Thirty years separate these two photographs. When I returned to the LSE to give a lecture the memories flooded back of my year at the university as a British Council scholar. Still there, close to the main entrance, was the local branch of the NatWest Bank, the first bank where I ever opened an account.
Gorbachev was urging the eastern bloc to open up to the world. Suddenly we were allowed to apply to study overseas, beyond the Iron Curtain. My first hurdle was to learn English – I have the BBC World Service to thank for accomplishing that task in a very narrow timeframe. Added to my PhD in environmental policy — a relatively rare subject for an east European at the time — got me a British Council scholarship and an entry into life on the other side of the Iron Curtain.