How do I know so much about Julie? We have known her as a fellow building resident for quite a long time. She bought her apartment shortly after we moved here and we have brief chats, usually about holidays, past and future. She is well travelled.
We ran into her a week ago and out of the blue she said, you must come up for a drink one evening before you go away in June. Lovely we said. I am sometimes available at weekends or a working day during the week. I thought is was a casual invitation that either she or we might follow up at some point in the future. Yes, must catch up sort of thing. We were on our way into town and as soon as we were back home there was a knock at the door. Security breach!!! It was Julie. She can see our balcony and see if we are at home if we step outside. What about next Saturday, say 5.30, she asked. R invited her into the lounge room and we would have done the obligatory show her around our place except I had washed my bedding and thrown it in a heap on the bed with my stained old doona and mattress protector on show . I checked my work times and I was not working so we agreed.
By 5pm on the day I was thinking, this was not a great idea. I don't want to go, but we were obliged. We had bought a nice bottle of wine as a gift. I said to R, I wish it was like in Europe, where people invited to someone's home would insult their hosts by taking anything. Maybe things have changed in Holland now, but my father and step mother's Dutch friends explained some 35 years ago that the hosts will provide the appropriate food, drinks and cigarettes. A little information from people 35 years ago who were then in their forties talking about the Holland of their youth could be well out of date but I like the concept.
The Australian way is to take something, and it is a bit naughty if you take wine as a gift that you plan to drink. That did not happen in this case. Our gift was accepted and white, red or beer was offered. Julie said, I usually have beer before dinner in the evening, and ripped the ring pull off a can of Heineken and poured it into a glass. I had earlier said to R, we could excuse ourselves after an hour or so, saying that we are going out for dinner on this Saturday night. I corrected myself. She can see us on the balcony and I am sure she can even if just our lights are on. As it was, a friend had invited us out to dinner nearby and he called to tell us he was downstairs at ten to seven. We had chatted for an hour and twenty minutes, yet I could have stayed as Julie was interesting and I thought I did well enough with the conversation, and R is an expert in conversation.
Julie lives three floors above us, and at the front of the building. While as I expected, she can't see the same detail on the ground we can, her views are terrific. We can't see Gunn Island in Albert Park Lake. She can. We can't see down St Kilda Road all the way to the Junction. She can. We can't see the MCG. She can. We can't see half of the city, she can.
Although only two bedroom, the non bedroom area is as large as ours and without very much in it; a small dining table and chairs, a lounge suite with the chairs facing the couch over a coffee table and not much else apart from filled bookshelves lining one wall. She uses the main bedroom at the front as a sitting and tv room. However, the apartment certainly does not look bare, with her own art and works she has collected from around the world in her travels. There was nothing of great note, but some pieces I found interesting among the eclectic collection.
I don't know if she was ever married and there has never been a mention of children. She is the daughter of policeman, a trained teacher who taught in London for a few years before returning to teach in Australia. She retired at the age 38, seeming to have received a payout for some dodgy education department happenings. All very hush hush.
It is hard to guess her age but I wouldn't be surprised if she was seventy. Although she has an older BMW, like many cars in the building, it sits there unused for weeks at a time. But unlike me who does not get my bicycle out for
She has a friend who knows our friend, the Brighton Antique Dealer, and I am thinking maybe we should invite her out to dine with us we next meet up as a group and BAD is attending. Just a thought. R would probably be cold on the idea.
Anyway, it was very pleasant hour or so. We could mix more with fellow residents and have been invited out a couple of times, but we have declined, probably because of my work commitments. I can't really remember.