We left the story at the point where I was on the train into London, en route to my first ever meeting with Caro.
When I got to London I suddenly had a pang of conscience. Here I was, on my way to meet someone for the first time, and I had imposed my wish to go to a wine tasting upon them. I sent Caro a text:
Of course, if free wine isn’t your thing, we can always go for a coffee or something
Which, on reflection, wasn’t much of an offer. Within minutes I received the following reply:
You don’t know me very well, do you?
Thus reassured, I walked down to the venue – Vintners Hall, no less – and waited. And waited. And waited.
There was a phenomenon which I had not yet been introduced to. There’s a part of Western Australia which operates on something called Central Western Standard Time, putting it 45 minutes ahead of the rest of the state. This much, I knew. But Newton’ s Third Law applies, which means that, somewhere in the world, there has to be a time zone which is 45 minutes behind it’s locality – and it operates around Caro, or ‘Caroline Waiting and Standing Time’.
And sure enough, exactly three quarters of an hour late, she arrived. We said hello and wandered into the Hall, where the vintner, Graham Mitchell was just about to address the assembled freeloaders.
At which point her phone rang, she blushed bright red and I had a fit of the giggles. Apparently, it was this which convinced her that I was a nice person.
The evening ticked on. I discovered that Caro is allergic to white wine. She discovered that I have an almost infinite capacity for any wine. We tasted lots of wines, of course, and but we spent more time talking.
About two hours later we realised that we were pretty much the only people left other than the staff, that those staff were casting wry looks at us, and that we were about to be the first people ever to be thrown out of a wine tasting for not drinking enough. I then hit another accidental jackpot by suggesting pizza, and off we went.
It was one of those times where you meet someone and never run out of things to talk about. We had so much in common – the same musical tastes, similar upbringings and a few events in our personal lives. Our route to the pizza parlour took us over the Millennium Bridge. We didn’t hold hands, but when we spoke about it afterwards we both admitted that it felt as if we had done so.
The rest of the evening involved two pizzas, a bottle of Montepulchiano d’Abruzzo, Caro fiddling with her hair a lot, and her purse being stolen as she kissed me good night. And possibly one or two other things that you don’t need to know about.
116 days later we got engaged, and the rest is history. And tonight we are repeating the experience, another wine tasting in the same place hosted by the same company. Caro assures me that she’ll be on time for this once. Which will give me about forty-five minutes to sample the white wines.