Our 10-year anniversary! In conversation with co-founder Thom Addinall-Biddulph

Remembrance of the year 2010 may be hazy for many of us, and it is now a whole decade since the infamous coalition between the Conservatives and Lib-Dems, the death of Alexander McQueen, George Osborne’s savage cuts in spending and (what I remember most clearly) the year of lots of snow days. For me, I was just starting to become properly aware of what was happening in the news, but meanwhile in Durham Thom Addinall-Biddulph was helping to establish the new student online publication which would become the Bubble. August the 5th 2020 marks ten years since the Bubble was founded, and to celebrate Thom looks back on how it came about and what has changed since its first publication.

When I asked him what his motivation was for the creation of the Bubble, he explained that it was initially set up as a sister publication to the poetry magazine The Grove which was popular at the time. While this no longer exists, the creative focus lives on in the Bubble, as a space to explore a wide variety of different interests outside of student life, as Thom expresses, encouraging exploration of ‘areas like philosophy, science, sex, history, and more that weren’t so often covered by other student media.’ The Bubble as a name came from the idea of breaking out of the ‘Durham bubble’, which can make students feel as if the outside world no longer exists, and so the Bubble sought to sustain the interests which lie outside the typical student experience. At least for me, this is exactly what it achieves, whether through writing or reading articles, it helped me consider what other interests I had outside of my degree subject in a relaxed environment which encouraged this kind of exploration.

Thom also spoke about his life after Durham and the Bubble, and how being involved in student journalism helped him in his social, professional and general life. It not only helped him precure his job working for a student’s union after he graduated, but as he explained ‘it also gave me skills in communication, writing, editing, working with people, and just in terms of knowledge it has been useful.’ This appeals to my practical side, reassured in the knowledge that doing what I enjoy is actually also productive, but also emphasises the fact that being involved in societies even on the most minor level, is a uniquely student experience and that the moment of opportunity to write and publish your thoughts and opinions quite so freely ends for many with graduation. On a lighter note, Thom also continued to say that ‘it was also something that allowed me to meet many students I wouldn’t have done otherwise, a lot of whom have remained friends’, and hopefully the social aspect is something which continues to be a focus as we re-navigate how to run societies in the age of Covid-19.

Many a student publication has been created, but only a chosen few survive past the graduation of their first enthusiastic founders. We are now on our nineth generation of General Editors, and the Bubble is bigger that Thom had ever anticipated (‘I might have thought it’d stay a bit smaller than it became!’), with more editors and varied articles than ever. Despite the political mess which characterised 2010, this year has given us significantly more upheaval and has threatened the nature of university and student life in a way unparalleled since World War Two. Nevertheless, the Bubble will continue to publish content whatever the new term brings, hopefully being able to grow and adapt through the next decade.

Image: Caterina Berger on Unsplash

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