Education: Passed/failed - Ian Hislop
Ian Hislop, 38, alias Lord Gnome, is the editor of Private Eye. He has written scripts for Dawn French, Harry Enfield and Chums and Spitting Image and appears on Have I Got News For You. He recently presented two Channel 4 documentaries about education and the NHS, School Rules and Pennies from Bevan.
Thursday 06 August 1998
When I was seven, my father worked for a year at head office in England and I went to Lindfield Primary near Haywards Heath. Then he went to Hong Kong and I went to boarding school.
Gnome from home? I was at Ardingly College, Sussex for nine years. After the prep school, I got a scholarship to the public school. It was fairly primitive: 30 people in large dormitories with no curtains, quite spartan. Muscular Christianity but not much homosexuality. Liberal and tolerant with it. I was not a huge rebel. Like anyone with any sense, I worked the system; there is no fun in being thrown out. In fact, I was head boy, the ultimate in uncool; you got a lot of privileges - and the duties followed. There were huge amounts of administration; the amazing thing about public schools is the huge amount of work they give to prefects which you'd imagine other people would be paid to do.
A distinct lack of Chemistry? At O-levels, I did all the sciences. I was determined to be a civil engineer, probably because my dad died when I was 12, and I thought I would have to replace him. In the sixth form, I started Maths, Physics and Chemistry A-levels. After about a term, I dropped Chemistry and Physics and took up English and French. What changed my mind for me was that the chemistry teacher read out a letter in class from someone at university - hoping to inspire us - and I thought, "I couldn't possibly bear to do that!"
See me in the libel lawyer's study, Hislop! I edited the school magazine with some friends. We had a brilliant English teacher, Colin Temblett- Wood, who had been at Cambridge and in the Marlowe Society; of the same vintage as Trevor Nunn (on second thoughts it may have been Peter Hall. Same beard ...).
He suggested we put on revues. The highlight was a careers' sketch on How To Be A Bursar: join the RAF and embezzle funds. We had not heard of the laws of libel. The headmaster thought it was very funny and nearly fell off his chair.
Sorted for Es? There was a group of us who the school thought were basically lazy and not doing enough work - entirely true - so they put us in for Oxford entrance after four terms. I took a joint Maths and English paper.
I think they were rather cross when we all got in, which meant I could be even more lazy. My offer from Magdalen was two Es, although I actually got three As. I was down to do PPE and, with another brilliant change of mind, switched to English before I went up.
Shrinking Violet? While at Oxford, I won two awards, the Underhill Exhibition and the Violet Vaughan-Morgan Scholarship. The Violet Vaughan-Morgan scholarship, for which you took an exam in Jacobean literature, was worth pounds 150. I spent it on an airline ticket to California, where I had a great time, which was probably not what Violet Vaughan-Morgan had in mind.
In my Finals, I was viva-ed for a first; I looked at Professor John Bailey and thought: "You're not going to give me this, are you?" I got a Second.
Etceteras, Etceteras? I can't act, comedy is all I can do - so I put on reviews with The Etceteras, which is not a formal organisation like the Cambridge Footlights, but is basically a bank account which you could get your hands on.
I went up to the Edinburgh Festival, performing two shows which I'd written or co-written. Imogen Stubbs was the girl in the shows; she could act, which rather shocked us.
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 3 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 4 Britney Spears sings 'Alien' without Auto-Tune in embarrassing leaked audio clip
- 5 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Mick Jagger denies being World Cup curse and reason for Brazil’s embarrassing defeat
Israel-Gaza crisis: ‘We just want it to end… We don’t deserve to live like this’
Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...
On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...
£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...