I'm afraid I was a victim of private education. In all, I went to five schools and none of them really worked for me. Two actually closed down while I was there, so I think I had a kiss-of-death effect. There must have been aspects I enjoyed, but you are not going to hear me saying very cooing or lovely things about my education. It does worry me that I rarely meet people who say their school days were the best of their life; if I did meet them they would probably be military dictators or something, or I would look for their lobotomy scar. When I was two-and-a-half my big brother was at school and I really wanted to follow him, so I was sent to what was called a pre-prep. Because I was taught to read too young, I found myself in a classroom of children learning to do just that and quickly got bored. Things may have changed now [in Britain] but most of the system in my day was based on memory and we were expected to learn copious dates in history, for example. I never had the kind of brain that could do it. Predictably, therefore, I was no good at tests; I failed the Common Entrance Exam spectacularly. But I always loved reading and being near books, which meant that I was often made librarian. Mostly this meant using Cellotape to repair books, and if there were no tears I could always add a few. In one school I even introduced an extraordinarily complicated system of withdrawing books to justify my position. I also loved writing. At King's School in Canterbury, I was quite subversive. The house master constantly posted notices all around school, and it happened I had a typewriter with the same style keys. So I would post my own cheeky versions of his messages, but the humour was always gentle and served the purpose of showing that us boys saw things differently. Though he could never prove it was me, he knew it was, and I knew that he knew, and it was all very amicable. Sunday morning was letter writing time, and I did write incredibly long letters. Not only did it feed my love of writing, but I had boarded from about the age of 10 and got very homesick. Although I have always had a great thirst for knowledge, my teachers did not satisfy it. They were generally an unpleasant bunch - in a kind and loving way - and what I didn't really see from the majority of them was enthusiasm. I think enthusiasm is so important and infectious. One exception was a biology master who once stood in a waste paper basket while teaching us a fact and told us we would never forget it. Well it was an awful long time ago and I have forgotten, but he certainly made an impact. But you can only stand in a waste paper basket so many times. I am not competitive; lots of the teachers were into sports, so we were never going to see eye to eye. I didn't see the point of getting my knees dirty and falling over, and would often be found having a chat by the goal posts or running around the field to keep busy. Teachers who give nuggets of information are best. One explained to us the myth that carrots help you see in the dark. Apparently the Royal Air Force spread this rumour and did lots of tests they knew the enemy would find out about during the second world war, to hide the fact that they had discovered radar. The story was concocted to convince them that British pilots could find their targets at night because they ate carrots. When writing my books I try to give readers my own entertaining nuggets. I have always been tall. That made me a good focal point in the playground, a kind of mobile assembly point. People would say: 'I'll meet you by the tall guy in fifteen minutes.' Buying expensive uniforms is an integral part of private education. There was always a lot of grey in ours. At Kings, they were designed as if for a Victorian funeral and I would often find myself asking where we had left the coffin. The rules were enforced rigorously; if you didn't wear pinstripes on a Sunday, God would get you. Pupils wore special ties to designate position and status. No privileges for me. I wore the same black tie all the way through. Rules are a strange business; they make sense to the people who make them but these are not things I worry about now. My formal education came to an end when I enrolled on the only copywriting course available at that time in the UK, at Watford College, and went into advertising. I was unusual in my school in not going on to a university education. It is something of an advantage in my work as a writer, as I am able to write books about anything and everything because I know equally nothing about all subjects. School may never really have coped with my needs, but to be fair, [schools] have to cater for people who want to do lots of things together. Society needs them to stop rebellion and keep people busy.