Finally, I know the kind of man I want.
He doesn’t have to talk to me or sleep with me; in fact, I am happy to walk three steps behind him – just so long as he is carrying my bags.
After deciding not to take the multiple amounts of medication given to me by doctors for my bad back, I spoke to an osteopath, who put the problem down to the immense bag carrying I have been doing on my Transatlantic travels – usually two cases that come up to my elbows, a back-pack, camera-case and equipment, and a handbag as big as a moose.
One of the cases is generally stuffed with dozens of books, and on one trip, before my back went, I managed to re-locate my entire collection of Italian, Spanish and French language learning sections of my new US home library, back to the UK.
Quite why I thought I was going to learn three languages on my ten-day break is a mystery.
If I had a Sherpa, he could also carry back and forth the Russian language learning section, which I bought when I recently decided to read Tolstoy in the original, too (I got as far as “Zavoot Jaci”, plus one obscene word, which is apparently the same in Polish).
Each decade brings about a big difference in the kind of man a girl wants, and travel has a lot to do with it. Between the ages of one and ten, she looks for The Protector, who will walk her to school and carry her satchel.
Eleven to 20: Protector turned Welcome Predator, who will start by carrying her satchel, but only with the aim of whipping her off to a quiet secluded spot when he acquires his driving licence at 17.
From 21 to 30, it’s The Wooer, who whisks her off to Paris and makes her cry (or was that just me?).
Thirty to 40, she wants The Provider: someone with a job, security and a bit of money, who will pay for a second home abroad.
If she’s still on her own at this time, or has dumped, or been dumped by, any of the ones she has acquired from the previous decade, from 40 to 50 she will simply start looking for The Available.
And if she hasn’t pulled post 50, all she wants is The Sherpa. Trust me: I’m there.
I have done more travelling since hitting 50 than I managed in the previous five decades, and having spent 25 years swearing I would never cross the Atlantic again, after visits in New York and LA in my twenties, now I can’t wait for the 11 hour journey, during which my mobile won’t ring, I can watch a couple of films, read a book, enjoy a decent meal and generally live a very comfortable life – albeit a mini-one.
And whether I travel with Air New Zealand or Virgin (forget BA; I’ll probably be able to buy a plane with my unused BA points, the way things are going), I know that I can rely on both to get me to my destination on time a darn sight more than I can rely on the First Great Western Railway to do the same between Paddington and Cardiff, when I hit the UK.
But the bags. The bags. Oh, how I need a bloke to help me with the bags. It’s the only thing missing now. At this age, I’m really easy maintenance otherwise.
Although my sexual desire has increased a hundredfold, post menopause, I’m really EPCM (Easy Post-Coital Management). Forget all that after-sex cuddling and kissing (and, heaven forbid for men, talking), that I wanted years ago, now I want him out by midnight so that I can watch the back to back CSI episodes from what feels like a hundred US cities.
Actually, I don’t even want him to hang around that long, and now I think I think that if I meet any halfway decent men, I’m going to have to establish some sort of shift system for my new lifestyle.
As I’m generally working by about 5.30am (and up at four, if I need to catch people in the UK before lunchtime), early mornings are out. Then, when I’ve managed a few hours work, it’s over to the gym and back at the apartment to watch Judge Alex over lunch.
It’s work again in the afternoon (there are so many more hours in the day over there – weird!), until two episodes of Two and a Half Men at seven; major dramas nine till 11, then late-night Chelsea Handler and Letterman, before CSI starts all over again.
So, basically, any man I meet has a brief window of opportunity between eight and 9pm – without food, and he’d better be quick about whatever it is he wants to do. Actually, on past experience, I’m now thinking that even an hour may be too long.
Like I said. Easy maintenance.
When I was back in the UK last week, nearly everyone asked me: “Have you got a man in LA?” I found it faintly irritating. It was never my top priority anyway, and it’s certainly not what I came here for. It’s not even on my radar.
And unless James Spader, David Letterman and Judge Alex are going to come up with an idea for how a foursome might work between us, that is unlikely to change.
But I’ll make an exception for a Sherpa.
My only worry is whether there will be time between the specified minutes for him to pack the travelling homes that have become my luggage.