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Braintree's false Prodigy

Ferret's tireless search for the truth led to darkest Essex this week, investigating the latest press blurb from Braintree college as it named Keith Flint of the band Prodigy in its "Hall of Fame" of former students.

After claiming the hell-raising front man as one of its very own, the college seemed unable to tell FE Focus exactly what he studied - or when.

While every Liverpudlian over a certain age claims to have played conkers with John Lennon, and every south London pensioner reckons they ran a fruit a veg stall with Michael Caine, I suppose even people from Braintree like to feel they too have a showbusiness connection.

After all, who wouldn't wish to be associated with the band famous for such lyrics as "I'm the trouble starter, punky instigator. I'm the fear addicted and danger illustrated."

But Keith Flint at Braintree college? Seems a bit far-fetched.

According to one biography, Mr Flint left school before taking his exams and was rather more keen on cannabis and Led Zeppelin than the joys of lifelong learning.

So, off to Mr Flint's country house, also in Essex. He wasn't in but, in the interests of leaving no stone unturned, a visit to the local pub was called for before returning to base, just in case the locals knew his whereabouts.

Lo and behold there was only one customer in the pub - none other than Mr Flint himself, looking decidedly mellow for a man credited with such tracks as "Smack My Bitch Up", "Firestarter" and "Rock Dat Shit".

He was rather surprised to have his peace and quiet interrupted by the education press - but not half as surprised as he was to hear that he had been described as a former student of Braintree college.

"I have never attended Braintree college," he said, speaking in the Butchers Arms.

"I don't really care what they are saying, but they are wrong. I never read these things anyway.

"As far as I am concerned, there are a thousand wrong things written for every thousand right things, but I don't read them.

"I have no idea why they have included my name."

Never mind, the Hall of Fame also includes some other names whose connections with Braintree college have not, as yet, been disproved. They include Grayson Perry, the artist, who did a foundation arts course; Jeremy Spake, star of the documentary series Airport, who did tourism and travel; and Giles Long, who did A-levels there before going on to become a triple gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer.

The principal Jacquie Watts is investigating further. "We certainly don't want to upset anyone," she said, "and we don't want to lay claim to a gentleman who doesn't want to be connected with us."

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