I was an undergraduate at CREES from September 1962 until July 1965 and then a part-time post-graduate. When I arrived it was still the Department for Russian Economics and I attended lectures and seminars in a few run-down rooms in the main building beside (the appropriately named) Old Joe.
Professor Baykov was a formidable character and taught us in that first term. There were four staff members: ‘Doc’ Davies – there were far fewer docs in those days – Bob Smith, Geoff Barker and Elisabeth Koutaissoff. At the end of the summer term a Russian language course was arranged for us in Moscow, which meant taking the train across Europe through Ulbricht’s “Niemand hat die Absicht eine Mauer zu errichten” Berlin Wall. In Moscow we stayed at the Hotel Armenia and had breakfast, lunch and supper in the nearby Metropol, where a staff delegation asked us to stop our hooligan ‘twisting’ on the dance floor. We spent time at the Dom Druzhby where we met the film director, Mark Donskoi, and had seats in the royal box overlooking the orchestra pit at the Bolshoi where we saw a performance of Shostakovich’s ballet, "The Young Lady and the Hooligan". It was at the beginning of my second year that the Department became CREES and Bob Davies, its first Director. It was a fantastic three years.
When I graduated in 1965, since the British Council did not have an exchange agreement with the USSR for new graduates, I went to Warsaw University. For taking photographs where I shouldn’t have, I was advised by the British Embassy to leave the country, which I did. Exactly ten years later I went as a BC scholar to Kiev for a year to gather data for my doctorate. I took up an invitation from a lecturer from Samarkand to visit him and during the flight back again took photographs, which I shouldn’t have. It was an interesting year. I used to feel proud to say (quoting Bob Davies) that researchers at CREES were classified by the Soviet authorities as ‘bourgeois objectivists’.
I spent most of my working life quietly plying the trade in sociology and Russian studies at Middlesex Polytechnic/University, from which I retired as a Professor of Sociology.