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My older brother must have been damaged too


Only the sparrows knew I cheated in exams
Redmond O'Hanlon Writer
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I'm a writer, but you don't want to lay claim to great things like that. Happier being an explorer, because I've never, ever, found anything I'm looking for.

No, and I love science. But not since S-level Biology. You know, that really turned me on. I simply cannot genetically do maths. Can't add up. I got out exactly at the right stage. I mean, I remember Dawkins coming into the Animal Behaviour Department to help everybody with their statistics and maths and this new thing called a computer.

Well, all those boys had done chemistry and physics. It can't... it can't be done. Well, it especially can't be done if, at O-level, you've been clever enough to really cheat and have all the... because we had cuffs, yes? Sort of public school, hard, whatever they're called... forgotten. Cuffs, anyway, white cuffs, yes. So underneath, I wrote all the formulae. If you can imagine that sort of thing. And then licked the blue on them, put them on blotting paper with as much spit as you can. Then you put the blotting paper onto the paper, and there they are. A bit rough, but there they all are. And so I got top grades in all the chemistry and physics. And I was in this... in sets... I mean, don't cheat, is the answer. In these top sets, no idea what was going on.

There was one of Maxwell's sons, I remember, who was particularly brilliant. Just people who didn't have to think. Terrible. All I remember from those classes in the lab are the sparrows outside, 'Cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, cheep, you can't do maths, cheep, cheep'.

British author Redmond O’Hanlon writes about his journeys into some of the wildest places in the world. His travels have taken him into the jungles of the Congo and the Amazon, he has faced some of the toughest tribes alive today, and has sailed in the hurricane season on a trawler in the North Atlantic. In all of this, he explores the extremes of human existence with passion, wit and erudition.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Department of Zoology Oxford University, Marlborough school, Marian Stamp Dawkins

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: July - September 2008

Date story went live: 11 August 2009