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They met at 5pm in the upstairs bar and spent an hour and a half talking about what she wanted in a partner.‘I asked her about the sort of men they had on their books and she told me she had two men immediately in mind for me. I asked specifically if these men were looking for a quick fling or a long-term relationship and she said, “If they’re paying upwards of £500 for membership, then they’re looking for a relationship.” ’She then enquired about meeting Tim but was told that he was now in a relationship and had come off their books. A strange email exchange ensued in which he informed her in pidgin English that while he was ‘very happy and excited to meet a person of such attractive profile’, he was ‘only a novice in the single life’.In further emails, she found out that he had only been divorced for two months.
‘He kept going on about his boating holiday on the Thames. As we walked down the King’s Road, me with my designer handbag and Terry with his rucksack, I just thought, “So much for the neuro- linguistic programming.” ’But there was worse to come.Over pizza, Ms Fontaine discovered that Terry wasn’t a paying member of Elect.‘He said he had had a call from them inviting him to come to some events.She looks for staff with counselling qualifications - "because you are dealing with people's emotions at the highest level" - and those with a university degree in a "helpful" subject such as management.A major requirement is discretion, for no agency wants to employ a matchmaker who discusses clients outside the office.Her business and management experience was essential, particularly her budgeting skills and knowledge of spreadsheets.
Balfour says that agency directors need a flair for publicity and for public speaking, as well as strong computer skills.
She says: ‘I thought I had better play ball and go along on at least one date, otherwise they would say I hadn’t tried.’They met at Sloane Square, in Chelsea, where Terry emerged from the Underground station wearing an anorak and carrying a rucksack.
He informed her that although he did have a car, he couldn’t afford to run it.
"'One day,' I told my stepdaughter, 'I think I'll start a dating agency, that sounds rather fun.'" So in 1986 she bought Drawing Down the Moon, where she pictured herself reclining on a chaise longue, drinking coffee and gossiping about men.
But it turned out to be "damn hard work," she says.
Kennedy says that while some members do disappear off the radar, others send wedding invitations and baby pictures.