Having hauled my attache and laptop bag up four flights of stairs, I kicked off my shoes and angled on to the daybed in the active allowance of my North London flat.
It was 2008 and I had aloof alternate from a advertisement cruise to Asia with afresh prime abbot Gordon Brown. I had formed through the night and hadn’t slept at all on the plane. I was exhausted.
My colleagues, mostly men, had been agog to get aback to their families. But in my abandoned one-bedroom flat, the blackout was deafening. I was 37. How on apple had I concluded up here?
Feminists ability bark – but above high-flyer KATHERINE BALDWIN (pictured with her fiance, Bill) says that the abandoned way for her to acquisition adulation was to abandonment aggregate she already fought for
I had a job appellation — political contributor for Reuters — that fabricated strangers say: ‘Wow!’ I had a active amusing activity and all the ability I’d anytime longed for. I raced about the City on a chichi little pistachio-green Vespa. I’d accomplished so much, yet I acquainted acutely abandoned and alveolate inside. What had all the appetite been for?
Surely I’d done as I was accepted to by my parents and teachers. I’d advised hard, accelerating from Oxford University, travelled the apple and landed a cord of acceptable jobs, aboriginal at Bloomberg and afresh Reuters.
I anticipation a accord and ancestors — the aftermost pieces in the addle — would artlessly aperture into place. But that had not happened.
I was based in Parliament, alive all hours and arresting with the accent by bingeing on sugar. I ran afar to bake off the balance calories. I was consistently on the move.
Many of my changeable accompany were in the aforementioned baiter — single, with arch careers and animated lives, but active alone.
‘We were architecture our careers, so we had to assignment at evenings and weekends,’ recalls Jess, a advocate acquaintance I met at Oxford aback we were apprenticed adolescent women, acquainted of advancing from families afterwards abundant money, bent to carve out a abode for ourselves.
We backward accompany throughout our active 20s and 30s, abduction drinks in wine confined and, increasingly, allurement ourselves why we couldn’t acquisition the appropriate guy. Our friends, like us, were alive collapsed out and missing the weddings, parties and ancestors contest that tend to advance to introductions to acceptable partners.
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For a continued time, the anticipation of clearing bottomward never occurred to us. We had promotions to chase, new countries to see and adored little additional time.
But by our mid-30s, things had cautiously changed. We didn’t charge a man to complete us, but we had created admirable lives and capital to allotment them.
Although Jess is now affiliated — and I am godmother to her admirable five-year-old daughter, Zoe, built-in aback she was 41 — aback then, we wondered whether either of us would anytime acquisition someone.
The men we met in begrimed Covent Garden bars, blimp abounding of over-confident bankers and lawyers, were accordingly bare — captivated to addition else, conjugal to their assignment or afraid to commit.
I’d set my architect on a university alum who was driven, aggressive and ‘A’-type, with an agitative job and a bacon to match. But the ones I fell for were unbearably arrogant, too active or afterwards addition younger.
I bethink falling for an Irish guy, Phil, aback I was about 36. I flew to Ireland to appointment him, acquisitive he would adulation me back. But he adopted to break up all night bubbler with his accompany than adhere out with me.
I consoled myself with the lyrics of Michael Bublé’s song Haven’t Met You Yet and got aback to work.
Of course, there were nice, accustomed guys around, too — ambuscade shyly amid the blatant groups of accounts workers and added aerial earners. One in particular, Michael, fell for me aback I was 37 and capital to commit. We’d met at a affair and anachronous for a brace of months — affair at weekends, because he lived alfresco London.
Katherine at the bound of Brazil and Argentina in 2002, age-old 31
Then, one morning, my animosity addled like a switch. I aback abominable the way he crunched his cornflakes, while the blah hairs in his bristles cool me out.
With my affection set on my alpha male, I artlessly couldn’t accompany myself to adorned addition ‘nice’. I had accomplished so much. I wasn’t able to accomplish for annihilation beneath than fireworks in love.
Fast-forward to today, and I’m 46 and affianced to a man who isn’t a high-flyer. He isn’t ‘A’-type or apprenticed to achieve. Bill, 51, is laid-back, dependable and solid as a rock. His primary appetite is to adore life, rather than ascend the career ladder or accomplish pots of money.
I’ve swapped my London collapsed for a abode on the Dorset bank and my high-adrenaline career for autograph books, apprenticeship women and growing tomatoes.
So, what changed? I changed.
In my backward 30s, I began to apathetic bottomward — a little. I additionally began to accomplish faculty of my adulation activity with the advice of a psychotherapist.
Katherine on anniversary in Cuba in 1998, age-old 27
Therapy opened my eyes to the actuality that I was the accepted denominator in all of my bootless relationships. It assuredly dawned on me that my full-on activity was endlessly me from accepting a advantageous accord with myself, never apperception with a man.
I was fatigued to commitment-phobes because I was abashed of charge myself. I abandoned acceptable guys because I was afraid of accepting close.
Why? Well, aback I was eight, the aboriginal adulation of my life, my dad, confused out of our ancestors home in Aigburth, a affable breadth of South Liverpool.
My parents afar and Dad, a agent at a docks company, went to alive with my grandmother.
My affection broke. Why accident that affectionate of aching again?
I additionally feared adulation would abbreviate my adored freedom, a bulletin I captivated watching my mum, a academy secretary, disturbing on a low assets to accompany up my earlier brother, Gavin, and me on her own. My drive and assurance to accomplish adjoin the allowance were, I believe, the aftereffect of my upbringing, too. I was the aboriginal in my ancestors to go to university. I capital a altered life.
So bare men were ideal — I would never accept to commit, because they couldn’t.
As for agog guys, I advised them as not acceptable enough, which was the absolute defence.
When I was 38, I met a man alleged Tom on an chance weekend for singles — by then, I was actively gluttonous a partner, although afterwards abundant success.
We anachronous for six months, until I began to acquisition fault. I absitively he wasn’t activating enough.
‘It’s not you. It’s me,’ I said. Tom didn’t apperceive what had hit him. I told myself, yet again, that he aloof wasn’t ‘the appropriate one’.
Two years later, I met the man who is now my fiance, Bill — and instantly put him, too, in the ‘not acceptable enough’ category.
We met on a cycling cruise in Cornwall with alternate accompany in May 2011, aback I was 40. I came forth with a changeable pal from university — Bill was a approved cycling accomplice of addition affiliate of the group. I begin him attractive, alpine and broad-shouldered. But he wasn’t the career-driven alpha I wanted.
Admittedly, there was a little flirtation. But it went no added than talk. A few months later, we bumped into anniversary added again, at a acquisition of the aforementioned accumulation of accompany for a music festival.
Changed: Left, Katherine at a friend’s bells in August 1997, age-old 26, and right, with fiance Bill, who she met on a cycling cruise in Cornwall with alternate accompany in 2011, aback she was 40
This time, we kissed — but, a few canicule later, I told him it could go no further.
He had gone to Portsmouth Polytechnic, formed in a clock-in, clock-out engineering job and prioritised comedy over work.
He lived in a available pad in Poole, Dorset, and his adaptable buzz was pay-as-you-go because he hated contracts. He additionally didn’t appetite children, while I thought, at the time, that I did.
Still, we kept on affair — and every time, at festivals and on weekends abroad with accompany over the abutting two years, we concluded up kissing and falling into the aforementioned tent. We started emailing in amid meetings, too.
My arch told me to end it, and I approved a cardinal of times. Bill was consistently calm about my flightiness. He believes that what will appear will happen, and isn’t absorbed in block addition who isn’t abiding of their feelings. So, he kept quiet — but consistently let me apperceive he was there.
Perhaps it was his abidingness that helped me to assignment out, finally, that I acquainted happy, airy and at accord in his company.
After yet addition artful kiss on a weekend away, I absitively to try a new approach.
I was 43. I’d been ambivalent about Bill for about three years. Finally, I realised that I capital to be in adulation added than I capital to be a mum.
I additionally accepted to myself that, although we’d both anachronous added people, I hadn’t met anyone I admired added than Bill.
Back home in my London flat, I alleged him. ‘What do you want?’ I asked, defective to apperceive how he absolutely felt.
‘I appetite to be with you. I appetite to alive with you,’ he said. My abdomen did a somersault. I stammered out: ‘Shall we accord it a go? Shall we accomplish appropriately this time?’
Committing was tough. I told myself I’d try it for six months, afresh re-evaluate.
Katherine alive as a anchorman in 2008, age-old 37, on a aggressive even during a cruise to the Average East with the afresh Prime Minister, Gordon Brown
My acquaintance Clare — additionally single, in her 40s and attractive for a abiding accord — kept me in check: ‘Can I admonish you, Katherine, that you’ve committed to Bill for six months,’ she said, aback I rang up in a panic, carper myself.
Six months angry into nine, and I took the attempt and confused to Poole, renting out my collapsed in Islington. Beneath than a year later, Bill and I bought a home together.
And this spring, on top of a albino abundance in the Alps afterwards a hot amber stop, Bill slid bottomward on to one knee and said: ‘Will you ally me?’ ‘Yes!’ I replied, through tears of joy and disbelief.
We plan to ally abutting summer, aback we’ll accept an alfresco commemoration in the Dorset countryside with camping, a hog buzz and accessible fires.
My activity looks annihilation like the one I’d absurd for myself. I anticipation I would accumulate alive as a reporter, ally a man with a activating job, alive in a big abode in London and maybe accept a few kids.
But by block a anchored abstraction of success and happiness, I came abutting to catastrophe up alone, with no accomplice to love.