Work Header

The Westlakes

Work Text:

The Westlakes: The dynamic duo that you should know about

by Nat Nguyen

No, they're not some famous band that you think you have probably heard of (although one of them is the sister of Art Juice who everyone knows, unless you've been living under a rock) and it's definitely not some obscure and underrated sitcom. They're just an ordinary married couple from Sidney. Why is it then, you might ask, that this piece is wholly dedicated to the "Westlakes" and why should you even care?

Let me take you back 20 years ago.

Back in 2018, there were several former complaints of sexual misconduct and assault against James Hadley, former Olympic silver-medalist and then Head swimming coach of Rosemeade Grammar, an "elite" all-girls academy. The complaints came from, you guessed it, the young women from that very school. His misconduct ranged from highly inappropriate remarks directed at his students, entering girls' changing rooms without warning, physical contact, the tell-tale signs of grooming behavior, and more (I'd gladly go into specifics, but you get the picture).

The worst thing about this whole ordeal was that, considering how Hadley was a renowned athlete and his presence adds considerable market appeal for the school, Rosemeade's Board turned a blind eye on the man's disgusting behavior. So, seeing as there is no point in reporting to the school's higher ups, the students have resigned to this situation and endured Hadley's actions as best as they could.

That is, until Amelia Westlake came along.

One fortunate day, a cartoon in the school's paper circulated around Rosemeade's halls. It was a witty and scathing criticism of Hadley's misogynistic and predatorial behavior, and it sparked intrigue and controversy. Mostly, it finally voiced what the students have known for a very long time. For the first time, someone exposed Hadley for the scum that he is. It was submitted to the school's paper by an Amelia Westlake, and Westlake swiftly became notorious. After a series of cartoons targeting other issues, it was then revealed that Amelia Westlake was merely a pseudonym. She was, in fact, a hoax. Although that did not stop her streak.

Armored by anonymity, Amelia Westlake staged a series of pranks, and all to expose Rosemeade's corrupted ways, leaving her mark through a sly placement of her initials. One notable example is when one of her pranks lead (or forced) the school to donate the computer sets they had just replaced with new ones instead of throwing them away. Stunts like this caused the desired effect, facing Rosemeade's bigotry rather than to cower in blind obedience. Amelia Westlake became a sensation.

But of course, like most hoaxes, it was bound to be uncovered.

The masterminds behind Amelia Westlake were none other than Wilhemina "Will" Everhart, a young student known for her rebellious streak and self-righteous tendencies. And Harriet Price, a prefect, a Tawney athlete, and the last person you'd accuse of breaking school rules.

Everhart, because of her track record, was expelled. Price on the other hand, being a valuable asset to the school as a top student and athlete, wasn't easily dismissed. But Price was an admirably principled individual and left the school herself.

Unshackled by Rosemeade's repressive system and emboldened by their little successes, the two went on to do other projects like all promising activists would, often collaborating in the process. One of the big names they've worked with is tennis star Liz Newcomb, who had once made a splash by turning down all offers from major sponsors because of the harm they inflict on the environment (read more on this here). Everhart and Hariet went on to their separate career paths as well. Will Everhart focused on her art and Harriet Price chose to study Law.

By now you're probably scratching your heads and thinking, "Will Everhart? I think I heard that name before." It's probably because you have. Will is one of the country's most impactful contemporary artists and most active social activists of today. She exposes truth through her art, all in a very compelling fashion. Still not ringing a bell? Look her up and you'll find images of her works, which are always heavily featured in protests and all those unoriginal yet nonetheless important adverts about current social issues.

As for Harriet Price, it's quite reasonable if you haven't heard of her. Though that does not minimize her contributions in any way. After getting her undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts, she went to Harvard Law School, then went back and gradually became the best and fiercest Human Rights Lawyer in the country. You might have seen her in the news talking down Human Rights violators and defending activists.

There is a running joke, especially when one of Will's projects and protests gets too troublesome, that me and some few others tell the two: Will does all the effort to get herself into jail only for Harriet to save her neck.

(I should make it clear at this point that I know both Will and Harriet personally. You might say we are friends. Although do not for a second think that our friendship blurs my judgement and that I am being biased in writing this piece. In fact, I am one of their most vocal critics. For example, I tell Will every time I get the chance that she doesn't help much to support Indigenous artists. She did work on that eventually though, bless her stubborn head.)

I believe I've already mentioned that they're married. They are, and they are sickeningly perfect for each other, despite the constant bickering that, unless you're used to it, makes it feel like watching a tennis match whenever you're in their company. Though that only makes them all the more perfect together. They challenge and improve each other in all the ways that are healthy and meaningful. That's not even the most tooth-rothing thing here, that honor belongs to the fact that they both took the name "Westlake" when they finally tied the knot in a quiet ceremony on September of the year 2030. They are not usually this sentimental, but love can make even the most bitter do silliest things.

Ever since Harriet went to the States for a time to study Law (not to get gossipy, but they also split during that time and have remained so for some time before getting back together after meeting again five years later, something which I indirectly arranged), the two of them have rarely collaborated. But their marriage changed that. By then they became Will Westlake and Harriet Westlake, names that morally bankrupt corporations fear and corrupt conservative politicians loathe. A couple of years after they married, they pulled off their biggest achievement yet. Together, and with the help of some friends (myself included, although my contribution was minimal) they took down an international mining company. Said company has been operating freely despite causing serious and possibly irreversible damage to the environment, their abysmal and illegal treatment of their employees, tax evasion, destroying and illegally obtaining Indigenous lands, and as if that wasn't bad enough they even dabbled in human trafficking which targeted (and basically enslaved) workers from Asian and African countries. They were well protected by government officials who were easily bribed and the company was untouchable for so many years. The Westlakes were not daunted, however, and with their combined efforts the company finally got what they rightfully deserve (read the full story here).

Their activism didn't stop there, of course. But right now, they are enjoying a well-earned rest in their lovely home in Sydney surrounded by their two overactive dogs. Will is fresh from her latest Pride Month project which piqued international interest, and Harriet's most recent triumph was her successful legal efforts to protect and strengthen Trans rights in schools. When I told the couple I'd be writing about them, they laughed at the same time. Harriet seemed genuinely amused by the notion while Will was slightly suspicious. Perhaps that best describes these two: different but always in-sync, distinct yet they somehow intersect.

I suspect their reaction would be the same when they read this.