Impressed by this apparently rigorous approach, Ms Fontaine, 44, rang up to enquire about joining and a consultant invited her to an interview, not at the company’s registered offices in the City of London but at the Charing Cross Hotel on The Strand.‘I thought it was a bit strange but was quite happy because it was on my way home,’ says Ms Fontaine. She was given his email address and sent him a message. They emailed her some more details, for a man with a Persian-sounding name, who was 56 and worked in financial investments.
They met at 5pm in the upstairs bar and spent an hour and a half talking about what she wanted in a partner.‘I asked her about the sort of men they had on their books and she told me she had two men immediately in mind for me. I asked specifically if these men were looking for a quick fling or a long-term relationship and she said, “If they’re paying upwards of £500 for membership, then they’re looking for a relationship.” ’She then enquired about meeting Tim but was told that he was now in a relationship and had come off their books. A strange email exchange ensued in which he informed her in pidgin English that while he was ‘very happy and excited to meet a person of such attractive profile’, he was ‘only a novice in the single life’.
'You need someone generous,' she said, my husband's name unspoken between us, 'with a bank account, not a piggy bank'.
And so, just before Christmas, I meet Mairead Molloy.
In further emails, she found out that he had only been divorced for two months.
An internet search turned up the equally worrying fact that he had recently changed his name and that several of his companies had been fined.
I tried everything available to me for Brighton singles, where I lived. Other dating events included dinner parties or use of a dating agency, but their fees were outrageous.Only use dating agencies that carry out personal interviews.Don't use an agency that relies on postal questionnaires.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.But then I reached the first anniversary of my divorce and, much to my surprise, having sworn off men for life, I started to wonder, with the prospect of a great big yawning new year stretching ahead of me, whether there might be someone out there for me and, if so, how on earth am I going to find him?Miraculously, given that I was the editor of a woman's fashion magazine, before meeting my husband in my early 40s (then a BBC journalist, he came to interview me; as soon as we got married, he gave up his job and started having sex with other women), I had only ever had three boyfriends, two of whom hadn't even liked me that much.