Back to school: A visit to Hampstead School

Poet and novelist Tobias Hill and rapper Doc Brown visit their old school

Award-winning British poet and novelist Tobias Hill yesterday encouraged students at his old school in Hampstead to “be imaginative with their lives”.

Hill, who returned to Hampstead School in London as part of a ‘Back to School’ alumni event facilitated by Future First, encouraged students to look beyond the world of nine-to-five jobs and to ‘invest’ their lives in what they love doing.

He revealed a residency at a private school had encouraged him to visit his old comprehensive school to share his experiences and advise students on potential careers.

“I don’t think I received any career advice at school,” said Hill, who has since become well-known for his novels The Hidden (2009), The Cryptographer (2003), and The Love of Stones (2001). “Getting my first poem published was my turning point and I realised it might be possible to devote myself to what I loved doing – making up tall tales!”

Joining him at the event was rapper, comedian and fellow Hampstead School alumnus Doc Brown (real name, Ben Bailey Smith), whose sister, writer Zadie Smith, also attended the school.

He said: “It was refreshing and interesting to share the knowledge with them and see their eyes light up when they learned how complex some elements of my job are.”

Brown, whose career has seen him perform with the Black Eyed Peas, Mark Ronson, and Lily Allen, said he took a multiple-choice careers quiz when at the school which suggested he become a roofer.

“I wanted to perform, write, create, and goof around in public,” he said. “You can’t judge a kid using multiple-choice!”

The performer also joked about the drawbacks of having a high-achieving sister. 

“It was especially difficult coming behind my sister who was a huge academic and a hero at this school,” he said. “I remember getting in trouble for smoking or being late. I went to the Head’s office and there was a framed picture of my sister with the speaker of the House of Commons!”

Brown put his sister’s success down to her state education.

“My sister’s first book became a global success. How is that possible?” he said. “It’s more than possible because she fraternised with everyone. She had so many points of reference. School is the first bit of research in life and she got to know so many different types of people.”

Both ex-students praised state education, with Hill applauding the “vitality” of his comprehensive school.

“It was comprehensive with a small c,” he said. “It was great for meeting people. The breadth and the reach of society, that’s really valuable, that’s really important.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence