Flowers in Front Quad
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Stewart Lee

I started my academic life at Streetsbrook Infant school in Shirley in the West Midlands, which was near my Grandparents' house, with whom I was living at the time. There was a big climbing frame and some logs in the playground. After that my Mum got me to join the local church cubs and choir, and I networked my way into a luxurious C of E Junior school.

I eventually got a part scholarship to Solihull School, a classic Midlands boys' private School with girls in the 6th form, where the rest of my fees were made up by an obscure fund for waifs and strays. I wanted to go to Oxford because a man I had a Saturday job for filing said I would enjoy doing student comedy stuff, and because I wanted to study Anglo Saxon, which I actually turned out to be rubbish at.

I chose to apply to St Edmund Hall to do English because I had met someone who had gone there who said it was good. I had a strange interview and liked the tutors. The tuna rolls in the Queen's Lane Coffee House were the most exotic food I had ever tasted and today any mashed-up tuna still has a Proustian resonance.

When I finally arrived, I thought I had made a terrible error in choosing SEH, as it seemed rife with the sort of reactionary sports-thugs I had spent my teenage years avoiding, but soon a substrata of losers, would be arts types, 1980s feminists, homosexuals, and darts players emerged and we all bonded in opposition.

I can honestly say many of the happiest times of my life took place within the walls of SEH, and especially on Besse III, which became a boho hangout comparable to Greenwich Village in the 1960s.

Outside college I did stand-up comedy, was in some plays, edited a short-lived creative writing magazine, directed some comedy shows, and played in a band. I also went to the Edinburgh Fringe festival with student shows three times. All these experiences were immensely useful in my later life, - I became a stand-up comedian, writer, and director - but I don't know how if they would help today. I was on a full grant from 1986-89, but if I was at college now I imagine I'd have to use my free time and vacations to earn money. To be honest, I probably wouldn't have gone into further education at all faced with today's debts.

All the tutors I had at SEH were brilliant, supportive and patient, and helped nurture a lifelong love of literature. I got a 2.1 in the end. I wish I had worked harder and appreciated the amazing opportunity their teaching offered when I was a student. Education is wasted on the young.