Mensa

How IPH came to join Mensa

I have been a member of Mensa since 1976. This page is about how IPH came to join the high IQ society.

From 1972 to 1974, I lived in Manchester, first working as a mathematics teacher at Birley High School, a comprehensive school in Moss Side, and subsequently as a programmer at Philips Electrologica in the city. Before then I had been at the University of Bristol for 4 years, getting my BSc degree and then my Postgraduate Certificate in Education, the teaching qualification for what (for a while) I imagined would be my calling.

In summer 1974, having both been a programmer and written a novel (though that was never published), I applied for and got a job at International Computers Limited, at their site at Beaumont, Old Windsor in Berkshire. It was far from both Bristol and Manchester, and back then was a bit far from my old family home in central Surrey too.

In 1976, after realizing how clever I was at my work, my manager at ICL (who was a Mensa member) suggested that I apply to take the Mensa IQ test. As he said, it would be a way to meet highly intelligent people and perhaps make some new friends in the area where I was then living because of my work.

As it turned out, the last project I worked on for him was the one I was doing then, and the last one that his department would ever have. Their work was packaging courses previously taught by lecturers in classrooms into self-instructional series of books with audio tapes to listen to, and I had written the texts to be printed and the scripts to be recorded for the last course they ever made. The department was closed down and its manager and all its members were reassigned or made redundant soon after I left; I knew this was coming, and having done a French A level course since October 1975 I took up the suggestion of a colleague who saw a job advert in a Sunday newspaper to apply for a post as technical author at CII Honeywell Bull in Paris, France.

I passed the Mensa test in London, but then was offered the job in Paris so Mensa told me I could use my pass to join Mensa France, which I did after I moved to Paris. I used to attend Mensa France meetings in the city while I lived in Paris, and then joined British Mensa when I left the Paris job 2 years later. I have been a member of British Mensa since then.

More about the man who suggested that I apply to Mensa

By the way, that manager at ICL was a man named Peter Bloxsom, and he was not just a manager of a team of writers and artists who produced the texts (and illustrations, and did all the typesetting) and scripts for audio courses on computing subjects like programming and operating systems of the mainframes of that era. Peter was also a writer himself. In his home district, he was friends with Leslie Charteris, the author of the books about The Saint, the character who was played by Roger Moore in the TV drama series of that era. And the TV series was so popular that the producers ran out of Charteris novels, and needed to hire scriptwriters to produce additional episodes with new plots and story lines; but the books continued to sell so well that the publishers of the novels soon wanted Leslie Charteris to turn the plots of these new episodes back into novels in his own supposedly inimitable style to be printed and sold to fans. But Leslie Charteris did not want the bother of doing that; he found the task boring, a chore; and so he asked his friend Peter, a skilled writer and clever mimic (both in writing and in speech, as it happened), to do some novelizations for him. Peter rose to the challenge, and some Saint novels appeared with Peter Bloxsom as the author, and written in a style you would never know were not Leslie Charteris originals if what they were had not been printed in the book. Mind you, it still says Leslie Charteris on the cover and the title page; but if you look at, a book like for example, Send for the Saint then click through to the copyright page, you find that there are two stories (TV episodes), with original teleplays by John Kruse (for “The Midas Double”) or Donald James (for “The Pawn Gambit”) and these were adapted as novels by Peter Bloxsom.

So there: I once worked for a man who could write Saint novels to please Leslie Charteris, and he recommended to me that I join Mensa. That was the only reason it ever occurred to me: first, that I had an IQ so high as to pass the Mensa test, and second that I could join this special society, or social club, to prove it — and make some equally clever friends. All that was over 40 years ago, and I have never looked back.