Category: Society, Culture & Living

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A People’s Gallery

Julian Greenbank
Westbury People's Gallery - Source: Malcolm Atkins

During Lockdown we all started finding new hobbies to fill in the time. But I doubt if any of us ever turned our own front garden into an art gallery, open to all. Well, that’s exactly what Malcolm Atkins has done in suburban Oxford. Malcolm’s Westbury People’s Gallery accepts any type of submission, from traditional […]

Ladies Toilets

Caroline Cornell
Ladies Sign at Museum of London - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Caroline takes us on a journey familiar to all women but not at all to menfolk. Ladies Toilets offered sanctuary to all women.

M.E. Charities announce Merger

Ev Francis
Action for ME logo

Two of the major charities for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) – Action for M.E. and The ME Trust – have announced they merged on 1 February 2022 to improve access to services for people with M.E., and their families and carers. M.E., sometimes diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a chronic neurological condition affecting an […]

System Change not Climate Change: The Kurdish Example

Stephen Hunt
Rojava (North East Syria) - Free to use: Kurdistan Solidarity Network

It would be an understatement to say that it is important to keep the momentum towards addressing the ecological crisis going in the aftermath of the autumn’s global summit on climate change. It is essential. The high-profile COP26 may have left you feeling somewhere between positive, in that some small steps to progress were made, […]

Christmas Morning

Martin Griffiths

The ground is iron,Diamond white,Laced with pearlsOf frozen light. The spiked Holly,A silvered Queen,The winter windA Vixen’s scream. A winter waltzOf ice and glass,A song of leaving.A frozen Mass

The Emperor’s New Loft Insulation … A Pantomime in 15 Minutes

Elizabeth Stanley

Cast  Narrators 1 and 2: Honest, decent, a bit naïve. Smart Alec: An intelligent child, who asks awkward questions. Chancellor: Classic panto villain The Emperor: Also a villain, but a jovial, matey sort of villain. Party animal. Other parts only have a few lines including Police Officer and an old lady who is Rapunzel in […]

The Climate Emergency – It’s Looking Very Perilous

Paul Ryder

Innate in human nature is a desire to protect and improve our situation in life, and a readiness to do this collectively. People with poor situations want, very reasonably, to improve themselves with better housing, food and conditions, yet people with already good situations still want, less reasonably, to get even better housing, food and […]

Childhood Innocence in the 1940’s

Paul Ryder

I was born in 1942 in a large town in Essex. I did not take an interest in national affairs until hearing the distressing and frightening reports on BBC radio in the early 1950s about the Korean War – desperately hoping my father would not be called up to serve again. He had joined up […]

The Day the Music Died?

Jane Riekemann

Write to us at When Big Ben rang in the New Year at midnight on 31 December 2020 it sounded the death knell of the transition period, the end of the UK’s membership of the Single Market and the start of the hard Brexit most were dreading. The first few months of 2021 have been […]

A Modern Monarchy

Toby Hawkins

The monarchy needs to change. That’s become incredibly clear in recent weeks, months and years. Whether the monarchy needs to be abolished, as some would advocate, or whether we need to keep it in its entirety, as many support, is a debate that’s been lurking in the background for many years. It makes sense, following […]

The Irish Sea Border ruins the life of a Poultry Breeder

Elizabeth Baker

“I enjoy a hobby where I show birds in the South of Ireland and on mainland Great Britain. If there is a hard border down the Irish Sea will I still be able to take my birds back and forth?” On 16th October 2019 Desmond Horner, “Desy”, a joiner from Carrowdore, County Down, put that […]

Film, Food & Romance – Savour the Flavours on Valentine’s Night

Martin Griffiths

Maybe the run-up to Valentine’s Night in Lockdown is a good time to review both our film watching and perk up our romantic food choices. When it comes to film, there’s plenty of romance being dished up and lashings of sex. From the smoldering intensity in “Casablanca”, the smug innuendo in the “Carry On” films […]

A Financial Advisor comments …

The Editor

My “ethical and responsible” financial adviser, Philip Hanley, posts a blog most weeks to help his clients see the wood for the trees in matters financial, as well as passing a critical if occasionally sceptical view on Brexit, Covid and the world. Here’s an extract from his latest blog: So this time last year I […]

Blue Passports and Narrowed Horizons

Aliye Cornish

Musicians are known for their versatility, and it’s clear that the profession will have to change in order to survive, in ways that remain to be seen. This is a real tragedy, not just for the loss to Britain’s previously-thriving cultural scene which was held in high regard internationally, but also for the fact that, like so many industries, the individuals who will be hit hardest are the ones who can least afford it.

They stole my sense of patriotism

Adrian Phillips

Dear Reader of West England Bylines, my apologies for the self-centred nature of this contribution, but I suspect that some of you may be able to identify with at least parts of this story. Brexit has generated a vast amount of writing and commentary, most of it dealing with the obvious areas like trade, economics, […]

White Privilege

Guy Maughfling

There’s one constant thread that runs through the Penguin History of the United States by Hugh Brogan: race. Many generations after the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, its scars are still visible. Hardly surprising, given the country nearly split in a civil war after Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 […]

Negotiating Skills for Beginners

Eric Gates
Men discussing something

As anyone with small children will know, negotiating skills are learned early in life. Obviously, I do not presume to be in the same league as those who write books on “The Art of the Deal”, but I would claim to have a little first-hand experience to draw on. A grandparent speaks of his negotiating […]

Looking at the Stars in a Time of Dejection

Martin Griffiths

How to survive the post Brexit Blues and Lockdown Lows. Martin Griffiths recommends we look to the stars to find light in the darkness. Oscar Wilde wrote, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. With this, Wilde reminds us that however low we feel, whatever the darkness, […]

What’s on in West England Bylines Area

The Editor

Virtual events in your area from Oxford to Bristol and Hereford to Salisbury Ongoing               Well Child / Virtual fun for kids            Party Animals 26 January Oxford for Europe Jonathan Lis 27 January           Grassroots for Europe / Webinar          Gina Millar / Will Hutton 28 January           New Scientist / Big ideas in Physics      Ten Keys to Reality          2 February […]

The Disappearing Dogs of Lockdown

The Editor

Campaign for Wiltshire Police to Crack Down on Dog Theft  Liz Webster, Prospective Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon has launched a campaign to crack down on dog theft in Wiltshire amidst the worst ever year for dog thefts.  Criminals have taken advantage of an increase in demand for dogs caused by the […]


Jon Hill

West England Bylines would like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year. We hope that you and your families can celebrate in some way and that you stay safe and well. We would like to celebrate a year in which we have made our voice heard […]

Can we regenerate and transform our towns by putting people at the centre?

Rick Page

The combined impact of Covid and on-line shopping on our town centres and those working in retail is clear as it is devastating and the evidence continues to mount with the demise of Arcadia and Debenhams to name but a few. It is also likely that post-Christmas other retailers will also fall and High Street […]

Legal Action launched to Save Stonehenge

The Editor

The news that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has green lighted a major expressway through the Stonehenge World Heritage Site (WHS) has bewildered, outraged and shocked people across the country and around the world.  The independent panel of planning inspectors for the A303 road scheme by Stonehenge concluded that the massive infrastructure would cause “substantial harm” […]

Upcoming Events in the “West England” Area

The Editor

Here’s a selection of upcoming events (some virtual) in our area – from Bristol to Oxford and Hereford to Salisbury. 8 December Oxford for Europe’s next Webinar An Evening With Chris Grey – “His blogs on relations with the EU have become the stuff of legend, and he has 50,000 followers on Twitter.” 12 December […]

What Brexit means for British Expats in Europe

Sue Wilson MBE

If you are a Daily Mail reader – or even if you are not – you may well have seen their latest outraged headline criticising the EU. It reads: “Furious British expats blast EU’s new post-Brexit travel rules which will ban them from spending more than three months at a time at their holiday home […]

Why banning beef is not the answer

George Richmond

The Students Organising for Sustainability’s (SOS-UK) statement, ‘Why banning beef is not the answer’ has finally opened up a more productive conversation about sustainable food policies within universities. SOS-UK published its statement on Thursday, 22 November. This is one of the first attempts by any university-centred organisation or institution to break the static narrative, where […]

Bristol Student Rent Strike forces U-turn on Bursary Withdrawal

The Editor

West England Bylines was informed that Bristol University were threatening students with taking funds from their bursaries to cover unpaid rent. The University sent an email to all students demanding rent arrears. The email said: If the debt remains outstanding and overdue for payment on 26th November 2020, the University will use some or all […]

Food for Thought

Martin Griffiths

A Meat Eater chews over some Food Dilemma Issues. The debate on food poverty has been a hot political potato but the dilemma is not only how do we eat well on a budget but how do we eat well and what do we eat? It’s a political hot potato! While multiple agencies, charities and […]