Fionnula and Frankie have their first meeting at Cafe Cath-ene.
Fionnula and Frankie have their first meeting at Cafe Cath-ene. Peter Broelman

Fionnula and Frankie's Christmas Countdown – Week 1


This is Frankie's idea. We've both hit rock bottom and are hoping to turn things around by Christmas. That gives us 10 weeks from today. Frankie thinks if we put what we want out there that we can't go wrong. I'm not so sure, but at this stage I'm willing to try.

Beginning today, we've decided to meet every Saturday until Boxing Day at Cafe Cath-ene, run by Cath Jamieson, on the southside. Unless it's absolutely necessary, we both avoid heading to the northside, so Cath-ene is ideal. My main issue is my marital status...single. It's been five months since Greg called it quits and moved to Perth, and I still haven't looked sideways at another man. Well, I did kiss his mate Jason, and there was that incident with his cousin Travis on the dance floor at Flamingoes, but really, no one has measured up to Greg.

So, that's first on the list - find a man for Christmas. It's the same for Frankie. She dreams of us all partying in the new year in Thailand, and she thinks we need to write down the top five attributes we're after in potential partners. It seems a bit airy-fairy to me. Why not just have a few schooners at the Criterion and wake up next to a guy you still think looks half decent, and take it from there? Anyway, here's my list: 1. Hardworking 2. Honest 3. Fit 4. Not a dropkick 5. Wears normal shoes and pants.

Frankie thinks that 4 and 5 are too similar, and that by not being a dropkick to me it would mean he wears pants and shoes that I deem suitable. I told her I'd sleep on it. Apparently we're setting each other challenges for the week, and reporting back each Saturday. Frankie's first challenge for me is to sign up to Silhouettes Gym. Uggh! Her mum, Lynnie, is coming along to Cath-ene each week too, to monitor our progress and keep us motivated. She didn't look too impressed with us this morning, though, to be honest.


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I've hit rock bottom. This morning, Mum made me repeat after her, 'I have no options'. It was a low point, but given my circumstances, probably necessary. Yesterday, I arrived back home from Brisbane to find Mum doing Qi Gong in the kitchen to Foreigner's I Want to Know What Love is. I had that familiar feeling of joy mixed with despair. Joy at seeing Mum, and despair that at 32 I'm single and broke.

The path to my present situation has been navigated through a series of ill-thought-through decisions, and a determined resistance to reality. The case in point is Tom.

Earlier in the year I'd moved from Rocky to Brisbane, with the intention of giving our relationship a fighting chance. Unfortunately, Tom wasn't even in the ring, and had moved on so considerably that he was seeing someone else. I'd stayed around Brisbane, vowing to myself that I'd make the best of it down there, regardless of Tom, but the heartbreak and disappointment took their toll, and six months later, I decided to draw a line in the sand with Brisbane, and head back to Rocky to regroup and reflect on what caused my fairly irrational behaviour. If there's any silver lining, it's that the door slamming shut on Tom and I makes it easier for me to look three months ahead to Christmas Day.

How would I like my life to look Christmas Day? I would like to have a partner. I read in a self-help book recently that it's good to be clear on the qualities you want to attract. So I've come up with my top five. Ideally, he is: 1. Kind 2. Intelligent 3. Attractive 4. Funny 5. A good communicator.

Fionnula and I are meeting every Saturday at Cath-ene to see if we're on track for the Christmas Day life makeover. Mum joined us for our first session this morning, and I think she intends to keep coming. Fi's first challenge for me is to help someone in need. I wonder if that means she thinks I'm selfish? And is the fact that I asked the question the answer?


These girls have both had a run of bad luck and heartbreak, I acknowledge that, but they're 32, and time's not slowing down. Fionnula at least has a good job as a hairdresser, and is paying off her mortgage. Frankie, though, seems completely rudderless, and in no position financially to control her circumstances.

You want your kids to make decisions for themselves and learn from their mistakes, and I just hope that she's learning from all of this. I think her biggest problem is that she's searching rather than living. Searching for the perfect job, the perfect location, the perfect partner…and none of these things exist! I've tried to explain that to her but sometimes I feel like I'm talking to a brick wall. I made her repeat after me this morning that she has no options. Whether that made any impact or not I can't say, but I'll report back next Saturday. Why the girls chose Cath-ene I'll never know. There are much better options over the northside.

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