I shift the phone to my other ear and glance at my watch. Thank goodness Fay gets cheap calls from the States, I think for the hundredth time.
‘…and it was just sooo cold, we scooted into this bar. Well, they were just about to start a speed dating event weren’t they, and they must have been a bit short of women, because the organiser pounced on us before we’d even got our coats off, and we got invited to join for free.’
‘Speed dating? God, you’d never get me doing that.’
‘And why not Kate? You can be so conservative sticking to your insular little group of friends. This is why you’re single. You need to branch out a bit.’
I roll my eyes. My sister, the hotshot lawyer who can’t stay in one country for more than fifteen minutes, is one of those people who define ignoramuses as people who don’t know what they learnt yesterday.
‘And you can stop rolling your eyes at me down the phone, too.’
‘So did you meet the man of your dreams?’
‘No, but I met a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. The guys were okay. It’s hard to gauge someone from five minutes of conversation.’
The irony in my voice either doesn’t carry down the phone or she is deliberately ignoring me, as usual.
‘Actually, the best contacts I made were with some of the women during the break. A few of us got chatting in the loo comparing notes on the guys. A bunch of us decided to meet up for a girls night out the following week, and that was a raging success.’
‘Er, what about the speed dating? Didn’t you connect with any of men?’
‘I think I ticked a few – they ply you with free champagne the minute you show up, so by the end of the evening who you ticked could be anyone’s guess – there were a few IT nerds who couldn’t string three words together…even a taxi driver, can you believe it?’
Secretly my heart is going out to the poor ‘IT nerds’. My sister would have scared them to death at twenty paces. No wonder they couldn’t string any words together…not that Fay would have given them a chance. It scares me to imagine the man that would be good enough for her. I suspect he will come with his own remote control and batteries…
‘Oh yeah, but there was this one guy, totally gorgeous – in advertising, I think – I reckon we all ticked him. He was already smitten with this gorgeous girl called Rachael, though. They’d already had a first date by the time we all caught up again.’
‘So how did it go when they were both sober?’
‘You’re such a perfect little princess sometimes Kate. As a matter of fact it was disastrous. Rachael apparently only went to the speed dating gig because a girlfriend of hers couldn’t make it at the last minute, so she just went along for fun; to fill in, like. Turns out she’s going to Australia to work for a year – she’s got sponsorship, or a job swap or something. She’s devastated. Can’t believe she’s met this fantastic guy, just when she’s heading over to the other side of the world! Of course we were all very sympathetic and started casting lots over who would be the first to console him!’
‘If he really likes her he might come out and visit.’
‘Hmm. After only one date? I don’t think so. He’d have to be damned keen, particularly as a guy like him would have stacks of options.’
‘So many options that he turned up to speed date in a bar.’
‘I swear to god Kate, where do you get this judgmental streak from? Anyway, there is actually a point to this whole conversation, believe it or not. When Rachael told me her plans, we had a good old yak about Sydney and where she should look for a place to live etc. Apparently she has to make her own way on arrival and I suggested that maybe you might be able to put her up for a few nights and help her settle in a bit with some local knowledge, you know? Maybe you might even catch the travel bug off her. Do you good to meet someone completely out of your normal sphere.’
I’m not one hundred percent happy about this, but I don’t feel able to say no. I know Fay has relied on the kindness of friends-of-friends many times in her travels, and I guess this is payback time. Who knows? It could be me next. So I hear myself say, ‘Yeah, I guess that would be all right. When’s she coming out?’
‘Eek. That doesn’t give me much time!’
‘Time for what?’
‘Tidying up and making some room. I’m only in a one bedroom flat in case you’ve forgotten.’
‘Look, it will be fine. It’s only for a couple of days. She’ll be so grateful to have somewhere to lay her head when she gets in, she won’t care. Maybe you could take her out to see some sights. She’s really smart and vivacious; I’m sure you’ll like her.’
‘Right.’ She’s gorgeous, smart and vivacious. And American.
I think I hate her already.