Paper cowboy rides out quarantine in hotel

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. be confined to (somewhere) / bi kənˈfaɪnd tʊ / (idiom) – to be forced to stay within a certain place or area and not allowed to leave

    The patients were confined to just one area of the hospital.

  2. quarantine / ˈkwɔr ənˌtin / (n.) – a situation in which a person or animal that may be sick is kept away from others to prevent the possible spread of a disease

    Someone who was on the plane tested positive for the virus, so all passengers had to be kept in quarantine for two weeks.

  3. fashion / ˈfæʃ ən / (v.) – to make something from another object

    She fashioned a necklace from seashells and colorful stones.

  4. rustle / ˈrʌs əl / (v.) – to make a soft, light sound when things move against each other

    The leaves rustled when the wind blew.

  5. disposable / dɪˈspoʊ zə bəl / (adj.) – made to be thrown away after being used once or just a few times

    In the ’90s, disposable cameras were really popular.


Read the text below.

By Day 3 of being confined to his Australian hotel room for quarantine, David Marriott was getting bored. He’d watched a few seasons of The Sopranos and his eyes were getting tired from reading.

Then his lunch arrived in a brown paper bowl and he thought “Aha. That’s a hat waiting to happen.”

The paper cowboy was born.

Using the good-quality paper bags his food was delivered in each day, Marriott, an art director on TV commercials, began fashioning an outfit. He added a brim to his hat, and then came the waistcoat and chaps. Next? A horse, of course.

He found an ironing board in his cupboard and tied on a desk lamp for the neck and head, creating a skeleton. Coffee pods became the eyes and nostrils. He named the horse Russell after an old dad joke: “Have you heard about the paper cowboys? They were caught and hung for rustling.”

Because quarantine guests are considered potentially infectious, their food is delivered in disposable containers and plates that are discarded. But Marriott said he’s barely thrown anything out since his stay began, and has only needed to order in a few extras like sticky tape and cling film. (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Australia and many other countries have used hotels for quarantine during the Covid-19 pandemic. What do you think about this (ex. good to give hotels some business, possibly dangerous for staff)? Why? Discuss.
  • Because quarantine guests are considered potentially infectious, their food is delivered in disposable containers. Do you think there’s a more eco-friendly way to deal with the risk of infection? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Marriott fashioned a cowboy outfit and horse out of food bags and other items in his hotel room. If you had to make something from the same items, what would you choose to make? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think should happen to the cowboy outfit and horse (ex. put in a local museum as a reminder of the pandemic, thrown away)? Why? Discuss.