Where did you spend your summer? I've spent mine buried in other people's love-lives. Ever since the weather grew warmer, familiar figures have been billing and cooing, entrancing me — and, I suspect, the public at large — with the hope of romance.
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew seem to be flirting with a reunion. Simon Cowell may have found true love with the woman expecting his baby. And we learn from his autobiography that Sir Paul McCartney's love for his late wife, Linda, saved him from a nervous breakdown.
With so much love in the air, Cupid might be tempted to feel smug - though not all high-profile love stories this summer had a fairytale ending. Paul Hollywood and his wife, Nigella and Saatchi, Wendi Deng and Murdoch, and most recently Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have split up.
Relationships represent such a huge focus, risk and investment, we can't help obsess about them in the lives of others. From adolescence, marked (or marred, in my case) with such agonising rituals as the prom, dating, and the first kiss, the couple is held up as our ultimate goal.
Match-making sites and lonely-hearts advertising are huge business. Weddings are so expensive, almost half of young cohabiting couples cite them as a reason not to tie the knot. Dating has become more sophisticated than when I was at it in the Nineties.
In those days, cautious singles might place a personal ad at the back of The Spectator. I know one woman who found her husband this way - though friends had to pen the description of her qualities, as her modest self-assessment would have sparked no interest.
Things have changed: friends are spending a small fortune on Berkeley International, a dating agency that screens candidates, then gives them your details - and charges both parties thousands of pounds for the privilege. The industry can bank on the pressure we feel to conform.
But so can celebrities. We love their love-lives. The more, the merrier: Cheryl Cole, Jennifer Aniston, Kylie and Katie Perry, George Clooney and Prince Harry… their couplings have kept us entertained. Every spark lifts the spirit, every tryst bonds us to them.
A celebrity couple is so much more than a sum of its parts. Who wants to read about Catherine without Michael, or Wendi without Rupert? As Branjelina has proved, and Posh and Becks, there's nothing like a duo to arouse our curiosity.
What makes them tick, what makes them stick? In fantasy as in real life, love works like Photoshop. It makes the famous vulnerable, and the elite like the girl next door. As the gulf between celebrities and the rest of us grows, the humanising process of love becomes more noticeable.
Romance demotes Jennifer Aniston, superstar, to the clumsy loser at the back of the school disco; it raised Catherine Zeta-Jones from Welsh sweetheart to Hollywood royalty, and elevates Posh from sour-puss Spice Girl to an impressive wife who refused to so much as acknowledge her husband's flirtations.
Projection is part of the fun: if a curmudgeonly so-and-so like Simon Cowell can find love, why not me? If a lanky vegetarian like Linda McCartney could inspire such passion in a Beatle, I'll find love, too.
Their relationship is the one area where big names are like us. We cannot travel with them on their private jets to their villa in Portofino; but the course of their relationship is only too familiar: exhilaration, suspicion, boredom, torture, despair. It's an itinerary everyone knows, though at one removed, it feels safer.
So we tune in to their latest romance: the ups and downs, the gossip, the tattoos. It's an addictive pastime, the Game of Thrones of my generation. It may be hard for the objects of my fantasy to bear such curiosity, but I'm so grateful to them. If someone famous doesn't live out a romantic fantasy, what hope is there for the rest of us?