Lying under a starlit sky in the south of France, in a field outside a charming little village, I had my first sexual experience. I did not have sex. This was the early sixties and I was only fourteen years old, and I had it drummed into me that ‘nice’ girls did not give in to boys, and the Pill was not generally available, so the fear of pregnancy also held me back. They won’t respect you afterwards, I was told. But I didn’t want this young French soldier to respect me afterwards. It was a holiday fling and I knew I would never see him again. He was twenty and should have known better, but I was glad he did not. We did everything, except the act itself, and I felt as though I was almost a woman. It was a magical night.
At sixteen I went on a school holiday to Italy, to a hotel on the Amalfi coast, just south of Sorrento. This time, while my friends were giggling on the hotel terrace above, I was getting sweaty with a handsome young Italian in a cave on the beach, and trying to explain that, yes, I did enjoy being kissed and touched by him, but, no, his penis was not going inside me because I was a virgin and I was afraid of taking the plunge. Maybe I was afraid that I would enjoy it too much, once I had taken the decision to jump from my virginal state. I was afraid too of taking an Italian baby back to England with me. But there was no shortage of passion that night.
Later that same year I met a boy at the youth club. I knew that he was dangerous. He had that look in his eyes that I knew spelt trouble, but part of me wanted trouble. I craved excitement and risk and thrills, but still I clung on to my virginity. We leaned against an old beech tree next to a pond and brought each other to climax – but just with the help of fingers, and without penetration. And we kissed – boy did we kiss, and it was wonderful. I almost gave in and surrendered myself completely, but just managed to hold back. After a few weeks he grew tired and moved on to another girl, and she did surrender to him, and nine months later, at the age of sixteen, had a baby. I was glad that it wasn’t me. I had had a lucky escape.
I eventually surrendered my precious virginity at eighteen, after moving to live in London. The Pill was now available to me, and living in a flat away from home removed the fears that had kept me a virgin for so long. It’s not true, Mum, they do still respect you in the morning, and they don’t leave you as soon as they have had their way with you. But I was glad I had waited. There were many more lovers in the years ahead, but none were quite so magical as my first three ‘nearly’ lovers. Even after all these years I still remember their touch, the feeling of excitement, the starry Mediterranean sky, the sheer illicitness of it all, and the kisses that sent shivers running throughout my body. Happy times.