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Konnie Huq: “Everything at Primary School Helped to Shape who I’ve Become”

The TV presenter and writer didn’t let her fear of being told off get in the way of her love of learning...

  • Konnie Huq: “Everything at Primary School Helped to Shape who I’ve Become”

I really looked forward to starting primary school.

I had two older sisters and I wanted to copy them. My school was in Ealing, West London, where I lived. In fact, I’ve moved back there now, so I haven’t progressed much!

I feared discipline and never wanted to get told off. I was in Miss Isiah’s class.

I remember drawing a picture of an apple in an exercise book on one of my first days. I went to rub it out and the pencil rubber was so abrasive that it ripped a hole in the page. I was terrified that I’d get told off.

I had to take it up to Miss Isiah to check and got a bit tearful. But she really liked the picture and didn’t comment on the rip.

She was lovely, with really nice, short, jet-black hair. She lived opposite me and it was always a treat if I got a glimpse of Miss Isiah doing her plants in the garden.

This might make me sound like a boffin but I really liked learning times tables and trying to remember them.

I was in a little maths group where we focused on that and I really looked forward to it. I also enjoyed science but I loved art too.

People often ask if I’m an art person or a science person but I’m actually both.

I even tried to get some of my art into the famous ‘Gallery’ on the children’s TV programme Take Hart in the ‘80s, but I never managed it. I’d watch it every week hoping one of my pictures would be there but it never was.

The ones that got on the telly seemed to have been done with fantastic poster paints, pipe cleaners and feathers, while mine were done with some felt tip pens that were running out and a couple of broken crayons. I didn’t have the right resources!

I loved reading but I remember being creeped out by The Iron Man by Ted Hughes.

He had eyes that lit up, which I found scary. I really didn’t warm to it, all those years ago. But there was lots of Meg and Mog in our school library and I really liked that.

In those days, schools didn’t have the kind of health and safety measures that are in place now. I remember a boy hanging from a metal railing and then falling and splitting his head open.

I also remember how cruel kids can be. There was a girl called Carol, who no one liked much but for no particular reason, and the children were really mean about her.

I really felt motivated to do well in school. It was instilled in me from a young age. My parents would buy Letts booklets from WH Smiths for learning at home and things like that.

They arrived in this country from Bangladesh in the 1960s and they came over to give their children a good education, so I guess that made me want to do well.

The fact that my parents came from a developing country made me more conscientious and appreciative of the learning opportunities.

I’m not sure I had any aspirations for a career at primary school, but I definitely enjoyed learning. Home was so boring and school was fun in comparison.

I made some great friends at school and I’m still in touch with lots of them. I always preferred one-on-one friendships to being part of a group.

I can, though, remember wanting to fit in. I didn’t want to be an outsider.

I came from a different background. My mum wore a sari, and we ate rice at home, and I was aware of the differences. Bear in mind I was born in the mid-’70s and we were growing up in a leafy suburb. So I think I tried to use my personality to bridge any perceived differences.

Times have changed now, of course, and we’ve come a long way since then.

You take the values you learn when you’re young all the way through life. Everything that happened at primary school helped to shape the person I’ve become. It was definitely a positive experience for me and I have very fond memories of that time.

I went back to my old school the other day, actually. It’s kind of the same but with all the newfangled bits!

Konnie Huq is author of Cookie!...and the Most Annoying Boy in the World (£10.99, Piccadilly Press).

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