I was a very insecure young boy, probably because I was a bit sheltered. I was born in Zanzibar, which was part of the commonwealth then. My father was working for the government as a civil servant at the time. My uncle had a villa in Dar-Es-Salem only yards from the sea, and in the morning I’d be woken by the servant. Clutching an orange juice, I’d literally step out on to the beach. In a way I’ve been very fortunate, even in the early days. I love being pampered, it’s just something that’s grown with me.
I was also a precocious child, but my parents were very strict. I wasn’t spoilt though. They thought boarding school would do me good. So, when I was about seven, I was put in one in India for a while. That background helped me a lot, because it taught me to fend for myself from a very early age, and to be responsible. It was an upheaval of an upbringing, which seems to have worked, I guess.
Of course there were feelings of being sent away from my parents and sister whom I missed very much – feelings of loneliness, feelings of being rejected – but you had to do what you were told, so the sensible thing was to make the most of it.
I was put in an environment where I had to fend for myself, so I got a good grasp of how to be responsible at an early age, and I think that’s what’s made me into such a fiend !
One thing boarding school teaches you, is how to be independent and not to rely on anybody else. All the things they say about boarding schools are more or less true, about all the bullying and everything else. I had the odd schoolmaster chasing me, but it didn’t shock me because somehow at boarding school you’re not confronted by it, you are just slowly aware of it. There were times when I was young and naive. I had a crush on a master, and would have done anything for him. It’s a thing that schoolboys go through, and I had my share of schoolboy pranks, but I’m not going to elaborate any further!