It doesn't bode well that it's my date, and I don't even recognise him!I think I cover up my amnesia, and he gallantly phones his driver to take me back to my hotel.

'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.

Otherwise, the qualities I am looking for are pretty standard: he must be kind, funny, not pompous or bossy, be intelligent and well read and an animal lover.

I tell her I'd prefer someone around my own age (she tells me I don't look 50, and am in fact 'slim, fashionable and gorgeous', which makes me want to date her), but they must be boyish rather than Steptoe-like (I tell her Imran Khan could be her template, although I wouldn't date him as I don't think my cats would want to live in Pakistan).

I hobble off into the night on my shoes and text Mairead: 'Am V depressed. I find this hard to believe, having watched a great many episodes of Sex And The City, but I valiantly call skirt and shoes into service yet again (wearing the same outfit acts, I as a sort of scientific control), meet Christie, from Mairead's sister agency, Premier Matchmaking, who is hand to arrange everything.

Our chat reveals straight away how different the dating scene is in the U. She tells me where my prospective date went to school and college, lists his many degrees, tells me he is 6ft 2in, divrced with no children, and is the CEO of a bank. I agree to meet P at a restaurant on Madison Avenue. He arrives, and although he is indeed tall and dark, resembling none other than Mr Big, I know in less than five seconds that I will never fancy him. The test is what they look like straight out of the shower.' Oh dear.

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?

We say our goodbyes and I go to freeze in the snow, trying to hail a cab.

After about ten minutes, a man asks if I need help.

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.