Three Minute Squiz with Joann Rutherford

Joann Rutherford holds a special place in our Squiz hearts as one of the first sign-ups to The Squiz Today email as well as being a long-suffering sounding board for many of our podcasting endeavours. She’s at the start of a two-year stint on the Tiwi Islands and is putting the finishing touches on her first novel. Please welcome go-getter Joann to the Three Minute Squiz…

How and where to do you Squiz?
These days I Squiz while having breakfast and/or listen to the podcast on my 6am morning walk (7.30am AEDT). I listen to Squiz Kids straight afterwards, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I test myself with the Kids Quiz.

You’re Kate Watson’s sister (our new parent/podcast co-host/commercial director). You guys are close…
If you define ‘close’ as being 15 months apart in age, following her from Bermagui to Sydney, living 200m from her and her husband for a couple of years, working in the same building for a period of time, having a wardrobe mostly full of her clothes, and texting daily or sometimes hourly, then yeah I guess we are.

You agreed to model for The Squiz’s very first social campaigns (of which we are still indebted). Is saying yes to things a bit of a philosophy of yours?
Well, it’s funny you should ask. A few years ago I actually had a rule where I HAD to say yes to every invitation unless it clashed with something else. I was very tired by Christmas, but it was also one of the most exhilarating years of my life and led to a lot of opportunities.

You’re a teacher at Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School on the Tiwi Islands. How are you settling in?
It’s wonderful up here – the community are very welcoming, students love to learn, the scenery is stunning, and I’ve made great friends already. The climate is very humid and arriving in the middle of Wet Season is a bit of a shock to the system! I have only seen a tiny portion of the islands so am looking forward to more exploring in the Dry Season, subject to Coronavirus restrictions being lifted, of course.

With the coronavirus outbreak, what’s happening on Tiwi?
It’s interesting actually because being remote, school still being open, and the virus not having arrived yet (I hope desperately that it stays that way as we have many vulnerable residents), day to day life hasn’t changed a huge amount. We already have to order our groceries about 8-10 days in advance, and we’re a long way from family and old friends. Of course, we’re social distancing, the local club is closed, we’re cleaning the school like a forensics team etc but it’s not the adjustment of having everything that’s at your fingertips suddenly restricted which is the case for many others. Having said that, we have just found out that we are officially in lockdown meaning no movement in and out of the community except in exceptional circumstances. I’m fully supportive of this decision, but like many Australians, very sad that I won’t be able to see my loved ones for many months possibly (especially as I haven’t yet met my niece actually).

The Rutherfords had quite a summer – you were also caught up in the bushfires on the NSW South Coast?
Oh yes, it has been a very difficult year for so many Australians and especially those around our hometown of Bermagui. My heart breaks for all the people who have lost homes, businesses, and now are facing another enormous challenge.

You weren’t always a teacher – you were a leading real estate agent in one of Sydney’s ritziest suburbs…
Well, that’s a flattering exaggeration but I was very fortunate to have an amazing job working for Mosman’s No 1 agent, David Murphy Residential. I loved that job and that community, and am fortunate to still have many friends from that time who I can’t wait to see whenever that may be.

And you’re an aspiring author?
I am! I’ve always loved writing, especially fiction, and am putting the finishing touches on my first novel. I’ll then see if I can attract the attention of any publishers, but I still have a LOT to learn.

Favourite recipe OR favourite meal at your favourite restaurant?
I have to be honest, I am only now improving my cooking skills – one of my Tiwi goals! But the best meal I can ever remember having was at Bar Hubert in Sydney. French food is my favourite.

Name four people – living or dead – you would love to have at your next dinner party.
Queen Elizabeth, Daniel Ricciardo, Alicia Keys (provided she would perform for us all) and Jesus.

What’s your favourite book?
An impossible question but I’ll go with To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s an excellent story with powerful messages, delivered with remarkable succinctness.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being too agreeable. As they say, ‘if you stand for nothing then you fall for everything’.

What would you say is the most currently overlooked news story we should know about?
I really don’t know but I am looking forward to hearing about all the innovations that come out of this Coronavirus period, as I suspect there will be many.

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