As they cuddled together in a gold-encrusted gondola, Sally Humphreys leaned in adoringly for a lingering kiss - from a man almost old enough to be her grandad. His thin, wrinkled lips were puckered like those of a man who had misplaced his dentures.His crepey skin stretched across his thin, boney face, his sun-damaged hand reached for her slender knee, his turkey neck wobbled in anticipation of a night of passion. One can only imagine that when they did make love, Miss Humphreys laid back and thought of the Bank of England.

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It found good-looking men were able to convey their confidence and attractiveness in their written self-description – and that women volunteers were able to recognise their beauty without being shown the lonely heart’s accompanying photograph.

The pattern is always the same: rich, successful older man pairs up with unknown young woman.

But after the first flutter of love and £50 notes, do these women really have any idea what is in store for them?

Not that there is any shortage of much younger women keen to go to bed with these gnarled old codgers.

Monty Python’s John Cleese, 72 years old, is in a relationship with 41-year-old Jennifer Wade; Charles Dance dated 25-year-old Sophia Myles when he was 58; 80-year-old Des O’Connor’s wife is 43-year-old Jodie Brooke Wilson.

As I discovered recently at a gathering of thirty to fifty-something women who were all single and dating, a younger woman pays an especially heavy price to be with a much older man.

You only have to look closely at the picture of Ronnie Wood to see what they’re in for.

They were also asked to rate each candidate on how kind, confident, intelligent, funny or humorous he seemed from his profile.