WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?
Matthew Arnold primary and high school in Liverpool. Some of my schooling took place in the war years when there was little education because there weren’t any teachers. Then Dingle Vale secondary school, followed by Eller Green Road School.
DID YOU LIKE IT?
I didn’t like school because all the young teachers - God bless them - were out being blown to bits, so we were left with rather aged teachers. I really was thick as the leg of a billiard table, and afraid of school. In 4C, Miss Arkinstall was calling out the register, and came to my name. Then, eyes like polished chisels over steel-rimmed specs, she asked if I was any relation to Edwin Braben, my father, or Albert Braben, my uncle. She had taught them both and had a ‘God help me’ look. She went for me from day one, so that I became terrified of school.
DID YOU GET INTO TROUBLE?
I was rough and ready, but never discourteous.
WHAT SUBJECTS WERE YOU GOOD AT?
My great weakness was - and still is - numbers. After I got my nine-times-table wrong, Miss Arkinstall hit me on the back of the thigh with a ruler. I was unable to sit down; my father had to tie my mother down to prevent her from throttling the teacher. It is not possible to educate a frightened child.
DID YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TEACHER?
Mr Virr was a rugged giant of a man with a mop of unruly blond hair. The reason we boys idolised him was that he was an ex-professional footballer who had played for Everton.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO?
On the day that I was leaving Matthew Arnold, one of the teachers, said to me: "I’ll see you in a few years’ time, Braben, when you come to empty my dustbin." I said "I don’t think so, sir". If he’s still waiting for his bins to be emptied, he must be in a hell of a mess. I wanted to be a footballer or a jazz pianist.
COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY?
From school I went to work in Ogden’s Tobacco factory. I rather liked it.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD LEARNED AT SCHOOL BUT WERE NOT TAUGHT?
WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNED OUTSIDE FORMAL EDUCATION?
Go with your instincts. If it works out well, good. If it doesn’t, don’t reproach yourself because you’ve gone with what you thought was right at that time. I’m still doing that to this day.
Eddie Braben left school aged 14, became a professional comedy writer in 1956 and wrote material for Morecambe & Wise for 14 years. He has won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award five times, a BAFTA for outstanding contribution to television, and the Laurence Olivier Award in 2002. His autobiography, The Book What I Wrote is published this month by Hodder & Stoughton.