AS I've already told you, I wasn't the most attractive teenager.
By the time I was 16 I didn't know how to pull girls; for a while I didn't know how to pull myself. Opportunities were limited.
The problem was generally the clothes on my body and the spots on my face. But, as if by magic, these problems would disappear. On holiday.
I had met a French girl on holiday in Malta; her name was Sandrine and she was reasonably attractive in the right light, more attractive still in no light.
We shared some passionate moments at night on the beach in Malta.
We'd reached second, maybe third base, using the popular baseball analogy. She was also a virgin.
After an emotional goodbye we exchanged details and it turned out she lived in Calais.
This was good news for me, as my best friend, Sam, and me would be coming back through the port on the way home. So on the last day of my trip with my virginity intact, Sam and I decided to stop off at her Calais residence. Sam provided me with sexual tips.
Embarrassing as it may be to admit, he even drew me a diagram on a napkin of areas to aim for on the female form.
"Make sure you talk to her, girls love it. Tell her how beautiful she is, compliment her," Sam advised.
"But she isn't really," I admitted.
"That's not the point, this is your first time. You have to start somewhere, and girls need to be coaxed, they need to be turned on," Sam continued.
When we arrived at Calais train station to be picked up by her parents, the scene was tremendously awkward.
Sam and I spoke GCSE French, and her parents, like Sandrine, spoke Baccalauréat English. We soon used up all our phrases in the car journey.
"Hello, how are you?", "My name is Michael", "Can you tell me the way to the train station?", "Why? We've just come from the station", "What time is it?", "I would like some bread".
The last ten minutes of the journey passed in silence until her father said: "This is our home." To which I said in French: "Where do you live?"
Waiting for us was Sandrine. She was hairier than I remembered, but she was pleased to see me.
She had a friend with her who was much better looking. Sam swooped instantly.
Sandrine showed me around her sweet home. Strangely, her parents went out, encouraging me to take their daughter's virginity.
Sam also disappeared, with the hottest girl in Calais.
"Remember," he whispered, as they left, "compliment her."
She showed me to her bedroom. It was neat and had views of the Channel. We sat on her bed, with my diagram in my pocket, and shared a bottle of duty-free wine and giant Toblerone from the local booze-cruise supermarket.
I was a little freaked out to find that in her room she had constructed a shrine to the few days we spent together in Malta.
It was a bulletin board that had the note with my address on it, tickets from a disco we went to and photos of us together.
This was obviously the moment. I couldn't not close this deal. She had a shrine. To me. In her bedroom.
By the third mountain of giant Toblerone I made my move.
We started kissing and undressing.
Sam had briefed me on the potential stumbling block of the bra strap, equipping me with nail scissors which I subtly removed from my back pocket and cut clean through the strap behind her. Bravo. It worked a treat.
I went swiftly through first, second and third bases, but I was nervous, so I then went back to second base, then back to first base, then to third.
What kind of a baseball game was this?
This was probably the most nervous I had ever been in my life, which, of course, made me super posh when I followed Sam's advice to compliment her.
"You have quite the most beautiful..." I scanned her for her best feature. She had pretty good legs. I was all set to say "legs" when I noticed this enormous birthmark on one of her thighs.
I decided to say "leg". But then I thought, "I can't say, 'You have the most beautiful leg'. I ended up saying "room". "You have quite the most beautiful room."
She didn't seem to mind that I'd overlooked everything about her and commented on the scenery. In fact, she loved it.
"Merci, merci, Michel." It really got her going. This encouraged me. "I'm particularly fond of your lamp; is it antique?"
Things moved swiftly from here. Before I could comment on her rug (the one on the floor), I found myself at home base.
I'd scored. It lasted no more than about three minutes (still a record for me) and afterwards I felt like a man. At last.
I lit one of her duty-free Gauloises cigarettes and looked out of her bedroom window as the sun set over England.
"I'm coming home. I set sail tomorrow. Lock up your daughters!" In retrospect, I think saying this out loud was disrespectful.