School wasn’t something I enjoyed. They didn’t teach anything I was interested in. I think I was bright, but not good at my work. I had plenty of other interests. These were, in no particular order, cycling, swimming, photography, building radios, acting, storytelling, magic tricks, playing the piano, and anything to do with projectors or moving images, which of course included going to the pictures. I pursued these interests, both in and out of school, to the exclusion of everything else including homework.
Somehow, with the help of my father’s remedial teaching, I passed the eleven plus and went to the local grammar school. That turned out to be even worse than primary school, and I left at the first opportunity, when I was sixteen, to became an apprentice telephone engineer.
Then two things happened...
First, as part of our City and Guilds qualifications, we had to take a course in General Studies. In my second year the subject was post war European cinema. Suddenly I was introduced to the work of Wajda, Bergman, and Bresson, among others. It was certainly eye opening. I had never considered the idea of watching films that weren’t in English. And I had also never considered the idea that there might be serious cinema which was the equivalent of serious literature or theatre.
Secondly, I met some students at Norwich Art College, and discovered there were a few Fine Art courses where you could study film. It seemed unlikely that I would be accepted, but I decided to try anyway. I submitted a portfolio to Leeds, consisting of photographs and Super 8 films. Much to my surprise I was invited for interview. And I was even more astonished a few weeks later when I was offered a place.
So in September 1977 I packed my mini-van with everything I thought I might need, and headed up the A1 towards Leeds Polytechnic Fine Art Department. The story continues in “THE DAYGLO DIARIES” which you can download from this site.