In her late twenties now, blonde, well-dressed and not obviously deriving from any particular social class – in fact, her father is an estate agent – Natasha Spendlove belongs to a somewhat rarefied part of the contemporary demographic: the rich man's girlfriend. And how do you gain admittance to this exclusive club? The answer is that you have to infiltrate the palisade in which such men are to be found – in Natasha's case Oxford Brookes University where, 10 years ago, she surprised herself by going out with the heir to a marquisate.
The relationship didn't last, but in its tearful aftermath, Natasha discovered that she had developed a taste for the paraphernalia that had accompanied it. There was nothing mercenary in this attitude, merely a belief that, as she put it, if you were going to eat in a restaurant, it might as well be a decent one, and if you were going skiing, Val d'Isère was nicer than Gstaad. Two years later, relocated to London and working in a Mayfair gallery, it seemed the most natural thing in the world for her to be sharing a flat in the Barbican with an insurance broker named Jonty.
The Barbican arrangement lasted a year-and-a-half, by which time Natasha had discovered that Jonty, though notably well off, paled into insignificance when set against some of his acquaintances.
Tim, who succeeded him in her affections at around this time and in whose Chelsea townhouse she currently resides, is a real-life venture capitalist whose summer vacations are a triumphal progress around the Mediterranean in a chartered yacht "dropping in" on his friends' holiday villas and doing deals by smartphone.
There are disadvantages, of course, to being a rich man's girlfriend. It qualifies you for nothing, except perhaps the position you already inhabit; the jobs you acquire always have to be sacrificed to suit the other half's whim; the social side is horribly tedious; and the future downright precarious.
In these circumstances, it is not quite certain what will happen to Natasha, who has the names of two cabinet ministers and a member of Take That in her address book and a mere £3,000 in her bank account. But she is a level-headed girl, who will probably accept the near-inevitable downgrading of her status without complaint, fortified by the memory of what a splendid time she had while the going was good.