Do you remember the first time?

I was very prim and proper about sex, believing it to be a special, sacred thing… when I was 16.

This may seem a shock coming from a self-confessed, slightly tipsy, slapper and bearer of two children.

But yes, readers, at the age of 16, I declared to my friends that I was definitely not going to have sex before I got married. I wouldn’t even have a tincy wincy go at it, just to see if my betrothed was any good at it. No, my virginity would remain intact until I entered the marital bed for the first time.

Whether this was naïve, idealistic or plain stupid, I will never know. I just remember meeting up with some of those friends after the first term of college and my reaction when they enquired as to how the whole virginity thing was going. I felt my face turning a deep beetroot shade as I confessed I lost it to a 5’5’’ goth bloke (my first time).

It seems that at 18, I held on to my ‘maidenhood’ a little longer than most. According to the most recent figures I can find, the average age to pop one’s cherry is around 16, the UK’s age of consent. But apparently 27% of women manage to do it before they reach this age while this figure for men is just 22% (figures from the 2011 Health Survey for England).

I am aware of two girls who did it at around 14, but if any of my other peers were ‘at it’ they certainly remained very quiet about it.

So what age is the right one? It probably depends on the individual, their maturity, attitude to relationships and their religious beliefs, if they have any. I don’t feel like I missed out by waiting longer – as you can see from these pages, I made up for lost time, anyway.

It would seem different countries – let’s just restrict it to Europe for now – beg to differ on the UK’s idea of when one is ready. Spain has the lowest age of consent in the continent at just 13 while Estonia, Germany and Italy plump for 14 and France, Denmark and Greece are among those to declare it 15. But in Malta and Turkey it is not legal to do it until you reach 18.

But it all depends on how people in these countries behave – children are allowed to have a sip of wine in France or Spain to get them used to it while in this country, we would never do this, but many of us Brits will binge drink, vomit and collapse in the street when we can legally drink. Maybe with a measured, well-informed and calmer approach we would be more responsible about the whole bonking thing. Then again, maybe not. Alcohol adverts often bear the small print ‘drink responsibly’. Could we extend this to clubs, bars and certain holiday destinations with the message ‘fuck responsibly’?

The other bit of that 2011 survey states that women, on average have had 4.7 sexual partners while men have had 9.3. Is this really the average, or did they carefully select who filled out a questionnaire? Regular readers will know that yours truly falls very far above this ‘average’ yard stick. Maybe I should not give my ‘number’ as it is too shocking to confess…