Faint memories of a non-negotiables list stirred at our first encounter. I listened to Edward, looked into his eyes, and showed him I was charmed. In April, together with our daughter Isabella, 5, we will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary.

So, reader, take your cue from How to Meet a Man after Forty and tear up that list.

How to Meet a Man After Forty transforms the single fortysomething no-hoper into a woman with the whip handle firmly in her grasp.

It makes for sexual frisson, or deliciously bitchy sessions.

She's a breath of fresh air, a free spirit in a conformist society, a one-off.

Yes, I wanted to marry and live happily ever after – but only once certain boxes were ticked. And I compiled a list of what Shane Watson dubs the Guaranteed Deal Breakers: sandals and socks, a shaved head, a bicycle, sleeveless pullovers, ankle skimming trousers. The list of non-negotiables is just as blinding; you obsess about the sandals and can't see the wit, the charm and the twinkly eyes.

I compiled a list of all the pre-requisites: he must be single or a widower (I'm Catholic and don't do divorcees); moneyed (why wait 20 years for a leech? As for waiting around: why is a go-getter who holds down a demanding job, holidays in the Andes or the Gobi desert and manages a high-octane social life so ridiculously passive when it comes to the most important decision of her life?

And it was, loud and clear: "Not Ready to Settle Down." It got me thinking about all the attractive, successful single women I've met over the years – and Shane, whom I knew back in the Eighties, was one of them – and how they seemed to have it all; their professional status, their own homes (and mortgages), their own Mastercard (sometimes gold-plated), their own teeth (sometimes capped and bleached). If ever you watched them in a room full of people at a party, you'd see them refuse to go out of their way to meet the one available man who, usually, had been invited by the hostess with good intentions, especially for them to meet.

When they were dragged over to meet him eventually, they wouldn't flirt or flatter him or express any interest at all.

Standing on your own two feet is great, but make a show of it and you come across as chippy or at the very least untouchable.

He's looking for The One, and seeks a woman who, if not instantly available, is easily accessible.

Fatalism has no place in your career: why should it in your love life? At 42, while researching female fertility for a Newsnight report I was to present, I discovered I had only a two per cent chance of conceiving naturally.

I also interviewed several women who had failed in their attempts at IVF, and I knew that I was not prepared to undergo that physical and emotional ordeal. If I was too old to have children, there was no rush. The journalist Anne Applebaum, a mutual friend, told me not to even think of Edward as a potential husband.

On meeting Available Man, engage, rather than pretend aloofness.