It was a huge stone farmhouse, very run-down, with blood-red wild roses all over the cracked white paint of the portico. Inside it was always cold because of the uneven flagstone floors and the fact that a Sleeping Beauty-like forest cut out the light at the back of the house. To get there he scootered me at high speed down a rugged muddy lane, bouncing me three feet in the air, as I squealed with delight. We swam in a glassy sea-green lake nearby and bought ice-cream sandwiches from the tiny bar at the town entrance.
That night, the sky a velvet blue and the bleating crickets hidden somewhere in the long grass, we ate a gargantuan family feast outside on trestle tables and benches. First pasta with pesto and basil, then rare grilled steak, onions, deep-red tomatoes and aubergine salads followed by outrageous chocolate puddings.
Later, when we were faltering under pasta fatigue, the two of us adjourned to the forest where we built a fire and sat down. He pointed upwards. The trees seemed to stretch for ever and above them was a full bright white moon. When I looked back down he kissed me. My insides lifted with excitement. But I chickened out. I was returning to London in days and had resigned myself to saying a swift good-bye, at least until next summer. Then, a few months later back in London, I was doing a spot of modelling off the King's Road and believe it or not Nicolo was the photographer. I was thrilled to see him despite the fact that he didn't seem as cool or confident as in Italy.
So there I was on that spring morning, with the daffs winking knowingly at me, thinking: "Well, today I guess I'll lose my virginity." To be honest it had been on my "to do" list for quite a while. Twelve years to be exact. And I knew Nicolo was really the only man for the job. So the second Ma left for work, I phoned him. He was only too happy to meet me for lunch in the County Arms. He arrived with a Mediterranean swagger that seemed incongruous in the little English pub. I let him admire the "Olde English" dark wooden walls and burgundy faux-velvet chairs before I told him my plan, careful to leave out the part about me being a virgin.
Back at home Claudius the cat had not yet got up. A strictly adhered- to domestic convention in our house was that we never moved him from any chair or bed. Nicolo and I made do with a metre of mattress. Claudius woke up when the bed started rocking and turned his head away in distaste. Nicolo was kind and loving, but I'd organised it all in such an efficient, unromantic manner that I was in a state of hyper-reality and very detached. Just as the technicalities were over I heard my mother's key in the front door. I threw Nico off and thrust him into my walk-in cupboard. There followed a Carry On-like farce as I manoeuvred him from room to room while my mother wandered around until eventually I managed to force him out the front door, most of his clothes hanging off.
The intricate escape operation was a bit pointless really. I couldn't contain myself and the second I'd bundled him out I ran into the kitchen gasping: "Guess what? Guess what? I've lost my virginity!" Ma replied: "I thought you looked flushed. Go and have a bath and we'll talk about it afterwards." Her reaction made the incident forever hers rather than mine and Nicolo's. When he next called I was brusque. The moment had passed - in Italy - and now all I could see was his nose.Reuse content