Branksome comprehensive school, which served the council housing estate where both Ashdown and I lived, was a school where teachers had few expectations of its pupils. Only a handful stayed on beyond 16, and few went on to university. The National Front regularly recruited from Branksome, and truancy and exclusion rates were high... of the boys in (that year) at Branksome, no fewer than five are now serving life in prison.
I have been thinking back to those days and I remember them fondly. One - if you did well at school they couldn't really stop you going to University. Two - for about five pence I could get the bus into town and get any book I wanted out the library for free. Three - the countryside started just past our back garden. You could walk out for miles, or sit under the motorway bridge and read the library book. It was a very free life. You could live on not much, you learned to look after yourself.
It wasn't simply a bad time or a good time. Today I am reminded more of the good side of it, for some reason.