Setting up a dating agency


I feel as though I'm about to sit my A-levels all over again. Mairead phones to tell me about M, who is 46, in wealth management, whatever that is, and a divorced father of two grown-up boys. We agree to meet the following night in the bar at Claridges. I buy a black lace skirt and silver platforms from Prada, and get my hair done.I tell him I have dark hair, and will be wearing purple Burberry platforms. I invest in a Hollywood wax, and an all-over light sheen of fake tan.'You need someone generous,' she said, my husband's name unspoken between us, 'with a bank account, not a piggy bank'.And so, just before Christmas, I meet Mairead Molloy.Miraculously, given that I was the editor of a woman's fashion magazine, before meeting my husband in my early 40s (then a BBC journalist, he came to interview me; as soon as we got married, he gave up his job and started having sex with other women), I had only ever had three boyfriends, two of whom hadn't even liked me that much.



But then I reached the first anniversary of my divorce and, much to my surprise, having sworn off men for life, I started to wonder, with the prospect of a great big yawning new year stretching ahead of me, whether there might be someone out there for me and, if so, how on earth am I going to find him?I tell her I was married to someone much younger who never paid for anything.'But him not paying for things was not the deal breaker. I'm a romantic in that I expect the man I'm with not to even look at other women - to be like my dad, in other words - but then I come over all feminist if he attempts to pay for dinner. I'd feel like a prostitute.' Mairead says I am, compared to her other female clients, all of whom want to be looked after by a man, very unusual.But, after a few minutes, and much to my surprise, I start to enjoy his company immensely. He says women in New York are only interested in how much money a man makes. But I can tell he fancies me, this despite his lack of curiosity about me, and his disconcerting habit of continuing to talk into the remote of his mobile phone. Men like to know they come first.' After two hours, he pays for our drinks, apologising that he has to leave for a dinner engagement.

Don't you fancy the over-groomed, immaculate Manhattan type? He keeps touching my arm and once, instead of saying, 'If I were to have a relationship with you', he says, 'If I were to have sex with you'. He is put off, though, when I tell him about my animals; particularly my anecdote about the fact I've trained my three lambs to kiss me on the mouth. He gives me his card, and asks me to ring him if I'm ever in New York again.

It doesn't bode well that it's my date, and I don't even recognise him!