Even before the death of my father and the hardship it brought, Holy Trinity School was another world. I can remember going to birthday parties in lavish surroundings in and around Eton Square, but never being allowed to have one myself because we didn’t want people to know we lived in Clapham. We certainly didn’t fit the average profile.
I did okay at school but I was more interested in sport and had the distraction of property wheeling and dealing, partly because my mother would sometimes ask me to skip school to help her at property auctions. The headmaster turned a blind eye to this, however he was far from impressed when I was caught skipping school to watch the 1979 Cricket World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and the West Indies at the Oval!
Despite the fact she relied heavily on Haroon and a little on myself to help her in business, our education ultimately mattered more to her, so when I suggested leaving school after my O-Levels to concentrate on property full-time, I was strongly rebuffed. And when I again tried to leave the education system after my A-Levels, she insisted that I go to university.
Through clearing I managed to get a place at Queen Mary College, London, to study a BSc in Mathematics. Again, I was not particularly focused on the lessons – in fact, I was actually more interested in bunking lessons and playing cards in the common room. Even though I left with only a 2:2 degree, I was hosting seminars for my friends which helped them get far better results than mine. I simply didn’t put the work in!!
My teaching efforts didn’t end with Mathematics; I taught most of my A-level classmates how to play bridge. Some of us participated in tournaments in Chelsea Bridge Club, and I even gained some youth world ranking points. But my biggest achievement at university came during the very first week, where I met the woman who was to become my wife, Geti.