ILIVE alone, which is not as bad as it sounds, despite the bewilderment of some people I meet at parties. I can just tell they have an invisible "why aren't you married?" thought bubble over their heads as they earnestly recommend getting out and meeting people.
They clearly feel that, with a bit of effort on my part and a fair wind, I could change my single status and wave goodbye to my current straitened existence of near bankruptcy and wondering where the water stopcock is.
One sexagenarian even put it into words at a recent family gathering (he wasn't family and I'd never met him before but for some unfathomable reason he was there).
"How old are you?" he said boldly. And when he got the answer, which I won't reveal here, pressed home with "So how have you got this far without some man making a nuisance of himself?"
Rather than being drawn into further revelations on this point by saying "I haven't" or silencing further comment by snapping "none of your business", I steered a neutral course and said, in a vague sort of way, "I don't know". To scotch further discussion, I distracted him with another topic – himself – which kept him happily occupied for quite some time.
It gave me food for thought, though. Because really, when it comes down to it, I don't know why I live alone or why I'm not married. It just sort of happened.
I realise this makes me sound like a liar, or at the very least coy. And yes, if Colin Firth or some other unobjectionable male film star wanted to move in, I'm sure I'd be scurrying to the locksmith to get the keys cut.
But, really there are a lot of advantages to living alone. Like having your own things just where you want. And choosing to eat what you want and spending how much you want on what you want. And if that happens to be cashmere jumpers, rather than the gas bill, and that causes a few problems down the line, then I've got no one to answer to but myself.
Herein lies the nub of those prurient questions from strangers on my marital status. We may think we live in the modern world, but in reality old attitudes take many years to die a death and are still very much alive and kicking in the minds, and value systems, of the older generation. And what bothers older people (I think) is not so much that I'm starved of romance in my single state. It is the practical hassles, like money and fixing things, I'd be able to offload, if only I'd done the sensible thing and bagged myself a husband.
This comes into sharper focus during a recession, when everyone is whizzing around like flies just to hold on to their precarious jobs.
I suppose if there are two of you, then at least you could be broke and worried together. And the law of averages would suggest you wouldn't both manage to lose your jobs at exactly the same time, which at least means that one of you could have dinner on the table when the other one staggered in with a face like the living dead after a day at the coalface.
My generation was brought up to think that such a fate as staying at home and getting the dinner on was a fate worse than death. But as anyone who, like me is shoving pitta bread in the toaster and boiling the kettle for packet soup after getting in at 8pm realises, there were some advantages to the old system.
In fact, though, having to make the dinner, while irksome when tired, is not the chink in my armour which has me, just sometimes, yearning for an old-fashioned white wedding with all the trimmings.
It is, rather, the moment when I get home after a long day and realise that Something Has Broken. Truly every aspect of being home alone is manageable except this one.
The leak in the yard, the broken gas fire, the hot water tank that isn't hot, the kettle refusing to boil (ok, I did actually manage to fix that one), these everyday domestic breakdowns are my nemesis.
And DIY has the power to reduce me to tears. I did try to use an electric screwdriver once, but the blood dripping all over the place was very off-putting. I've steered clear of power tools ever since.
So if there are any Colin Firth lookalikes who know how to use a Black and Decker reading this, do get in touch. I promise I won't mention marriage.