Many of our alumni have met the love of their life while at LSE. This Valentine’s Day we hear from Rita (BSc Sociology 1971) and Jeffrey Golden (General Course 1971, PhD International Relations 1972-75) who met while studying at LSE.
What brought you both to LSE?
Rita: LSE had the best reputation as a socialist hotbed and was often on the front pages for its sit-ins, marches and general rebellion against the capitalist order. The headmistress of my girls' grammar school was horrified when she heard I was going there. However, I also needed to discover why my working-class parents always voted Tory!
Jeffrey: I first arrived at the LSE as a third-year undergraduate from the US to take up a place as a General Course student, though I later returned to LSE twice – as a graduate student and as a visiting professor. I was attracted to the School in part by the outstanding reputation that LSE has always enjoyed in America. But most importantly, my application was strongly encouraged by two faculty members whom I greatly admired at my US university, one of whom was British and the other was an LSE alumnus.
However, I confess to a measure of disappointment when I first arrived. I had spent my first two undergraduate years at a campus university where they took you to the top of the chapel and said: “As far as you can see, and in every direction, we own all that land.” The LSE that we arrived at was housed in three buildings in an alley – and you took your life in your hands when you tried to cross the street, a taxi short-cut, that ran through them!
How did you first meet?
We met in the LSE Library on 2 November 1970. The library was in the Old Building then and had a Hogwarts feel due to all the twisty steps and rooms of different sizes that were half hidden away. We met on a Tuesday, moved in together that Friday, and have been living together for what is now more than 52 years.
I came up from the Three Tuns Bar that evening very late to find Jeffrey the only student still studying in the library. I thought he needed rescuing and that’s what I did.
What was it like dating at LSE during the late 60s and early 70s?
Women were in a distinct minority at LSE then, so men had a challenge to overcome to find a date with a female. But LSE was certainly otherwise a passionate place in the late 60s and early 70s! With sit-ins, demonstrations and the bevy of journalists working in Fleet Street, just around from us. Students were often the first item reported in the news.
Emotions ran high, but budgets were tight. Pubs were the social centre of things. The year we met, decimalization replaced shillings and pence, and a pint of beer was only 16p at the Three Tuns! So dating was cheap. You could go to the theatre for peanuts, and we had lots of walks in the parks.
When did you get married?
After six years of living together, we married in the incredibly hot summer of 1976. That year was the bicentennial anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, and perhaps it was only fitting that, 200 years after our nations split, an English girl and an American boy tied the knot. We were about to set up home in the US for a time, and being a married couple made Rita’s immigration status a lot easier!
What advice do you have for today’s LSE couples?
Keep good company. That should not be hard to do, since those around you had to be special to get to LSE, either as faculty or a student. But take advantage of that.
Get the good of the place. Recognise the School for the special place that it is.
Remember, all of us who have studied there have never had to give an excuse for our decision to attend LSE. We should not take that for granted. There are only a handful of universities that enjoy comparable status. And stay connected to the School after leaving. Our alumni are outstanding and all over the world.
LSE changed our lives. Chances are that for many, if not most, of you who are reading this, LSE will have changed your life too. And if LSE is special, and having been there makes a person special, then being an LSE couple has to be at least twice as special!