlds away from the sparse, lo-fi piano numbers that defined his earlier work. MARCUS WHALE LUCIFER


On Lucifer, Sydney musician and artist Marcus Whale reimagines the much-maligned fallen morning star as a force for queer liberation. He manages to pull off a unique feat: blending the hallowed theatre of church ceremony with mournful, mangled electronic music (most notable in the Pasolini-referencing opener ‘Proud and Dirty’). But it’s Whale’s voice – spectral, haunting, angelic – that best communicates the joys and sorrows that spring from possession and devotion.




The word “unapologetic” gets flung around too much in regards to female artists, but it’s an apt descriptor for Apple’s genius fifth record. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is furious and funny, ripping up the rulebook for remarkable songs about school bullies, terrible men and – the most fascinating line of inquiry – her relationship to the women dating her previous partners. The sound is gloriously scrappy and utilitarian, with Apple stomping, clapping, chanting and sampling dog barks at her Venice Beach home.


Released posthumously after his tragic murder earlier this year, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon is a bittersweet glimpse into the many different roads that the Brooklyn drill star’s career could have taken. The album dials down Pop’s signature grit for a poppier sound, but his gravelly, ultra-deep voice cuts through, serving as the perfect counterweight to the smooth, early noughts‑indebted production, which is at its best on the sweet bravado of ‘Something Special’.

Isabella Trimboli Music Editor




t’s been a year of stagnation, precarity and no gigs. One of the last shows I saw before the pandemic hit was Weyes Blood, which felt fitting. Her last album, Titanic Rising, is an elegy to a catastrophic, drowning planet. It was released in 2019, and I’ve kept it on heavy rotation since. This is not to say that 2020 has been devoid of great new music. It was an excellent year of releases, marked by exciting, unexpected returns (Salem, Bright Eyes) surprising pop offerings (Taylor Swift) and dazzling debuts (Megan Thee Stallion). TikTok wielded its power in shaping strange new music stars and viral hits, which ranged from 20-year-old Alabama rapper Flo Milli and her taunting track ‘Beef Flomix’ to Belarusian band Molchat

Doma and their gloomy post-punk song ‘Судно (Sudno)’. There was plenty of isolated entertainment provided via live‑streamed concerts, but nothing came close to Sampa the Great’s exceptional ARIA performance of ‘Final Form’. Resplendent in a gold dress and flanked by beautifully styled dancers and musicians on a rooftop in Botswana, the Zambian-born Australian rapper put the local music industry and the ARIAs rightfully on blast: “When we win awards, they toss us on the ad breaks of course.” If this weird year can be defined by a single musical moment, it’s certainly the filthy, fun radio hit ‘WAP’ by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. A real shame none of us were able to let loose to this song on the dance floor. Maybe next year. IT





The Sydney rapper dismantles the lies of a nation with Black Thoughts, an outstanding debut record that reckons with colonial violence and honours Black resilience. The record is anchored in the tradition of 90s East Coast rap, with delicate piano, jazz instrumentation and samples from news broadcasts, poetry and the words of Indigenous activists. Recorded in 2015 and shelved until now, it remains a burning indictment on a country unwilling to face itself.


Homegrown is technically not a new album; rather it’s another one of Young’s great, lost albums that has finally been unearthed from his archives this year. Recorded during 1974 and 1975, it’s an album of beautiful yet despairing love songs (that Young deemed too vulnerable at the time to release). There isn’t much that will surprise Young fans here (besides the bizarre spoken word song ‘Florida’), but it’s another chance to marvel at one of the most incredible and prolific career peaks in music history.

26 DEC 2020

Not much is known about Yves Tumor, an artist with a rare mystique. They hardly give interviews, their whereabouts are unknown and there is doubt about their birth name, which may be Sean Bowie. But this elusiveness provides flexibility, the space to embody new characters. On their latest, Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor moulds themselves into a libidinous seducer, for slinky songs that slip between super-charged glam rock, intoxicating funk and sonorous R&B.



No-one sounds quite like 24-year-old British rapper J Hus, who melds sounds of the Black British diaspora (Afropop, reggae, dancehall and grime) with his bouncy, seemingly effortless flow. The follow-up to his ambitious debut Common Sense, Big Conspiracy finds the rapper a little more laid back but more charismatic, with songs gliding between cocky sex brags (like the innuendo-heavy ‘Cucumber’) and reflections on racism, street violence and his recent incarceration (‘Deeper Than Rap’).


This collection of 16 stories by Indigenous writers and writers of colour delivers a much‑needed shot of diversity to the mostly white anthologies of short fiction available. The stories are loosely based on themes about the future, with an eclectic mix of genres and styles. There is no shortage of talent here from a dynamic, exciting bunch of new and more established names, and many, if not all, deserve their own standalone collection.


This adorably playful novel is one for linguists and bookworms in particular, as it delves into the arcane world of dictionaries. It’s split into two interwoven narratives, one set in the 19th century and one in the present day. There’s lexicographer Peter, who is inserting fictitious entries into Swansby’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary, and intern Mallory, decades later, who’s trying to uncover these fake words as the dictionary is digitised. Written with wit and love for the creation of words.





There’s a reason why Trent Dalton is a bestselling author, with his first book, Boy Swallows Universe, garnering so much critical acclaim and public support – the man is a master storyteller. His follow-up, set in Darwin during WWII, is just as compelling and rich in emotion and colour. It’s a magic realist tale about a feisty gravedigger girl named Molly Hook, who’s trying to overturn a curse on her family. She’s joined in her adventures by a German actress and a Japanese fighter pilot. Unlikely, yes, but sometimes you just have to go along for the ride.





This is an inventive historical melodrama that takes on and transforms Romeo and Juliet, setting it in 1926 Shanghai, where we find Juliette Cai, heir to the Scarlet Gang, and her nemesis Roma Montagov, heir to the rival Russian White Flowers. Oh, and there’s also a madness that plagues the land, causing people to rip out their own throats. Chloe Gong’s debut is a vicious and fantastic story, full of detail and chutzpah.

The Dutch writer’s previous non-fiction is the equally optimistic Utopia for Realists, which made the case for a universal basic income. His latest, Humankind, champions altruism as the overriding force in human nature. A hard sell, but Bregman’s reasoning and the examples he provides from history are convincing. Apparently as a species, we are better than we think we are. Good does prevail over evil.





After the year that was 2020, this is a particularly hopeful picture book by one of the best in the game. It’s about a father and his daughter trying to build a positive future together. The rhyming text and Oliver Jeffers’ winsome and gentle illustrations make a good starting point for caregivers and kids to talk about the kind of future they would like to live in.

Winner of the Text Prize 2019, Loner is a smart and funny novel that perfectly captures the uncertainties and awkwardness of being a young adult, from the push-and-pull pressure of creativity and McJobs, to the experience of sharehouse living and first love. It’s about not knowing what to do now that you have some degree of independence. Georgina Young’s protagonist, Lona, is smartalecky, wry and ever so relatable.


Thuy On Books Editor @thuy_on





Tegan Bennett Daylight has been an author, teacher and critic – and she’s also a deep and appreciative reader. In this collection of essays, she reflects on some of her obsessions. The title alludes to how she addresses both her own work and others’ words: with close attention. From her love of Helen Garner and George Saunders, to childbearing and tending to her dying mother, The Details is lyrical, witty and engaging.


This is a smart, satirical and, frankly, weird collection of short stories (a talking, cat-shaped oven to soothe you, anyone?). Surreal and funny, a great part of its charm is not knowing where exactly Elizabeth Tan is going with her 20 tales. Mermaids, karaoke, treehouses, consumer and pop culture are all in the mix. Just the titles alone reveal her playfulness, like ‘A Girl Is Sitting on a Unicorn in the Middle of a Shopping Centre’ and ‘Happy Smiling Underwear Girls Party’.


o say that 2020 was a catastrophic year for the books industry is no overstatement; the entire literary ecosystem suffered. When lockdown hit thanks to COVID-19, bookshops across the country were shuttered. Some closed entirely; others pivoted to online deliveries, but there’s no doubting the impact of the pandemic. Brick-and-mortar shops rely on the joy of serendipity: you come in looking for the latest bestseller and inadvertently come out with a picture book and a novelty mug. Not having the physical space for customers to roam made it difficult to sell, despite initial strong numbers as everyone hunkered down. Lots of publishers scrambled to release their titles later in the publishing schedule, even moving some to 2021. Media coverage of book reviews and interviews shrunk even more due to the lack of advertising that funds more pages, so if you weren’t already a household name, trying to create awareness for your new book proved even more difficult. Meanwhile, many authors (including myself) missed out on the fizz of launching their books in real life. If lucky, they managed to move proceedings online. Everyone became overfamiliar with Zoom speeches and readings. The bridge between writer and reader was broken this year and we all had to do whatever we could to best mend the gap. But did we read more? I like to think many of us escaped through the transportative wings of a good book. Let’s give thanks to all the authors out there who helped us through 2020. TO

26 DEC 2020




This debut set in inner west Sydney in the 1990s is a fast-paced, beautifully crafted study of both character and place about two Vietnamese teenagers growing up in straitened circumstances, where crime and poverty are bedfellows. And yet Pham also injects humour and heart into her novel. Her plotting and poetic minutiae, whether of the home, schoolyard or pinball parlours and karaoke bars, are brilliantly executed. A young author who clearly has a big future.

Top 10 Binges of 2020 CHEER NETFLIX

Get her up! American exceptionalism is tossed around and pulled apart in this riveting docuseries about a Texan cheer team preparing for the National Cheerleading Championship in Daytona Beach. It landed in early January without much hype, but buzz for the addictive six-parter quickly spread online and via word of mouth, soon making it Netflix’s first big viral hit of the year. All these months later, the sound of Sherbs’ bone-crunching fall still haunts my dreams. RESISTANCE PODCAST


While marketing materials for this sportsball series evoke the fake US sitcom from Episodes, the transatlantic comedy of manners is actually full of surprises. Jason Sudeikis plays the titular gridiron coach who’s recruited to manage a Premier League team. The fish-out-of‑water story playfully subverts gender, class and cultural tropes, and its pure‑hearted protagonist is a fitting successor to Jim Carrey’s Mr Pickles in Kidding (another 2020 standout, though sadly cancelled).


Three cheers for the Heeler clan! Without them, dog knows how many families would have gone troppo during lockdown. Capturing the everyday hijinks of a six-year-old Blue Heeler and her kin, Bluey’s second season was unleashed in two powerful batches (the human heart cannot withstand such purity and charm for more than a month at a time). With recent episodes like ‘Grandad’, ‘Movies’ and ‘Baby Race’ knocking this childless adult for six, there’s little wonder why this is the #1 kids show in the country.





I will never stop evangelising for this clear-eyed political satire. Every season has been remarkably perceptive, but this year’s smaller crop of episodes (reduced due to COVID-19 restrictions) really used – and refused – the court procedural formula to say something scathing about our “post-truth” epoch. Delicious! Praise be to creators Michelle and Robert King, who also shepherded another favourite, Evil (2019), which finally hit Stan in August.

The Black Lives Matter movement had a resounding impact on pop culture and current affairs this year. From Gimlet Media, Resistance delivers missives from the front lines as poet and host Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr curates gripping stories of protest, brutality and hope. Episode 2, ‘Shake the Room’, is as claustrophobic as it is captivating. Closer to home, Muruwari man and Walkley winner Allan Clarke continued his investigative reporting for Radio National with Thin Black Line.


Who better to dispense the year’s weirdest talk show than the fine folks at the Jim Henson Company? Hosted by a multi-limbed alien – and son of an intergalactic warlord – Earth to Ned riffs on late-night celebrity gabfests by drawing attention to their falsity. Placing an openly narcissistic, petulant (but empathetic) host at the helm, Ned’s improvised chats with the likes of horror maestro Eli Roth and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom are unpredictable and hilarious.

Aimee Knight Small Screens Editor @siraimeeknight


ack in May, a gaggle of local celebrities shared “an important message for all Australians during COVID-19”. Their missive? “Don’t start a podcast.” The PSA first appeared in ABC TV’s coronavirus survival guide At Home Alone Together, and I know it was tongue in cheek. It’s just a punch-down brand of humour I’m never too keen on – especially not in a global pandemic. Even now, I’d rather celebrate and congratulate anyone who channelled this dispiriting year into creative expression. A few highlights: Amid the Zoom boom, screenmakers started experimenting with the formal capacity of video calling – a terror that, for my money, was best exorcised in the desktop horror film Host (Shudder) about a haywire séance. Watching artists who

could not otherwise mount exhibitions display their work in Nintendo’s life simulator Animal Crossing: New Horizons interactive game was another delight (it became a mid-winter beacon for me when I aligned my island’s seasonal calendar to the blooming northern hemisphere’s). And the comfort of Home Cooking – from Salt Fat Acid Heat’s Samin Nosrat and Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway – is a gift that will keep on giving for months. I’d be remiss to undersell the virus’ impact on creative industries, particularly given the buoyant role that TV, podcasts and video games played for so many of us in 2020. As we move into 2021, I resolve to support independent makers not just with words, but with a bit of coin whenever I can – and digits crossed for a happier new year all around. AK



90s nostalgia may have been the pastel fuel for this tween reboot, but Netflix’s contemporary take on Ann M Martin’s iconic novels is timely, savvy and accessible. No doubt the young women cast as Kristy, Stacey, Mary-Anne, Claudia and Dawn had big shoes to fill, but they came through with humour and spirit in spades. The show’s been renewed for a second season, so fetch the gummy worms and get that clear plastic landline on ice. RELIC STAN


Bits about queer slang and technical gimmicks go from silly to surreal in Zoë Coombs Marr’s ouroboric comedy special. After years spent performing as the parodic misogynist “Dave”, Coombs Marr lampoons the sexist ideologies that have long bolstered stand-up. The interactive show was recorded live at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre, but at least watching at home means no risk of being picked on.


Journalist Nicole Curby joins Iranian refugee Mozhgan Moarefizadeh to examine the furtive ways in which the Australian government has in effect pushed the nation’s border out to Indonesia, thereby trapping thousands of asylum seekers in immigration limbo. Through interviews, field reporting, audio diaries and phone calls, The Wait platforms these little-heard stories with unflinching honesty. We must listen.

26 DEC 2020




The debut feature from Japanese-Australian filmmaker Natalie Erika James is not for the faint of heart. But this earth-toned ghost story about the ties that bind and the ravages of time lives in my mind rent‑free. As stars Robyn Nevin, Emily Mortimer and Bella Heathcote steep in intergenerational malaise, James ferments an Australian Gothic tale with a body-horror bent – and none of the usual colonial hang-ups. It’s dank and clammy but, ultimately, quite tender.

Public Service Announcement

by Lorin Clarke @lorinimus

For some people, 2020 was the year they were born. To be born at all is a statistical miracle, so well done to them for starters. But also: who knows what future geniuses have just arrived among us? Who knows what wonderful parents they might become, what rewarding friends, what revolutionary spirits determined to make the world a better place? Artists or vets or therapists or people who are really good at opening packets of things that nobody else in the family can manage. Some people, in 2020, found each other. Friends were made. A few people, this year, were just friends, until suddenly they were more than that, and 2020 could throw anything at them and they soared above all of it, gleeful and distracted, their thoughts sneaking back to each other whenever there was a gap in the thought-traffic. In the middle of Melbourne’s strictest COVID lockdown, there was a police officer standing in the street when I went to put the rubbish out. He had his arms crossed and was looking directly up. It was after curfew. I thought he might be looking for the police helicopter. I was about to ask about it when he said, still looking up, “You noticed the stars are brighter in lockdown? Not as much light pollution.” Not enough to redeem 2020, but it was a nicer moment than it could have been. 2020 sometimes felt like being dumped by an absolute monster wave – but you stood up! You hauled

air into your lungs! You opened your eyes! And – kapow! – another wave, right at you. No time for breath. A hurtling wall of power and seaweed and someone else’s surfboard and it just kept happening. But it’s funny how that can give you a sense of perspective. You emerge exhilarated, victorious. For me, one of the waves this year involved a trip to the children’s hospital. Turns out, a broken kneecap is a gangster cliché for a reason. It’s very painful. Waiting in hospital with a kid dealing with a gangster injury might seem like a terrible thing to be doing right at the end of 2020 – and it is…but at moments like that, perspective is everywhere. Medical workers are so impressive. Medicare is amazing, too – you’re not sitting there dreading an astronomical bill. You look around and see everyone – from all walks of life – waiting quietly for their child to be seen by experts. Some of the children have minor injuries – a broken finger, say – and others are far too familiar with the place. Looking around, a small hand gripping mine, I realised not for the first time in 2020 that contrary to considerable evidence to the contrary, people can be so excellent. They can be terrible, sure, but they can be brilliant, and kind, and helpful, and 2020 has also reminded us that if they aren’t these things, sometimes they get voted out. It’s true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but some book covers are lovely. Some book covers make you think about the book differently, and you have to keep checking back on the cover as you read on, to help you imagine your way into the story. 2020, if it were a book, would look from its cover like a truly awful read – and yes, much of it was frankly unreadable – but there were people working on vaccines and future geniuses being born and funny nurses in children’s hospitals and police officers looking at the stars. 2020 was the worst. 2021 might even be better – it wouldn’t be hard. False positivity is the worst, and learning lessons from adversity is boring. But 2020 had some tiny moments of loveliness buried in among the horror – and thank goodness for that.

Lorin Clarke is a Melbourne-based writer. The second season of her radio series, The Fitzroy Diaries, is on ABC Radio National and the ABC Listen app now.



hat do you think is the average time it takes for something to become a cliché? Centuries? Decades? Years? “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a cliché. It’s probably fair to say it came about after the invention of the book – but how long after? Here is a cliché that became a cliché faster than any other cliché ever dared to cliché: 2020 is the worst. I would hazard a guess that was a cliché almost the moment it left the first mouth that uttered it – and I would estimate that date to be about 20 January. And here’s the thing: clichés are clichés for a reason. 2020 will go down in history for many terrible reasons. Thing is though, sometimes a cliché isn’t the most scientific method of expressing or interpreting information. Public Service Announcement: 2020 was not entirely the worst.

26 DEC 2020

2020 Vision


Tastes Like Home edited by Anastasia Safioleas



Tastes Like Home Tiffiny Hall

Serves 1 for breakfast, 2 as a snack ½ frozen banana 70g (½ cup) frozen raspberries 3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt 30g vanilla protein powder 1 tablespoon rolled (porridge) oats (use brown rice flakes or quinoa flakes if gluten free) 3-4 ice cubes

Method Place all of the ingredients in a blender with 250ml (1 cup) water and blitz on high until smooth. Pour into a glass to serve.


ong before smoothies were the hot trend, before every kitchen bench had a Nutri Ninja and before every cafe had a menu filled with “shots” and “boosters”, my parents were whizzing up delicious smoothies for my sister Bridget and me. They’d send us off to school with a smoothie or juice to start the day, or serve us up a yummy fruit smoothie after school before we settled down to homework. At the time, I was probably wishing they’d let us stop at McDonald’s for a thickshake like my friends, but now I feel lucky that their love of fruit and vegies – and all the other good stuff – rubbed off on me. Smoothies take me back to that chaotic morning rush… and straight to the mats of Mum and Dad’s dojang. As athletes and trainers, they were always about keeping fit and healthy – and nothing has changed. If we weren’t in the dojang practising taekwondo and working up an appetite, we had our heads in the fridge and the pantry, helping (or getting in the way!) as Mum hit “play” on the blender. Nutritious and tasty food was always on the menu in the Hall household – from healthy slices to delicious, cheesy lasagne. All these years later, you bet I still start my day with a smoothie! They are a staple in my house because they’re such a no-fuss way to get a nutrient-dense brekkie without having to cook a thing. Now that I’m a mum, anything that saves me time is a winner. Prepping smoothie ingredients at the start of the week helps me keep calm when things get chaotic – and I think I may have figured out how my mum managed to keep a cool head with everything she was juggling! (Another mum realisation: smoothies are great for hiding good-for-you ingredients from fussy kids.) Even though I’ve become a little more creative with my ingredients these days (thanks matcha!), a simple combo of berries, ice and yoghurt is always hard to beat. Call me a creature of habit, but my morning always starts the same way: a workout in my home gym and a smoothie for brekkie. It’s a moment of calm, the perfect morning routine I don’t even need to leave the house to enjoy. TIFFINY HALL IS THE FOUNDER OF FITNESS PROGRAM TIFFXO.COM. HER BOOK SNACK POWER IS OUT NOW.

26 DEC 2020


Tiff says…


Raspberry Burst Smoothie

Puzzles By Lingo! by Lauren Gawne FLY

Using all nine letters provided, can you answer these clues? Every answer must include the central letter. Plus, which word uses all nine letters?








Each column, row and 3 x 3 box must contain all numbers 1 to 9.



7 9 2 3

5 letters

6 letters Customer Desktop container (hyphenated) In a tasteful manner Set of prayers Sweet liquid 7 letters Dormant state Inner Old legal term for theft 8 letters Wind instrument

9 6

2 8 1 1 4 6

9 6 5 5 3 4



8 4 2 9

2 5


Puzzle by

Solutions CROSSWORD DOWN 1 Cheap 2 Frontline worker 3 Editor 4 Sincere 5 Obligor 6 Bohemian 7 Take legal action 8 Day trader 13 Patriotic 15 Rhapsody 17 Pontoon 18 Express 20 Please 23 Denim

Allow to enter (2 words) Feel longing Item put in a diary Memorise (facts) Remove dirt


ACROSS 1 Coffers 5 Orbited 9 Emotional 10 Hokey 11 Pothole 12 Gambler 13 Pain 14 Rearranged 16 Treehopper 19 Slur 21 Iron pan 22 Policed 24 Tokyo 25 Operation 26 Carry-on 27 Sternum

Word Builder

The Old English words for the winged insect fleoge and moving through the air fleogan were not originally homonyms (written and pronounced the same), but they are ultimately related. When English lost its old verb endings these words became twins. Fly, the verb is “strong”, so it’s fly and flew (not flied), rather than a “weak” verb that takes the typical -ed suffix like fry and fried. Originally any flying winged insect was a fly – in earlier writing you see authors use this word for bees, beetles and silkworm moths. The fly on a pair of pants is related to the act of flying, because, like a flag, it is attached on one side and is able to be moved around on the other.

20 QUESTIONS PAGE 9 1 John le Carré 2 Buffalo 3 12 4 Chile and Peru 5 Spencer 6 Pork barrelling 7 Paris 8 Evermore (bonus point: Folklore ) 9 Cat 10 35 11 The cerebrum 12 Elephant 13 Bananas 14 New South Wales 15 The Pacific 16 Cretaceous 17 Jeannie Little 18 Asia 19 Mercury and Venus 20 NITRAM


by Steve Knight










Quick Clues ACROSS


1 Financial reserves (7) 5 Circled (7) 9 Heartfelt (9) 10 Corny (5) 11 Eroded part of road (7) 12 One who wagers (7) 13 Ache (4) 14 Shuffled (10) 16 Tropical insect (10) 19 Insult (4) 21 Skillet (4,3) 22 Supervised, regulated (7) 24 Asian capital (5) 25 Procedure (9) 26 Hand luggage (5-2) 27 Breastbone (7)





14 15






20 21



1 Inexpensive (5) 2 Employee at the coalface (9,6) 3 Newspaper boss (6) 4 Genuine (7) 5 One who owes a debt (7) 6 & 15d 70s hit song featured in

Wayne’s World (8,8)



Cryptic Clues


26 DEC 2020

9 2 5 7 1 4 8 3 6



4 3 6 5 9 8 2 7 1

5 Let in Yearn Entry Learn Clean 6 Client In-tray Nicely Litany Nectar 7 Latency Central Larceny 8 Clarinet 9 Certainly

party (4,5,6)

8 Meeting thief, say, who deals in stocks (3,6) 13 Loyal secretary has threesome with jerk (9) 15 See 6d 17 Take content from app onto online platform (7) 18 Energy times force produces air (7) 20 Conditions elapse for will (6) 23 Dug up material (5)

8 7 1 6 2 3 4 5 9

piece from queen (8,8)

7 Sue and Kat to retire before election, protecting

3 6 8 4 7 2 1 9 5

Timor’s borders (10) 19 Slight revision to rules banning drug (4) 21 Cook in apron with skillet (4,3) 22 Centrefold in pic by bed topless, kept watch on (7) 24 Exchange took over, backing equity capital (5) 25 Relative number caught in open affair (9) 26 Racket case (5-2) 27 Serious lump exposed on bone (7)

threatening?! (9,6)

3 At times she orders “Redo it” (6) 4 Real sliced apricots in cereal (7) 5 Fifty-one grand in escalating Robo-debt is his (7) 6 & 15d A bishop (more handy) concealed

SUDOKU Puzzle by

1 Hat he wears is tight (5) 2 Her job may involve known terror, life-

2 9 4 1 3 5 6 8 7

1 Treasury hackers caught by auditor (7) 5 Went around confused, bored, over it (7) 9 Moving on to email from letters (9) 10 He accepts fine. Yes it’s corny (5) 11 Depression felt by driver? Spooner’s in support (7) 12 Better to stroll through Central Agra (7) 13 Nice bread? (4) 14 Shuffled behind Savage Garden (10) 16 Tropical bug affects Pope, here visiting

5 1 7 9 8 6 3 4 2


7 4 2 8 6 9 5 1 3


6 8 9 3 5 1 7 2 4


term gain (3,6)

13 Loyal (9) 15 See 6d 17 Floating platform (7) 18 Rapid (7) 20 Delight (6) 23 Cotton material (5)

1 5 3 2 4 7 9 6 8


7 Sue (4,5,6) 8 One who deals in shares for short

Click 1938

William Cooper

words by Michael Epis photo by Newspix




arly in December, the government of Germany issued an apology to William Cooper, an Indigenous Australian who died almost 80 years ago, for its impoliteness to him in 1938. Cooper was born in 1860 near Echuca, on Yorta Yorta country. Aged 14, his family was moved to a mission, where he received a few months’ education, before travelling much of the country shearing, droving, labouring – and learning. He made an early bid for land rights while in his twenties, petitioning the NSW government for 100 acres of land to be granted to each Aboriginal family. His pace quickened in old age. At 73 he learned he was being denied a pension because he was living on a mission, so he moved to the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and soon became a founding member of the Australian Aborigines’ League. In 1935 he presented a petition to parliament, to be forwarded to King George V, asking for Indigenous representation in Parliament. That petition was never forwarded. In 1938 he redesignated Australia Day as a Day of Mourning, pre-empting “Invasion Day”. For his troubles, he was placed under surveillance.

On 6 December 1938 – shortly after Kristallnacht, when the Nazis’ murderous persecution of the Jews was stepped up and brought into the open – Cooper led a delegation from his Footscray home, 10km on foot across the city to the German consulate, to present a letter decrying the treatment of Jews. The Germans turned him away. As The Argus reported, the resolution was voiced “on behalf of the Aborigines of Australia, a strong protest at the cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi Government of Germany and asks that this persecution be brought to an end”. Cooper later said: “We feel that while we are all indignant over Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, we are getting the same treatment here and we would like this fact duly considered.” For his troubles, Cooper has been honoured at Melbourne’s Jewish Holocaust Centre, and Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre. And so it was that in early December 2020, Germany’s Commissioner for Jewish Life and the Fight Against Anti‑Semitism, Felix Klein, apologised for his consulate not accepting the letter, which “would have been the right and morally correct thing for a consulate official to do”.


17 APR 2020