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  • When I was 8 or 9, I moved up into the top class at Park House Primary School. Our teacher was Jeff Wright, who still remains one of the biggest influences in my life. His job was to get us ready for the big bad world that waited outside the school gates. For me, thanks to the scrapping of the grammar school system, what awaited me was Deincourt Comprehensive, which was very big and very bad, indeed.

    Part of our preparation was getting us ready for the types of subjects that we'd be doing at senior school; Maths, English, Science, etc. One of the things that I remember doing was that we'd be sent outside to stand by the school crossing, armed with clipboards. On them, we'd have categories for every type of transport; cars, vans, bicycles, motorbikes, lorries, etc. We'd also have a series of colours; red, blue, green, yellow, white, black, other.

    As vehicles came past, one of the team would shout out the colour and type of vehicle, the second would be checking that they got it right (I'm sure this was really a test to detect red/green colour blindness), a third would check the appropriate boxes, and the last person would be checking they'd done it properly.

    After we'd done this for 30 minutes or so, we'd go back into the classroom, where we'd tally up our results and put them into tables and pie charts, presenting our summary to the rest of the class. I remember feeling this was an important step on my path to becoming a world-renowned scientist. It didn't. Oh well.
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