How I was labelled ‘sick’ by some school kids

boba fett star wars comics

My comics from aged 10 (left) to age 13 (right)

(click on any of the drawings to make them bigger)

“But they’re amazing”

“Totally sick”*

I’d shown a group of fifty 14 years olds my comic strip drawings from when I was 12 from Doctor Who and Star Wars (more here). I delivered four sessions that day, to batches of fifty pupils each time and got the same reaction from each.

They seemed to think the drawings were pretty good even before I told them they were done by a 12 year old. I then told them that by the time I was their age I’d given up on wanting to be a comic strip artist. You can see my final drawings, done aged 15, below.

“But why? You’re really good.” they said.

Daleks Cyberman

Drawings of a Dalek and a Cyberman, by me aged 13

I told them it was because I didn’t think I was good enough. I’d compared myself with the professionals and felt I obviously didn’t have the talent so I gave up. I told them how I’d gone down a different route that was less frowned on by parents and teachers but was not my real passion. (For the full story, click here.)

“But all you had to do was keep at it.”

“You just needed to keep practicing” they said.

They had got the message. The previous exercise I’d done with them to write down what they really enjoyed doing, just three things they were passionate about suddenly made more sense.

Dalek Masterplan

My drawing of a Dalek, done aged 15

“But I like horseriding. How can I make a living from horseriding without doing racing?” said one girl. The girls next to her reeled off a list of horse related ways she could live a life of horseriding and make money.

That’s what my session is really about. Getting the students to realise that there already is something they can be inspired about. That their creativity can help them imagine a better, more worthwhile future right now, even when they’re constrained in the restriction of having to keep their heads down and focus on GCSEs.

In fact, a student who is inspired about their worth, about future plans and understands that the life they might like to lead can actually be theirs with application of time and energy (rather than abstract talent they may think they don’t have) does better in school right now, getting better grades as a result.

K9 from Doctor Who

My last drawing, of K9, my me aged 15. I didn't draw again until I was 23.

Unprompted, two students separately gave me a great testimonial (which I’ve actually had before a number of times):

“You’re like Willy Wonka. Not the new one, the original one.”

I’m very happy with that. It’s spot on. Do you remember the song?

“Come with me and you’ll see a world of pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free, if you truly want to be.”

For more see:

Do you have contacts in schools who may like to bring in external speakers to inspire the students and get better results from them? If you do, please let me know.

In addition to me and my creative thinking sessions I have some great colleagues who cover a range of topics that inspire, improve and educate students in topics that schools don’t have the resources to tackle internally.

Please do pass this list onto the schools you’re in touch with.

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner is the Rhino man of massive goal setting and personal achievement in schools. He runs teacher and parent workshops too to get the messages of how to achieve more and better get embedded.

Angela Whitlock

Angela Whitlock

Best-selling author Peter Roper delivers sessions on ‘natural’ presentations skills, how to speak in public with confidence in your own style. Best suited for 16-18 year olds.

Angela Whitlock is an expert coach in communication skills, improving students, teachers and parents emotional resilience, often working one-to-one with parents and children to help connect them to their future.

Miguel Dean unlocks learning potential for disadvantaged youngsters, especially those experiencing homelessness.

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman is a comedian and self-proclaimed expert at all things to do with love and relationships which he presents as a highly entertaining and thought provoking ‘stand up comedy for schools’ show. Especially suited for PSHE and 6th forms.

James Burch inspires 15-19 year olds after overcoming challenges and adversity developed from been knocked down by a hit and run drunk driver to now creating the best out of every situation and help teenagers reach new levels in life.

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy survived temperatures of -60C in 1999, losing his fingers, toes and nose to severe frostbite on Mt. McKinley in Alaska.  Regardless of that, he still climbs internationally and has tackled some if the worlds toughest mountains. He talks about overcoming adversity and project management, guaranteeing to give pupils a huge dose of reality.

Paul Kerfoot, aka ‘The Bulletman’ is a creative director and award winning designer who has a session where the pupils (usually aged 14-16) create their own comic-book style superhero exploring themes of imagination and confidence.

Michael-Don Smith helps pupils create a success mind style using his NLP for Young Mind s programmes.

Barry Jackson gives pupils interview skills to prepare them for the world of work and help them to be memorable in front of an employer.

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory delivers a knockout 2 hour workshop to Year 9-11 students based on her experience as a homeless teenager turned rally driver and TV presenter – a high impact presentation that inspires students to achieve their maximum potential.

Lee Jackson talks about motivation and relationships at school. His fantastic and original new book ‘How to be Sick at School’ written for pupils, taps into what makes the children want to listen to the message to achieve more.

* I’d only recently learnt from Lee Jackson that this word is used where previous generations would have used ‘wicked’, ‘bad’, ‘skill’ or ‘cool’.

Is this the most offensive idea ever?


From the Moon, we don’t see opinions. The world looks to be at peace…

I know how we can achieve World Peace…

I’ve been interested in World Peace as long as I can remember. As a child I often wondered, ‘why can’t people just be nice to each other?’ and ‘why can’t people just leave me alone?’

I was 10 when I came up with, what I thought would be the only real law we needed: ‘Everyone can do anything they like as long as it doesn’t stop anyone else doing what they like.’

That seems to work, doesn’t it? It’s not far off the Golden Rule of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. Not bad for me in 1981. But then I did pick up my philosophy from Doctor Who so you shouldn’t expect anything less.

But it doesn’t work does it? No matter what extraneous laws we put in place to control behaviour, whatever carrot or stick, whatever promise or guilt trip we use, we still don’t have peace.

So why is that? Clearly some people follow just the first half of my Golden Rule and just do what they want (that’s the definition of the code of magic set down by Aleister Crowley, ‘Do what thy wilt’ by the way). We call these people sociopaths. But they are a tiny fraction of the problem, even when they do end up running a country.

Why do we have wars? Some people cite religion as the reason. They are wrong. I may be naive and simplistic in my philiosophy, but I’ve thought it through a little bit more than that. Religion is largely irrelevant, or rather it is a subset of a larger set.

I’m suggesting there are two reasons nations or people go to war, or pick a fight of any kind. Just two reasons. Often it’s both reasons together and sometimes it’s one but they cite the other.

The first reason is resources. People will fight and kill each other to get what the other person has. It could be money, a nice coat, a wife or husband, more land, oil, water, copper, food, anything.

The two World Wars were about land and resources but they were both triggered by the other reason people fight:

Difference of opinion or different ideas.*

That’s why the answer is not religion, but the higher set of conflicting ideas. In fact that’s all religion really is, a group adherence to a particular idea on how to live life. That’s why different football fans will fight because of the difference of opinion on who should be supported. Without religion we’d still have warring tribes and culture clashes.

That’s why many peace activists have focused on pointing out that we have such few differences, that we should embrace difference and that we should remove the boundaries of tribe, religion, country and wealth that divides us.

But, on this day, I have another idea…

Let’s face it. It’s pretty obvious that we’re all different. All of us. It’s pretty obvious that we don’t all see things the same way. Even Beatle fans can’t agree on the best track on the Revolver LP. We all have different opinions and ideas and guess what, those opinions might even change.

So ‘different ideas’ are here to stay and we can’t do anything about them.

But it’s not the fact of those different ideas that are the problem. It’s not the fact that we disagree about which, if any, religious faith is right. It’s not the fact that we can’t agree of who was the best Doctor Who (it was Tom Baker by the way). It’s the fact that we get offended if someone else holds a different view. We get offended if we’re pointed out to be wrong, by someone else’s opinion.

Yes. That’s what I’m saying. We can’t have World Peace until everyone stops getting offended by other people having different ideas.

We often point the finger at idiots who incite hatred. The enlightened pour scorn on those who create division. The modern liberal politically correct model is to try really hard to not offend anyone and punish those who do. There have been numerous examples recently of comedians having to ‘apologise’ for making fun of someone (which is worryingly ludicrous as humour is formed by the realisation of differences or embarrassment over them).

There is an answer to all this. There is a brave step we need to take to get closer to World Peace. This is it:

We all must never be offended by what anyone says ever again.

Could you do it? No matter what they said about your mum? No matter how their words degraded you, your family, your work? Could you just laugh it off or ignore it? Do you have the confidence that your own opinions are strong enough to stand up to unfair trials without having to feel defeated or lash out?

If no-one was offended by what people said, if the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’ was adhered to, we’d seriously reduce the instigation of violence.

So how can we stop people from being so offended by everything? Again the answer is simple. We all should be as overwhelmingly verbally offensive as possible to all those people who are quick to take offence. We need to tell the most offensive jokes about them to them until their internal offensive-defence mechanism can’t take it anymore and it just washes over them. And we must never ever apologise for it.

But guess what. I might be wrong. Your idea might be better. Let’s hear it.

All we’d have to do then is figure out a way to share out all our resources. That may not be easy, but in an open debate where no-one is getting offended by what people say, we might be able to at least have a crack at it.

* Actually it’s ‘fear of difference’ that’s the real key, which is why people with primitive minds are racist, defaulting to the ancient ‘purging of the hives’ animal mentality. The fear comes from lack of confidence in the self when faced with a difference. This is why racists have inferiority complexes and an inability to grasp logic which is a much later evolutionary trait.

For more see: