Mrs Humphrey by Jake Humphrey

22nd November 2013 at 00:00
Need a sock darned or a Christmas dinner cooked? The television presenter is your man - and it's all thanks to his mum's domestic science classes

In the 1980s, my mother taught home economics at Deacon's School, a secondary in Peterborough. I was 6 and my primary school was just around the corner. At the end of the day, my sister and I would leave our school and go to Deacon's, where we would sit in Mum's class while she taught. To this day, I can darn socks and iron a shirt like a demon. I can do everything you'd expect a person to be able to do if they spent their formative years in a home economics class. I'm amazing.

I have vivid memories of us entering the classroom and Mum telling her students, "Jacob and Rachel are going to sit in on today's lesson, which is all about cooking a shepherd's pie." I think the kids in the class were fascinated. The 15-year-old girls all wanted to hang out with the cute six-year-old boy - they would get me to help them make shepherd's pie and use me as an excuse to have a bit of fun.

Nowadays it would surely be frowned upon: there is inevitably a health and safety rule that forbids six-year-olds from using ovens in home economics classes.

I had an opportunity on Christmas Day about five or six years ago to demonstrate how well Mum had taught me. Twenty people were coming over for lunch, but she had a tremendous migraine so I stepped up and cooked the whole thing. There is no doubt in my mind that it was sitting in on Mum's classes that made it possible for me to do that.

Later in my childhood, after we had moved to Norwich, I went to the Hewett School, where Mum was teaching. One year, I got such a bad school report that she went round all my teachers with a notepad, writing down everything I needed to do to improve. Over the summer holidays, the rule was that I couldn't go out to play with my friends until after lunch - the morning was spent catching up on schoolwork.

I guess she was quite tough. On Twitter, people say things to me like, "Mrs Humphrey taught me, she was well harsh, man." Or, "Your mum always gave me detentions." But she grew up in an era when discipline was vital. There was no messing around with her - you either got it right or you got out.

I had a difficult time at secondary school: I was bullied and ended up changing schools while studying for my GCSEs. In those days, teachers didn't deal with bullying as well as they do now. In fact, the headteacher made me stand up in assembly while he said, "People are bullying Jacob. Please stop it." It was the worst thing he could have done.

He didn't get it but Mum did. I think that, unless you're in a classroom regularly, it can be hard to imagine how bad bullying is for the victim. If you see the situation from the outside only, you could think, "Well, these bullies are only kids. How bad can it be?" But Mum didn't have that mentality. She knew it was a big deal; she knew I wasn't just being a moaning 14-year-old boy.

Jake Humphrey was speaking to Tom Cullen. He will be hosting the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' 2013 Children's Awards on 24 November.


Jake Humphrey

Born: 7 October 1978

Education: Queen's Drive Infant School, Peterborough, England; Framingham Earl High School, Norwich, Norfolk; the Hewett School, Norwich

Career: Television presenter. Presented BBC Sport's Formula 1 coverage from 2009 to 2012. Main presenter of BT Sport's football coverage.

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