Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

I am continually delighted at how life changes from moment to moment. One minute one’s boyfriend does a runner, leaving one marooned and devastated on the other side of the world, the next, new people appear, like angels, to help one pick up the pieces. That has been my experience anyway.

I was in touch with Lulu, a friend with whom I went to school! She lives in Armidale, a university town far away in the northwest of New South Wales. Lulu got on the phone to Samantha, another friend from school. “Come and stay with me,” said Samantha, without a moment's hesitation. I am at Samantha’s house now, in Watson’s Bay, one of Sydney’s loveliest harbour-side locations.

The phone rings: “Hi, this is Mike, Angeline’s husband.” Angeline is the sister of Deirdre, a friend of mine from London. “I may know of a room to rent,” Mike continues. I tell him thanks, but I am fine for now. “Well I must get you together with my friend Jack,” says Mike, “he’s great fun and he’ll take you out for lunch.” Accommodation and a lunch date, wow.

Tess emails: “Please call my friend Bernadette. I’ve told her all about you. She wants to meet up.” I do so. Bernadette and I have a great chat and arrange to meet.

Mr P calls: “Lunch and a movie on Monday?” You bet.

A text. It’s from Deirdre. “Come over. Let’s go to the beach.” I scoot round to Bellevue Hill. A short while later, Deirdre, her gorgeous son Eddy and I are promenading at Bondi. I go in for my first proper swim. How I have missed the luxury of bathing in the Pacific Ocean. The water is warm. The surf is gentle. There are plenty of waves to catch but it’s calm enough for swimming too. My body feels alive, at home in the sea.

An email arrives. It’s from Desmond, another friend from school: “Are you in Sydney? Come and stay with me.” We go out for dinner instead and we chat, chat, chat. The phone rings. “It’s Nick,” I gasp. “Who is Nick?” replies Desmond.