Brain of the form? At what used to be called an elementary school - a state primary - there were classes of 48 or 50 and I would come about 32nd, until I suddenly came third. Then I went on coming third or even first.
Secondary school? After taking what we called "the scholarship", I went to Raynes Park Grammar School. Although it was a state school, you paid four guineas a term, but not if you were poor. It looked exactly like the biscuit and fish-paste factories that surrounded it but the school song was written by WH Auden and the prizes were presented by TS Eliot.
A dead cert? At the school certificate [GCSE] I scored a glorious failure in an exam called practical maths, which was something to do with ladders leaning against walls. I was baffled and drew the diagrams very big to fill the space. Despite that, I got the best results for the exams in the school.
Honestly? I'm afraid I cheated in geography, tearing out the pages of my geography notebook and spreading them in front of me. I don't think I'd do it again, from fear of being caught. I remember a boy cheating in French and being marched out.
Higher thoughts? I sailed through higher certificate [A-levels] in history, French and English but they were all Bs and even now it makes me grind my teeth that I didn't get any As.
Brain of Oxford? When I arrived, I told a historian that I was reading English and he said, "Oh, I thought I'd do that in the evenings." He was as thick as a plank, too.
Finals? I got a respectable second. At the end of the first year there was a Shakespeare exam and, lo, two distinctions - the equivalent of a first - were awarded; Tony Richardson got one and I got the other. This was partly due to my borrowing the notes of an industrious undergraduate who had attended all the relevant lectures. He said, "I am honoured to have contributed to such a meritorious result." But had I, in improving my own chances, diminished his - like a vampire?
Oxfamous? I was editor of Isis. As an actor, I was no good but neither was anyone else. It was after midnight before I, as Perkin in Perkin Warbeck by John Ford, took my final bow and only a skeleton audience remained.
Glittering prizes? I've won a couple of prizes for Personality of the Year. The burglars stole the one from the Variety Club, after they'd been sick on the carpetnReuse content