Best days of their lives?

Writer Josceline Dimbleby and MP Lembit Öpik remember good teachers, especially in music

The cookery writer Josceline Dimbleby has turned her hand to history. Her latest book is
A Profound Secret: May Gaskell, Her Daughter Amy and Edward Burne-Jones. The author admits her career path would amaze her former teachers at Cranborne Chase, a girls' boarding school on the Wiltshire borders.

The cookery writer Josceline Dimbleby has turned her hand to history. Her latest book is A Profound Secret: May Gaskell, Her Daughter Amy and Edward Burne-Jones. The author admits her career path would amaze her former teachers at Cranborne Chase, a girls' boarding school on the Wiltshire borders.

"I really didn't do much work," she says. "The natural swots would work away but people like me, who just wanted to have fun, could get away with it. Partly it was the era because it still wasn't thought that important for a girl to have an education and I do sort of wish now that I had done more work.

"My first experiences of school were quite distressing. I'd been in Syria with my mother and stepfather, who was the British ambassador. But, after two disastrous governesses, I was sent to Knighton House boarding school in Dorset. I was very homesick for my mother and used to cry at night under the bed clothes. But it was a good [school] to go to. It was like being part of a family because it was based in a house, and the headmaster and mistress treated us as if we were part of this huge extended family."

"I made some great friends there, who are still friends today. And I started singing at Cranborne, which was very good on music. I had proper singing lessons and took leading roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas we put on with the boys from Bryanston. I was hopeless at maths but I always loved writing. We had a very good English teacher and I always got very good comments on my creative essays.

Strangely, however, I was rebellious in domestic science. I wanted to do my own thing."

Lembit Öpik, the Liberal Democrat MP for Montgomeryshire and one of the rising stars in the party, says his schools days at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution were among the happiest of his life. "I loved school and it just got better the older I got. I used to go in early to spend time with my pals."

An inspiring set of teachers made studying a pleasure, particularly in the sixth form, Lembit says. "I loved economics. I had the most fantastic teacher and I was fascinated by the subject. I was into music, again because we had an excellent teacher, who wasn't just teaching us to play the recorder but was getting us to really listen to the music.

"I was less keen on sport.Otherwise, I was a keen participant in academic and extra-curricular activities. I was involved in drama productions and the debating society. I lost my first election at school when I was standing for some position in the debating society. It's quite ironic that I'm now in a party that supports proportional representation because that was my downfall in my first election."

The MP says a cherished memory was being asked back to his old school to speak at the prize-giving day. "When I was at school the guy who gave the speech on prize day was so inspiring that it made me want to work really hard and have some ambition for my life. I said to myself that, if I ever got to speak on the prize day, then I would have achieved something really important in my life."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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 Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m