Step with me, if you will, through the mists of time; back to an era when there was a high-quality newspaper called The Sydney Morning Herald, already getting just that little bit too smug and leftie, but so beautifully written and designed you really didn’t mind; a newspaper with gravitas.
Back then, in a land called 2002, it profiled sapphic supremos, Kerryn Phelps and Jackie Stricker, ahead of the launch of their joint biography:
Just for once, Dr Kerryn Phelps succeeds in starting and finishing a sentence without being interrupted by her executive assistant, partner by marriage and self-proclaimed warrior-lover, Jackie Stricker.
“All our family and friends are well prepared,” Phelps, president of the Australian Medical Association, working GP and media commentator, says confidently.
She is talking about the likely reaction of her ex-husband, her estranged parents and daughter; former friends, partners, employers and colleagues to the publication next week of Kerryn & Jackie, a biography of the two written by Susan Mitchell.
The book outlines Phelps’ irreparable rift with her family. Her attempts to have an IVF baby. Her conversion to Judaism. The pair’s “outing”.
At one point, it describes how Phelps told her daughter Jaime that the couple would be moving in together once she had finished her HSC. She offered Jaime a range of options as to where she could live, adding that she could “visit us as often as you like, as many times as you want but not stay over”.
Those most likely to be hurt by the book have already seen it, then?
Phelps: “Yes . . . well, not every draft. People who . . .”
Stricker: “. . . are still talking to us . . .”
Phelps: “. . . yes, they’ve looked at relevant bits, so there are no nasty surprises for them.”
Stricker: “. . . but not everybody . . .”
Phelps: “. . . no.”
Pressed further, Phelps admits the book was painful to put together: she was required to revisit a “very personal tragedy”.
And it will prove hurtful to many people, even though some of them have had their names changed on the advice of the publishers’ lawyers…
Yes, life is just one long solipsism session if you’re Kerryn and Jackie.
If you live in Wentworth and are thinking of voting for Phelps, please read the whole thing, given the savage self-absorption you may be about to let loose upon the nation.
If you don’t live in Wentworth, read it too. Forewarned is forearmed.
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