‘We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another.’

The Qur’an 49:13

‘A diversification among human communities is essential for the provision of the incentive and material for the Odyssey of the human spirit. Other nations of different habits are not enemies; they are godsends. Men require of their neighbours something sufficiently akin to be understood, something sufficiently different to provoke attention, and something great enough to command admiration.’

A N Whitehead


‘I do not advise you to go to Ankara to teach Mathematics,’ the University Careers Adviser told me. ‘You have a promising academic future, and could make something of Whig history. In Ankara you are likely to meet a lot of academic spivs who will pull your standards down. You have been an outspoken student politician here and you would have to be much more careful what you say and to whom. Turkey is an unstable place, coups, military take-overs and violence in the streets. It is not a place for you.’

The year was 1962. I was in my last year at university. I had come to the University of Keele after seven outstandingly mediocre years at Southend High School. Keele was the first of the British post-war universities and had several pioneering features. The aim of its founder, A D Lindsay, was to undermine the exclusiveness of specialists. Biochemists and historians should be able to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world. No subject should be in tightly sealed boxes. All students did a common Foundation Year with lectures on all subjects, and in the following three years the student should do two principal subjects and two subsidiaries. Of those four subjects one should be a science, one an arts subject and one a social science. I did History and Politics as principals, and Latin and Mathematics as subsidiaries.

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