Mais non, c’est cher

I expect the principle purpose of this BBC piece on the supposed decline of French bistros was to give the author a week in Paris on expenses. This bit made me hoot (emphasis mine):

“The bistro bar is a place of exchange, of conversation, a way of life,” he explained at his own Paris bistro Le Mesturet. “You can have a blue-collar worker elbow-to-elbow with a CEO and an office worker, sharing a coffee, a glass of wine, discussing everything and nothing. Anyone can afford bistro prices, erasing all socio-economic lines.

A beer in a Parisian bistro will set you back around 10 or 12 euros. If two of you have a cup of coffee and a pastry each you’ll not got much change from 20 euros. When I was last in Annecy I thought the waiter had made a mistake on my bill I was so used to astronomical prices in Paris. I get the impression the bistro owners might not be aware of the country outside Paris, and a BBC journalist over from London is the last person who’d be in any hurry to find out.


White Knighting for Students

Remember this guy?

Before I married my wife two years ago, she had huge amounts of debt to her name, including large amounts of student loans. After we married, we diligently almost paid everything off, helped by my salary being three times that of my wife.


She recently asked for a divorce, saying she was taking the house and my retirement.

We’ve only been married a few years, and frankly I can’t help feeling taken advantage of. The only advice I can find discusses whose responsibility the student loans would be, but now it just seems that she got me to pay all of her debts, and got some new stuff, while I threw away years of my life.

Well, he’s not alone:

I supported my girlfriend during her recent studies. We are not married. She took 3 years from the inception of the program to finish, pass her board exams, and get her license to practice dental hygiene, despite the fact that it’s only supposed to be a 26-month program.

During this time, I paid the rent, utilities, food, entertainment, vacations, some medical expenses, toiletries, and other miscellaneous expenses.

Her mother covered some things for her, and her ability to take loans was restricted by previous undergraduate loans as well as lack of availability of federal loans due to use of grants in undergraduate.

Our relationship is unwinding. I have sacrificed greatly in order to provide for her. I could have paid for the remainder of my student loans, advanced my career by investing in continuing education and, of course, increasing my portfolio and retirement accounts.

Is there any legal recourse I can take when we break up, to receive reimbursement for my contributions to her living expenses? Despite me not paying a cent towards her actual degree, her living was majority financed by me (80% at a minimum). Her income is going to quadruple with her new job.

There’s a pattern here, isn’t there? It’s time men got a bit smarter.


Phuket Boat Tragedy

This story didn’t get much attention in the international media:

Divers are searching the hull of a sunken boat off the coast of southern Thailand for more than 50 passengers who are missing after a violent storm Thursday afternoon.

The Phoenix PC diving boat ran into trouble off the coast of the resort island of Phuket when a storm whipped up waves as high as five meters (16 feet), crashing them against the vessel and causing it to keel over.

There were believed to 105 passengers on board the capsized vessel, including 93 tourists, one guide and 11 crew members. Many were thought to be Chinese tourists vacationing at the Thai resort.

I was sat on my balcony watching the rain come down – a nice thing to do – during that storm, but I didn’t realise how bad it was. My friend who lives across the bay said huge waves were crashing into the beach, bigger than he’d seen in a long time. It didn’t last long, more a squall than a storm, but those can be pretty ferocious.

Tourist boats are a common sight around here, as there is much to see and do in the waters near Phuket. You have Phi Phi island where The Beach was filmed, as well as Khao Phing Kan island where The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed. You also have  a lot of diving spots and, close to the beaches, paragliding boats. The problem is, as with everything in Thailand, you wonder how well regulated this all is. Every so often you hear of one boat colliding with another, and if you look at the guys driving them you’d be a brave man to bet they had all the necessary training for when things go wrong, even if they are skilled at manoeuvring the boat.

One would think it was the boat captain’s responsibility to check the weather and head for shelter if a storm was coming, but in Thailand they are likely under extreme pressure from the boat owners, and the tour operators who’ve collected money from the passengers, to complete the trip. I expect where Chinese tourists are concerned (and Chinese tour operators) this pressure increases considerably: if it were 50 Australians or Brits who drowned in the Andaman Sea, severe questions would be being asked in Bangkok. Somebody will be blamed for this – probably the captains – but you can be sure nobody further up the tree will be prosecuted, even if their instructions directly led to the boats being in harm’s way. This is how things work in Thailand.

It’s awfully sad for the tourists who’ve lost their lives and their families, and you really need to take extra care when holidaying in the developing world. As we’ve seen, your life doesn’t mean as much out here.


Robin plays Hillary

Ancient readers may remember last year I gave my opinion on House of Cards and wasn’t very impressed:

Somewhere between Seasons 2 and 3 the feminists got hold of the script and effectively made the show all about Frank Underwood’s wife, played by Robin Wright.

The audience, by having it rammed down their throats every episode, is expected to unconditionally accept that Claire Underwood is a brilliant politician, responsible for every success her husband has achieved, desired sexually by every man who meets her, and is easily capable as a president herself (there is a Season 5 on the way).


The eight-episode final season of House of Cards, expected to drop on Netflix this autumn, will focus on Claire Underwood’s career.

The character became the US president at the end of the last season, a position previously held by her on-screen husband.

I suspect this was the intention long before Spacey quit the show amid allegations he’d been having affairs with young men who may or may not have been wholly enthused with the idea. I’ll not bother watching it, especially now Spacey has gone – one of the few in the show who could act. By contrast, and as I said before, Wright wears the same arse-hugging style of dress or skirt in every shot, manages a single facial expression throughout the entire series, and for each pivotal scene the only thing that changes are the words being spoken.

I can imagine that Season 5 will be a liberal fantasy of what a Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like, minus the corruption and deteriorating health. I can see why there’s a market for this, and no doubt the media will be gushing with praise at a season which “shows us what is possible”, but I can’t imagine any men will be watching it. Not any that know how to use a torque wrench, anyway.


And now it’s murder


Police have launched a murder inquiry after a woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok in Wiltshire died.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital on Sunday evening after falling ill on 30 June.

Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent in Amesbury, remains critically ill in hospital.

Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by the death, which comes after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Which comes four months after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. So, what are the likely scenarios here:

1. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by Novichok, and four months later put the hit on a couple of nobodies in the same area. If someone – anyone – wants to come up with a plausible theory as to why he’d do this, I’m all ears.

2. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by  Novichok, and somehow two nobodies ran into the same stuff by accident four months later. As Jason Lynch (who, incidentally, should be leading the investigation) points out in the comments, this is not implausible and consistent with a nerve agent being trampled around the place. However, unless a clear link between the two cases can be established, e.g. a common location between each victim, it’s going to be hard to convince people – especially Russians – that this is the same case. So far, it’s not looking good:

In a statement, the Met Police said the possibility the poisoning of the Skripals and Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley are linked is a “clear line of inquiry”.

A spokesman said the investigators are “not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skirpals were exposed to”.

He also said: “There is no evidence that (Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley) visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.”

3. The two cases are separate attacks, and nothing to do with Putin.

Combined with my skepticism over the initial attack, I’m going with No. 3. I don’t know what the actual cause is – someone gone rogue at Porton Down? – but hopefully now a murder enquiry has been launched, we’ll find out:

Mr Basu said the death “has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act”.

He said: “Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life.”

Now I hope this is true. But I don’t have much confidence that, should the evidence start pointing in a direction which might cause Theresa May and her government considerable embarrassment, it won’t be buried without trace. I suspect the outcome of the investigation will be an inconclusive fudge with just enough wriggle-room to keep blaming Russia.


I can’t get no satisfaction

Via reader David Moore, this article:

Open-plan offices could be making women feel stressed and isolated, research shows.

Over the course of two years, Rachel Morrison, a senior research lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, looked at whether or not open office plans were promoting productivity.

She found an interesting difference between the answers men and women gave.

Let me guess: men couldn’t give a rat’s arse either way and wondered what half the questions even meant, whereas the women bitched at length about every minor annoyance?

“I followed and surveyed 99 employees from a law firm as they were transitioning into an open-plan office space and I started noticing a trend in the answers I was receiving from women in the company,” Morrison said.

While the male employees of the company saw the open-plan office as a positive change, many of the women said they felt “stressed”, “watched” and “judged” in the new layout.

Now there’s a surprise. What’s interesting is this article is from New Zealand which, as William of Ockham can confirm, is about 50 years behind everywhere else when it comes to work practices. Open plan offices are pretty much standard now, and I know of very few companies that still give offices to all but the most senior people (and HR, of course.)

“Those feelings of being watched were only on women’s radar, so many of the women reported feeling watched, viewed or monitored but not a single man did.”

It’s almost as if men and women are fundamentally different, isn’t it?

Overall, she found there were a few negative outcomes in an open-plan office.

“I found relationships between co-workers were negatively affected as well as increased stress for women, which resulted in more sick days and less productivity,” she said.

Alternative headline: Women cannot cope in modern workplace, study finds.

Business psychologist Jasbindar Singh agreed open-plan offices could cause stress.

“Many women feel a certain amount of social pressure from being in an open-plan office to dress and act a certain way because they feel as though they are on display the whole time,” she said.

No doubt this is the fault of company management or, failing that, the patriarchy.

Whether women truly were being watched and monitored in the work place more than men remains to be ascertained, and Morrison said it was beyond the scope of her project.

Oh, I have no doubt they are: by other women. Unless any women are under 27 and hot, the men won’t be watching at all.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all women are uncomfortable in open-plan offices; I’ve been working in them since 2000 and I’m reasonably sure the women didn’t feel undue pressure because they didn’t have their own office. But it’s part of an interesting pattern or women, having demanded equal access to the workplace, finding it’s not to their liking and – inevitably – things must be changed to accommodate them. Here’s another example:

Here we have a woman joining an industry and then complaining how things are done when she gets there. Note she’s not complaining of sexual harassment, which would be unacceptable, merely about what people choose to do at tech events. If she doesn’t like what she herself says is normal about an industry, why did she join it? To cause trouble?

The thing is, I know a lot of female engineers and many actually like the male dominated environments in which they work. A competent woman in among a bunch of men can have an enjoyable experience indeed, because (according to them) men are simple and easy to understand and there’s no silly competitiveness. They actually prefer to work with other men than women, or so several have told me. Similarly, they entered into engineering and the oil industry because both provided an environment they liked working in. They didn’t join the oil business and then set about complaining how things are done when they got there, they embraced it because that’s what attracted them in the first place.

If women want to engender hostility from men in the workplace, the best way to go about it is to demand access to male-leaning industries and then campaign to get them changed for their benefit as soon as they arrive. I have no doubt they’ll be successful, but whether they’ll be happy with the final result is another matter entirely.


Freezing eggs won’t help you, ma’am

A reader sends me a link to this article which begins thusly:

Today is my birthday – I’m 36. I’m celebrating, since you ask, with an outing to Richmond Deer Park, followed by champagne and pizza in the garden. I know: so civilised and mature.

This is to let you know she’s a middle class wannabe posho. If only single women in their mid-thirties knew how unoriginal stuff like this is, and how shallow it makes them look, they’d quit doing it in a heartbeat.

Anyway, just over a year ago, heading for 35, I was sitting in a pub with my father in central London…

You just knew it wasn’t going to be in a shopping centre in Wolverhampton, didn’t you?

…and I asked him a favour. With his coolly quantitative analytical skills – he studied physics as a young man – could he please help me decide whether I should freeze my eggs before I turned 35?

And he thought he was going for a quiet pint. Of all the topics to discuss with your dad, this is an odd one indeed. And all because he studied physics in his youth.

I didn’t think too hard about whether the ‘right’ man to do it with would appear. In fact, I have always thought the desire to be a mother must trump romantic uncertainty. If need be, I’d find a male friend (or try to find one) to co-parent. If I really wanted a child and nothing else offered itself I could always go the sperm bank route.

After which you could carve out a career writing articles on how hard it is to raise a child alone, and how the government should do more for people like you.

It turns out that in this respect I’m a bit different from my peers. A report last week found that women are freezing their eggs not because of their careers as has been commonly assumed but to give themselves more time to find a good partner with whom to start a family.

Oh yes, their failure to settle down with a suitable partner in a decade and a half is because they’ve not had quite enough time.

The Yale University study, which analysed the egg freezing motivations of 150 Israeli and American women, found that women “weren’t freezing to advance, they were facing the overarching problem of partnership”.

Well, yes and no. Most will have prioritised their careers such that they’re now too old to find a decent partner. So while it’s true they may not want to advance further, the root cause is their careers took priority at a time when there was an abundance of suitable men.

Thanks to the internet, women may have more romantic and sexual options than ever before, but the quality of options is downright depressing.

Whereas 35 year old women who don’t know what they want and turn to their fathers for advice on egg-freezing is just what every guy dreams of. Every woman I speak to or read on the subject of online dating complains about the quality of men as if they’re the catch of the year. They don’t seem to realise the men they’re meeting on the internet are their peers, counterparts in the same dating pool.

Clearly, many women freezing their eggs think it’s possible that the right man can eventually be found with a few extra years’ searching.

It’s amazing what desperate people will believe, isn’t it?

Have you ever scrolled through the male options on the dating apps Tinder, OkCupid, or Bumble? Try it. It’s not pretty: man after man gurning from a cringingly contrived mirror selfie, big black sunglasses on, too much hair gel, leering or vacant expressions and an incoherent word or two by way of ‘profile’ description.

Because the women on Tinder and OkCupid just exemplify marriage material, don’t they? The duck-faced pouting, the cleavage shots, the list of demands in the profile, the sense of entitlement that accompanies every description, the empty references to travel, food, and “having fun”. And leering expressions, you say? Here’s a photo of the author:

Be still my beating heart.

Often the man is posing, topless, with some kind of animal. (I don’t know why that’s a thing, but it is). There’s very little boyfriend – let alone father – material about.

This woman has been writing about dating and relationships for 20 years, yet here she is, single, asking her dad for advice, and sneering at the men she finds online.

When one does manage to find anyone halfway nice looking and able to hang a sentence together, good luck actually arranging a satisfactory meeting with them.

I imagine they make a beeline for the door the moment they discover you’re a feminist.

My friend Katrina, 37, who happens to have just completed three rounds of egg freezing, is a case in point. Like the women in the study, she froze her eggs not for the purposes of her (extremely successful) career but in the hopes of finding a partner.

In her attempt to do so, she has doggedly trawled a number of dating sites and apps, and tried speed dating events for hipsters and posh people. She’ll often be chatting with several men at once. But when it comes to actually meeting up, they simply vanish into thin air – or, like one mysteriously-occupied “entrepreneur”, keep ignoring the fact that she has a demanding day job, and suggesting impromptu coffees at one in the afternoon instead of the evening drinks she offered.

Firstly, men don’t care she has a demanding day job: after all, that is likely what landed her in this position in the first place. If she is still prioritising her work, chances are she’s not going to make a very good partner. Secondly, a quick coffee at 1pm is much better for a first date than evening drinks. There is no pressure, no expense, you’re in a public place so it’s quite safe, and if you don’t like one another you can leave easily. It sounds as though this Katrina expects to be romanticised over expensive cocktails she won’t be paying for, and is unwilling to compromise. Little wonder she’s single.

It’s all very frustrating and leads me to think that women who want to be mothers should go a non-traditional route, be that sperm bank or something else, rather than waiting around for a Mr Right that may well never appear.

Notice it never seems to occur to these women that they might be the problem? What if Mr Right can’t do evening drinks but only a quick coffee during the day? Oh well too bad, better go freeze my eggs.

Some posit that the mismatch between successful women in their 30s and their male counterparts comes down to women being now the more educated sex. Certainly, my single friends and I all feel that as the quantity of options facing women in their 30s has soared, the quality of the options has dropped off a cliff.

There’s that complaint about quality again, as if Maria Sharapova is writing this column rather than some haggard old feminist. And I’ve written before about how women are so self-absorbed they refuse to date men they believe are intellectually inferior to them. I feel sorry for some single women, but not those who treat men with such utter disdain as the author and her friends seemingly do.

Education may be partly to do with it. But perhaps it’s just that women – trained from an early age to be self-aware, emotionally astute and good at multi-tasking – reach a peak of all-pistons-firing personhood in their 30s and 40s that men simply can’t match.

You really believe that? That you’re so brilliant men simply can’t match you? Or could it be you’re not very nice, you’d make a lousy partner, and men simply aren’t interested?

Whatever the underlying cause, as long as egg freezing brings women relief from stress I’m all for it.

Alas, freezing eggs is so far removed from a solution to your problems it’s a category error, akin to Googling for misplaced car keys. Hell’s bells, feminism has wrought some damage, hasn’t it?


Elon Musk: help or hindrance?

Elon Musk has busied himself over the last few days tweeting out possible innovative, hi-tech solutions for rescuing the Thai kids from the cave.

Of course, many people think this is great, likening him to a real life Tony Stark deploying secret technologies in humanity’s hour of need. Ever the skeptic, I’m not so sure. I have no doubt that Musk means well and genuinely wants to help, but he’ll not be unaware of the PR value of this (and he seems to be as good at PR and self-promotion as anything else, to be honest). But he’s not there at the scene, and I suspect a few of the rescue team are getting a bit annoyed about having to divert time and attention to respond to whacky ideas from a billionaire sat on the other side of the world. Imagine you’re trying to work out how to get kids through a 15″ tunnel filled with water when this arrives:

Okay, that wasn’t from Musk, but you get the idea. I’m sure he means well, but I suspect his input is less a help than a hindrance.


LGBT Intolerance

Yesterday, via a Twitter user, I stumbled across this tweet:

Seems sensible, doesn’t it? Only the first response disagreed with the sentiment and linked to this article:

I’m a gay scientist – a passionate chemist and a proud member of the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, plus) community. In recent years, I have often spoken and written about the lives and experiences of LGBT+ scientists, including my own, but some of the responses still shock me:

You are mistaking us for people who give a sh*t – Your sexuality is NOT important vis-a-vis your job.

Imagine replacing the word ‘sexuality’ with ‘identity’ – how would that make you feel in your place of work?

There is no obligation whatsoever on the part of your colleagues to ascribe any importance to your “identity”. If their not doing so makes you feel bad, you’re seeking solutions to your problems in the wrong place. A workplace does not and should not double as a support group for people who need their “identity” validated. I’ve written recently about the importance of identity, but if you need to go around demanding everyone else validates it, I suspect it’s not one you’ve adopted naturally. Rather, it’s like complaining your parents don’t like clothes you’ve chosen to wear just because everyone else wears them.

The survey also made clear that people are more likely to ‘come out’ at work if they know their workplace is safe and welcoming, and less likely to come out if their workplace is unsafe or hostile.

Ah, but you’re not just demanding a safe and non-hostile workplace, are you? You want everyone to go a step further and appreciate – by force if necessary – the supposed importance of your sexual orientation.

This is a damning indictment of the workplace environments scientists are creating, and should make us think long and hard about how we can ensure that everybody feels included and supported.

Oh please. In Britain LGBT people are blessed to be around the most open, welcoming, and supportive people on the planet who for decades have happily accepted people who are different into their ranks provided they are well-behaved, respectful and don’t cause trouble. How long do you think ordinary people who have never shown any animosity towards LGBT people, and happily seen national legislation passed for their benefit, are going to tolerate authoritarian cretins like you demonising them as bigots at every opportunity? I’ve written about this before:

By moving away from the principle that consenting adults ought to do as they please towards one of forcing moral acceptance of their choices onto a reluctant public via the legal system, the gays have lost a lot of natural allies in the process, those people who may or may not have approved of what they do but on the principles of freedom and liberty believed they should have been allowed to get on with it. The question they ought to now be asking is who will they turn to when they are stripped of their victim status and chucked under the bus. They’re not going to find a lot of sympathy among those who didn’t care who shagged who but cared very much that the proprietors of pizza restaurants in Indiana were being crucified by the media, politicians, and gay lobby after being goaded into uttering the wrong opinions. The mainstream, in other words.

Back to the article:

In spite of my optimism about the new wave of LGBT+ scientists taking ownership of their identities, we must also remember that beyond our own privileged positions, such as in the UK, many scientists work in far less supportive environments. This includes countries where LGBT+ people have no rights, where it is illegal to speak about being gay, or where the act of homosexuality can even carry a death sentence.

And idiotic campaigns like yours are only going to make things worse. As I also said before:

One of the most effective arguments authoritarian government use to repress gays is one which suggests that turning a blind eye to gays results in a slippery slope of degeneracy which can lead to outcomes nobody wants or expected. Unfortunately, these arguments can be amply supported by pointing to intolerant, ridiculous cases in the west, such as the man who recently got arrested for heckling Caitlyn Jenner or the Christian bakers.

Demanding everyone attaches “importance” to co-workers’ sexual orientation is simply going to convince conservative rulers abroad that they shouldn’t give an inch to gay rights lobbyists. The people who will suffer most will be gays in those countries who just want to be left alone.

So how did the tweet thread end?

Now there’s a surprise, eh?  And to think, these people have the audacity to call everyone else intolerant.


Single Women: checklists are not romantic

Via an email from a reader and Hector Drummond on Twitter, I find this article:

Alice Judge-Talbot married her university sweetheart at 23 and had two children, before their happily-ever after crumbled and she found herself a divorced single mother on the dating scene.

She describes the collapse of her marriage in this article, and to be honest she doesn’t seem to have done much wrong and she’s taken it quite well. I know enough single mothers to know that sometimes things don’t work out, and it isn’t anyone’s fault in particular. At any rate, she’s not using her column inches to justify selfish and unacceptable behaviour on her part, nor to bad-mouth her husband (with whom she still maintains cordial relations); that this is unusual for articles of this nature says quite a lot. So I don’t think this woman is a deranged nutter, but as the article will show, she’s not being very realistic when it comes to finding future romance:

As a married person, I always enjoyed meeting new people and discovering new things, so I reckoned my dating life should be no different.

One often hears the friends of single women say “but she’s such a great person” as if the criteria for friendship is the same as that for a romantic partner. It’s not, and the two are very different. Your friend Lucy who you’ve known since college and is “unlucky in love” might be have been great on your holiday to Mykonos and a riot on a night out in Leeds, but that doesn’t mean a thing in the eyes of a man who’s looking for someone to share a chunk of his life with. People – including successful, handsome men – might have been happy to meet the author in a social setting, but that’s a whole different prospect from getting involved with her romantically. For a start, a lot of these people might already be in a relationship.

I expected glittering conversation over bottles of wine, interesting individuals who would change my perspective on life and love, and I figured that as an approaching-30 mum of two with only two evenings off a fortnight my spare time was precious: I didn’t want to spend it with men who didn’t fit my idea of perfection – or, at least, who didn’t get close to it.

There’s something strange about single women over a certain age in that they seem to only begrudgingly make time in their busy schedules to meet prospective partners. Okay, this lady is a single mother so she’s probably run off her feet, but you also see this with childless women. They pack their calendars full of guff like spinning classes and brunches during which they moan and bitch about the dearth of suitable men. But when one asks her out on a date her immediate response is to say “Oh, I’m really busy right now” and after a minute or two of face-pulling she’ll say “Maybe we can do Tuesday week, if I can get away from work easily.” Firstly, what’s this saying about her priorities? And secondly, what message is he going to take away from this? I’ve said this to women before: if you’re genuinely interested in a guy, and you want a relationship to work, you need to give him your time, not excuses. If you can’t do that, you’re not being serious.

Also, note the casual assumption that two evenings per fortnight is sufficient time for a single man looking for a serious relationship. Why would a man settle for that if he can find someone who’s free every weekend and one evening in the week? She’s acting as if she holds all the cards, and it only gets worse:

So focused was I in my quest for the perfect man that I decided to draw up a list of things I wanted in one. My thought was that, if they didn’t tick off at least half of the things on my list, then they probably weren’t going to be the one for me.

Ah yes, the the modern woman’s 277 bullet-point list of requirements every partner must satisfy. Thankfully this lady narrowed it down to a mere 18:

1. Intelligent, or at least well-educated.

2. Tall, preferably taller than 6 foot.

3. Older than me, probably between the ages of 32 and 40.

4. Doesn’t live at home with his parents.

5. Lives near me.

6. Likes music, but not bad music.

7. Has a challenging career that he loves and is passionate about.

8. Likes fancy food and to be cooked for. And cheeseburgers.

9. Respects and encourages my career.

10. Likes children, maybe has some – but doesn’t advertise them to the weirdos stalking their profile.

11. Has a great sense of humour (by which I mean ‘laughs at my jokes’).

12. Hot (duh).

13. Plays some sort of sport or at least goes to the gym.

14. Is fairly cultured, or at least likes to pretend to be.

15. Looks good in a suit.

16. Looks good out of a suit.

17. Understands the value of a nice pair of shoes.

18. Believes in chivalry.

As some wag on Twitter pointed out, I’d fail on No. 6 alone. But the question the authors of such lists never seem to ask themselves is why would a man with all those qualities be single? Because he hasn’t met the right woman yet? Yeah, right.

The other thing which is obvious is that these aren’t necessarily things she wants in a man, but things which her friends will approve of. Look at No. 14: who cares if he’s fairly cultured, provided he’s a good man and loves her? Well she does, because she doesn’t want her friends sniggering at her for being with a “low status” man according to their criteria of social ranking. This is a good half of the problem single women have: faced  with a shortage of men to begin with, they dismiss a huge chunk of them as unworthy because of what their social peers might think.

And so I set about my dating game. I went out with investment bankers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, 25-year-olds (I KNOW), journalists, comedians, marketing executives, academics . . . you name them, I’ve dated them (probably). I sat through endless hours of strangers regaling me with stories of their ‘colourful’ lives (I’ll be the judge of that, pal).

Note the long list of “respectable” professions of which her friends would approve, along with the in-joke about dating younger men. This is an attempt to show there was nothing wrong with the men she was dating on paper, hence she cannot be blamed for the subsequent failures.

I drank red wine in at least four different counties and in front of 16 different open fires, and the only reason I didn’t start a blog about all these awful dates was because my mum told me it would have been mean.

Why, it’s almost as if job titles have little to do with character and suitability as a partner.

It’s amazing how sterile and calculated the process started to feel. I’d meet someone and immediately assess them for the points I was looking for. If they didn’t fit? Game over.

Going dating with an 18-point checklist felt sterile? Who would have thought? I’d love to get the blokes’ feedback, but we never do, do we?

In the course of my dating I met many 30 and 40-somethings who were just desperate to settle down with a woman who’d happily cook for them and massage their egos for the rest of their lives and, I have to tell you, as lonely as I was I just wasn’t quite down for that.

A familiar lament. There are actually plenty of men who are ready to give these women everything they want; the problem is, the women find them repulsive.

To be honest, I had my own ego to take care of and there really wasn’t going to be time to look after anyone else’s.

There’s that time thing again. And it’s amazing how many women say they want a relationship but don’t want to massage someone’s ego. Isn’t the mutual massaging of egos and giving affirmations and assurances one of the fundamental bases of a relationship? Allow me to quote from my book:

Compliments are important to men, same as they are to women; we all need our egos massaged sometimes, and praise from a partner is a big part of it. Despite her bravado, Katya needed assurances, same as the rest of us. If I’d never told her how pretty she was or remarked on her wit or let her know I found her intriguing, she’d wouldn’t have slept well at night. It’s true that actions speak louder than words, but that doesn’t mean that words don’t matter at all.

A man or woman who thinks they have no obligation to massage their partner’s ego from time to time shouldn’t be in a relationship. And I’ve written before about women who think relationships involve no sacrifice or mutual obligations whatsoever.

I started to understand my single girlfriends’ wails when they’d come to me complaining about how they couldn’t find a boyfriend.

Understand, no. Relate to, yes.

Granted, the dates seemed to be easy to come by, it was just the quality of them that was a bit dubious.

As the saying goes, you can find a man who is smart, handsome, and single: pick any two.

Really, I just wanted to meet someone with whom I’d share a bit of chemistry and perhaps some interests and hobbies.

Which is what blokes look for, and when they find it they get married.

When I first became single I hadn’t thought that was a huge ask but, as I got deeper into my experiences of dating, I started to feel more and more envious of the 18-year-old me who’d met her perfect match in the most innocent of ways.

Now this lady didn’t initiate her divorce so I’ll not say anything mean, but I wonder how many women who did, and subsequently ran into the realities of dating past 30, now feel the same way? A lot, would be my guess.

I understood that I was an adult now, a mother, and had different thresholds and expectations when it came to the opposite sex, but why was this finding-a-man thing so freaking hard? I was a good person:

You might be a good person, but it’s not your place to say it. You sound like my Dad’s roofer. We need feedback from the blokes.

where was my Prince Charming, Mark II?

Married, oblivious to your existence. Predictably, there’s a book to be flogged:

Copy extracted from The Back-Up Plan by Alice Judge-Talbot(published by Coronet £18,99 and out now).

£19 for this? Lordy.