Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sussex 50

Sussex University, my alma mater, is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Chairman of the British Council, Vernon Ellis, took part in a celebratory talk the other day, which prompts a post.

Sussex was one of those early '60s 'plate-glass' (as opposed to red brick) universities along with UEA, Essex, Kent, Warwick etc, although in truth Sussex was a lot more brick than glass. It had a fair bit of student radicalism in the late 60s, a few famous arts alumni (writers Andrew Morton & Ian McEwan, tennis star Virginia Wade, musicians Tony Banks of Genesis, Mark Hollis of Talk Talk, and - gawd-save-us - Billy Idol), won University Challenge a couple of times, and is ranked 11th in UK. An average university then.

I was there from 1979-83. It was an intensely formative experience for me. Not academically (I studied Geography simply because it was my favourite subject at school, a mistake really, I should have studied History)... but in all sorts of other ways. I met a like-minded friend, Andrew Cox, on the first day and together we formed a 'group', started a fanzine and a cassette label and I also hosted a campus radio show, all in the first ten weeks. It was a great time for music; Brighton was (and still is) a good place to be; I enjoyed my year abroad (again, not academically, but in myriad other ways); I made life-long friends in Andrew, Julie and Peter; and somehow got a degree.

Neither of these two hairy dudes is me, though I did have 'big' hair then. You can see the library in the background, on the left would have been the Student Union building (where I saw a few bands) and the Gardener Arts Centre, and to the right would have been the pond, into which a few of us jumped fully-clothed after a Hawkwind concert. Ah, student japes...

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