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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.

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Elite dating uk

She never sends clients photos, but instead supplies a brief resume of their qualities. He says he likes good hotels and restaurants, long walks and log fires.

She has, she says, an instinct for knowing who will hit it off. 'Looks are subjective,' she says, and adds 'he is charismatic and an animal lover with a Labrador.' That swings it. I tell him I live in the middle of Exmoor, have horses, dogs, cats and rescued farm animals, and am recently divorced.

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.

Men say they want intelligent, independent women who are their equal in every way, but do they, really?

Mairead, who is 38, blonde and delightfully blunt, asks me to fill her in on my background, and tell her what I look for in a man.

I find it annoying that, when I tell him I work for a newspaper, he doesn't even ask which one. ' Thanks to the international nature of Mairead's contacts, the next date is to take place in New York.

After precisely one hour he asks for the bill, which immediately tells me he doesn't fancy me. Contrary to popular opinion there are, according to Mairead, a glut of rich, single men in New York.

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?

My friend Kerry, tired of my moaning, had told me about an upmarket dating agency that takes on only high-achieving rich people.

He has nice brown eyes, but is not quite tall enough for me.

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