Another year, another - new! - you. Once more the triumph of hope over experience is taking place all across the land, and people who should know better are pledging to be thinner, fitter, better.
And what could be better than finding someone worthy of this new butterfly-you about to burst free of the constraining cocoon of the last calendar year? Hence all the online dating adverts currently all over the commercial TV channels like a rash. (Maybe not a good metaphor in this context...)
There was a right dust-up some time back when a dating bureau solely for those who are really, really, ridiculously good-looking (can't you just see Derek Zoolander joining?) was set up, and some of those who didn't make the grade had a bit of a hissy about it. But I actually find this lulu a lot less hypocritical and reprehensible than the likes of that painfully sincere online dating agency whose TV commercial features two wimps in a junk shop bonding over their love of The Godfather 3. Come on, look at the pair of them! I refuse to believe that such a couple of milksops could stomach any cinematic fare stronger than The Little Mermaid - and even then they'd probably hide their eyes when Ursula The Sea Witch appeared.
Most dating agencies spurn the lure of physical beauty, boasting that they will match lonely hearts based on intelligence, humour and values. Please! I know lots of women who lie to themselves when they do magazine quizzes - I know a woman who lies about her star-sign because she reckons that Aquarius sounds sexier than Cancer - how on earth can anyone be trusted to tell the truth when attempting to attract a potential life partner. Like anyone's going to admit to being a dim, humourless slapper unless they have a gun to their head!
Lots of women dismiss as shallow men who are attracted only to young, blonde and/or big breasted women. But a woman who insists that she will only date rich, tall, good looking men is being equally small minded. And - if she is out of her twenties and less than a 9, looks-wise - she's self-deluding, too. In Manhattan, where marriageable professional men are legendarily rare, I hear there has been a trend for some years now for successful professional women to join dating bureaux in search of poorer men who are accomplished and attractive in other ways, such as carpenters and firemen. Don't know about you, but if I was single I'd rather date a fit, poor fireman than a stuffed shirt with a high salary any day.
The best looking, most sex-successful man I ever met - and he wasn't rich or famous - was a kid who refused to admit to fancying a 'type' but instead used to say, charmingly, when asked what sort of woman he liked 'A woman who likes ME!' Ladies, I'm not suggesting that you wear a blindfold to your next blind date. But it wouldn't hurt to turn up without a clipboard and a check-list, either.
Julie Burchill is a renowned journalist who has contributed to The Times, The Guardian and The Sun among other publications - she currently writes a weekly column for The Independent. She is also the author of several successful books including Not In My Name: A Compendium of Modern Hypocrisy and Sugar Rush.