Passed/Failed: An Education in the Life of Hanif Kureishi, whose Screenplays Include My Beautiful Laundrette and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

Hanif Kureishi's latest novel, `Intimacy', is currently being filmed. `Midnight All Day', his collection of short stories, is out now

Primary school: I would like to write children's books, a lovely form. At Raglan Road Junior School, in Bromley, I remember learning to read seriously at around seven or eight. That guaranteed me some independence, that is, I could read a book - Billy Bunter, Jennings & Darbishire and particularly Enid Blyton, whom I loved - and enjoy it at my own speed. My dad had a big library and I remember him going into second-hand bookshops and climbing up ladders, while I waited, as my kids now wait for me.

Secondary school: I enjoyed my education until I was 11. I wanted to go to a grammar school but they wouldn't let me in. I went to Ravenswood, a pretty wretched "technical" school where I spent most of my time with a chisel in my hand. Most of the teachers weren't interested in us, nor we in them. Luckily for me, it was the Sixties and most of us were interested in pop music and the Vietnam war; and you could buy Jack Kerouac novels in Bromley. I was leading a kind of double life, hanging around in literary circles in South Kensington, then going to school in my uniform.

College: I left with three O-levels: English, history and art. They didn't let me take any more because I was too stupid. I managed to get into Ravensbourne College of Art, where they did A-levels in a kind of Portacabin round the back. It was a wonderful place, full of kids with paint all over their faces, putting on plays and performing in bands. I did English, politics and history; I got an A in English; I was surprised because I hadn't done much work. I would sit at home and write a novel rather than an essay. When I was 15, I wrote a novel that I sent to Anthony Blond, the publishers; fortunately, it didn't get published, but an editor there was very encouraging to me.

University: I went to Lancaster University, reading English for a year, and then I was expelled for not going to lectures or exams. I had taken my girlfriend up there and we were living out of town and taking drugs. Dad, who was very ill, having just had a heart attack, was furious. I wanted to work in Fleet Street but he forced me to go to university again and I was lucky to get into King's College, London.

I chose to read philosophy because I felt that English was too close to what I wanted to do: write. I found philosophy so mind-stretching and very stimulating, as were the teachers and the other students.

The virtue of being at King's was that you were in the middle of London. At that time, the Royal Shakespeare Company was over the road in the Aldwych, and I worked there, selling programmes and helping a friend who made costumes. I also worked in the Royal Court theatre; I read scripts, did the ironing - and had a play on there. I used to sit and listen to conversations with Samuel Beckett and Lindsay Anderson.

I got a 2:1. My father was pleased, and yet also a bit disappointed I didn't get a first. I was lucky I hadn't been chucked out of education before this. They say you can get a good education anywhere, except at school.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
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
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
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