11th July

 Sometimes, when there’s a knock, I put on my mask and open the door then put one toe out over the threshold and peer round at the nurses’ station. At the free people. On our doorstep more juice boxes have been delivered along with pears in syrup and bottled water. Those that deliver knock and run.

Bad weekend of it. Feeling fearful and out of control because control has been taken out of our hands, by the Australian Government. If only they would let us out we would not go near anyone, obviously.

 My morning meditation. I battle Mrs Whatif (murderous cloaked entity who makes me add the number 14 to 14 to 14 to 14). I visualise setting the number 14 on a little boat to be carried away downstream. I watch it float away on a current. 14 is now my least favourite number.

Anthony’s work delivered us a roast chicken lunch with all the trimmings. What a treat and what a lift.

Don’t know the date. The 13th?

Sitting on our very small but roaring balcony decisively eating an apple. Our oldest friends have so kindly sent fresh food and the apples here are so much tastier than the ones you buy in supermarkets in London.  Apparently when you send a care package to the Wellness Hotel you must label it carefully, and swear there are no knives or tobacco concealed within the package in order for it to be delivered to our room. I’d kill for a knife as there is only one knife in this Wellness Suite and it is blunt. 

When I close my eyes I see antibodies.

England lost the Euros. Tom’s favourite player lost the chance for a deciding goal. Everything seems significant. I just wish England could have won. It would have given us all a boost. Saka and Rashford are apparently getting a lot of hate on Twitter. What is wrong with people? The psych health tele link person was rooting for Italy and I get the impression loads of Aussies lean that way,  and not England’s. Or maybe Aussies are so fed up with being locked in they don’t give a rats about the Euros or getting up early to watch it.  

We did a priority swab before lunch. The boys are slapping each other. We are just getting through to the next. Tom teaches me FIFA I’m really terrible at it but at last I feel a bit more connected to football which is such a very connecting force in North London and in the whole of the UK obvs. Tom and I watch the Spurs Amazon documentary narrated by Tom Hardy. He must be a Spurs fan- why else would he lend his voice?

12th July

A magpie lands outside the kitchen window. To see a wild free thing so close gives me a thrill. 

13th July

Tom has a good-bye cough. I was told by the psych support tele-link person to write my worries down if they wake me in the middle of the night. Above this entry I have scrawled the words:


 Dry Throat

I can see now, in the cold light of day, that last night I was gripped with worry that I was coming down with Third Covid and that the next swab would therefore come back with a positive for ME and not for the others which would mean 14 plus 14 plus 14 for me and them even more and on and on and on. But now I’m more rational I can see that the dry throat at midnight is the result of all the dust in this apartment/cell. There is no vacuum cleaner and the dust rains thickly. 

Care packages from our oldest friends mean nutritious, nurturing, fresh food plus books (!) and board games. I churn through books. I measure out meal times, try to extend washing up. And a shower is something else. I save it up. It eats time and is somehow grounding. A shower has never felt so vital. We have only a microwave (the oven and cook top taunt us, they are disconnected and not to be used). The one blunt knife, no chopping board, three bowls though we are four souls.

We swarm around the nurses when they come to do the wellness check, hoping they’ll accidentally give us a titbit of good news. They are not authorised to pass on test results though they know them. We have to wait for the terrible landline phone perched on our suitcases to ring. We are carving our way through a thick forest filled with beasts at night. Absolutely utterly drained and exhausted by thoughts and what if scenarios. My spirit feels weak. This may be something you’d read in a Victorian novel but I feel it to be true. Weak spirits. Speaking of novels did I mention I am devouring books? So far, I’ve munched through 10. We need more books.

14th July

Our case is so rare that it will go before The Department of Health. One positive family member plus three other family members with antibodies, two of them with double jabs, who continue to swab negative presents a conundrum. Perhaps they will see that we are not a threat to the community, that we will go to our old home, see NO ONE and stay put. At least we would be home. 

15th July

Traffic roars and throbs. Anthony has a swollen eye. (Dust related? Wish we could see an actual doctor but we can’t as we are biohazards). A cardiologist calls to talk about my ‘tachycardia’. Apparently, beta blockers are not good?  Anyway, these would have to prescribed by my regular GP which I don’t have any more as we have been locked out of Oz for so long my dear old doctor has moved on. This makes me feel rudderless. The boys have made a makeshift basketball hoop out of the small cardboard box that delivered Jack’s Yu-Gi-Oh cards. We are waiting for Tom’s swab.  Day 13 is actually Day 15 because of the way they count the days here. Tom has steadily made his way through all the Covid symptoms recited each day through a Zoom-consult, as his kind nurse reads through her checklist. His cough dragged on. He still sneezes. The boys throw empty water bottles through the ‘hoop’ as we don’t have a ball. We are low on the thoughtfully gifted fresh food and are eating the hospital food, deeply frozen stews and Chinese chicken along with fruit and Weet Bix. Always, always tea bags and instant coffee. I, the hardest core coffee drinker you’ll ever meet, could still not drink a coffee if you paid me. Too jittery. I had a two-day headache you wouldn’t believe. Of course, I was internally like ‘this headache is a Covid symptom and I’m about to test positive 14 plus 14 plus 14 ’. And on and on.

Edie has possibly broken her foot in Ibiza. 


I do a lot of laundry here. All I want to do is throw away my clothes with the hospital rubbish. What is this compulsion about?

16th July

(scrawled handwriting)

Time bleeds.

Punish the towels

We’ve had the fun bleached out of us.

17th July

Speaking of towels. The towels in this Wellness Hotel establishment are threadbare and one is actually ripped. 

A ripped towel is a harbinger of doom.

The Department of Health’s verdict has finally been communicated and our caseworker breaks the news in an extremely sympathetic (and exhausted) manner. We will not be released from the Wellness Hotel and must do our 14-day mandatory isolation here, despite all now being solidly utterly Covid negative despite being breathed and coughed on for weeks. We try to digest the news. They promise us we can soon GO OUT for a walk in the (hospital) courtyard.

18th July

The black phone rings and my heart explodes, but I answer it. When I’m super stressed my voice has a weird choked sound, like it’s squeezing itself through a narrow pathway. This time it is a nurse slash scientist on the other end. I have been selected to take part in a scientific study slash experiment. A small unit of scientists are attempting to train sniffer dogs to detect Covid positive people in airports. I have been selected to give a sample of non-Covid sweat as they can see by all my many many recent swabs and blood tests and my double jabs and old antibody tests that I am Covid negative and am therefore an excellent candidate. I hear myself say, ‘is this because I am the Most Covid Negative Person in Australia?’ 

If this is the case, why won’t they let us out? We are less of a risk than anyone else walking around the streets. I tell the nurse/scientist I’ll agree to be part of the study. A tiny part of me hopes the scientists will bring actual dogs to the Wellness Hotel. I imagine beagles trotting into our room and burrowing their snouts in my armpits. 

19th July

We are actually not allowed the 30 minutes exercise in the courtyard after all (we are considered too much of a threat because Tom had Delta) and have to stay in our room for the rest of our sentence. Even prisoners get to go outside once a day. I know we have flown into the middle of a health crisis, but we feel abandoned. Like, the decision handed down to us makes no sense. At all. I desperately want to get out of here. It feels like a prison sentence, stretching all the way to the 30th July. Then my mind plays tricks. Maybe they keep us in here because they know something we don’t that those double jabbed with previous infection and antibodies can still develop Covid? 

My showers are still so grounding. They are a punctuation mark in the day.

My best friend sends us a toaster and a toasted sandwich maker and spatula that we can fry eggs on. Miraculous and life changing.

A thought that keeps twisting round and round my mind is… how will I get to see mum and dad? They are so close but so far away. And we are stuck in the Wellness Hotel now till…the day our flight leaves or maybe, maybe the day before it leaves. I am hoping against hope I will get to hug them before we have to fly home.