2017 will be remembered for being politically historic, right across the world: Donald Trump taking his seat in the White House, Emmanuel Macron’s presidential election victory in France, Robert Mugabe’s resignation after 37 years in power over Zimbabwe, the erroneous snap election called by Theresa May and the UK Government’s formal triggering of Brexit after continued pressure to rethink the public’s decision in 2016 to leave the European Union, which still continues. But I’d like to think that 2017 was so much more than the political whirlwind that gripped the world over the course of the last year.
Our small team of contributors managed to cover a whole host of global issues and more across the political spectrum, however, our greatest success has come on a more local scale, off of the back of our comprehensive coverage of the West of England Metro Mayor elections.
Many would call it luck, I call it hard work and fate. Our now retired political correspondent James Wearmouth and our technical director come filmmaker Chris Hyland happened to bump into Tim Farron on the same day that the snap election was announced by Theresa May. This was an absolutely fantastic interview that gave some great insight into the initial thoughts of the then-leader of the Liberal Democrats. Never did we think, as an organisation of just three years, would we be conducting interviews with political leaders. It is safe to say that the interview sparked great reaction across Bristol and the UK, which is exactly what we want our content to do – to inspire people to have conversations thanks to the help of our of inquisitive writers and reporters.
Berkeley Squares, though, never set out as a weekly political review. Our content reflects that of those who write it, not of the agenda of popularity and “what’s hot”. This is what makes our publication so diverse in what is covered, and 2017 was no exception.
Although he doesn’t spend all of his time in the cinema, it’s fair to say he spends most of it there and 2017 was a gold mine for James Palmer and his prolific 1-5 star ratings. My particular highlight had to be his double review of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. Whilst all of his reviews seem critical, with few movies reaching 4 or 5 stars in 2017, that is his very role: to be a critic. James Palmer does a good job of this, no doubt.
Further and literal “food for thought” came from the great variety of restaurant reviews from our Culture Editor Harry King as he sized up various eating establishments in the local Bristol area. His informative reviews have left me no choice but to visit places like Grillstock and mourn the loss of restaurants I have never even been to.
Tom Hague and his sports section had a busy 2017, but nothing was quite as personal as his outpouring of love for his “beloved team” Bristol City after their home victory over Manchester United in the Carabao cup in December. This emotive round up of the evening’s events really hit home how important it is for people to be able to write and express their opinion. I’m sure many readers shared their joy with Tom on that historic day.
Bringing us back down to earth was the science and technology section, remaining grounded at the helm of Toby Speirs. Excitingly, Miles Thomas had his incredibly detailed and informing article on epigenetics picked up by University of Alabama at Birmingham. The article highlights how our experiences we have can affect our DNA and that all of our characterisers aren’t programmed from birth by our DNA.
Other highlights of 2017 included insider coverage of the Conservative Party Conference, and on the same note, an interview with Dr. Liam Fox, part of which featured on the homepage of a national newspaper. Further, our first book review was written in 2017 on The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, which concerned itself with the characterisation of America through racism and of the police’s relationship with the black community. Finally, more exciting interviews were a product of last year, with academics such as Dr Annela Seddon on nanoscience and Dr Olivia Maynard on the politics behind smoking.
All in all, 2017 was a great year for the publication and the whole Berkeley Squares team on so many levels and I am sure that the year ahead will bring exciting opportunities for exciting reporting and writing for our growing readership to enjoy. A massive thanks must go out to all involved in making this publication, from the writers to the editors and technical team. Anyway enough from me; 2018 is well on its way.
Happy new year!