15 Years a Snark - A history of the Berlaymonster
The origins of the Berlaymonster are mired in a beery fug of uncertainty and collective indifference.
But here’s an account of sorts as to how it came about, bearing in mind that History is Written by Those with Access to the Log-in.
Sometime in the early noughties, a pair of Brussels mischief makers decided to set up a magazine with a “bare-knuckle” and satirical mission to expose and pillory the EU institutions and their hangers-on. The Sprout, as it was known, enjoyed some notoriety, but ultimately folded in 2006.
The Sprout's publishers moved on, but a small coterie of erstwhile contributors, who had enjoyed having an outlet for EU-themed whimsy and pomposity-prickory, then gathered that summer in what used to be the back booth of famed euro drinking hole Kitty O’Shea’s to work out where now to publish their beltway scuttlebutt and mockery.
To credit those present (with their permission):
Bruno Waterfield, then managing editor for EU news agency EUPolitix and Parliament Magazine, had his ear to the ground for daily press-room gossip.
Duncan Lumsden, at the time a jobbing freelancer and nascent news-empire magnate (his own words), had a similar penchant for mischief and parody, and was a regular contributor to the eurobubble’s annual Press Review sketch show.
Matthew Kimberley, an entertained external observer to the eurovillage’s absurdity and a good drinking buddy, was the tech-savvy catalyst required to get two tired-old-hacks-in-training into the exciting world of ‘blogging’ and, eventually, ‘twitter’.
They settled on the name ‘Berlaymonster,’ already the nickname of the grotesque Berlaymont edifice that houses the European Commission, just opposite Kitty’s.
Matthew set up the blog and URL, and the rest is a patchy history of questionable-quality and dwindling-quantity posts, but not before a few years of occasional scoops, moments of relative infamy, and more conspiratorial pints around the drinking holes of the EU quarter with co-contributors and friends of the blog.
Waterfield went on to a career as Brussels correspondent for two UK newspapers, where his trademark askancity towards the EU found ample expression. Kimberley went on to abandon the eurovillage altogether, leaving Lumsden with the keys to the blog and twitter accounts.
Twitter became the easier and more immediately gratifying way to maintain output with any regularity, as Lumsden’s own day job started to become more ultimately time-consuming.
Now, almost 15 years after its inception, circumstances conspire – in a way not interesting enough to recount here – to present an opportunity to breathe new life into the Berlaymonster.
With the aid of new contributors, and renewed assistance from those more tech-savvy than this now-fully-tired-old-hack, 2021 sees the blog relaunched, into what we hope will be a new era of questionable-quality posts, occasional scoops and moments of relative infamy.
Conspiratorial pints may also follow, once we're shot of this cursed pestilence.