It doesn't bode well that it's my date, and I don't even recognise 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.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.Otherwise, the qualities I am looking for are pretty standard: he must be kind, funny, not pompous or bossy, be intelligent and well read and an animal lover.
I tell her I'd prefer someone around my own age (she tells me I don't look 50, and am in fact 'slim, fashionable and gorgeous', which makes me want to date her), but they must be boyish rather than Steptoe-like (I tell her Imran Khan could be her template, although I wouldn't date him as I don't think my cats would want to live in Pakistan).
'She was great eye candy,' he says, confirming that all men would like you to believe the women in their lives are great beauties.
He tells me she spent £500,000 of his money on the divorce and that they now barely speak.
We say our goodbyes and I go to freeze in the snow, trying to hail a cab.
After about ten minutes, a man asks if I need help.
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.