So I have been trying to think of what on earth I can write in my next blog entry, mostly because my life has settled into the usual humdrum boringness of normality – gym classes, playgroups, creative thingys, story time and the usual never ending list of chores. I am without a tumble dryer here and since I am anally retentive about clothes being dry by the time I am satisfied the new pile of laundry is higher than Abi’s bed.
Anyway last week a lady appeared at the door just as I was bundling the kids into pushchairs and onto scooters to go to storytime. Her name was Jenny and the minister who christened Jack had mentioned I was new in town and might like to be invited to the Port Fairy Women’s Friendship dinner. She handed over the details, told me there were only a few spaces left and she could give me a lift. I called and booked a spot, after wondering if it would be full of old ladies. Jenny picked me up and when we arrived I dropped the mean age of the place by 30 years. Then I realised I was 30 and in fact I probably only dropped it by 20 years, which depressed me even more. But my Mum always said to me when you move somewhere new you say yes to every invite no matter what it is as you never know who you will meet (unless of course it involves some sort of bondage element, in which case that would depend on what you’re into). So I bought my entry and a couple of raffle tickets and followed Jenny and her friend Sandra on a tour of tables to try and bag a 3 somewhere. I ended up sitting next to a little old lady – who was not sweet but grumpy and muttered about how crap the food was throughout the entire night and then disappeared before dessert which seemed a bit of a waste. At this point all I could think of was that I’m not sure I could make it through the evening making polite conversation with people I had nothing in common with and who were all at least 20 years older than me, if not more. But in turns out my Mum was right, as Mothers usually claim they are – me included.
After about half an hour the organizer appeared with a Peruvian lady (Claudia) in tow, who has twin daughters who are 4 years old. Ahhh a new friend for me! She moved here 4 years ago with her husband who is originally from Warrnambool and her story is like almost every other mother’s I have spoken to. In fact as the speeches started the organizers pointed out that 23 nationalities were represented amongst the women they had contacted for this dinner. 23 out of a town of 2,500. And yes you get the usual lot from England and New Zealand who number quite a few but there were also women from Germany, Russia, China, Fiji, Slovenia, South Africa and India. In fact a lady from India was one of the speakers. She talked about meeting her Port Fairy husband in 1968 in a village town in India, about arriving here in ‘summer’ to be met by her mother in law with jumpers and scarfs and was horrified at the thought that if this was summer she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be here for winter. Apparently it was a bad year. She talked about meeting the train at Port Fairy and being amazed that it travelled all the way from Melbourne just for a little old lady and a dog to get off. The next speaker was a Chinese lady who married another Port Fairy man and informed us she brought seeds through customs for her garden by secreting them in her socks. She was followed by an English lady who moved here as a skilled migrant with her husband. She told us about turning up for her first meeting with the ‘Walking Club’ dressed in thick socks, walking boots, waterproof jacket and rucksack to discover everyone else in flip flops and shorts and the furthest they got that day was the cafe next door for coffee and cake.

After the speeches we were chatting around our table and I realised that of the 10 women there, half were from other Australian towns and cities. In fact out of everyone there were only about 15 women in the hall who are been born and bred in Port Fairy. So although it’s a way off London’s 270 odd nationalities, there must be something in the water here that draws people to this little town. Either that or some in built evolutionary instinct that sends Port Fairy/Warrnambool men out into the world to find wives!