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The Bulletin at 60: Former editor Derek Blyth found his dream job travelling around “the world’s strangest country”

Derek Blyth
17:36 29/09/2022

I joined The Bulletin in 1989, after living in Amsterdam for 10 years. Brussels seemed a quiet, rather old-fashioned city with ancient trams, smoke-filled bars and horrendous traffic. I didn't dare get on my bike for at least a decade.

The Bulletin was based at the time in a rambling Uccle town-house with poky offices and endless dogs whose names I could never remember. Yet it was a surprisingly progressive expat magazine that knew all about the country's emerging dance, fashion and drama scene. You were in big trouble if you couldn't spell Walter van Beirendonck or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.

Derek Blyth cutting

I initially joined as a travel writer with the job of uncovering interesting and unusual places across the entire country. It was a dream job that gave me a unique insight into the world's strangest country. Later, I also had to cover Belgian politics, which was obviously divine retribution for all the fun I‘d been having writing about the best cake shops in Belgium or the Underpants Museum (later, the European Underpants Museum).

In the past, The Bulletin helped foreigners to understand the country, connect with useful organisations and get over the culture shock of moving here. I think people now get that kind of support through social media. But The Bulletin still has a role in explaining the country and helping people to feel at home here.

I would encourage The Bulletin to play a more active part in promoting and lobbying on behalf of the international community in Belgium. We bring considerable wealth to the country and add to its international status, but get very little attention from politicians.

When The Bulletin was launched in 1962, founder Monique Ackroyd said its aim was to provide a voice for the international community. Sixty years on, I would say you just need to keep calm and carry on.

Derek Blyth is a freelance journalist, writer and travel guide. He’s the author of a highly-successful series of travel books, including 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels.


Written by The Bulletin