EATING OUT LATE: It can be an interesting experience.
EATING OUT LATE: It can be an interesting experience. Jupiterimages

Dinner at 8pm ? Surely not !

YOU know you have not only reached, but gone past, a certain age when someone asks you to meet for dinner at 8pm and you reel in shock.

They might as well have asked you to meet at three in the morning.

The older we get, the earlier we eat. No truer words were even spoken. (Even if they were spoken by me.)

The eating-early syndrome creeps stealthily upon you.

When I was a young thing (50), I'd think nothing of eating at 10pm, like the Spaniards do.

Then as the years passed, 7pm came a sensible and proper time to dine.

A decade later it has slowly slid down to 6.30pm and then 6pm, then 5.30pm and right now...5pm is looking very attractive.

Eating early is not so bad, we should not feel shame. The early bird specials so synonymous with old people, are good value.

We can be fed and watered, at home with our slippers on, feet up, glass of relaxing brandy in hand watching MasterChef by 7.30pm. No-one could complain about that.

However, occasionally us oldies are put into a situation where we are obliged to go out to eat later than 5pm.

This happened to me and my man on a visit to Melbourne recently.

We had to go out into the cold Melbourne night for research purposes.

We entered China Town in Little Bourke Street to find hundreds of young people happily queuing to go into dumpling shops at 9pm. What? Yes, 9pm for dumplings.

We decided to forgo dumplings and search for a hidden bar down a narrow alleyway we had been told about. Trendy, no?

Called Berlin, the bar is one of Melbourne's secret places and so on-trend someone has to tell you how to reach it - like I'm doing now.

Up several flights of dodgy dimly lit stairs in a building off Corrs Lane we climbed, to find a closed door with a sign telling us to ring a bell and maybe we would be let in.

This is living dangerously for an old couple you'd agree. We rang the bell but no-one came. Rang it again. Ditto.

A young woman who had been standing at the door before us said she had rung the bell with no result which was reassuring because she was very young and if someone was looking through a spy hole on the other side and had seen us oldies and decided we were way too untrendy to be allowed in that would have hurt. But the young woman? She should have been let in immediately. Fortunately, she knew someone inside, made a call, we were in.

In the dim lighting beneath a ceiling hung with camouflage net, the first thing I saw was a big bathtub full of cushions, then bunk beds against a brick wall.

We stumbled blindly in the gloom to find a bulgingly-stocked bar, pulled up stools, scanned the cocktail list and promptly ordered Checkpoint Charlie cocktails.

Across from the bar, a brick wall was actually a screen showing old black and white movies featuring someone who looked a lot like Hitler, or maybe it was Laurel or perhaps Hardy.

We sipped our Check Point Charlies, watched the black and white movie and contemplated climbing the bunk beds for a snooze.

It was all of 9.30pm. Time for us trendies to get to bed.

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