The fictional Bridget Jones may be Britain's most famous singleton but she is not alone in being lonely and looking for love, according to a Europe-wide survey published yesterday.
More than half of single Britons (51 per cent) admit to being often lonely, while British men were found to be the unhappiest in Europe about their singleton status. More than 5,000 single men and women aged 25 to 50 were quizzed about their attitude to the single life in Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Spaniards came out tops as the most sex-crazed and the biggest party-goers.
The survey found British singles were the most pessimistic about finding a partner but were the most active in doing something about getting one.
Some 65pc of British singletons admitted to spending "a lot of time alone", the highest in the survey.
Austrians, the most worried about their style and appearance, wasted the least time in approaching a member of the opposite sex, while the French came out bottom for making the first move.
British singles seem to be the most shy flirters: 60pc of them would hang around waiting for the other person to break the ice, the survey found.
Across the eight countries, 40pc of singles had been without a partner for three years or more, a third were chasing long-term love while 42pc thought they could find it on the Internet. The survey was co-ordinated and compiled by the German research institute Innofact for the online dating service Parship.
A British reality television show contestant could be prosecuted after tests found that a coat he said was made of gorilla fur was actually made from monkeys, police said yesterday.
Hertfordshire Police announced that experts from the Natural History Museum in London had discovered the fur on Dead or Alive singer Pete Burns' coat originated from black and white colobus monkeys. Officers investigated the garment after the silicon-enhanced transvestite - famous for his 1985 British number one hit You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) - boasted on Celebrity Big Brother that it was made from gorillas.
The claim, made under the 24-hour scrutiny of Channel Four television's cameras, sparked outrage from several viewers.
An Austrian museum yesterday said it had taken down five masterpieces by Gustav Klimt and stored them in a safe place after an anonymous threat to destroy the paintings, due to be returned by the state to a Jewish heiress.
The Belvedere museum said it was following recommendations from the Austrian Interior Ministry and an insurance company in response to the threat.
A court ordered the state to return the five paintings to Maria Altmann, heiress of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a rich Austrian industrialist whose possessions were expropriated by the Nazis.
Laughter is good
Sitting through a funny movie seems to be as good for your heart as running through the park, a small study suggests. In an experiment with 20 healthy young adults, researchers found that participants' blood flow improved when they watched a movie that made them laugh. In fact, the circulation boost was similar to what's been seen with aerobic exercise, according to findings published in the February issue of the medical journal Heart.
However, that doesn't mean laughing should take the place of running, Dr Michael Miller, the study's lead author, said. Instead, an "optimal scenario" might be to watch a funny movie while jogging on a treadmill, said Miller, who is with the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore.
Exactly why laughing might give a jolt to the circulation isn't clear. It's possible that it counters the effects that stress hormones can have on blood vessel function, Miller and his colleagues speculate. In addition, laughter may spur the body's production of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps dilate blood vessels.
The study involved healthy men and women who submitted to several non-invasive measurements of blood flow in the arm's brachial artery. Dilation in this artery is a good indicator of blood flow to and from the heart.