courtship instead of dating - World premier discreet dating

Until now, I always thought people who resort to dating agencies must be a little desperate. I have never before even been set up by friends or been on a blind date.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

'She was great eye candy,' he says, confirming that all men would like you to believe the women in their lives are great beauties.

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