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Dating a man 16 years older

I found myself being absorbed into his middle-aged world, which wasn’t easy: most of the wives in our social set were openly hostile towards me, assuming I was only with Carol for financial gain.

His deteriorating health left me responsible for his most intimate needs. By now I was increasingly worried about our future. Would I have to give up my job and look after him permanently? The daily strain was unrelenting, and I was prematurely ageing.Now, my blood always runs cold whenever I read in celebrity magazines and newspapers of young women in their 20s falling for older — and invariably richer — men. We weren’t yet married and he’d made it abundantly clear that the only life he was interested in was one with fine wines and no ‘whiny kids’.I first met Carol back in 1982 when he was 47 and I was 25 and working for him at his sports shop in Tiverton, Devon.I overlooked the fact that Carol could barely stand at the ceremony.Afterwards, instead of a night of newly wedded bliss, I put him to bed at 5pm, having given him his medication and changed his dressings.The procedure went disastrously wrong, and he contracted MRSA, leaving him in a coma for six weeks.

When he gained consciousness, and was still unable to speak, he proposed by scrawling on a piece of paper: ‘Will you marry me?

I hadn’t had much experience with men, and didn’t realise that our relationship was far from normal.

In 1995, when I was 38 and Carol 60, he was admitted to hospital for open-heart surgery.

I really enjoyed his company: he was sophisticated, well travelled and interesting, and I was smitten within weeks.

While I didn’t give the age gap a second thought, everyone else was horrified.

We hadn’t had sex for over a decade, and it was highly unlikely we’d ever make love again.