Despite the dire warnings issued by my form teacher and Rev Stagg the headmaster at Kenton College, I did indeed pass CE, or the Common Entrance Exam, which gained me a place at Brighton College. The last couple of terms at Kenton were enjoyable, I was confident and being in the final year at school, I had firm friends and knew the system well enough to avoid getting into trouble whilst still having a good time. I didn’t particularly want to leave, and wasn’t bothered about starting a new school in England.
Fourth Form. September 1971 – July 1972
My parents had organised a family holiday such that in finished in September 1971 in England, and they could see me off to school and then return to Kenya.
The five school years were divided into forth form, lower fifth, upper fifth (‘O’ level year), lower sixth and upper sixth. The last year being ‘A’ level year. To enter the ‘senior school’ (6th form), you needed to pass five ‘O’ levels.
It was a boys only school until 1974, the year before I went to 6th form, when it went co-educational – with only six girls in the first cohort. In addition to this, the school was broken down into three boarding ‘houses’ and four ‘day’ houses. David and I were in Bristol house, which always saw itself as the most popular, boisterous, most rule-bending of the three boarding houses.
Within each boarding house, evening homework and general living took place in ‘studies’, the junior boys having three or four in a study, and the senior boys either sharing a study with a friend, or having their own private room. Students slept in dormitories of around twenty or twenty five beds, until you entered the sixth form where you had a much smaller dormitory with a couple of other six formers, or if you were a prefect you could sleep in your own study.
The first term
My first impression of the school was that it was huge. There were about 700 boys, both boarders and day pupils, a bit different to the 110 pupils that Kenton finally accommodated when I left. It took me a while to get myself orientated with the educational system which streamed boys into ‘sets’ according to ability; set one being the bright pupils, and set four being the strugglers! This was new to me. It seemed further complicated by having to work out your own timetable, which would vary according to what ‘set’ you were in for various subjects. For a month or two, there was some movement, resettling pupils in the set that was appropriate for them. There had obviously been some miscommunication between Kenton and Brighton, as I was initially placed in set one, only to drop to set four in a matter of weeks! I stayed in set four and never passed my ‘O’ level French!
I had a similar experience in Biology, only this time in reverse! I was placed in the bottom set initially. During the first week the Biology teacher took the role. ‘Giddard’ he called out. I stuck my hand up and said ‘It’s Goddard, sir!’ He sighed and replied, ‘Well I’m sorry, it says ‘Giddard’ on my list’. He seemed quite emphatic that if I wasn’t called Giddard, then I wasn’t in his class. I am not sure what happened next and whether I challenged him on the spelling of my name (I feel sure I would have won), but the result was that I was ordered out of the class. Since this was the bottom set, I could only go upwards. It transpired that set three, the next up, was full – so I ended up in set 2, which was a result.
The biology teacher was called Major Minor, which was just brilliant. We knew him as ‘moggy minor’ or just ‘moggy’. Legend had it that he had found a cat on the road that had been run over, so he took it back to the lab and dissected it. He had bad eczema on his face, which he would rub from time to time. He usually had chalk on his hands from the blackboard, so that would go all over his face as well. He seemed to have a dislike to pencil rubbers and if he caught you using one, he would throw it out the window.
Other teachers in the lower school included Mr Davidson, who we called Turd, on account of his initials TRD. He taught maths. Well I say taught, since we used to have a maths text book which had a pupils edition and a teacher edition. The teacher edition had the answers in the back!
I felt quite at sea for the first year (4th form). I had no problem being a boarder. There were some boys who struggled with it, but I was well used to the routine. I was more at sea by being a ‘newbie’ in such a large school, and not just the youngest but one of the most naïve it transpired.
Now, looking back on my education at Kenton College, I can see quite clearly that I was not adequately prepared for what lay in store. My life at Kenton had been very closeted. I knew nothing about football, music, fashion, sex, or any similar subject that is integral to the teenage experience. Some of this was geographical. Living in Kenya, without access to British TV, radio or other media, I had no knowledge about football teams, or what the latest fashion was and what I should be wearing or listening to. No doubt I was seen as a little ‘square’. Where I think my education at prep school could have helped more concerned the subject of sex. It soon became obvious to the other 699 boys that I was naïve about anything to do with sex. I sensed that the fifth formers were quite happy to keep me that way, so I could be the butt of their jokes. However, I don’t think I helped myself improve my status in the eyes of the older boys as I wasn’t aware that my body was changing as I progressed through puberty (which in itself was also a bit of a mystery) and one of the consequences of this meant I would need to wash more often than I did! The older boys made me aware of that fact – quite vocally!
Of course I could have asked David for help and advice, but I wasn’t going to do that! Clearly in this new ‘mans’ world, one was expected to make it on your own. Besides, my impression at that time was that David saw his role as ‘deputy parent’ and I wasn’t going to have him spoiling my fun! (I am no doubt incorrect on this, so David if you ever read this, forgive me).
In time of course, things settled down. I worked out my place in the pecking order, avoided the fifth formers who could make my life difficult and settled down to the business in hand which was making friends, trying to bend the rules, and generally do as little in the way of hard work as I could get away with.
The ‘fagging’ system
Forth formers were expected to ‘fag’ for the sixth form prefects. As a forth former, or ‘fags’ you were assigned a senior boy for whom you did menial tasks. Usually this consisted of making his bed and tiding his study, making coffee and the like. I think it was an attempt to instil some understanding of responsibly to both parties. Surprisingly it wasn’t abused, and some sixth formers would tip the fourth former at the end of the term. Whilst I am sure that some sixth formers could be quite demanding, often the senior boys couldn’t be that bothered about having a little ‘squirt’ around, and the novelty might wear off. I learnt to make a bed properly complete with ‘hospital corners’. I seem to recall that by the time I got to sixth form the system had been discontinued. Such was my luck!
Rugby and other sports
I hadn’t been taught rugby at prep school, whereas I think the other boys had some idea of the complexities of the game. Along with football, I hated it. Asthma didn’t help, which wasn’t really controlled until much later. However, the real problem with any ball sport, was that I found that I was constantly chasing up and down the field in a fruitless attempt to catch up with the action. Whenever I got to the ball, it wasn’t there anymore, but was down the other end of the pitch. I never got to understand the rules properly, but was content to play front row, prop. Being well built this was the natural position for me to take, and at least I could charge into the scrum with some weight behind me.
However, naturally swimming was the place that I could excel. At 14 David had already been swimming for the senior school (ie the 6th form), since he could beat anyone under the age of 16. I realised that I would be following in his footsteps, and probably be unable to make my own mark in the sport, but since being in the swimming team meant the I could swim two out of three terms, and only do rugby one term, joining the swimming squad was a ‘no-brainer’. As I progressed through the school years, backstroke once again became my forte, and I managed to secure a place in the school swimming team every year and obtain my ‘colours’ without too much effort.
At the end of the first year at school there was a school play, which was held in the school hall and I think I had some minor part in the crowd scene. I was either 13 or had just about turned 14. There were some dressing rooms underneath the main stage where some of the cast were nervously smoking. My first ‘drag’ was offered to me by a boy called Adam. I can only remember that it was hot, probably due to the fact that he just gave me the dog end of the cigarette. David heard about it and sent a message to me not to inhale! This seemed typical of what I saw as a overbearing big brother. I am not sure when I bought my first packet of cigarettes, I expect that I shared the cost of ten ‘No. 6’ with another boy, I am not sure. However, whether or not I liked it, I decided that it was something that I was going to continue with, the drive within me to either break the rules, or act older than my age, was too hard to ignore. It may just be that subconsciously I was trying to catch up from having lived in the closed environment of Kenton College.
School leave, school trips and ‘exiats’
For a 4th former, it was possible at anytime to leave the boundaries of the College and go into the immediate environment of Kemptown. There were however strict limits on which roads constituted the boundary. To go into Brighton required a ‘town leave’ from the housemaster, which wasn’t difficult to get if you found a good reason why you needed to go into Brighton itself. My impression is that this was relaxed as time went on, since by the time I got to the fifth form I went into Brighton whenever I wished. Maybe I still needed permission, maybe I didn’t care.
Twice a term you could have an ‘exiat’ which was a weekend away, staying with a relative or guardian. Our mother’s cousin Aunt Kath was our legal guardian so David and I would take a bus to the seven dials and stay with Kath and Eric for the weekend. My main memory of the weekends at 4 Windlesham Gardens was how cold the place was and how much washing up Kath could generate by preparing a simple meal. David and I being well brung up, always did the washing up! Kath had a wood fired stove in the kitchen, which drove a couple of radiators rather ineffectively. There was a coal fire in the living room, but the rest of the house was freezing. If we stayed overnight, we went to bed under a mountain of eiderdowns and blankets, in a bed which always felt slightly damp.
On occasions, usually when my parents were in the country, we would see my mother’s father ‘Pop’ and his wife Celia. I had a lot of time for Pop, being the only real grandparent I had. My father’s ‘mother’ (aunt) who I called grandma, died when I was 11. Pop taught me dominoes and other typical Sussex pub games. One of my most enduring memories of Pop was that he taught me to roll a cigarette using one hand. A useful skill for a 15 year old!
School trips in the fourth form seemed to consist of going to the Booth Bird Museum on the Dyke Road. I can’t describe the boredom of looking at stuffed birds all afternoon, particularly when I had seen so many beautiful African birds!
The company my father worked for, had a system of travel allowance for it’s employees, but it would only mean David and I could return twice a year. So my mother had taken a job in the New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi specifically so that they had sufficient money for David and I to return to Kenya on all three holidays in the year. At 13 years old, David and I would think nothing of having to fly to and fro from Kenya. We had no way of phoning our parents, and had to find our way to Heathrow and on to the flight on our own. At that time it required a bus from Victoria to Heathrow as it was many years before the tube ran that far. It wasn’t straightforward, but we never got lost. As the years went on, it became fun to meet up at Heathrow with Kenya friends who were at school in different parts of England and travel home together. I am not sure how the stewardesses coped, as we were intent on starting the holidays with a bang.
Starting at Brighton College on my first term, I had bet my father 20 shillings that I wouldn’t grow my hair long like the other boys, such was my ignorance of the effects of fashion, trend and the need to conform to the crowd, I was determined to succeed.. Leaving Kath’s house to return to Kenya for my first holiday, I had Kath cut my hair until it was off the collar. It wasn’t enough to win the bet!
Some memories of frequent flying
At the time the airlines operated a club for frequent young flyers called “the Junior Jet Club”. You had a little log book that the captain would sign on every flight, showing the distance, type of aircraft and so on. If you were a member of the Junior Jet Club, it was possible to go into the cockpit and talk to the captain and have a guided tour of all that went on. Seems incredible now with such tough security, but it was possible to visit the cockpit right up until 2001 when the terrorist attack on New York changed the face of flying forever.
Returning to England on one occasion after I left school when I was around 18 or 19, I must have looked suspicious as I was called over to one side by the customs officers. They noticed that my platform shoes (very fashionable) had been resoled, and immediately assumed I was carrying drugs. I was taken away and strip searched. It was very intimidating.
Lower fifth. 1972 – 1973
I met Phil Robins in the fourth form, when I was thirteen. We met in the woodwork class. I think our inability to do a decent ‘dove joint’ was a factor in our bonding. I made a very good pencil box however. Phil was a day boy commuting from Woodingdean. In Bristol House, we viewed day boys as distinctly second class. How could they ever understand the fraternity that we, the boarders, enjoyed? However, in Phil’s case we made an exception, and he was given an honorary boarder status. Andy Rose joined the school in the lower fifth, I am unsure why he didn’t join in the fourth form and I must ask him where we first met. These two dear friends turned out to be life long friends, and I have valued and loved them ever since that day. I invited Phil out to Kenya in the summer of 1973, which was great fun. It was the first time that he had ever been abroad, and had to apply for his first passport. I like to think that that first visit to Kenya was instrumental in shaping his career, which saw him travel the world.
At fifteen, I shared a study with Chris Moore, who subsequently became known by the nick name of ‘snoopy’, not because he looked like the cartoon dog, but of his habit of walking into a room, looking around and promptly leaving. The name ‘snoopy’ stuck and he was known throughout the school as ‘snoopy’. Sadly I didn’t keep in touch with after we left school. However the two years we shared together were memorable, mainly for our mutual ability to encourage the other to risk more and break as many rules as possible.
Snoopy and I first teamed up in the Cadet Force an activity that was required from fifteen onwards. I had chosen the air cadets because I understood there were opportunities to fly from Shoreham airport, and more specifically because it was rumoured that there was an opportunity to learn to fly a glider. Besides, the army cadets seemed to do an awful lot of marching, although they did seem to access to the school armoury more than the others. The school employed a Regimental Sergeant Major who looked after the school shooting range. We learnt how to use a .22 rifle and a 303 rifle, which was standard issue in the second world war. The 303 had terrific recoil, firing it with a live round, for the first time at the Grammar school (later BHASVIC), it nearly bruised my arm. We learnt how to strip the guns down, clean and reassemble and load them. Our uniform was inspected every week, and everything was expected to be gleaming. I soon worked out that if I cleaned up the brass and then varnished it, then subsequently I could just spit on it and rub it to make it shine. In due course, Snoopy and I did our gliding course at RAF West Malling, and went solo. It was a fantastic weekend and well worth all the ‘drill’ that was required. On other occasions, we went flying in RAF planes from Shoreham. This required us to wear and know how to use a parachute. Frequently we asked the pilot who was instructing us if he could do aerobatics over the college.
On one occasion, Snoopy and I were expected to take part in a cadet orienteering day. This required us to find our way around the south downs just using a compass and a map. We ended up having to thumb a lift down the A23 back to Brighton and got a lift in a post office van. The driver and his mate were drinking and told us to climb in the back, which we did. The only problem was that the back of the van was full of fragile parcels and we had army boots on! They offered us a drink and as they hadn’t got a bottle opener, they smashed the top of the bottle on the dashboard and gave it to us, but of course we cut ourselves on the broken glass. When we left, the fragile parcels were rather squashed and liberally sprinkled with blood and beer.
Snoopy and I became drinking partners, and at 15 would often sneak out of school in the evening to go for a pint. To change out of our school uniform and leave the college vicinity would attract too much attention from prefects, so we used to go to the pub in our school uniform. The landlord’s knew we were from the college anyway, so it mattered little to them. At around this time we both got confirmed into the Church of England. We neither of us knew or cared what it meant, it was expected of us. Besides, the useful thing was that the confirmation classes were held off the grounds, so we could smoke on the way home with out being caught.
Upper Fifth. 1973 – 1974
1974 was my ‘O’ level year, and probably the most important year in my education, not that I was aware of this fact! In 1973, I was 15 and I was more concerned with drinking and having a good time. At some point Snoopy had started smoking marijuana, or ‘dope’ as it we knew it. He became dedicated to the cause of ‘turning me on’. Both of us were Pink Floyd fans, ‘The Floyd’ being the only ‘creditable’ band that I actually knew of before I started Brighton. Since had we had tickets to see them at Earls Court in September of 1973, Snoopy had decided that I needed to get acquainted with the joys of dope before then, so that I could experience the gig to the optimum. It certainly was a gig to remember, and surprisingly I remember it well. When we were on the train, and couldn’t smoke dope, Snoopy had thoughtfully made some dope cookies, which was helpful! The following year on the 5th July 1975, we bunked off school an hitch hiked to Knebworth in Hertforshire, where Pink Floyd were headlining the all day festival there.
After then, whenever we had the opportunity to get stoned, we took it. The timetable worked meant we both had a double free period on a Wednesday afternoon, followed by Geography as the last lesson of the day. Somehow I passed geography, but the lessons seemed incredibly funny!!
We had a few ‘near misses’. On one evening, we decided to go for a joint in some abandoned buildings. Unfortunately we didn’t keep the noise down sufficiently, because very suddenly the flood lights went on and we were surrounded by the police, who had been tipped off by a neighbour who could see we were up to no good. Somehow we were let off with a caution by the school.
I took a few chances in bringing marijuana from Kenya through customs to school. The grass in Kenya was very cheap and very strong, and I could easily trade it at school. I drew the line at amphetamines, which some of the boys had started taking however. I had enough sense to realise that.
The introduction in 1794 of girls into a school of 700 boys meant that all the initial eight girls received much interest although whether it made the boys work harder for fear of being shown up, is debatable. The girls had no school uniform so decisions on dress and length of skirts was arbitrary. Along with this, discipline especially corporal punishment had to be rethought very much on the hoof. The boys once challenged the girls to a Rugby match, which they accepted provided we returned the challenge with a hockey match. I think the boys were looking forward to the rugby scrum, but the resulting bruises in both matches served as a sober reminder that the girls were not to be trifled with!
In the fifth form, the boarders were allowed to go into Brighton on a Saturday night. Clearly the school knew that the boys were heading straight down to the pub, but I think they had little choice but to permit it. The prevailing attitude was that provided we didn’t get into trouble with the law, they would turn a blind eye. The drinking law was very much more relaxed in the 70s, you didn’t need to look 18, the consensus seemed to be that provided you didn’t look 14 you could be served alcohol.
I was determined to write a school boys guide to every pub in Brighton, ranking each establishment on the quality and variety of beer, availability of a cigarette machine, ambience etc. Naturally this meant that I would have to visit all the pubs in the area. I regret not keeping the book I kept, it would have made fascinating reading.
As a consequence, Andy, Phil, Snoopy and I would get extremely drunk, daring each other to performing stupid stunts. It was the typical initiation rites of 15 year olds. We were let back into the school by the House Master, Mr Perfect (he wasn’t!), who seldom noticed the state we were in, since he would usually be drunk as well. That was unless there was someone lying in the road.
The drinking sessions would frequently end up with one or other of us “worshipping the porcelain god”. (This would involve kneeling before the toilet bowl and repeating the words ‘Oh God, Oh God!’) I can honestly say that these experiences had a life long effect on me, and I have never been really drunk since. At the end of one term, it was customary to have a ‘house supper’ (banquet of sorts). The school provided a small amount of alcohol including port. Afterwards Snoopy and I stole a bottle from the canteen, and retired for a joint. Apparently I drunk most of it whist Snoopy went to sort out the dope. I only remember being very ill the following day.
For the record, in 1973 a pint of bitter cost 14 new pence, a pint of mild 12 new pence, and a packet of ten No. 6 cigarettes around 15 new pence. It truly was possible to go out for a pound and still have enough for a bag of chips on the way home. (The currency had only changed to decimal in 1971, which is why it was ‘new’ pence. Anecdotally, I had a post office savings account, which I used for my money, drawing out no more than fifty pence each visit, which was a reasonable amount of money to last the week. The post office knew me as ‘fifty pence Pete!’)
Snoopy and I shared a study and often relied on each other to write ‘crib sheets’ that we would pass to each other in class. This worked well until Snoopy decided to employ a system of hieroglyphics on his crib sheet. A whole row of six boys depended on him passing along the correct answer. Unfortunately in the exam he couldn’t remember what the hieroglyphics meant. As a consequence all six of us put down the same incorrect answer, so it was easy to detect what had taken place.
This wasn’t the only incident of cheating. By far the best occasion was when one lad broke into the staff room and stole the exam papers for the whole year. Then showing great entrepreneurial spirit, he sold them to the entire year. This was discovered before the exam, but by that time it was too late to rewrite the exam questions. All the boys in our year got nearly 100% marks!
Inspired by this achievement Snoopy and I and decided to launch our own initiative. If a boy was disruptive in class, he had to report to his House Master and ask for a ‘yellow paper’ on which he was expected to write out his homework and submit it back to the class teacher. This was a simple method by which the House Master was informed of a boys misdemeanour. It seemed equally simple for Snoopy and I to sneak into the House Masters study and steal the yellow paper, which we sold or traded – probably for dope I suspect.
Revision for the ‘O’ levels, and also for ‘A’ levels was done either on the beach, or on the roof of the school. A secret known only to a handful of boys, was the fact that it was possible to climb out of a sky light which was on the third or forth floor, clamber up the roof tiles and across the apex of the roof onto a flat area directly above the entrance to the school. Not only did this give excellent views of the grounds, but the flat roofed area couldn’t be seen from the ground, protected by the sides of various chimneys and roof tiles. I guess it was very dangerous, but we didn’t consider the risks.
St George’s Lodge
For our last two terms in the Upper Fifth year, Snoopy and I were given a two bed study in the ground floor of St George’s Lodge. This was an old Victorian building diagonally opposite the entrance to the college. I think it was an attempt to exercise some restraint on our lives, in that we were potentially under the watchful eye of the Deputy Head Master who lived on the first floor. We saw it as a definite ‘upgrade’ from the alternative of having to live in Bristol House. At the time, Snoopy and I were trying to catch the eye of various girls from the local school, St Mary’s Hall, which was just up the road. One of those girls turned out to be Georgie Golding, and for a short while we went out on a date. We were both around 16 years old. Certainly she can recall climbing into our room through the sash window, although my memory of the events is hazy in the extreme. In time she met my brother of course, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Eventually we took ‘O’ levels, which I managed to pass around 5 or 6. It was unfortunate that Snoopy didn’t Biology and I passed. He had done all the work for that subject and I had copied most of his homework. I shouldn’t have passed the practical exam however. We were all given a worm and two dishes of some chemical fluid. One turned out to be hydrochloric acid, which I discovered when at the start of the exam I dropped the worm in it. I put my hand up and said in my best Oliver Twist impersonation said “please sir, can I have another worm?” My request was denied since there were only enough worms for each boy to have one. I had to guess the answers. I knew one, the worm didn’t like dish number A!
Lower Sixth. 1974 – 1975
By the time I started the Lower Sixth, I was struggling with clinical depression. It came to a head in the summer holidays of 1975 when rather embarrassingly I found myself crying in front of my parents for no particular reason. I could sense the dark periods coming in, rather like watching a rain cloud and knowing that in a few minutes there would be a storm. It was a difficult period and one that I have never talked about with my parents subsequently. When I was back in England I was taken to a specialist in Harley Street, who couldn’t find anything wrong with me.
However, I think I knew the problem that lurked deep inside. Apart from having split up with my first proper girlfriend, I think I was aware of the tensions that the dope smoking was hiding.
I realised that I was probably slowly failing at school and felt purposeless. Certainly my school reports were very pessimistic in saying that I was putting in too little effort, too late. The problem seemed to be that I didn’t know where I was heading. My dope smoking friends didn’t care, and my non dope smoking friends seemed to have it all sorted. They knew which university they were applying to and what they were going to do at the end of it all.
I muddled through and the depression lifted, without any medication. After I left school, I realised that the issue was this: Studying didn’t really make much sense. It didn’t seem to lead to anything. Rather than being the gateway to an interesting career, the notion seemed to be that if you studied really hard at a particular subject, you could do it at ‘A’ level. Then, if you studied really hard at that subject at ‘A’ level – you could go on and study it at University! Great! However, there wasn’t any subject that I wanted to continue to study, I quite liked art and was reasonable at it, but that was all. I also hadn’t the faintest idea what I wanted to do as a career.
Careers advice was pretty rudimentary. It seemed to be along the lines of “Have you thought of being a doctor?” “No?” “OK, how about being an airline pilot?” I have kept my school careers advice, as it is so amusing. There didn’t seem to be any attempt to make a link between a student’s skill and their ability and a career. My careers advice was as follows:
“Warning has been given about careers based in Art and Design: too many colleges are turning out too many graduates for available vacancies. Far safer are building / commercial / industrial jobs where an artistic appreciation would be an asset. With this in mind Peter has agreed to investigate further the following careers: Advertising, Landscape Architecture, Town and Country Planning”.
During this time my wonderful parents spent a lot of money and took me to a careers advice service in London somewhere. I spent a day doing some tests, answering fairly random and arbitrary questions. At the interview that followed it was suggested that I thought about being a silversmith. The rationale was that I knew I liked art and could ‘design’ things, and I also tended to wear lots of cheap jewellery, (as did most boys in the 70s). So the careers service simply put the two together. For about 24 hours I thought this was what I was going to do. However, I had no idea how I would get into a career as a silversmith, and no one could advise any further on it, and so the idea was quickly dropped.
By this point, some of the sixth formers had obtained their driving licences, and one or two had cars. This proved very useful as after ‘lights out’ one of the boys would shin down the fire escape and could go and get a burger for whoever ordered one.
My relationship with Andy Rose blossomed and we would frequently consol each other over troubled relationships with the opposite sex. We also shared a common taste in music, which was to form a major part of our friendship.
In an effort to ‘manage’ the consumption of alcohol, the school had established a sixth form bar. Sixth formers were allowed to buy tokens for beer, up to the limit of a pint and a half a week. The bar had a snooker table and a darts board but of course you couldn’t smoke, which made it less attractive. It was also run by the boys, which was a definite plus point. No one wanted teachers present. The trouble was of course that frequently ‘drinks were on the house!’
Upper Sixth. 1976
Having had a difficult time in the previous year, I actually enjoyed my final year at school. Perhaps it was the knowledge that it was all finally coming to an end. Andy Rose and I formed a strong friendship with another friend, Dave Heberlein and his girlfriend Linda Hart, we enjoyed the very hot summer ‘revising’ on the beach. The school had recently gone co-educational and Linda was one of the dozen or so girls in our year. Briefly I had a girlfriend who was in the year below me, Diana Hardy and so things generally were looking up. Diana obviously didn’t think too much of me, as she once remarked that we were well suited as neither of us were good looking!
Having really enjoyed English at ‘O’ level, thanks to Mr Andrews, who was about the only teacher who made a subject come alive, I naturally took it at ‘A’ level. However, my Art ‘A’ level was a near disaster. Three months before the final exam I was told that I couldn’t do my two chosen subjects, Pottery and Graphics because one subject needed to be either drawing or painting. I found it unbelievable that no one had worked that out beforehand. I dropped pottery and did drawing. I am not sure that it was actually ‘graphics’, I think it was more ‘lettering’. Certainly I had to create a new typeface for the poster I submitted for my exam. It was the nearest to graphics that was understood at that point.
I made an application to Brighton Polytechnic to study on a Foundation Course in Art, because I couldn’t think of what else to do, but I was turned down, which wasn’t surprising having switch subjects at the last moment in Art. In fact, I think I knew that I wasn’t ready for further education. I still had no idea what I wanted to do. In the end I passed two ‘A’ Levels – English and Art, and got a ‘O’ level pass in Economics. I was happy enough with that.
It was with great sadness that I said goodbye to Andy and Phil, we had a last drink together and I headed off to Kenya for a rather enforced gap year, which turned out to be pivotal in helping me to decide my future direction.