PASSED/FAILED: Jean Shrimpton

Jean Shrimpton, now 54, was for more than 10 years Britain's leading model. Her mini-skirted figure decorated magazine covers, the film, `Privilege', and once, to the consternation of Australian race-goers, the enclosure at the Melbourne Cup. Unlike her fellow icon, the photographer David Bailey, she turned her back on the cameras and now, as Jean Cox, she runs The Abbey Hotel, Penzance, with her husband, Michael.

First appearance? I was born in Buckinghamshire in 1942. It was war-time and there was an awful uneasy feeling; children pick up on that. There were tanks going past and, as we were near Bomber Command, the buses were always full of servicemen. At just five I went to St Bernard's Convent in High Wycombe. I was terrified of going to school. The bus stop was just outside my house and I kept running back to ask my mother, "Are you quite sure you'll be there?" - that is, to pick me up from school.

Model pupil? I was too nervous to go to the lavatory, and would usually bring home a wet parcel for my mother. Nuns are quite daunting and make you feel very guilty. With my wish to please, I learnt quite a lot - but really I was just relieved to get home to my pony, Ricky.

Second appearance? We moved house when I was about eight and I went as a day girl to St Bernard's Convent in Slough; I don't think it was connected to the High Wycombe school. They taught us very well. I think homework's mad and have not leaned on my son about it; but we did a lot of it. I was always in the top five because I was anxious to please, but I hated studying and I don't think my imagination was fired.

Superior figures? About half the teachers were nuns. It's quite strange for children to see these black figures and their flapping crucifixes. All those starving Christ figures on the Cross - and then I become a model at a time when everyone was very skinny. At the time I wasn't very interested in fashion. I'm not gregarious and I'm not very girly; I have a more masculine slant of mind.

Charity begins at school? We used to give money for babies in Africa. When you had saved half a crown [12 and a half pence], which was quite a lot of money then, you were allowed to name an African baby. Talk about politically incorrect! It wasn't racist but it was terribly condescending and naive.

True to type? I got eight O-levels and the school wanted me to go to university, but during my riding I had discovered boys, and wanted to go to London. I left school and went to a secretarial course near Marble Arch in Central London for a year. I wasn't too bad at shorthand but I was so bad at typing. A lot of nights I stayed behind trying to get my speed up: what was it, 70 words per minute? I had two weeks of work experience in a typing pool in Oxford Street; it was pretty farcical.

Model student? I got picked up at the polo in Windsor Great Park by a dirty old man who suggested modelling. Then a film director called Cy Enfield stopped me when I was taking lunch in Hyde Park; he wanted me for a film but his producer didn't. He told me I should be a model, so I went on a Lucie Clayton course which lasted about a month. It's a short course, because there's not much to learn - just how not to have a brainn

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 Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution