The thought niggled at the back of my mind like a worrisome toothache .
Gasp ! I had purchased just one ticket to attend the esteemed Women Of Letters November Outing. Would i be brave enough to go solo when the time came ? Sure I had watched two other people do it . One a young man , who’s partner was possibly performing on stage , and the other a young woman , who took copious notes , maybe , a journalism student .
The day arrived . I hastily planted out my vegie patch , washed the car , dog , clothes , engaging in endless domestic minutiae , anything to delay the inevitable moment of departure . The middle daughter imperiously informed me it was time to go . Not one to be argued with , the third of four children , she wages a daily battle with an older brother , and both younger and older sister , a cranky mother and headstrong border collie . To say she is assertive is an understatement .
I meekly got in the car , in my gardening clothes , don’t want to go too glammed up and draw attention to myself , although i hastily applied foundation to cover the glaring freckles , the spring sun has awakened on my fevered brow . No time to prevaricate I begin a frenzied descent down punt rd . Have I also mentioned the middle daughter drives likes a maniac .The youngest daughter attempted to impede my departure , by a belated request for a drop off to the next suburb . ” Get the train ” , I breathlessly uttered as we catapulted out of the driveway .
In headspinningly quick time we mounted the rise of the high st hill and the theatre loomed large , dark and foreboding above us . We were there .” You can do this “, my brain screamed . You’ve birthed 4 children , buried 2 parents , left behind your country roots to become a southside urban dweller , loved , laughed ,cried , and blundered through 56 years of life . ” What are you afraid off ? ” ” Get over yourself “, a line a I frequently chant at my battle scarred kids , sprang to mind .
Ejected rudely in a screech of brakes , and wave of petrol fumes , I was unceremoniously dumped at the side door , by an uncaring daughter . I jauntily leapt out , and tenuously mounted the front steps , furtively looking around , envying the jostling crowd of women together , and in groups . I tentatively handed across my crumpled , sweat laden entry ticket , upside down , to an uncaring , unseeing , Marieke Hardy . Did she suspect I was on my own , and smell my fear ?
I made it to the foyer where the bar provided a welcome distraction . No just a glass I croak out as those all around me order bottles , 2 glasses , 4 cans , and every combination of multiple orders .Its a chance to fill in a few more precious minutes , and blend into the crowd .
Tottering inside , clutching my glass like some sort of talisman , I squint around with some trepidation . Many tables are already filled , the front ones sporting reserved signs , oh , the omnipotent dilemma of where to sit ! I approach a table half full of women facing the stage and nervously ask if this seat is vacant . I receive a very frosty reception as the firmly ensconced , lead iron maiden , informs me , ” yes they are all reserved “. I stumble blindly away in panic , my whole being suffused with embarrassment . I chance upon a round table in the middle of the room , where an elderly lady sits with a young man , and another three couples , who include men partners. Encouraged , I tentatively ask , yes ,this seat is spare , and I sink into it with a sense of relief . Nervously I glance around , the man is reading , the older lady writing , and the couples are carousing with bottles of wine . I too write , to my daughter , on the proffered Chinese aerogramme . I thank her for initiating me into this literary world . It is she who introduced me to this gig , many years ago now . I remember all the occasions we jointly attended , all the inspirational speakers we have heard , both men and women , and the great love of the written word we both share . She has gone from me now . A journalist , she is grown , and living in far flung Edinburgh , with a career as a wordsmith , a partner , and a home of her own .
The soiree progresses , music and wine flows , many inspirational women grace the stage , and talk ,eloquently and passionately on all manner of things . A young man sits next to me , finding as I did , a single seat alone , but he is not truly alone , as his wife is a presenter on stage he proudly informs me .
It is a wonderful afternoon and I manage to write 2 postcards and well as my letter . I ask Marieke where they are performing in Scotland and as she proudly informs me it is Glasgow , in april , a kernel of an idea forms in my mind . Dare I plan to meet Bridget there , couriering her precious , RMIT Bachelor of Communication Journalism Degree Certificate , to entice her to come from Edinburgh , and meet me , travelling from Melbourne . It could be an appropriate reunion at Women of Letters ,and one I wouldn’t have to attend alone !