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The Bulletin at 60: Two readers share their memories of the magazine
Peter Kettlewell: “The Bulletin has been my constant companion for 40 years”
Most sincere congratulations to yourself, the former editors, and all the journalists and other staff who have faithfully kept The Bulletin going for 60 years, since its appearance in 1962. I arrived in Belgium at the end of 1979 (I count from 1980 for simplicity), and I came to join the young woman medical student who eventually agreed to become my wife. I can honestly say that The Bulletin has accompanied me all that time, keeping me reliably informed of the Belgian situation – and my part within the state as a “friendly alien” – but also with enormous amounts of useful information on society, entertainment, food, politics, festivals and so much more. It has been my constant companion for 40 years!
As well as being newsworthy, it also has an archival value. In the UK I was educated and earned my living as a librarian and I still have some of those “archival” editions – on the death of King Baudouin in 1993 (“End of an era”); on Julie and Melissa and Marc Dutroux in 1996 (“Why?”); the Dutroux report and trial in 1997 (“Passing the Buck” and “Trial of the Century”).
As I look back on my subscription all those years, I realise that detailed memories are mostly missing. I do remember Eric Kennedy and the cockney persona he used for his column (called something like Strike a Light if I remember correctly); he died of lung cancer I believe, and I still miss him. I remember the article Geoff Meade wrote on the death of his wife – including some humorous asides, but the grief deeply felt nonetheless.
But it is as a source of reliable information over 40 years that The Bulletin persists in my memory and my affections. I was genuinely sad to see the change of format when it came online as a news-sheet rather than a magazine, because there is a lot of quality journalism that we no longer receive, even though I fully understand that publishing environments change, overheads rise, advertising revenues diminish and computerised methods become irresistible. The current format is a lot better than nothing, and I genuinely hope that production of the news format will continue for another 60 years, even if I’m not around to appreciate it!
Eric de Kuyper: “Every week, opening The Bulletin, we had surprises”
Sixty years ago, we lived in Brussels. Most of us were born here. We were in our 20s and looked enviously in other directions: Paris, London, Amsterdam…. Our English was not that good, so why read an English magazine? I had to look up in the dictionary what “rambling” meant [The weekly Brussels Notebook column written by Rambler, a pseudonym for associate editor Cleveland Moffett].
Through The Bulletin we discovered the secret gardens of our city. For example, we discovered the “petite rue Malibran”, we were told where to buy the best cheesecake. We also discovered a writing style that we were not used to. Actually, we discovered what “lifestyle” was, in its most direct and simple way: the aesthetics of daily life. I think the word was not used then. Now it is marketing. And even cities, as we know, are marketed. Every week, opening The Bulletin, we had surprises. They were small-scale, modest little things to explore. These English journalists were pioneers, kind of expats, the kind who do not exist anymore. They were looking at the city with the eyes of children. And as children, sometimes also quite critical.
So best wishes dear Bulletin and thanks. In my forthcoming book about rambling (!) in Brussels, Kijk. Daar, kijk! (uitgeverij Boom), I write about you.