A Singles' Holiday

My 40th birthday party had made me nervous. It made me start to analyse my life up till now. I led a single life. No proposals had come my way. When I was 23, I had moved in with Mark. We lived together for four years and then we separated. Three years after that I had moved in with Tony, but that had lasted only two years. After that I had become wary of moving in with anyone.

I felt lonely. I missed the company of a man in my life. Should I go speed-dating or on a singles’ holiday? I decided on a holiday and booked myself two weeks in Collioure in France, a place favoured by the Fauvist artists. As it was a singles’ holiday, we all knew that we were there to hunt for a mate. The male/female ratio was depressing: the group consisted of 18 women and seven men.

Collioure itself — the lovely setting of the castle, harbour and the church with the Mediterranean glittering and the Pyrenees rising majestically — was magical. It was very lively everywhere. The group had organised programmes for the evenings. That was the point of the tour. During daytime the activities were by choice.

In our group I quite liked Stephen, who was in his early fifties. He was a bit paunchy and wore glasses, but he was amusing. Sadly I did not get much time with him, because three of the women had already made a beeline for him. The two younger men in their thirties were overwhelmed with attention. I sighed, and relaxed.

Nearly a week had passed and I was in the town centre when I got talking to Jacques, who was an artist and owned one of the shops. Late forties, dark curly hair and laughing eyes. I was most attracted to him. As I spoke fluent French, we had no language problems. Jacques asked me out to dine. I went. He took me on his boat. We spent time on the beach. He drove me to the heights of Cerdagne, where we stayed overnight. Much has been written on the prowess and charm of Frenchmen, and deservedly so. My holiday was wonderful. All wonderful things have got to come to an end — I said tearful goodbyes and we promised to write. Of course we never did.

Back in London I basked in the warmth of the holiday, in spite of not finding a man. However, there is a twist to the tale. I got a phone call from Stephen, who asked me out. From the beginning he had noticed me. Before he had had time to approach me, I had been courted by the charming Frenchman. Stephen gritted his teeth, made sure that he got my phone number, and decided to pursue me when the disturbing Frenchman was out of the way. A year later we married.