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.Irish by birth, and having made a fortune in hotels, she now divides her time between Cannes and London.
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.
I hobble off into the night on my shoes and text Mairead: 'Am V depressed. I find this hard to believe, having watched a great many episodes of Sex And The City, but I valiantly call skirt and shoes into service yet again (wearing the same outfit acts, I as a sort of scientific control), meet Christie, from Mairead's sister agency, Premier Matchmaking, who is hand to arrange everything.
Our chat reveals straight away how different the dating scene is in the U. She tells me where my prospective date went to school and college, lists his many degrees, tells me he is 6ft 2in, divrced with no children, and is the CEO of a bank. I agree to meet P at a restaurant on Madison Avenue. He arrives, and although he is indeed tall and dark, resembling none other than Mr Big, I know in less than five seconds that I will never fancy him. The test is what they look like straight out of the shower.' Oh dear.
With such a terrible track record, I started to realise that, if I couldn't meet someone when I was in my prime, how on earth was I going to meet someone now I'm 50?