Thursday, November 4, 1999 Published at 21:39 GMT
London tops single living poll
Survey found big regional variation
Around 40% of British adults are single and crowded London is the loneliest place in the UK, according to a new survey.
The poll, of 2000 people over the age of 15, found that more than half of all singles were looking for love.
It found that 41% of Londoners are single compared with just 30% in Scotland.
In the North East the figure was 32%, 40% in the North West, 36% in Yorkshire, 33% in the Midlands, 37% in Wales, 30% in East Anglia, 36% in the South East and 33% in the South West.
Bleeping in the aisles
But help may be at hand for London's lonely hearts, with a supermarket handing out pocket-sized love detectors to single customers.
Sainsbury's is trialling the Love Bleepers at its store in Finchley Road, north London, as it has the highest ratio of single shoppers.
The craze has already swept across Japan, but it is the first time they will be available in the UK.
Prior to filling their trolleys, the shoppers key in their interests from a list of options including eating out, drinking in pubs, cinema, romance and shopping.
Modelled in pink for women and blue for men, the gadgets emit a single bleep if two shoppers carrying the detectors pass one another.
But if the owners' preferences match, the bleepers get a little more excited, bleeping and flashing continuously.
The trial will run until 12 November, and a Sainsbury's spokesman said that if love blossomed and the bleepers proved a success, the company would consider extending the scheme to other stores.
But not everyone resorts to using gadgets to find love, and the poll also found that older people were more likely to go on a date with someone they had never previously met.
Single people aged 35-44 were found to be almost twice as likely to go on blind date than younger people.
Humour most important
It also found that on a first date the most important thing women look for is a sense of humour (48%) with just 5% saying it was important their date was good looking or had a good body.
Men also believe a sense of humour is the most important quality but being good-looking or having a nice body was their second most important attribute(18%).
Of the single people questioned 55% said they are either openly or secretly looking for a relationship while pretending to be happy with single life.
The survey was conducted for Match.Com - an Internet-based matchmaking service.