After a fantastic evening with my friend Judy, and her friends John and Mick, we finally got on the road for West Haven. Again, it felt difficult to get going after hanging out with such great people. A flat battery in the car seemed to indicate that we should stay put. But that excuse was easily overcome. It wasn’t long before we hit a traffic jam – a truck had overturned on the highway. We were stuck for an hour and a half. The day seemed like it was against us. But we had to push on. We were due to meet Elaine and Geoff – and we had to get to Sydney by Saturday.
We finally made it to Elaine and Geoff’s place. As usual, it was an absolute pleasure to see them and to spend some – albeit too little – time.
I first met Elaine and Geoff when I travelled to their house in early 2003 to do some research for the Quarterly Essay that Robert Manne and I wrote. It was during this time that a number of the men on Nauru were on a hunger strike and some had sewn their lips together in a dramatic show of how they felt completely silenced in the system that the Australian government had set up. During this time, Elaine was the conduit between the people on Nauru and Australians. I felt that I was working hard during my time with Elaine and Geoff – I would wake early, work all day, and sleep late. But Elaine was up earlier and asleep later than me. In the middle of this, she would go to work. One of the things that I remember of this time, and I know that it hasn’t always been the way, was the ease with which Elaine and Geoff would laugh. And during the single night that Simon, Maree and I were with Elaine and Geoff there was again plenty of laughter.