No, winter, being generally cold and wet, tends to put a dampener on the more sociable habits of the human animal. Suddenly everyone is part of a couple. And suddenly, being available is no longer so terribly attractive. In fact, your once fellow lone rangers, now that they too have found winter snuggle mates, seem to have forgotten your existence, bar the occasional SMS inviting you over for supper ("there's too much food for just the two of us, anyway!").
Though it gets a bit infuriating being a tag-along, there's also little that's worse than pacing around your damp, quiet apartment (when you talk to yourself it echoes) late on a chilly Saturday afternoon - knowing that your coupled friends are out there playing, drinking beer and (you're certain about this one) getting a kick out of being so very, very cosy. Smug bastards!
While the virtues of being single are many, it really can be a little sad when you're the only one among your group of friends who seems to have no-one (except for your dog/cat/teddy/blankie) with whom to cuddle up against the hostile elements.
That classic axiom that goes "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" is all good and well when your pals and their new honies have a good supply of single men or women, depending on what the case may be, up their sleeves ("join us for drinks - there's someone we're dying for you to meet!").
But, unfortunately, it doesn't always work this way. The single girl or guy simply has to rely on being resourceful rather than waiting for introductions from over-eager friends - after all, what do they really know about your taste in men/women, other than what they think will be good for you!
There's nothing quite like a winter squeeze to get a person through all those bleak, potentially lonely months ahead. (If long-term is not quite your thing right now, then the same can be said for serial flirtation.) It's just a matter of finding that squeeze, that delicious single bloke or bloke-ette, amid the happy hordes of hand-holding couples.
At this time of the year, when the cocktail bars and nightclubs are all but empty, windswept reminders of wilder days, these locations should be shelved in favour of other, lesser known pick-up spots, such as the sports club (lots of hot, sweaty bodies), the cookery class (all those steaming pots and pans) and - yes - the supermarket.
Casually eyeing out the contents of a person's trolley or shopping basket can reveal vast amounts not only about their economic status or whether they're a vegan with a peculiar weakness for iced zoo biscuits, but also if they'll be eating alone this evening. It's very easy to divine if a dinner for two is on the cards - count the bottles of wine, for starters. And keep an eye open for any sign of dessert, like strawberries and cream or a generous tub of chocolate mousse (solo diners tend to opt for the dinkier tubs).
And if a shopper buys things like toothpaste and soap in bulk, or has one of those family packs of toilet rolls (or - an obvious one - disposable nappies!) swinging from his/her trolley, chances are there is a family lurking back home.
Being a trolley voyeur is also a good way to discern whether you and this potential pick-up share similar penchants in food, especially since a significant part of winter coupling involves getting cosy in the kitchen. Does he/she choose real butter over margarine? Is that olive oil extra virgin or a cheaper, generic version? Aaah, there go all the makings of a Thai green curry in that cute girl's/boy's basket!
Sometimes establishing whether the subject is attached or not entails trailing them (nonchalantly, of course) up and down the aisles of the supermarket. Sadly, doing so can easily result in disappointment, since there might be a girlfriend or boyfriend lurking in the cheese section where the lovebirds had planned to reunite.
But there are also those fortunate moments when trollies collide around corners, the perfect excuse to smile, apologise and establish that all important first contact. Hopefully it won't take too long to determine whether a particular person is available or not. If he or she is single, chances are you and your trailing have already been noticed, too - attached people make a point of making NO EYE CONTACT with anyone around them for fear of encountering potential supermarket flirts (like you).
The trick now is to ensure that you're standing in the same (long) check-out queue, where there'll be plenty of time and opportunities to exchange furtive glances or perhaps even start a conversation. If you're stuck on what to say - and depending on what he/she has in their basket - you can try something like: "My, but those are really enormous apples you have there!" or "Nice bit of sausage, that!" or "Oh, isn't smoked salmon just the sexiest food around!"
If your idle banter is well received by said individual, and if you're a brave sort, you might consider scribbling your phone number on the back of a till slip and secretly popping it into one of his/her shopping bags. And if you find your tin of hot chocolate and packet of cookies being sized up, invite him/her over to your place for a cuppa.
But whether the sparks continue to fly post-shopping or the excitement ends the minute you've loaded your groceries into the car and are headed home, there's still something to be said for the joys of supermarket flirtations.
The same can be said for any kind of flirting that happens in the safety of well-lit public spaces. Like the exchanging of meaningful stares while working up a sweat on the super circuit, or sharing notes at night classes at the Alliance Francaise, pottery course or gourmet cooking demonstration.
It's fun and it can also be quite funny - if the two of you hit it off, you'll be entertaining people with your tales of trolley trailing and squabbles over that last packet of fresh basil for years to come.
In the meantime, being a single shopper will never be the same again! Happy Shopping!