Excerpt, Part 1: 'Around the World in 80 Dates'

It had been a year now since Kelly and I split up, and thankfully I was past the I'll Never Fall in Love Again stage. I spent a lot of time thinking about why we stayed together for as long as we did, also trying to work out how I could avoid making the same mistakes again. And during that year going over past choices and future options, I learned two things. Firstly, anyone who wants to know anything about Cher or Def Leppard should tune into VH1 at 3 a.m. Secondly, trying to find even a halfway decent boyfriend in London is a total nightmare. If you know the latter, chances are you've already discovered the former. Londoners have the longest working hours in Europe, and the highest number of stress-related diseases to prove it. It's hardly the setting for a romantic Barry White–type encounter -- "You're my first, you're my last, you're my intray?" -- yet precisely because we spend the majority of our time in the office, inevitably this is where we're hoping to meet Mr. Right. And failing to find him. Manners may maketh the man, but work unmaketh him pretty damn quick. It used to be exciting meeting someone in the office, but nowadays it means sifting through a pack of lifeless men so stressed and depressed that the only relationships they have the energy or confidence for are with their laptops and their lads' mags. And we SIWWIDs (Single-Income Women, Working Instead of Dating) have bought into the whole "mustn't try harder" myth: that being successful at work and having fun with our friends makes us independent and therefore unattractive to men. This really isn't the case: It's simply that the office -- all floppy disks and soft launches -- is not the place to find a satisfying relationship. Ten years ago when I moved from Australia back to England, I had to accept the sad truth that my marriage wasn't moving back with me. But I knew my love affair with travel was a relationship that would flourish wherever I went, so I lost no time getting a job in the travel industry. I became spokesperson and head of PR for the guidebook company Lonely Planet Publications, as well as a travel writer and correspondent for the BBC.

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