Susie Dent: Cats Does Countdown host didn’t want to mix with males after convent education

8 Out of 10 Cats: Susie Dent shares story about Joe Lycett

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Susie Dent, 56, revealed as a teenage girl the last thing on her mind was boys. After attending Marist Convent in Ascot, which was an all-girls school, with a term at Eton College to study for Oxbridge entrance exams, she noted that her priorities were elsewhere and didn’t really feel comfortable with male attention. 

I found them kind of noisy and not people I wanted to mix with

Susie Dent

In a recent interview, the Countdown star said: “My main interest when I was 16 [was] certainly not boys.

“I went to a convent, which was all-girls, and I didn’t have any brothers so I felt slightly intimidated by boys.”

Due to her inexperience being around male adolescents, Susie explained they were a “complete mystery” to her as a teen.

“I found them kind of noisy and not people I wanted to mix with,” she admitted.

“Which is very strange.”

Instead, the lexicographer’s priorities fell elsewhere on other popular teenage interests.

“I loved music and I was quite interested in clothes. But I was definitely nerdy as well, before it became fashionable to be a geek,” she laughed.

“I was really into my work. My parents divorced when I was 13 and I’d always lived mostly in my head, but that was the moment when I decided I needed a safe space for all my worries.”

And it soon became very obvious where that space was going to be.

“In work and in words. I think I escaped the real sadness of it that way,” Susie continued.

“It was a huge coping mechanism for me.

“I still find that being a word detective and trying to unravel the words people choose, it takes me away from everything,” she told The Big Issue’s Jane Graham.

Opening up about her early life, Susie revealed at 13 years of age she “didn’t see the point in life”.

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She recalled: “I felt really sad and wrote a secret diary about feeling awful and not seeing the point of life.

“I definitely didn’t feel suicidal but I was very, very melancholy.”

But as soon as she 16 she was more “upbeat” and felt happier in herself.

“I’ve always enjoyed my own company, and I think I’d got through it all by then,” the 8 Out of 10 Cats presenter explained.

“If you find something you are passionate about I’m not sure it really matters if you don’t have lots of friends.

“I was always an eavesdropper and an observer, and I think to be a linguist you have to have an ear out, always listening to things that people are saying or writing.”

She added:” I remember my mum saying ‘Oh my giddy aunt’ and thinking ‘Who? What aunt? What does she mean?’ And I’d jot it down in my notebook to investigate.”

8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.

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