Calling all singletons

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Take a leaf out of Bridget Jones's book. Dorothy Lepkowska finds amour the merrier

Amy Wake is a Year 4 teacher, she's been single for nine months and she's fed up with moaning about men to girlfriends. So when we sounded a call for teachers to go speed-dating she jumped at the chance.

"It's really important for me to have relationships with people who aren't teachers. I need to escape from work," said Amy.

Speed-dating began 10 years ago as a match-making club for young Jewish people in New York, and has become a worldwide phenomenon.

We took Amy to one of dating organisation Speeddater's top London venues to meet 20 men in her age bracket. She's done some homework and has two questions for her dates, in case the conversation dries up: "What did you do today?" and "Give yourself a complimen.t" She's also got a new outfit for the night. "I'm glad it's quite dark.

Hopefully noone will notice my awful 'playing with glue and paint' hands."

The bell rings and Amy takes a deep breath and sits down. She is wearing badge number five, and so man number five is her first date; he's tall, wears glasses, they shake hands. Amy smiles, a good sign, but with date number two, her arms are folded across her knees - not so good.

Number three leans into her - definitely interested, but number four sits too close. Number five is funny but not fanciable, but number six is tall, handsome, and a fireman.

The noise levels get louder as a one glass of wine becomes two, or three, and confidence levels rise.

After 10 dates Amy is getting into her stride, and she has a couple of ticks on her scorecard.

"It's great having adult conversation, and the quality of men is better than I expected," she said.

Number 15 has a high-powered job but thinking of becoming a secondary teacher; number 20 and we're nearly there. He sits next to Amy rather than opposite her and puts his arm seductively across the back of the sofa, as he gazes into her eyes. He's done this before.

By the close of play she has marked down four yes's, three she would like to see again, and 13 non-starters.

The verdict from Speed-dater says three men want to be friends, the prospective secondary teacher and another offers an immediate dinner invitation.

Did she learn anything about men, or herself?

Amy says: "Funnily enough I've learned that I really love teaching. When I told people what I do for a living they asked if I enjoy it. I tried to say something different each time.

"I've also learned not to judge by appearance. Some of the guys I thought I wouldn't like on first impression turned out to be really nice."


LOOKING FOR: A man who can make her laugh, who is entertaining and looks after himself but doesn't take life or himself too seriously. Strictly no baggage

LIKES: Dark rather than blond. Films, theatre, musicals DISLIKES: Arrogance and Burberry-wearers

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