Share this article Share My partner and I had split up the previous year, after a year relationship. And not long after that, in July , I had woken up to the depressing realisation that it was my 60th birthday. Now I was single and 60 and feeling on the scrap heap.
It seemed as if it was all over for me - the love and passion, the sex and sensuality. Perhaps from now on I would focus on my relationships with my family. And no matriarch is more devoted than me. My sons were then aged 35 and 29, and my grandchildren were two and five. Time to move into a granny annex, maybe? Lifting the lid on his relationship with Monica, Tom said: But it was still a relationship of sorts' But I decided it wasn't yet time for the scrap heap.
Over the coming months, I would discover an army of males in their 20s and early 30s all harbouring fantasies about being with older women. And on the internet and through mobile phone apps, they had found an easy way of making these fantasies come true.
By the end of the year, I had slept with 15 men, 11 of whom were in their 20s or 30s. My experiment took me down some shadowy and chancy, not always wholesome, but always thoroughly invigorating rabbit holes. When I got divorced for the first time, at the age of 40 after a year marriage, I emerged blinking into the glare of a dating scene radically different from that of my youth.
After my second long-term relationship ended exactly 20 years later, the scene had spectacularly moved on yet again, thanks to the internet and an array of new technologies. It was a bewildering landscape, but I was glad to see how free of stigma online dating had become.
It seemed pretty much everyone was doing it. By this stage of my life, I was too battle-scarred to believe in knights on white chargers.
I would pack in as much as I could while I still had the face, the body and the desire for it. I was going to enjoy this' On the advice of a friend, I chose a dating site and gave my age as For my profile photo I chose a black-and-white portrait in which I wore an enigmatic smile.
The previous week I had written an article about my favourite poet, Edgar Allan Poe, centring on his most famous poem, The Raven. And so it was that I adopted the username 'Raven'. One Saturday morning, I saw a young face among the site's profiles. He was 23, just a baby. I'd forgotten that people on the site can tell when someone inspects their profile.
Three minutes later a message pinged into my inbox. I hope you don't mind me messaging but I noticed you had been looking at my profile so thought I would say hello. And I love women who are older than me. Another new young friend, Simon, was 25, slim, sweet-faced and boyish, a little shy.
He was an internet entrepreneur and passionate about digital technology. When he mentioned that he still lived at home, I felt a wicked frisson shoot down my cradle-snatching spine. The year-old dated accountant Tom, 23, for nine months.
Their affair was the most serious of Monica's flings We got on to the subject of relationships. That's why we all use dating sites. Later that evening, Simon came home with me. We had a cup of tea so English then went up to bed. Increasingly I felt that the big-bellied, baggage-laden oldsters on the dating site couldn't compete with these tempting young men. Why on earth would you choose the boring old Victoria sponge?
But I was about to learn how weird online dating could be. A few weeks later, I was sitting on a bar stool in my local when Max walked in. He was 30 and 6ft. A graphic designer living in the East End. Tall and cool, wearing jeans and a tight-fitting hoodie that showed off his fit young body.
I was going to enjoy this date. I gave him what I hoped was an alluring smile. Obviously he had never heard the phrase. In bed, he looked into my eyes and asked: I was finding it hard to breathe.
At long last he let go of me. In future I would have to be more cautious. Meeting desirable young men had proved to be surprisingly easy online. But it was to become a whole lot easier. In reality, Tinder is a facilitator of casual sexual encounters between individuals who fancy each other I downloaded it and within a few days I had a small stable of fledgling studs ready and willing to play.
Most were not long out of university, but they couldn't wait to tell me that older women were their fantasy. My first Tinder tryst was with Tom, a tall, dark and dishy northern boy of 21 who had recently graduated and was working as an intern in the City.
After 45 minutes, we decided not to order a second round at The Bells but have a drink back at mine. Tom left at 9pm. I, meanwhile, had flopped on to the sofa to watch TV when I got a Tinder message from another of my matches, year-old Jon. According to the app he lived only a mile away. Monica Porter pictured at age 20 'I'd like to come over,' he messaged. This is the Raven we're talking about. And his photos were captivating.
Jon left sometime after midnight. Not all my men were young. Charles was a man in his mid-fifties with classic good looks. Swept-back brown hair, hazel eyes, chiselled face and a gleaming white Hollywood smile. I clicked on his picture and learned that, unsurprisingly, he was an American expat. He looked every bit the business executive that he said he was. So it was with a gleeful squeal that I found a message from him one morning: He explained that he had divorced his wife the previous year and was attempting to open a new chapter in his life.
Charles and I met in the swish bar at Claridge's. He had texted me to say that he would get there a few minutes early, 'so that you won't have to wait and have people wonder what an attractive woman is doing alone in a hotel bar'. As if I wouldn't recognise him!
I spotted him right away; he was even more handsome than in his photos, and exuded a collegiate air. We had three cocktails apiece and I had little recollection of how we got to my house, only a dim sense of having ridden up and down some Tube escalators. Then all of a sudden I found myself unlocking the door, climbing up the stairs and dropping down on to my bed, with Charles gently pulling off my shoes.
A second date followed a similar pattern, ending at his apartment in Marylebone. The next morning, we got dressed and he said he would walk me to the Tube station. We sat outdoors at a cafe in the morning sun and ordered cappuccinos. Stirring his coffee, Charles told me there was something on his mind: As well as men in their 20s, Monica met a man in his mids in the swish bar at Claridge's 'We still have matters to sort out.
Usually we do it by email but I thought I'd call instead. Guess I felt like hearing her voice Charles gave a weak smile. My next encounter was with Jake, a 6ft 3in, blond, rugby-playing year-old who lived with his family in South Kensington. He was so well-constructed that I would defy any red-blooded woman not to drool over the Tinder photo of him in his swimming trunks.
Then there was Sam, who for me spelled the endgame. Our introductory e-conversation, late one night, turned quite ugly. He soon began to doubt my identity, demanding to know what I 'really looked like'. Then he became insulting about my age.
It had not been designed for the likes of me. I had finally twigged how the virtual dating system worked. New connections were constantly forming, leaving earlier ones to dissolve. The hapless were dropped while other options were explored.
Everything was built on shifting sand, nothing was solid or reliable or entirely real. The more you wanted to believe in the emotional value of a particular connection, the more likely it was to be merely a mirage.