Grace Coddington Lost Her Virginity With A Man Named Tinker

Grace Coddington's forthcoming memoir is excerpted in this month's Vogue. The passage is full of anecdotes about London and Paris in the 1950s and 60s — the life of a struggling newbie model, an engagement ended by an affair, flights over the channel with a pilot boyfriend who liked to do loop-the-loops, "snotty French bloody-mindedness" and nude photo shoots with Norman Parkinson — but this particular story stood out to me. This, friends, is how Grace Coddington learned what a condom was:

A man called Tinker Patterson was often a customer at the Stockpot, the bistro where I worked as a waitress; he was tall and very good-looking, with a pale complexion, sandy hair, and freckles. He was a London painter as well as an in-demand part-time model, and although he already had a girlfriend, he was to become my very first affair.

Tinker invited me to spend the weekend in his delightful little rose-covered cottage in Kent. I could hardly contain my excitement at the prospect of getting out of town for a few days. We drove there on a Friday evening, chugging through the countryside in his little Austin 7, a compact British car from the 1930s that had become popular again in the economy-conscious 1950s and contained so little legroom, it would make a Mini seem spacious. When we arrived, he cooked a beautiful candlelit dinner for two, after which I was shown up to what I thought was the guest bedroom.

I undressed, put on my nightie, pulled down the top sheet, and there, neatly laid out on the pillow like one of those little chocolate mints you find in boutique hotels nowadays, was a condom. "What is this?" I wondered. I really hadn't a clue. Moments later, to my surprise, I was joined by Tinker carrying a steaming cup of cocoa and looking adorable in his stripy cotton pajamas. But his air was not that of someone about to read me a bedtime story.

Grace Notes: An Excerpt from Grace Coddington's Memoir [Vogue.com]