I’ve always had a chip (mmm, chips) on my shoulder about university. It wasn’t really an option for me as there wasn’t much spare cash and my dad was already working seven days a week, 50 weeks a year and to be honest, I think that’s enough.
I was the only kid in my year to not fill out the UCCA/PCAS form. Even those falling way below every pass mark were encouraged to fill in the “form of hope” with everything crossed that their next three years would be full of boozing and cooking badly and trying to be cool. (I was already pretty good at the first two and the third had been a pipe dream since my flip-up prescription sunglasses aged 12).
I got a job and did an HND in film and production that was doomed when the European Social Fund withdrew their funding. (Cheers, now we’ll never know how that terrible split-screen romantic short film will end.) So I wrote. While working full time, I wrote a column in the free paper (film reviews for the price of a cinema ticket), I wrote spec letters to anyone I thought could help (film production companies, Ken Branagh), I wrote short plays (and had them read in a theatre) and film scripts (and made short films with pals from part-time video classes at Gateshead). And ten years later, I wrote stand-up comedy.
Until a few years ago, I had this feeling that I’d missed out. And that people looking at me could tell that my education was limited.
Like when you think people can tell you’re a virgin. Which of course they can because you blush every time they mention sex and just say “Yeah, me too” after any stories about conquests and one-night stands. And your “What are men like?” conversation input is limited to your dad, and he’s pretty awesome.
So the first time I was asked to be on QI, I panicked. Have they seen my CV and that it stops at A-levels, even though there’s a bit at the bottom about hobbies (reading, spending time with friends and – ha! – aerobics)? My boyfriend, aware of my massive deep-fat-fried-square-cut-university-based-potato wedge, sat me down and told me that education and intelligence are two different things. I am intelligent. There. I said it. Not Stephen Fry intelligent, but who is?
I recorded my fourth ever episode of QI last night and walked on set with my head held high. Hoping that no one can tell that I’m a virgin.
Sarah’s stand-up DVD, Thoroughly Modern Millican Live, is available at amazon.co.uk