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Clare Simpkins-Mattingly used to burn bras at University.
She used to march against Australia’s involvement in Vietnam, she she used to dream about travelling Africa to help the kids – but her staunch military father insisted she settle down and find herself a good rugby player with a future in small retailing businesses.
She was introduced to her now husband, Brian, at a rare women-friendly Tattersall’s club event just after finishing a degree in social work that she was never allowed to utilise.
Four kids and a ten-year-long affair between Brian and his mistress later, Clare’s past life of blaring Stevie Nicks and smoking some high-grade Riverina rollie is nothing but a distant memory. She now spends her evenings listening to her husband make fun of Albanese’s lisp.
Between her husband’s venomous alcohol-fuelled sprays and social outings with similarly classist couples they met while sending their kids to exclusive private school, Clare’s life is a only held together by a blend of shiraz and valium.
Her husband despises Aboriginal people for their long grind towards equality over the last decade – while he lost his two electronics retail businesses to the internet – and was forced into the humiliation of living off his family’s multi-million dollar inheritance.
Her husband’s hero-worship of Peter Dutton, and his emotionally draining racial and misogyny-charged comments are taking a toll on her quality of life.
Sometimes she wonders where that lovely gay boy she held hands with during a march against a hike on university fees ended up. Sometimes she wonders what it would be like to eat dinner at a Lebanese restaurant.
However, deep in the middle of this hamster-wheel life she lives of imposed mental illness and TV channel surfing – an ember still glows.
Clare Simpkins-Mattingly is a YES Voter – and her husband can’t take that from her.
Her husband, the girls at bridge that often criticise her footwear, her local member that often comes around for dinner. None of them know.
“It’s was a real rush writing down YES” she says.
“In that one moment I was taken back to the halls of unibar, dancing with my top off. I witnessed Brian being savagely beaten by a handsome Aboriginal warrior – I saw gay couples kissing in the street”
Clare stands up and unbuttons her blouse.
“Just give them a fucking voice!” she scowls, as she lights up her first stuyvo in thirty years.
With her phone now ringing non-stop – as Brian calls her to demand she tell him where the fuck she is and why he can’t smell any dinner in the oven – Clare is hooning through the city in his collector convertible that she has never been allowed to touch before.
She’s blaring Fleetwood Mac. She’s waving at council workers. She’s driving off into the sunset towards the Lebanese suburbs and she might not come back.