Two decades ago I represented my school in a public speaking competition. I was part of a three-man team; one person introduced the main speaker and one person did the vote of thanks afterwards. We did reasonably well in the heats with our talk on crime, but lost in the grand final to an all-girl team who spoke on the horrors of life in Iran under the Ayatollahs.
The main speaker of our team was an ebullient young man with a gift for self-promotion. Many people said that he was a bullshit-artist, so perhaps I should have been a bit more sceptical 12 months later when he told me that the headmaster had selected his idea for the following year's competition over mine. I took this at face value and let him get on with it. I wasn't interested in the topic he wanted to discuss. I later found out that the conversation with the headmaster had never taken place. It was a flat-out lie.
He went to America after he finished school. The sister of a schoolfriend tracked him down in California where he was living with an American woman. When she left the room, he leaned over to my friend's sister and said 'Don't tell her my real age ... she thinks I'm 35'. Some habits are hard to break.
I often wonder what became of him.
Separately, I see that the beautiful Hollywood actress Brittany Murphy has married an Englishman of the same age as me. I wish her all the best in life and hope that there is no truth at all in the terrible rumours circulating about him.