PASSED/FAILED: John Humphrys

John Humphrys, 53, is a newsreader and presenter of 'Today' and 'On the Ropes' on Radio 4, and BBC1's 'On the Record'

But first? When I was four I went to a nursery school. In the break we war babies were given a spoonful of disgusting castor oil and some orange juice to wash it down. Then we were made to lie down for half an hour on the floor of the gym to go to sleep.

And next? Splott Primary School, named after a district of Cardiff. On one of my first days there, I can remember not knowing where the loos were and not liking to ask - with the resultant disaster when I failed to reach the safety of my home. My mother was very sympathetic. It had very, very old desks which ponged of old polish and sweat; very few of the kids would have had a bathroom, just an outside privy.

But then? After a couple of years I went to Moorland Road Primary School, which was purpose-built and quite different. It was much further away but I still walked there and back - going home for lunch as well. In drama, I remember being Boadicea, which was wonderful as I was dragged around in a cart and ordered people around. I don't know why one of the little girls didn't take that part. I enjoyed primary school.

Watch your grammar? I sat the 11-plus. It really did dominate your life: a watershed. If you passed, you got a decent education. If not, you didn't. I did. You got into Cardiff High School by not only passing, but coming top. It was regarded as the best in Cardiff, if not Wales. It was academically brilliant and certainly the most snobbish. In my uniform and cap, I was the only one in my area to go there; it was not easy. There were not many working-class boys; I was acutely aware that the fathers of the other boys in my class were white-collar, while my father was - and is - a French polisher.

Premiere classe? I was in the B stream most of the time. I couldn't understand why people couldn't do French. There was also the odd English essay I did quite well. I took 10 O-levels, which was fairly normal. I sailed through French and scraped through maths with 51 per cent and German with 502/3 per cent. I failed woodwork.

And after? I remember the headmaster telling my parents I ought to stay on, but nobody in the family had gone to university. I had the idea of being a glamorous reporter - Clark Kent turning into Superman. I spent many years of my life resenting all those kids who wore university scarves.

And finally? I was given an honorary degree - a doctorate of letters - at Dundee University a couple of years ago. I have a picture of myself in a mortar-board, feeling fraudulent. Cardiff High once asked me to go back but I said: "Do you really want me to stand up and say how much I hated it?"n

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: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin