Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Sarah Beeny, the presenter of 'Property Ladder'
'Our mission was to snog boys'
Thursday 04 December 2008
Sarah Beeny, 36, presents 'Property Ladder' on Channel 4 and her books include 'Price the Job'. In 2005, she set up the online dating website mysinglefriend.com.
When I went to a playschool near Basingstoke, my mother gave me a pair of pink shorts and I had the most appalling tantrums and refused to wear them after one of the boys said, "Ooh, that's pink and pink's for girls!" I think I thought I was a boy.
Then I went to another nursery school that was run by a very good friend of my mother. I am told that as a protest at my mother leaving me there I sat on the drive and ate gravel, but it was a very happy place. It was an absolutely lovely house and the kitchen seemed to me then the size of a sports hall. Perhaps this was where my obsession with property began.
At four I moved to The Abbey in Reading, a private girls school that was quite academic. I was unbelievably unhappy. It wasn't helped by the fact that at first I was taken there by the man next door, who was called Mr Fish and had his own driver. There was a terrible hoo-ha when my parents discovered that we would arrive early and, although the door was meant to be open, for a couple of weeks I'd been standing in the street.
My parents were a bit eccentric. We used to have goats and they brought one of them in to show the children how to milk it. It pooed on the lawn and the headmistress was disgusted. It was really difficult for them sending me there, having to drag me into the car while I was having tantrums. After about three years they moved me to Daneshill, a private co-ed school near Basingstoke. I was not popular and never had many friends, but I remember being happy.
At 12, I went to Luckley-Oakfield, a girls school that was probably a step down academically. I moved up to the year above. I was a weekly boarder and cried a lot because I was bitterly homesick, but finally, at 13, I had really good friends. My brother was quite good-looking, my friends fancied him and he got through them at a rate of knots: you buy a lot of popularity that way. Also, I was busy setting people up with other girls' brothers; it was quite easy then, but it's tricky to meet single people when you're over about 25, which is why I later set up the dating website mysinglefriend.com.
Luckley-Oakfield was like St Trinian's: the teachers wore tweed and were stuffy and old-fashioned; meanwhile we used to show our bosoms to the local builders and our mission was to snog boys. It was good clean fun: naughty rather than scary.
I would term myself as being ineducable. Apparently I have a high IQ, but I managed to lose what I had learnt: I downscaled. I couldn't see the point of learning. I was more interested that the school's stage hadn't been used for years and was full of old chairs; I took it on myself to clear it up and do a make-over when I should have been working on my studies.
I took nine O-levels at 15 and got possibly two or three, with a good grade in English language, but not literature. I did history O-Level and was interested in why Hitler did what he did, but I didn't know which century the First and Second World Wars were in; understandably I got an "Ungraded".
Queen Mary's College in Basingstoke has a great theatre and I did the Hampshire Foundation Course in drama with two A-levels as well. A sixth form college is more like a university and this was such a positive place to be. Everyone actually wants to be there. I don't think I did brilliantly at my A-levels in English and art, but I passed. I read Our Mutual Friend, a set book, in the summer holidays after my A-levels, and said: "It's quite a good book, actually."
I remember coming out of my last exam and thinking, "I will never do another exam until I die."
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