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Susie Rushton: You can track down every old flame – but that doesn't mean you should


It ended just as most of us suspected it might. Last week, the holiday romance between a pretty and otherwise sane-looking 33-year-old PR consultant and the man she only knew as "Martin" became a testimony to the power of social networking. Julia Cross had met him at Space in Ibiza last September. She remembered Martin as "considerate" and also "tall with quite a posh accent"; they shared a kiss under Mediterranean stars and she gave him her number. He never called.

Over the following months, Ms Cross related her "what if" encounter to friends, wondering whether perhaps she'd given him her number incorrectly. Yes, a naïve response. But a perfectly human one. Her mooning might have soon been eclipsed by another crush, if it weren't for the Emma Woodhouse-like intervention of friends, who, powered by LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, launched a nationwide search to "reunite" the pair. Why did they do this? Because Ms Cross was very attractive and, therefore, her missing man must want to start a relationship with her? Or simply because the internet makes it easy to mount a manhunt?

It seemed destined to succeed. The dedicated Facebook page "Finding Martin" recounted all the marvellous things about him that Ms Cross could remember: he worked in IT, lived in Tooting but was from Maidenhead, and on the fateful night had worn a bicycle helmet spiked with multicoloured glowsticks. (No, I wouldn't want the nation to know about that particular paramour, either.)

Ms Cross then had to endure chortling across the land at her "desperate" search for a man who probably wasn't interested or indeed single ("Somebody tell her" was a typical tweet). Then, on Sunday, up popped the much-longed-for Martin, who was quoted in the press confirming that he had "had a fantastic night", did actually "drop Julia a message but got no response", but anyhow was now back with an ex-girlfriend, who "feels a bit odd that there's a national campaign to set me up with someone else". Cue a character assassination of Martin, accompanied by a gallery of incriminating Facebook photos of him with an arm around various women on a tour of European nightclubs, a different item of silly headgear in each shot. Chaps, if you want to start conversations with women in clubs, get yourself a ridiculous hat.

What should have been a lost holiday romance and one woman's private experience became a cautionary tale about love in the age of four degrees of separation (last year, Facebook trumpeted that it had helped bring all of us two degrees closer together). Even if you weren't as unlucky as Ms Cross, everybody has tried to cheat fate and use social networking to track down a "lost" lover or friend. But just because it's possible to find somebody, with a bit of effort, that doesn't mean they want to be found – or should be found. Sadly, I think this tale teaches that while the internet has connected us all, if used without caution or restraint, it can be a real passion killer.


My recipe for tackling the curry shortage

Britain's curry houses are said to be "in crisis" . Some believe the answer is retraining the unemployed here to cook kormas and jalfrezis on dedicated courses like one set up in Bradford. But, in the meantime, we can start our very own curry houses – at home. Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent each year on spicy supermarket ready meals, most of them rhomboid-shaped chunks of meat floating in an artery-clogging, gloopy sauce. It won't help the ailing restaurant trade, but our addiction to Indian-style food can be fed more healthily, as cheaply, and to a better standard with home-made dishes. All you need is the small initial investment of a good recipe book (I live for Anjum Anand, the Nigella of Indian cookery) and eight to 10 basic spices and seeds: what curry crisis?