Are dating agencies any good

'You need someone generous,' she said, my husband's name unspoken between us, 'with a bank account, not a piggy bank'.

are dating agencies any good-10

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.

Berkeley International's membership fee of £6,000 per year guarantees her clients - hundreds of singletons from all over the world, at a ratio of 50/50 men and women - are solvent, but I'm surprised when she tells me how many are multi-millionaires.

Surely, I ask her, rich men have no trouble attracting women? These men - actors, plastic surgeons, bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs - not only don't have time to meet women, they've had enough of dating model types who are just after their money.' That's what I like to hear, but I'm still dubious.

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.

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 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.

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