subtext 197 – you know your worst is better than their best

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In this issue: editorial, campus update, campus by-election, bailrigg garden village special, tolerance update, honorary degrees, valete spineless, post-lockdown dystopia, peter scott review, three widden reviews, letters.


Before 2021, the longest ever hiatus between subtexts was a little over five months, between subtext 61 on 10 December 2009 and subtext 62 on 20 May 2010. The editors put out ‘not issue 62‘ on 21 January 2010, where they explained: ‘subtext relies on willing volunteers, but time moves on, and people come to feel that it is time for others to shoulder the task. The collective is now down to three people, and that is not sufficient to produce subtext. Either we need more people to join the present team; or subtext can hand over to a new collective; or it disappears.’ This tale of winter woe did the trick, because subtext returned triumphantly in the spring with nine editors and a bumper issue.

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Welcome to subtext 197, hitting your inboxes after a record-breaking eight month gap. While the timing is hopefully a sign that, as with our campus and the whole world, things are getting back to sort-of normal, the reality is that, as in 2010, the subtext collective is now down to two, and without a new influx of hip young gunslingers (or anyone, truth be told), it’ll probably be even longer before the next one. Which is a pity, because the stories – on academic freedom, health and safety, forthcoming UCU strike action, ‘pulse surveys’ and more – are very much out there. We would say that they write themselves, but… they definitely don’t!

So, while the spirit of subtext is currently weak, we think there should be life in it yet. We need you. If you might like to get involved, or would just like to gossip for a few hours a month, get in touch via

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