I feel as though I'm about to sit my A-levels all over again. Mairead phones to tell me about M, who is 46, in wealth management, whatever that is, and a divorced father of two grown-up boys. We agree to meet the following night in the bar at Claridges. I buy a black lace skirt and silver platforms from Prada, and get my hair done.
She tells me I seem to have narrowed my options to Paul Mc Cartney but, rather valiantly, accepts the challenge to help me find Mr Right. Once a client has been interviewed and then vetted - Mairead visits them at home, checking out passports and, if necessary, decree absolutes - she will then introduce them to prospective partners all over the world (rich people, it seems, have no truck with annoying things like distance and time zones).
Irish by birth, and having made a fortune in hotels, she now divides her time between Cannes and London.
Five years ago, with an address book positively bulging with successful but often lonely men and women, she decided to set up a dating agency.
She never sends clients photos, but instead supplies a brief resume of their qualities. He says he likes good hotels and restaurants, long walks and log fires.
She has, she says, an instinct for knowing who will hit it off. 'Looks are subjective,' she says, and adds 'he is charismatic and an animal lover with a Labrador.' That swings it. I tell him I live in the middle of Exmoor, have horses, dogs, cats and rescued farm animals, and am recently divorced.
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