Round and round the Mulvey bush

A few months ago I blogged about the travails of Kate Mulvey, a 50 year old woman who believed her 2:1 in Italian from the University of Kent intimidated men. Well, she’s  back:

A couple of years ago, I too joined an expensive matchmaking agency. I had just come out of a seven year relationship, and was on the wrong side of 50.

Ah yes, this was the seven year relationship during which you never got so much as engaged.

I soon tired of online dating and receiving messages from over weight baldies who peppered their emails with childish emojis.

Readers may recall this is how Miss Mulvey looked when she was 31:

Fast forward two decades and she’s disparaging men for being overweight and bald. I wonder what they thought of her?

I hankered to find Mr Right-for-me, a man who was suitably educated and a successful professional.

Like a 2:1 from the University of Kent? Now these fat, bald men she’s meeting might litter their emails with childish emojis, but Mulvey’s approach to dating is scarcely more mature.

And so this is how I found myself, throwing money (my entire savings to be precise) to an upmarket matchmaking agency in central London. The agency claimed to filter out the undesirables, the mediocre and give clients the personal touch, so I handed over the hefty sum of £6,000.

Hang on a minute. Your entire shtick is you’re a successful, educated single woman who’s over 50, yet your entire savings were a mere £6,000? And what the hell were you thinking in handing over this sort of cash to a dating agency? Does this sound like a suitable life partner for any man, let alone a smart, successful one?

As I waited to be matched with someone from their ‘extensive database’, I idly imagined my handsome date, cashmere polo neck, a bit academic and kind. We’d eat steak tartare and swap notes on our latest clever box-set find and favourite novels.

What’s in it for him?

How could I have got it so wrong?

Because you have an unreasonably high opinion of yourself, unrealistic expectations, and you appear not to learn from mistakes.

The reality was an array of terrible matches, a growing sense of alarm and a flaming row in a flash restaurant in Chelsea.

Did he ask to split the bill, but you’d spent all your cash just getting to this point?

The first indication that all was not as I had expected came when I met personal matchmaker at a Park Lane hotel for ‘tea and an interview’.

Personal matchmaker? That sounds like something I might be good at. I’d direct Mulvey to the nearest pet shop which offers bulk discounts on cats.

“So, are you a psychologist?” I asked, eager to press her on her method of assessment.

“Oooh no, I’m just a people person. I love people,” she trilled.

Six grand.

I told her how I loved folk music, my favourite film was The Deer Hunter, and enjoyed weekends in the countryside. So far so banal.

Women seem to think sharing a hobby or having similar opinions about books or films is the key to meeting the right man. Did she say anything which might indicate her character, in the manner her Telegraph article does? Or did she wisely keep that hidden? If I were doing the job of the matchmaker, I’d start by asking who she last dated and what went wrong.

A few days later she emailed me with the details of W, “a successful entrepeneur who had travelled extensively and also liked folk music”.

Could this woman get any more shallow? This obsession with “travel”, as if that makes you more cultured.

When I met him at a pub in Richmond, I was shocked. I was expecting a cultured and dynamic man, instead I got a man in a pair of jeans, a moth eaten jumper and the table manners of a modern day Baldrick.

Why would you expect someone cultured and dynamic? Because he’s well-travelled? And can we get his view on expectations versus reality?

And therein lies the rub. These agencies trade on their exclusivity, yet the men I met were far from the international super elite they promised.

Why would the international super elite be on dating sites? That the whole thing was a con ought to be obvious to anyone with half a brain; didn’t the Ashley Madison leak show there were virtually no women on the site, and those that were were hookers?

And the so called experts were a group of ex pr girls with swishy hair and ability to write up a nifty ‘press release’.

And the ability to persuade gullible fools to part with what amounts to their entire savings.

It wasn’t too much of a surprise then that they rarely got it right. For the next few months, I dated up and down the eligibility scale. Some men were pleasant but dull, others who said they wanted to be in a relationship but were burdened with so much baggage they were toxic.

So you’re over 50, spending thousands on a dating site, but you rule out anyone who’s pleasant but dull and anyone with baggage. Well, good luck with that. Remember, this is the woman who thinks men find her intelligence intimidating.

There was the 65 year-old American with a stunning property portfolio who broke the rules and googled me, only to inform me that I was too old for him.

Heh! By how many decades?

The funny looking barrister, who invited me to his St James’s club, and turned out to be prickly and aggressive

A minute ago you were complaining they were pleasant but dull.

I was about to call it a day and demand my money back, when my matchmaker sent through the detail a publisher from Oxford. We met at a pub near his home.

But very quickly the debonair man who had seemed laid-back in London had morphed into a raging chauvinist in the countryside. When I started to chat to waiter in Italian, it became clear that my date was not happy. He muttered something under his breath and rolled his eyes like a stroppy teenager.

“I WAS WONDERING when you were going to let me join your conversation,” he boomed. I tried to laugh it off but clocked this was a man with a fragile ego.

Okay, if you’re going to recycle old stories at least try to maintain consistency. According to her earlier article, this happened in Italy not the Cotswolds, and it was with a guy she’d been with a year. I suspect this whole thing is unalloyed fabrication.

It is a tough time for midlife dating today, and there are a lot vulnerable educated women like me who are so desperate for love they are willing to try anything whatever the price.

Except be with a pleasant but dull man, or refrain from having conversations with other people in a language your date doesn’t know.

Yet, the quality of men were, I no different to those on online dating sites.

And the quality of women is just stellar, I suppose?

I learnt the hard way, but my advice when it comes to dating is: trust your instinct and meet through friends of friends.

Firstly, I suspect her friends are few indeed. Secondly, I’d bet her acquaintances learned not to introduce her to anyone the hard way a long time ago.


45 thoughts on “Round and round the Mulvey bush

  1. 50 years old…
    Single and so a lifetime of minimal expenses…
    And yet her lifetime savings amount to £6000…
    Which she then blows on a dating agency…

    I am so happy she has gone through the menopause so she cannot raise the next generation.

  2. Has Dame Edna taken to wearing contacts?

    Regardless, she could be a 20 year old stunner and any sane bloke, on hearing that she writes about love and relationships, would run both miles.

  3. If this blog post’s title doesn’t win some sort of award, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. If a single person thinks they’re smart, they may or may not be correct by a narrow definition – but if they think they are *wise* and then fork out six grand to an agency on which they’ve clearly done zero research, one has to wonder at their priorities. If they don’t know the difference between the two, there’s a painful lesson incoming.

    “I’d direct Mulvey to the nearest pet shop which offers bulk discounts on cats.” – miaow!

  4. A couple of years after my missus passed, I thought “perhaps I ought to do something about this being alone lark.”
    So I dated a few women of my age, give or take, that I had known either through past jobs or as friends of friends kind of thing.

    Looking at them with a more critical eye, regardless of what they thought of me, I found them all either

    Just not very nice people

    and realised that if a lady is single at 50, there’s often a very good reason for this situation.

    ps I like girls with brains, my late missus had one the size of a planet.

  5. As Tim wonders here, and as some suggested in the comments on his previous post about this woman, I do wonder if it isn’t all a complete lie, and whether actually she’s deliriously happy with her childhood sweetheart and their 2.4 children.
    If I were writing an article for a publication, I’d finish it to my satisfaction, leave it for a few days, and then go back to it. Then I’d re-read it with three things in mind: firstly, are the technicalities correct – grammar, punctuation, spelling; secondly, am I saying clearly what I want to say; thirdly, and particularly if it’s an autobiographical piece, how do I come out of it? Does what I’ve said make me seem to be a twat? The fact (surely a fact!) that both of the articles that Tim has taken apart DO make her look a complete and utter twat, makes me think that either she’s the least self-aware person in the world; or else it’s completely made up, and she’s sat at home with her childhood sweetheart laughing her socks off at all of us treating her wittering so seriously…
    P.S. “Here we go round the Mulvey bush”, surely?

  6. I’m in my late 50’s, dating at my age is like going to a sewage treatment plant and trying to find the turd that doesn’t stink and taking it out for a bite when you know it’s just going to turn to shit.

  7. May I posit the lady doesn’t want a man half as much as she wants to write for newspapers. So she writes about her failure to find a man-made it’s the only thing she knows enough about to write about.

  8. If she’s real, which I doubt, and I met her on the basis she wanted to meet someone who’s well travelled I’d expect some who could reciprocate. In which case we’d be swapping stories about the countries we’d both visited, or sharing stories of countries one had but the other hadn’t.

    When you meet someone, of either sex, who really has travelled conversation is not a problem.

    By travelled I mean has lived amongst and worked with locals, not visited the local tourist haunts. Even more travelled means working in country A with people from countries B, C ….Z and making truly international teams work.

    My guess is that if she did meet someone who was well travelled they’d be yawning within the first 5 minutes.

  9. Should I ever find myself single and the wrong side of 50, one of my main criteria to filter for a potential new companion would be that they are widowed. Everyone else is likely to be single for a reason that is likely to repeat itself.

    I recently had a fairly large team of people working for me for a multi-year project. Without exception, the single people were all the hardest to manage, the single females the next hardest category and the single females over 40 were the ultimate nightmare. The main problem with that last category is that nothing ever seemed to be their fault.

  10. “Could this woman get any more shallow? This obsession with “travel”, as if that makes you more cultured.”

    Travel was a big part of the appeal of the James Bond movies.

    “And the so called experts were a group of ex pr girls with swishy hair and ability to write up a nifty ‘press release’.
    And the ability to persuade gullible fools to part with what amounts to their entire savings.”

    The next shocking thing in her life will be the discovery that used car salesmen don’t know much about cars.

  11. Goodness, all the rest aside, why would you think that a psychologist would work in a dating agency??? That’s like expecting a medical doctor to work at the local vitamin-homeopathy-yoga emporium.
    BTW any ‘psych’ who does claim to ‘matchmake’ should be deregistered immediately as that is in no way part of their remit, nor evidence based…

  12. I knew a guy in the UK that wrote a novel about the Teutonic Knights. I never read it but he researched the subject in some depth. He described how their portraits all looked the same because they were professional warriors and set their faces into a scowling “hard man” look, presumably to deter anyone from tangling with them. After a few years of this, their faces developed creases and muscle memory that made them all have the same fierce expression, hence a common look.

    Looking at the more recent photographs here:

    and the photograph on the article Tim linked to, she has a mouth like a cats arsehole surrounded by deep creases from the naso-labial folds. Could it possibly be a lifetime of pursing her lips in a disapproving manner has caused this expression?

    Answers on the back of a postcard to the usual address …

  13. William of Ockham
    “Should I ever find myself single and the wrong side of 50, one of my main criteria to filter for a potential new companion would be that they are widowed.”

    Not a bad strategy, the other is to snag them before they are bitter crone and focus on the under 30’s. That has been far, far more successful for me.

  14. I joined a supper club for singles. (At least I got some decent grub out of it.) On one occasion we were four males and four females at a table, and the competition was fierce. One of the men wrote for an aviation magazine, another did laser eye surgery, another had just returned from a stint working for the World Bank. I sat there quietly getting more and more the hell in. Eventually someone asked me what work I did. (That’s how they put it in my country.) I said, “I don’t work. I have girls who work for me.” That shut them all up pretty smartly.

  15. @David Moore,

    Good plan but it surely comes with the real risk that you’ll be expected to listen to their biological clock tick tocking away.

    Surely a grateful post-menopausal widow would be lower maintenance?

  16. These agencies trade on their exclusivity, yet the men I met were far from the international super elite they promised.

    Suppose for a second that a man of the international elite really was signed up with this dating agency. He would probably be the agency’s most important client by far. They would surely want to make a good impression on him and his elite friends by sending him only the best women they had. Were I a woman signing up with this agency, I’d ask myself if that’s a category I thought I’d get filed under.

    I doubt that her story about talking in Italian is a recycled one. It sounds like it’s something she does all the time, refusing to accept that other people might find it irritating or rude.

    I think Pat hit the nail on the head.

    Finally, a new study from UWA says men aren’t put off by intelligence at all.

  17. Argh! Jeez, that article link should come with a warning…
    If that’s how she looks posing for a photo for a national newspaper article, I can only imagine the horror show that turns up on a date.
    Not even presentable. Would a bit of make-up be too much effort? Or how about just not gurning like a 70 year old man with no teeth…

    She strikes me as the type that has a long list of demands about what she wants in a man, but is unwilling to listen to his demands.
    How’s that feminism working out? Lol.

    If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to drink enough alcohol to blot out that image. Or possibly bleach.

  18. What occurs to me is that she’s behaving like the kind of man she wants – high status, lots of credentials, socially dominant, arrogant asshole. The same way that so-called “nice guys” who complain that the way they behave doesn’t attract women don’t realise they’re actually behaving like nice girls.

  19. You know, I suspect the whole ‘I spent six grand on a dating site’ thing is just as factual as the Italian waiter story.

    In fact I suspect the actual writer of these articles is happily married and has been for years, but writing about that won’t get you commissions from newspapers who want to sell to desperate past-it thought-Bridget-Jones-was-a-rile-model-types by making them feel that at least someone has it worse than they do, so she’s created this grotesque as a performance character.

  20. So presumably Serge (of “I hope to marry the man I turned down 20 YEARS ago” fame) is just some random guy in the street she managed to get to pose for her?

    Lucky old Serge then…

  21. As others have mentioned her articles contradict each other on key aspects e.g. her age, length of relationships, Italian story etc. However it seems unlikely that she is an actual human being happily married (how do you explain these articles away to all your family, friends etc if so?) So either the entire person is made up or she is single and just heavily embellishing her stories, maybe because her actual situation is even worse than that presented…

  22. “Here we go round the Mulvey bush”, surely?

    Paul F, I think that’s one bush anyone would steer well clear of.

  23. I don’t think the repeated elements in the Italian chat story indicate that she’s making it up, or recycling an old story. I’d say this is a pattern of behavior she repeats.

    I’d speculate she has a compulsion to prove her superiority to any man she dates (hence she casually mentions Italian is just one of 5 languages she knows). So when out on a date with one man, she chats up another guy in a foreign language. This is just rude. When her man objects, she delights in his discomfort, while at the same time belittling him for objecting. Oh, the dear fellow, he couldn’t understand! Oh, he’s jealous, look how desirable I am! Oh, the poor man, he’s so brittle and weak!

    Oh hey – where’d he go? He must be intimidated by my intelligence.

    There was an @AntiFemComic which captured this quite well:

  24. how do you explain these articles away to all your family, friends etc if so?

    Actually that would be the easiest bit: by laughing together about the sad people who read them, and who you have based the character on.

  25. She seems to have a decent enough shtick writing articles for the Mail & Telegraph designed to generate clicks from equally dysfunctional females and us folks seeking a bit of “look at the nutter” entertainment.

    Probably not paid enough to live on so there is likely to be a “real” person (worth in excess of £6k) behind this unlikely and highly unappealing persona.

  26. You know, I’m rather convinced by the theory this is just an alter-ego, dreamed up for the purposes of writing articles. If that was the case, I’d be rather impressed.

  27. Lemme get this straight: a woman who couldn’t attract a man at thirty still cannot attract a man twenty years later, despite spending serious money?

    Hmmm… On the other hand, she has the basis of an article wot newspapers will pay for (though possibly not six grand). I look forward to her follow up book in the remainder bin at my local charity shop.

  28. @Tim Newman

    You know, I’m rather convinced by the theory this is just an alter-ego, dreamed up for the purposes of writing articles. If that was the case, I’d be rather impressed.

    And this proves my theory that the Dashing-Tim-Newman-Oil-Rig-Extraordinaire is just an alter-ego, dreamed up by a 28-year old housewife with 6 children, for the purposes of building up an audience through blogging.

  29. @Jonathan Levy,

    I’ve met him twice. “Dashing” is perhaps not the best adjective.
    Maybe “fetching”, as in “my wife looked at him and fetched up the contents of her stomach”.

  30. Maybe “fetching”, as in “my wife looked at him and fetched up the contents of her stomach”.


  31. @William

    High above the oil platform, Tim wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. The wind was as cold as the steel against his thighs, but he had worked up a sweat getting this high, and would work up more getting to the top. He glanced at the glove, then let the grease-stained leather fall a hundred feet down to the crowd of upturned faces.

    Gloves are for pussies. Muscle and sinew strained, raising him up another level on the cantilevered tower. Maybe it would fall slap on his boss’ face. He hadn’t had the balls to ask for Tim’s help, not after catching him in bed with both his daughters. Instead, he’d just ordered an evacuation, and given Tim that simpering look. One hand reached up past the grate, to snag on the valve. There. The menacing hiss faded, and a moment later the alarms switched off. A faint echo of applause rose from below.

    Goddamn losers. Why he wasted his life keeping this goddamn company afloat, he could not say. I should have been a lumberjack, like Katya used to say. It was too late for that, though. A memory rose, of his hidden notebooks, and the stories they contained. One day, he thought. Some other day.

  32. @Henry

    Thank you, thank you.

    Any moment now we’ll get Tim’s stammering confession…. 🙂

  33. Jonathan Levy

    Oh, I like it.

    Who’s playing Tim in the movie version? It has been optioned, right?

  34. Daniel Craig, of course, if the producer can get him to muscle up 15 pounds or so.

    But let’s be realistic. By the time it works through the Hollywood system, we’ll be getting Angelina Jolie for the oil rig scenes, and Bilbo Baggins for the pre-transition flashback scenes with Katya.

  35. Jonathan,

    If you’re not a writer, then why not is a mystery to me. You’re better than I am. Well done, well done indeed!

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