Melbourne's heavens opened late that afternoon, so that was a challenge: I knew I'd be sporting that "drowned rat" look. I'm not going to lie: I was a bit nervous. I summoned up my “just arrived on scene at roof damage leading a good crew" look: the impression I was going for was of a man in control of my surroundings and his reactions. Certainly after thinking this for the tram ride I was at least feeling like that!
I imagine the format of speed dating is well enough known not to need setting out. Each date was about 15 minutes with changeovers notified by text message. Matches seemed to be basically set by age, which saw me meeting people at the high-30's end of the age range (this suited me fine). All of the matches seemed like good people, even if not uniformly appealing. One or two had personalities that left no mark. More tragic were the ones who seemed to have long ago sold their identity to their work and to have no real core of their own to express. On the other hand, others were fascinating to talk to and one at least had had much the experience with her ex I've had with mine: there were no more fights over their child; it was easier just to get on with the business of being irrevocably part of each others life for the next umpteen years.
Oddly, one of the best conversations of the night was with a young lady of 31 during the meal break. Each of us was enthusiastically consuming sausage rolls and chicken wings in the knowledge we wouldn't be paired and therefore there was no loss about scarfing down food in front of the other. She remarked that her reason for being there was in large part that her parents want grandchildren!
Not many people hung around afterwards and so I contented myself with ordering the best Bloody Mary I've had since I was last in New Orleans. On the walk home I stopped for drambuie in the Lord Newry Hotel, began a draft of this post and reflected on the experience. Something that struck me was the randomness of it all. My last date of the night was the belle of the evening, a professional lady who looked a bit like Natalie Dormer. With a little Dutch courage on my side, I asked her why she was single: she was certainly attractive and intelligent. She replied that she'd just never 'clicked' with anyone. Perhaps I'm missing the point of all this (quite likely) but a 'click' seems like an alarmingly random way to decide matters like this: no wonder, perhaps, that so much sadness comes into the world from relationships.