My best teacher

29th August 2003 at 01:00
According to my Mum, I didn't like school at all when I first started. I'd cry and cling to her, and she was very worried about me. I was a small child, quiet and introverted. This didn't help when it came to settling in to a new environment and making friends.

Things were better by the time I moved to Brampton Manor junior school in East Ham. In fact, my best teacher made his appearance at this time. His name was Mr Bell, and he was my form teacher at the age of eight. He was definitely the best the school had to offer. He came from Canada and was determined to make learning fun. I remember very clearly what he looked like. He wore brown cords, a sleeveless jumper and Clark's sandals. He had short ginger hair and round glasses.

What was great about him was that he took us on trips around London in his own time. We visited loads of museums, including the Natural History museum and the "Cutty Sark" at Greenwich. Mr Bell showed us what London had to offer through the fresh eyes of a visitor. It broke the routine and made school life more exciting.

There were lots of laughs at junior school. I remember we had cookery lessons and had to use a cooker in the headmaster's office. We'd run along the corridor with our cheese straws or whatever delights we'd been preparing, invariably dropping some on the floor, before delivering them to the oven.

My best friend was the fastest runner in the school, but I hated sports. I was a bit under-sized and activities such as cross-country running were an ordeal.

Moving up to the senior department of Brampton Manor was daunting at first and I didn't have very many friends. I decided to learn to play percussion and played crash cymbals in the Newham Youth Orchestra after school. I really wanted to play steel drums, but they weren't available, so I learned to handle a standard drum kit instead. I eventually dropped this because I was told I wasn't aggressive enough to be a good drummer.

My favourite subjects were textiles and needlecraft. I finished senior school with GCSEs in these subjects, along with maths, English literature and Greek civilisation, and won a grant to go to Redbridge Technical College to do a BTech in fashion design. But it wasn't a good experience.

The teaching was negative and I didn't find it the least bit encouraging.

Some students and I who were in the B group boycotted the annual fashion show because of the way we had been treated. I ended up in the principal's office, crying. This did not dampen my enthusiasm to be a fashion designer.

After taking a year out, I tried for the London College of Fashion. I didn't get in, but I spent the next year working on a portfolio, going to pattern-cutting evening classes and studying life drawing. I was accepted on my second attempt.

Much of the teaching was geared to careers with big retail chains such as Marks amp; Spencer, and we weren't encouraged to go crazy with our designs.

When I left, I got a job working for a dressmakers in Tooting, south London, which made gowns for ballroom dancers. It was all sequins and glitter, and the owner's claim to fame was that she had designed the original trademark eyepatch for the soul singer Gabrielle.

I got fed up with the place and it was then that I got back into music. I was out shopping at Camden market and bought a guitar I saw for sale. I taught myself a few chords. I'd always written a lot of poetry and I started to put them to melodies. Shortly afterwards I met Paul and Ross Godfrey at a party in Greenwich. They had been in bands together and were determined to make a go of Morcheeba. They had the drive to make things happen and gave me a fresh perspective - much like Mr Bell back in junior school.

Musician Skye Edwards was talking to Karen Faux

The story so far

1972 Born in East Ham, Newham, London

1977 Brampton Manor junior school

1982 Brampton Manor secondary school

1994 Meets Paul and Ross Godfrey, and they form Morcheeba

1995 First single, "Trigger Hippie", becomes a cult hit

1998 Debut album, "Big Calm", released on China label and goes on to sell one million copies

2000 Second album, "Fragments of a Dream", released

2002 Third album, "Charango", released on East West label; world tour follows

2003 Band tours China. DVD, "From Brixton to Beijing", released on Warner Music Vision label; "Parts of the Process - Best of Morcheeba", CD released on China label

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