Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Bobby George, darts player and commentator

'I was called thick. Today it's dyslexia'


Bobby George, 62, is the BBC1 commentator at the Lakeside World Darts Championships. Aged 30 before he began playing, he immediately won major tournaments and later became the first full-time "exhibition" player. His autobiography, Bobby Dazzler: My Story, is out now in paperback

My dad was very hard, and my mum. I did hold a grudge against them when I was young but I realise that they did me a favour: they made me get off my arse. I would go to school to get away from all the shouting at home, but when I got there the teachers would shout at me, too. I suffered from a stutter before I went to school, and in class I'd put my hand up to ask a question – and stutter. The teacher would say, "Sit down, George". I knocked about with a stuttering mate, Eric Pratt, at junior school. I knew what he was saying but in public we came across as a right pair of idiots. My old man said, "Keep away from him", and Eric's father said, "Keep away from him". I drifted away from Eric, and at 16, two years after I left school, I realised that I wasn't stuttering any more.

My first school was Gearies Infants in Gants Hill, Essex, and I hated it. Most teachers came from military backgrounds and were extremely tough individuals. You didn't go into the playground; you went on parade: "Get in line!" A lot of the children came from wealthy Jewish families. One guy's house had wall-to-wall carpets; I'd never seen that. I asked my old man when he was going to clean the hall and he said, "When it smells". I used to have Army-surplus clothes and go to school dressed like a Japanese general.

At Newbury Park Juniors, I was good at metalwork and woodwork but no good at reading. In my day I was called thick, but now it would be called dyslexia. Spelling was like looking out of a window on a sunny day: it was jet black to me out there. My dad was very clever because he could remember things; anything you wanted to know, he would tell you. But if I brought homework home, he would tell me not to do it: "If they can't teach you from nine to four, they can't teach you at home either."

Ken Aston was my head teacher. He was also in charge of the referees at the Football Association and was the man who came up with the idea of red and yellow cards when he was waiting at the traffic lights: yellow for warning, red for stop. At school he put me in goal and I dislocated my fingers when trying to make a save. He said that this made my fingers flexible: "You'd never have made such a good darts player!"

The other teachers were like Hitler. I've had cards from guys at the school who are now pilots or solicitors. I think, "Did you really go to the same school as me?"

At Gearies Secondary Modern, I was a good runner but, for the 10-mile cross-country race, I would have to run there before the race and home again afterwards – and I didn't have spiked shoes. I was good at art – my father called me "Leonardo" – and I used to help the other boys in the class but the teacher would give them good marks and me low marks.

One day, just before I was due to leave the school, I was mucking about a bit in the classroom and the teacher said, "Get the gloves on", and we had a boxing match. I was only 14, but I knocked him out.

I left school a fortnight later with not one qualification to my name. If I could go back to school, I would suck everyone's brain dry. I'd learn everything I possibly could. I could have gone to art college but my father said, "Leonardo, get out there and work!"

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 People

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform