A number of people seem to have assumed that I was being metaphorical yesterday when I described my film going companion as having a degree in Peace Studies. But no, not so, she was awarded a B.A. Peace Studies by the University of Bradford. It used to be a unique course, in the UK at least, although I don't know if that still obtains. There is a department of War Studies at Kings College, London; the two used to hold an annual football match, maybe they still do. It was a widely held view amongst students reading other subjects at the university in the 1970s that Peace Studies wasn't what one might think of as a 'proper course'. Indeed it was universally accepted that the only timetabled activity that they had each week was a requirement to spend an hour or so one afternoon in the department, lounging on bean bags and drinking herbal tea. My acquaintance, who I only met a few weeks ago, demurred when I put this to her, but she studied in the 1980s, so maybe things had changed a bit by then. I do know a number of excellent stories about one Peace Studies student contemporary of mine - I shall call him Raif - and will perhaps return to them in another post. One of my favourite memories is of him putting theory into practice by attempting to convince two sets of angry football supporters (of Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur as it happens) that they should refrain from aggression towards each other because they had more in common than they had differences. Fortunately we managed to rescue him in time.
My new friend is plugged in to the circle of Bradford graduates who remained in the city after graduation and we have discovered that among them are some that I knew back in the day. Very sadly one of those died between Christmas and New Year, before I got a chance to renew our acquaintance. It's a salutary reminder that life is short and getting shorter.
Going back to Peace Studies, as far as I am aware the course hasn't produced any notable politicians. There are however two alumni of the wider university in reasonably prominent positions in the UK at the moment. The first, Clive Lewis, is standing for the leadership of the Labour Party. His flagship policy seems to be the abolition of the monarchy. Whilst I'm all for that, I'm also well aware that it isn't a vote winner; indeed it isn't going to win my vote as a party member for him. The second has appeared in this blog before. At one point the two main parties seemed to be competing as to which had the worst MP named Williamson, and the Tory entry was Gavin, also an ex-student in the Wool City. In the topsy-turvey, Alice in Wonderland world of British politics he, despite being both useless and a self-serving toad, was actually fired as Defence Secretary for being on the right side of an argument. Still, you can't keep a bad man down and he is currently Secretary of State for Education.
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