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Tennis Players In Quarantine In Melbourne • Counting Down The Hours Till Sunshine

Exclusive: a less-than-serious insider’s view of hard quarantine in Melbourne

Meet Kevin Mus-Musculus VI

By Alix Ramsay

It is almost over. By the end of the week, the “Melbourne 72” will be let loose from their hard quarantine and allowed out into the fresh Australian air, there to train, practice and, no doubt, complain. They have been doing a lot of that on social media of late but, let’s face it, they have had little else to do. Soon, though, this two-week nightmare will be just a distant memory so before it vanishes into the shadows of history, we would like to bring you an insider’s view of life in AO lockdown.

We have been lucky enough to secure an exclusive interview with Kevin Mus-Musculus VI, one of the mice who has spent the past two weeks sharing a room with Yulia Putintseva. He took time out of his busy day to talk to us via Zoom while Yulia was in the shower.

https://twitter.com/PutintsevaYulia/status/1350424781594587142

10sballs: Could we start with your name: I take it’s a family name?

Kevin: Mus-Musculus? Yeah, we can trace our roots right back to Central Asia where it all began. We were one of the original Mus-Musculuses who stowed away in the packs and parcels of the ancient traders and went out to conquer the world…

10sballs: No, I was thinking more of Kevin: Kevin VI?

Kevin: I suppose you could call it a family name. Not that it’s been passed down through the generations; it’s more that it is big in our immediate family. You see, Mum and Dad – they’re still going strong, you know – were…how can I put it? Prolific. I’m one of 178. But by the time they’d had their eighth litter, they’d run out of ideas for names so they started again. There are six of us Kevins, eight Cheryls, four Nigels, seven Gladyses (Mum’s fond of that one; it was her mum’s name), three Freds and, of course, 12 Bruces. Well, we are Australian. There’s loads more, but I won’t bore you.

We’ve only got the one Angel Star, though. She’s the youngest. She started life as Bernard but realised early doors that it just wasn’t right. Strewth, when she told Mum and Dad, they went ballistic: “You get on with it, then,” they said. “You come back to us when you’re ready.” It wasn’t the transitioning that bothered them – they told her to crack on and do whatever made her happy – no, it was the thought of having to think of another bloody name. So she chose it herself. It was a toss up between Angel Star and My Little Pony… well, like I say, she was only a little pup at the time.

10sballs: Ah, I see. Now, how have you found hard quarantine?

Kevin: Oh, it’s been great for me. Of course, I’m lucky: I can go home when my day is done, unlike Yulia. Not that home life has been that great this past year. Home schooling? It’s been hell. I’ve got 27 little ‘uns and things have changed since I was learning. I was no great shakes at schoolwork but I got the basics: maths, English, a bit of science. But even that’s changed. All the stuff I read at school, it’s all gone. All gone. I’m all for inclusivity and diversity but don’t turn your back on the greats. I want my kids to read Of Mice and Men. I want them to know about The Tale of Two Bad Mice (although, to be fair, there’s no such thing as ‘bad mice’, only ‘inconsiderate home owners’). But the politicians won’t have it…

10sballs: I think we’re getting a little off topic. About hard quarantine…?

Kevin: Oh, yeah. No, that’s been good. These tennis players are much easier to work with than your regular quarantiners. For a start, they eat so much better than the average bloke or Sheila. None of your chips, pizzas and crisps (and I don’t want to be taking that home for my kids); no, it’s all fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds. And they are mucky buggers, too: they leave it lying around all over the place. It’s been like Christmas every day for two weeks. I’ve got enough stuff stashed away at Mus-Musculus Burrows to last us for months.

          And then they start moving the furniture – propping their mattresses up against the wall and shifting the chairs and the bedside tables. That’s when they start jumping about a bit. They’re funny buggers, these players. But it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. You would not believe what you can find under a hotel bed, let me tell you. I found a two-dollar coin the other day. Not sure where I’m going to spend it, mind. Come to think of it, I’m not sure how I’m going to get the damned thing home…

10sballs: A lot of the quarantined players have been complaining about the conditions?

Kevin: Funny you should mention that. I was talking to my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great uncle Fortescue about that just the other day. It’s not his real name. He was born as Bert but he ran away to the theatre and ended up in Hollywood so he changed it. He was the understudy to Mr Jingles in the Green Mile, you know. ‘Cos of that, he had a particular interest in the whole idea of people being locked up with mice. And he wasn’t impressed. In his day, the humans were banged up with nothing to look forward to other than their favourite meal before oblivion. These tennis players have two weeks of Netflix and room service before a $100k pay day – at the very least – for losing in the first round to someone who has had a bit more practice than them. No, Bert (the family still call him that)… he wasn’t impressed at all.

10sballs: Have you heard anything from Adelaide?

Kevin: A lot of us were hoping that we might get scooped up in the “overflow” and get sent up there. But no. We weren’t posh enough. We’re just ordinary, working mice. Only the pedigrees got sent up there. Pity. I would have like to have met that Rafa – he seems like a nice bloke. Although, I see he’s been having a quiet pop at that Djokovic character. Now, I wouldn’t like to work his room: all that gluten-free, vegan stuff is all very well and, I dare say, it’s very good for you but his views on food and drink give me the grues. You can just see him storing up bits of elderly lettuce in the hope he can turn it into a fresh pomegranate through the power of positive thought. Nah – I wouldn’t put my whiskers anywhere near any of that. But Raf, though – he’d be all right.

          Did you see that Raf had a right go at Djokovic for complaining about the quarantine conditions in Melbourne? Called him a proper little show off. Not in so many words, you understand, but that’s what he meant. Hang on, I’ve got the cutting somewhere…. here, it is. Rafa said: “Some need to make public all these things they do for others. Some of us do it in a more private way. The calls we make to help the most disadvantaged players, some of us don’t need or want to advertise it.” Said it to ESPN, he did. That could make Saturday a bit tasty: those two could be playing each other at “A Day At The Drive”, that exhibition thingy they are holding to pay for their stay over there.

10sballs: What about the…?

https://twitter.com/PutintsevaYulia/status/1351527514867290113

Kevin: Hold up…the singing has stopped and the hair dryer has started. I’m going to have to run or else Yulia will see me and post it on Twitter. Then she’ll get into trouble because some galoot at Parliament House will tell again her stop feeding me and it’ll all kick off. I must say, she’s been a pleasure to work with and I can only wish her luck when she gets out. I’ve got to go…. now, where did I put that two-dollar coin?