COMMENT:

Having been declared '"New Zealand's Oldest Dad" by a number of over-enthusiastic family magazines seven years ago, I thought it was time to update my status in matters of domesticity.

Am I able to claim any fresh accolades before slipping into obscurity as a bewildered elderly gentleman?

Some two years ago, my now ex-wife decided to seek greener pastures and announced a separation from somebody who, at best, could only make a frugal living from drawing doodles with amusing captions for the newspaper industry. One could hardly blame her.

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The only real problem with divorce is not the emotional pain of separation and loss of family, but the carrion that suddenly appear, squawking and tearing apart the chattels and financial structures surrounding a marriage break-up.

I have now experienced a number of visits to the family court to be presented with a number of directions handed down by well-meaning judges, mostly fruitless and serving no good purpose other than continuously lining the pockets of lawyers.

The only thing I learned from these encounters is that, worldwide, McDonald's carparks are the first choice of judges for estranged parents to exchange their children in separation agreements.

In my case, I have renamed the meeting place "Checkpoint Charlie" because of the similarity of exchanging children like spies at the crossing point of the Berlin Wall, at the height of the cold war.

In matters of practicality, it's a matter of luck if you marry and later divorce a partner who is graced with a degree of common sense, thus saving endless expense with lawyers as agreements are forged and settled.

Illustration / Peter Bromhead
Illustration / Peter Bromhead

The old saying "You never really get to know a woman, until you face her in court" is chillingly true.

Now, two years later, I have a document stating I'm a free man, giving me fresh opportunities to explore that other hoary old gem, "I don't like to make the same mistake twice, I like to make it three or four times, just to make sure".

So, how does an ageing bachelor cope with reinventing himself in the singles market?

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Well, surprisingly, quite well, thanks to computer dating opportunities like Tinder.

In spite of the obvious pitfalls lurking in such sites, I have made a number of interesting friendships both locally and overseas. My age, as a well-pickled octogenarian, does not seem to count against me, and for those struggling to engage with a potential partner I can only advise that having a sense of humour is helpful.

If you go through the Tinder records, men and women around 40 seem to dominate the site. However, only a small percentage seem to end up marrying as a result of dating. Past bitter experiences tend to make many couples cautious over further knot-tying.

Over the age of 50, people start to trickle off to other suitably selected venues, sometimes euphemistically called "sunset" or "golden years" dating sites.

So, this brings me back to my original question, have I fresh accolades to collect to add to being oldest dad in NZ? Could I become the oldest person on Tinder, to meet a new love in my life and marry again? After all, according to statistics, only 13 per cent of people who meet on dating sites end up marrying.

Hopefully, I can achieve this ambition before being quietly carried off to the nearest home for permanently bewildered, ancient old has-beens.