Metro column 6

Richard Herring reveals a guilty love secret from his past which involved a wall, a pair of compasses and his sister’s friend Barbie.

Twenty-five days until I get married. Not that I’m counting. Or pulling off the pages of my calendar, tossing them aside like falling leaves that signify my lost freedom.

Mainly, I am ridiculously grateful that I have finally found a woman willing to commit to me. If you’d known me at school, you would have doubted that I’d ever kiss a girl, let alone persuade one to be my ring twin.

At 13, I was a tiny pervert, with no clue and no hope. I was obsessed with my 18-year-old sister’s best friend, Barbie – fittingly, a beautiful, blonde doll of a girl. She left me speechless and spellbound whenever she was passed.

But not in a romantic way.

I took every possible opportunity to look down Barbie’s top: she was a slim and not exactly buxom young lady but, to the 13-year-old me, seeing part of the actual breast of an 18-year-old girl was unbearably exciting. The same is also true of the 44-year-old me.

If it ended there, it might be a charming story. But there’s more.

I had discovered that Barbie was staying overnight in our house. My sister had given up her room for her friend – the room next to mine. I hatched a plan of evil genius which would allow me to see a bit more of Barbie.

I decided I’d bore a hole in the wall between these two rooms so I could watch Barbie undressing. How I thought this would possibly work, I have no idea. But I gave it a good go. I began work on gouging out a spyhole, using a pair of compasses – which I don’t think were ever used for their intended purpose of drawing circles. They were used only for vandalism, graffiti or as an ineffectual weapon with which maths nerds could defend themselves. That was all we needed in the 1980s. It’s escalated out of control. I say to my many young fans: ‘Put your knives away. Go back to the compass.’

I was like the Count of Monte Cristo, laboriously fashioning this secret passage, even if the driving force behind my own clandestine digging was lust rather than revenge. In a matter of hours, I’d made a hole about an inch in diameter (take that, Edmond Dantès). I got about halfway through the wall, then stopped.

Had I realised that an aperture of those dimensions might possibly attract attention? Barbie might just spot a little eye peeking through (depending on what I chose to put through it, I suppose). Or more likely, had I reached the hard plasterboard in the middle of the wall and realised I could get no further without specialised tools?

Whatever the case, I was filled with shame and tried to hide the damage, stuffing the fissure with tissue paper… which I had in my room for some reason. Then, confusingly, I covered it up with a poster of the Leeds United footballer Frank Worthington. I wasn’t even interested in football and he was a middle-aged man with a moustache. An odd choice. It’s hardly The Shawshank Redemption.

If my parents ever discovered this act of sexually driven vandalism then they never said anything but I was terrified that they’d find the hole months after the event and assume I had been making it to spy on my sister. Oh, the shame!

Perhaps it’s not surprising it took me another 31 years to find a woman prepared to marry me. Just 25 short days until I finally see her bosoms!

Richard Herring is currently touring Britain with his show, What Is Love, Anyway?

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