It was noisy. People were rushing to and fro.
The trains were arriving at the underground station and were disgorging people who were searching for relief from the oppressive heat of the train carriages. They could surely find air-conditioned comfort in the shopping paradise that is Melbourne Central.
In the main hall, topped by a glass dome, is an old brick building adorned with a tower; it was Coop’s Shot Tower.
Mick was in Melbourne for the first time and was surprised that there wasn’t any clock in the tower. He was not aware of the historical purpose of the tower and looked up the tower again and again as if by a miracle a clock would have appeared. He felt it would have added some old fashioned atmosphere to the place.
Instead, some enterprising soul had the idea to install an oversized pocket watch on the wall opposite the tower.
Every hour a section was lowered out of the clock with cockatoos on it dancing to the tune of Waltzing Matilda, played by a boy figurine.
Melbournians took no notice but children and tourists were delighted when the clock struck the full hour. Mick took a seat in one of the cafés. He expected to meet a woman he had befriended on a chat site on the internet. After a few weeks chatting they decided it was time to meet. They agreed that the giant pocket watch at Melbourne Central, of which they had heard about, would be a suitable, neutral place to meet.
At 12 o’clock the birds were dancing and the sound of the song about the jolly jumbuck and the thief had filled the hall. Some Japanese girls were giggling and taking pictures of the great event. But there had been no sign of Pam, the lady from the net. Mick checked the time unconsciously on his watch and ordered a second cup of coffee. After a while, there was a sudden voice coming from behind him.
‘You must be Mick?’ Surprised, Mick jumped up, turned and offered Pam his hand.
‘Pleased to meet you,’ he said truthfully as he was pleasantly surprised that Pam looked more attractive in the flesh than on the pictures of the single site.
‘Sorry, I’m late,’ Pam said with a shrug, ‘I forgot that the trains are not running in reverse through the City Loop yet.’
‘What a lame excuse,’ Mick thought as he was unaware of one of Melbourne’s biggest sacrosanct anomalies. But, he did not dare say so aloud. It would poison the new relationship.
‘It is a lively place,’ Pam said, looking around. ‘Being not so familiar with Melbourne, I haven’t been here before. And look at this big pocket watch above us?’
‘It plays Waltzing Matilda on the hour. Sorry, you missed that.’
‘I don’t believe you,’ she thought incredulous, but she did not say anything either as she wanted to go on with what they had started. They ordered coffee. It was Micks’s third cup this morning and he felt his heart racing already.
Pam started to rummage in her bag and finally pulled out a book and showed it to him.
‘This Rumi guy, we were chatting about him, is very interesting. I think we are all on the path to the truth. In fact, in the end, the truth is awaiting us.’
‘Indeed! Isn’t that the truth?’ Mick said with a faint smile.
They decided to have lunch together and Mike was happy that he had finally met Pam.