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."

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Network Manager - Oldham area - Up to £30,000

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

Teacher of special needs required for Burton on Trent

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Exciting Opportunity, Rand...

Behaviour Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Behaviour Support Worker Th...

Youth Worker / Teaching Assistant - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are looki...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home