THE BLOG

Alone Again (Un)naturally

06/08/2014 11:29 BST | Updated 04/10/2014 10:59 BST

Dating sites and introduction agencies are almost as old as romance itself.

Despite what we've been led to believe, Adam and Eve probably met through an earlier incarnation of www.match.com. Doubtless it was called Apple Of My Eye. Not that it had many members back then from which to choose. It didn't even have an online site.

All the same, it prevented Eve from having to spend the rest of her life (and all eternity) with some toothless shepherd from Galilee. I wonder if that shepherd ever met their someone special? Maybe a pop-eyed, hunchbacked seamstress from Samaria. Actually, I think I might have recently caught one of their descendants on a supermarket till.

Today, there are literally hundreds of these companies promising to help you find the perfect partner. You don't need reminding who they are. You might already have used their services. In 2014, there isn't any embarrassment in doing so.

Hooking up is big business. In fact, in the UK, it's a multi million pound - over £150 million - industry devoted to the lovelorn.

Sadly, the Wedded Bliss agency is no longer among their ranks. As featured in Carry On Loving, it was run by Sidney Bliss (Sid James) and his girlfriend, Sophie Plummett (Hattie Jacques).

It wasn't terribly successful. Nor for that matter was By Invitation Only. Never heard of it? The fault for this could in part be laid at my door.

This was an upmarket agency and at the time, I, along with my brother, created a series of print ads for it which were placed as full pages in the Times.

One of the ads had the following headline: 'You Come Into This World Alone. You Leave This World Alone. Don't Live it in Alone.'

All these years later, it still remains the favourite headline I ever wrote.

Unfortunately, it committed one of the cardinal sins in advertising and that is to mention the word 'alone'. Not once, but three times.

No one wants to be reminded that they're alone. This is why in 1959, a campaign for Strand cigarettes (a brand now relegated to the failing minds of old ad men) was such a flop.

It showed a good looking guy in the mould of Frank Sinatra on a deserted London street while smoking a Strand. If had the tag line of: You're Never Alone With a Strand. This inferred to the public that his only mate in the whole wide world was a stick of cancer - killing nicotine.

Regardless of this, the question remains, is it really so bad to be alone?

It's a question that occurred to me the other evening when I popped into a local restaurant to grab a bite. Among the tables of couples, friends and families, I was the only lone diner.

It wasn't something I was especially concerned by. After all, I'm fast approaching that age when few things bother me. Well, apart from getting up in the middle of the night to pee.

However, what did these more sociable sorts think of a person dining by himself?

Were they asking themselves if I'd been stood up? Was I perhaps a businessman from out of town celebrating a mega deal with a glass of homemade lemonade and steak frites? More mysteriously, could I have been a private investigator sent by their wife or husband to spy on them and their secret companion? The man and woman in the corner did admittedly get up rather sharpish.

Alternatively, was I just some total saddo who had no one to share a meal with?

The following day, while buying supper in M&S, I pondered whether the current obesity crisis is also down to loneliness.

How many shoppers buy a calorific meal deal for two and then eat the whole lot because they don't want to been seen with a spaghetti bolognese for one in their basket?

To some people, eating alone is dreadful enough. But what about visiting the cinema, the theatre or, heaven forbid, going on holiday alone?

Personally, I always go to see films by myself. I wouldn't have it any other way. The last thing anyone wants, particularly me, is to have someone next to them forever wanting to know what happens next? How should I know, I've never seen it before either.

Of course, once the movie's over and the lights have come back on, one must face the reality of returning alone to an empty house and climbing alone into a cold lonely bed.

Where's Sidney Bliss and the Wedded Bliss agency when you need them?