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'For me it was about growing my hair long'

I don't think my time at school in London in the 1960s was very educational. It was the bits in between that were.

The lessons were indifferent so it is my friends and social life I remember.

Recently, I logged on to a website that reunites friends from schooldays and met up with several of my old pals.

We discovered, much to our horror, that we're the same. A little greyer perhaps but we talked about the same things, our mannerisms are the same and we still have the same taste in women.

What I think we all shared is being authentic people and not pretending to be anyone else. I grew up in Islington and my primary school there was multicultural. There were black people, Cypriots, Indians and Jews.

At the age of eight we all went on strike after a caning incident in front of the whole school. We chanted in the playground and I think our reaction was half out of malice and half out of fun.

One of my most memorable teachers was a big, jolly West Indian woman who played the guitar and sang calypso songs.

There were also Indian girls who'd bring in comics about film stars in their own language and we'd try to decipher them.

My next school, farther out in the suburbs, was a big shock as lessons seemed non-existent. That's when my social life took off and I started building model rockets after reading comics about space ships and travel to the moon.

My maths teacher ironically was the first person who tried to teach us English grammar. I must've been about 10.

I went on to a technical grammar school which was science orientated and designed to supply students to local technology companies.

For me, though, it was about growing my hair long, playing the guitar and being into the tail end of the Beatles. I also loved Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. We'd go out to watch bands such as Led Zeppelin play before they became big.

By 15 we could pass ourselves off as 18 and got cars and scooters. The only drug I was into was beer and we'd play darts and eat cheese and onion sandwiches.

I certainly knew a huge number of girls though I'm not sure that made me a success with them.

I went on to Leeds University where I studied economics and politics but didn't enjoy it as I realised I should've gone on to film school, although there weren't those kinds of courses then.

It was at Leeds that I sat down and started reading novels and discovered that you had to write dialogue in order to write plays.

I'd always had this thing about the theatre, loving the magical element to live performances. So I started to write and learned that writing wasn't the problem; it's producing something that people want to buy.

I ended up living on #10 (HK$14.75) a week supplementary benefit and it wasn't a great period of my life.

It was only when I became friendly with people who read screenplays that I tried my hand at them. Within five years I was writing for television but it was a long five years.

If I think of my schooldays, it's not what you teach but how you teach it that counts because students need to be inspired.

I believe rote learning only succeeds in making you someone else's stooge.

Also, you need to leave home early to help become the opportunists and individuals, inspiring others and making a success of yourself.

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