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In which we fly the flag for singletons...

IT WILL happen when you least expect it' goes the well-worn wisdom doled out to single women. It's sage advice -- if they were talking about the timing belt on a car, Michael Fassbender's full frontal in Shame or the apocalypse -- but love at first sight? Not so much.

You see, I'm always expecting it. It's not possible for me to expect it any less. Maybe more. But definitely not less.

Like a dog waiting diligently for its owner to come home, or a child staying up for Santa Claus... or a 29-year-old woman who just wants to get spooned on a regular basis.

I've eyed men up in the supermarket, the dentist and the vet. At house parties and garden soirees. At Christenings, weddings, and... yes... there too.

I can scan a nightclub in about 2.3 seconds. I don't even need to glance left or right. It's a super-human ability of which I'm, frankly, rather proud.

Airplanes are a particular favourite. 'This is when I'd definitely least expect it', I think to myself, willing the tall, sandy-haired fella in front of me to turn around so I can get a look at him.

And then he does. 'Oh... no'. Alas, my hopes are dashed for the next 15 seconds, or however long it takes for the pilot to make his announcement. 'He could be nice...'


If this all sounds very sad and pathetic, it's because it is. But mercifully I have friends who are even more sad and pathetic than me. One in particular.

She called me about a week before Christmas. "There's a candlelight vigil for solidarity with Palestine at The Spire tomorrow night," she began. "Do you want to go?"

I was shocked. The last time she marched in solidarity was down Grafton Street to the Brown Thomas winter sales. This is the woman who refuses to get on a bus and insists on referring to people she doesn't like as "just dreadful".

This is the woman who once asked me: "What was Hilter's beef with the Jews?"

But I was also rather taken with her spiritual awakening. She was obviously beginning to realise what's important in life.

"I'd love to," I told her. "Great idea."

We met outside Supermacs on O'Connell Street and proceeded to stroll up towards The Spire. Our conversation quickly turned to eligible gentlemen in Dublin, or the lack thereof.

"Where are they all?" I asked her for about the 5,000th time.

She looked back at me, her six-inch heels clipitty-clapping on the pavement. "They'll be here tonight," she winked.

It transpired that her reason for attending the vigil was not to end the siege on Gaza, rather to end the great famine of men in her life. She was sure that a fella she's admired from afar, one Trevor Hogan, would be there.

He's an ex-Leinster Rugby lock who has become a Pro-Palestinian activist. She wasn't so much giving destiny a gentle nudge as pushing it to the ground and getting it into a headlock.

You have to admire her bravery. Not only was she willing to impersonate a humanitarian to meet a man. She was also ready to jump on the next flotilla.

Trevor wasn't at The Spire when we got there. Indeed, nobody was. There were no candles, no flags, no placards...

We circumnavigated the monument, eyeing up all the bystanders. Were they at the vigil? Maybe this is the vigil? It's at times like this you realise the importance of leaders.

Eventually we spied a pocket of action. Men! Menna from heaven. The famine was over! On closer inspection, the men -- all six of them -- were in their fifties, sixties and seventies. Trevor is 33, according to his Wikipedia page. (According to the papers, he became engaged last week. I hasten to add that my friend was as clueless about his relationship status then as she is about the political situation in Palestine, even now.)

My pal skipped over to the group -- still hopeful that Trevor might come striding down O'Connell Street on a big white horse. "Is this the, like, vigil?" she asked.

The group were busy setting up a trestle table on which they were stacking up petition forms and laying out 'Free Palestine' badges.

"Yes," said one of them, "Do you want a placard or a flag?" Somehow my pal thought a flag would be less conspicuous.

She was soon in possession of the biggest Palestinian flag I've ever seen. Really, this thing was of biblical proportions. It wasn't a flag. It was the flag. The only flag.

Her intention was to blend into the background, scope out the protest and spy on Trevor. Her misfortune was that she was the protest. And Trevor was nowhere to be seen.

"Oh God, oh God, oh God... " she whispered to me. "Do you think I can just give the flag back to them -- I'll say I have a sore arm."

"Why don't you wrap yourself in it?" I offered helpfully. "And then set it on fire. He'd love that."

"F**k off."


She tried to position the flag in such a way as to cover her face, but the vigil director was now asking us to walk around in a circle, with my pal and her flag heading up proceedings. "Oh dear God no," she wailed under her breath.

"Go on, off you go," I cackled, enjoying every second of her ego-crushing horror and praying that someone -- anyone -- we knew would walk by.

"Oh, my ego," she cried when a passing car beeped in support.

"Can you walk around in a circle, please?" the vigil director reminded us. And off we went, chatting through clenched teeth like a couple of ventriloquists.

"So would this feature in the top tennies of most humiliating attempts to meet a man?" I ask, candle poised in my hand, sombre expression spread across my face.

"Oh, this is in the top threeies," she answered at once, her expression entirely unchanged, and the wind whipping the flag around her feet.

She lasted another 12 minutes, at which point she told me she was leaving, with or without me.

They say women give all the green lights in the early stages of a relationship. That they create the opportunities for men to 'think' they are making the first move. I say we don't just give the green light. We rev up the engine, put the foot to the floor and later spread ourselves naked across the bonnet.

I have another friend who had designs on a film director who was in Dublin for a premiere. She called me up the day before, talking about how they just had to meet, that they were on the same page. They just needed to connect and destiny would take care of the rest.

"Sooooooo," she concluded, "I'm going to wait outside the cinema and follow him." It gets better. "And I'll be carrying the script I'm working on so he'll strike up conversation."

Obviously, I thought this was an utterly insane -- and potentially criminal -- idea. Naturally, I told her it was the best plan I'd heard in my entire life.

"Go for it," I said, as I made my own plans to have our mutual friends follow her following him. When the hunter becomes the hunted, etc. Unfortunately, she bottled it.

She came back down to earth a few days later, at which point I took the opportunity to remind her that stalkers start out "just like you and me". "They don't wake up one day and think, 'I must send that singer a severed pig's head in the post'. It's a gradual journey into the unknown... which begins around the same time that you start lurking outside cinemas..." Or travelling to the Cannes Film Festival in the hope of 'bumping into' Mr Ryan Gosling. But that's another story...