IT'S a fairly well publicised fact that Jeremy Paxman went to Malvern College. His thoughts on the establishment have also been aired from time to time. What is less well known is what Malvern College thought of Paxman.

But now one view, at least, has found its way into the broadcaster's new memoirs. The appraisal follows the student's final rustication (for he had previous in that direction) after he was discovered "getting acquainted" with Georgina, the head girl of another educational establishment in the town.

"Many decades later," Paxman writes, "my old housemaster’s widow showed me a note she had discovered while clearing out her late husband’s desk. It was from George Sayer, the head of English. He thought I was 'neither stable nor industrious', and 'would not make a satisfactory university student' because 'his enthusiasms are short-lived, and he is very bad at working when he does not feel emotionally involved with the subject of his study'.

"It was a fair criticism, though Sayer did believe that in a year or two I might grow out of it, because I had 'a good mind, logical as well as intuitive, with a literary imagination and genuine, if rather narrow, appreciation of great writing'."

The assessment was eventually to prove remarkably accurate. In fact, Paxman rather enjoyed his last term at Malvern, by which time he had managed to throw off his early thoughts that "my parents pockets weren't deep enough for me to feel entirely at ease with the boys who genuinely belonged to the professional classes". Indeed, it was his grandfather, who owned a canning factory, not his parents, who paid the private school fees.

He added: "The promise of schools like Malvern was that they offered those who could afford it a chance to alter the odds in what is supposed to be a fair race for the glittering prizes. Whatever my feelings, the school had delivered on its promise. But I still left it feeling that when it came to how Britain was run, there was a party going on somewhere to which I had not been invited."

A Life in Questions by Jeremy Paxman is published by Williams Collins at £20