John W Raine
It was deeply saddening to learn of the passing of a very dear friend, Chris Watson. I first met Chris in the mid 1970s when I was working in my first job, as a housing and planning researcher at the Government’s Building Research Establishment (an outpost of the then Department of the Environment). Chris used to visit my unit there from the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Urban & Regional Studies to meet with some of my colleagues, who were involved in a joint research project. From my first encounter I found Chris to be one of the very best – so patient and yet decisive, so knowledgeable yet modest, so respectful yet authoritative.
Three years later, when I obtained my next job, at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Local Government Studies, I found myself in the same building as Chris, just one floor apart, and with our respective departments working closely together and sharing a specialist library and other common facilities and space. Indeed, he was one of the members of staff with whom I first struck up a rapport, and although we did not thereafter do much joint work together, I saw a lot of him and always welcomed our interactions in the corridors; appreciated his genuine interest in all that I was doing; and greatly valued his sheer warmth of personality and willingness to share time with me – as with everyone who knew him.
Much later, in the late 1990s, when I had become Director of my Institute at Birmingham, and Chris was leading for the University on International Affairs and directing the newly established Japan Centre, I had the privilege of working more closely with him in arranging a number of study visits at the University for distinguished colleagues from Japan and other parts of Asia.
In summing up, I can say that, without a doubt, I owe a great deal in my career and personal development to Chris Watson – who acted informally as a mentor for me from my start at Birmingham; and whose warmth of personality, generosity of time for others, and exceptional modesty with regard to his many and diverse accomplishments, have been a model to me – and I am sure to all others who have had the good fortune to get to meet and know him. It is also a touching coincidence that my own middle name is Watson – this having been my mother’s maiden name, and of course that of my maternal grandparents!
Chris Watson is greatly missed but my memories and gratitude for his friendship will endure.
John Raine is Professor of Management in Criminal Justice at INLOGOV. He has been involved in criminal justice research, consultancy and teaching at Birmingham for some twenty-five years and has a strong track record of commissions for the Home Office, Lord Chancellor’s Department/Department for Constitutional Affairs/Ministry of Justice on aspects of policy and practice within the criminal (and civil) justice sectors.