On May 1st 2002 Charlotte Church was awarded the prestigious 'Rear Of The Year' award for services to the posterior - or more precisely, having a seriously tasty one herself. She became the youngest person ever to be awarded the honour, which over the last decade has become the highlight of the arse-admiring calendar.

Traditionally, the Rear Of The Year award was given to one of the usual assortment of low-rent, D-List celebrities - soap stars, daytime TV presenters, ex-Page 3 Girls and soforth. However, Charlotte, at 16 years of age and from the elitist world of classical music, bucked the trend considerably.

However, the biggest discussion point raised by Charlotte's elevation into the pantheon of Fine Bootied Babes was that she was, to quote the title of a popular jostle magazine, Barely Legal. Two months before the award, any man who bedded the singer would have been up before the beak quick smart on a charge of sex with a minor. But here, mere weeks later, men around the country were openly encouraged to gaze, transfixed, at the buxom charms of the Welsh schoolgirl.

Perhaps Charlotte put it best when she said "Now that I'm sixteen it seems it's okay to give me an award like this. A year ago people would have said it was a bit sick".

Sorry Charlotte, it seems that public opinion was swaying long before the onset of your legality. Not only did The Sun take great pleasure over the preceeding twelve months or so in splashing large pictures of the new, 'sexy' Charlotte attending some premiere or awards ceremony or other all over their pages, but also took pains to point out Charlotte's newfound jailbait status, describing her variously as 'blossoming', 'maturing' and 'a real hot tamale' (okay, so I made that last one up).

Likewise, in corners of pubs and workplaces around Britain, men tested the waters by asserting to anybody who would listen that Ms. Church would be 'horny as fuck in a couple of years'. Those brave enough to speak that which most men feared to confess - that Charlotte was approaching full hottitude with at least twelve months to spare - were met with general approval, tempered by guilty self-doubt about Lolita complexes and the police knocking on the door in the early hours.

Of course, with Charlotte's sixteenth birthday came emancipation, as menfolk nationwide held impromptu street parties and hugged openly in the streets, as the weight of their illicit desires for the plump, but universally desirable Valley Girl (that's Welsh as opposed to Sun) was lifted from their shoulders. The voice of the British male - FHM magazine - published the results of their 100 Sexiest Women In The World poll one short month later, and Charlotte screamed straight in at number 89. Praise indeed for one so young.

Like Brooke Shields, Debbie Gibson and Britney Spears before her, Charlotte Church is the poster girl for the 21st century's 'If That's Wrong, Then I Don't Want To Be Right' club. In a time when it seems that acceptable age boundaries for portraying teenagers as sex objects are moving ever downwards, Charlotte may soon be regarded as a symbol of an altogether more wholesome age.

For now, however, men everywhere are queuing up to make her hit that high C.

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