Lockdown Zine / July 2020

bidolito

Special edition Lockdown Zine issue of Bido Lito! magazine. Featuring original writing, photography and illustration produced in the months of UK lockdown, 2020.

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WHAT’S IMPORTANT?

It’s probably

the question I’ve

asked myself

most over the course of the last three months. Yet I still don’t find myself with a clear answer or universally applicable point of view. If there’s

been one silver lining to lockdown, it’s been its ability to raise these questions of importance, to shine a light on what we do need and what

we don’t. Ultimately, what is truly essential? For that I think we all now have a better understanding.

If the past three months have been punctuated by questions of importance, then the answers have often been displayed in adaptation.

So many of Liverpool’s communities put forward creative solutions for those suffering from the virus in a physical and mental capacity.

Generosity has been the key theme. This we’ve observed in people making charitable donations, shopping for those shielding at home,

picking up prescriptions, producing home-made PPE when supply chains collapsed, enduring endless family quizzes over Zoom.

Communities have grown tighter. Neighbourliness has shone through closed front doors, socially distanced only in a literal sense.

As lockdown is eased, there will still be little relief in the cultural sector. There has been adaptation here too – online streams and

panel discussions, guided tours of museums, newly released music produced in bedrooms – but the former picture of culture in Liverpool

still seems far from returning. The financial repercussions of the virus are still yet to fully bite. Just when will we see live music again? The

consumption of culture isn’t solely observation. It requires participation. Whether standing at the back of a gig arms folded, joyously spilling

onto the stage, viewing the complementary curation of artists within a gallery – being there matters. Being part of it matters. Culture is

reactive. The experiment needs the added material of the observational participant for it to realise its full energy. The digital sphere is a great

leveller for accessibility, but can it convey every possible message and emotion? For this, setting and context are equally essential.

At Bido Lito! there’ll always be a bias for the tangible, as you’d expect. But I’d like to think it’s not without reason. Having something

to hold, to be with, part of, is an unrivalled launch pad for communication and sharing of ideas. Within this zine, collating writing and

photography from the last three months, I hope that there’s the offer of ideas, of adaptation and community resilience. And ultimately, you,

the person holding this zine in your hands, are the reason that it exists. Without your support throughout lockdown Bido Lito! would be in a

much worse position than we’re in now. For that, myself and the rest of the team cannot be thankful enough.

It is an understatement to say I initially found it tough to find the pulse of Liverpool’s new music and creative culture via the lens of a

laptop screen while sat on a dining chair in a makeshift office. But your faith in the magazine, supporting us to continue doing what we do,

gave us the energy to look that little bit closer, adapt and overcome the initial limitations. In the end I’ve come to observe the resounding

potential of Liverpool’s communities thriving from postcode to postcode and within the digital sphere.

As the cover would elude to with its array of envelopes, the work in this zine is all about communication and staying in touch. Not just

with one another, but staying in touch with ourselves, the city, what we deem right and wrong. Staying in touch with our hopes for the

future and what we can change.

Lockdown meant a cruel separation from what Bido Lito! knows and loves, but it has only made our hearts grow fonder. With your

continued support, we’ll continue to communicate the ideas of this resolutely creative city – even if that means keeping two metres distance,

for now. !

Elliot Ryder / @elliot_ryder

Editor

Bido Lito! Lockdown Zine

Locating the noise in a quiet city

Liverpool, March - June 2020

Editor

Elliot Ryder - elliot@bidolito.co.uk

Design

Mark McKellier - mark@andmark.co.uk

Cover Artwork

Aisling Woodward

Back Cover Artwork

Hannah Blackman-Kurz

Executive Publisher

Sam Turner - sam@bidolito.co.uk

Founding Editor

Craig Pennington - craig@bidolito.co.uk

Founding Editor

Christopher Torpey - chris@bidolito.co.uk

Digital Media Manager

Brit Williams - brit@bidolito.co.uk

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In the first weeks of lockdown, Cath

Holland questioned the ‘we’re all in this

together’ rhetoric of Covid-austerity

by looking at the social impacts of the

pandemic through the lens of those on

the borderline of poverty – the many

who’re working night and day to keep

the country afloat.

Not long ago you’d have had the piss ripped out of you

something chronic for marching briskly about Birkenhead with

a paper mask covering your face. And yet, now, a solid third of

people I see out and about look like anxious surgeons – from

the neck up, anyway – while picking up milk or stretching legs for statepermitted

exercise.

In mere days, public life changed beyond recognition. We’ve all become

obsessed by the remarkably quaint British pastime of walking. But on the

flipside, the big supermarket in town has crash barriers and security guards.

Once through the door it’s impossible to avoid a voice over the Tannoy

insisting “we’re all in this together”. Shuffling around the shop playing a bad

game of dodgems with fellow shoppers, as we all observe the two metre

social distance rule, the insistence is made more times than I can count. I

wonder if the person repeating it actually believes what she’s saying?

Boris Johnson booking an 8.30pm telly slot addressing the nation

– patriotic punch to the chest there – dropping in Your Country Needs

You sentiments, was a shock to the system. His father, Stanley, goes one

further when commenting that his son “almost took one for the team” after

Johnson’s stay in ICU. The notions of us all enlisting, metaphorically of

course, to help with the war effort by staying at home brings with it Second

World War psychology, when the public’s iron front gates and railings were

removed to help make munitions. Mystery hangs over what happened

with much of that harvested iron. Over a million tonnes were collected by

September 1944, and still rumours persist that as much as three quarters

were discarded and left to rust. A generation’s front gates vanished.

Now we’re in coronavirus lockdown, those old sentiments from 70

years hence return, and get cranked up to 11. BBC News runs a short,

cheery item about shelf stackers and cleaners and elevates them via the

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use of bold language to “minimum wage heroes” and members of a “hidden

army”. Their fellow low-paid – the delivery drivers bringing online food

orders, care assistants – are all key and essential workers now. The phrase

‘key worker’ has a nice ring to it. It was days ago when we viewed these

women and men as unskilled, low-skilled at best, with pay levels to match.

With cleaners getting 15 minutes of fame, it feels like we’re all in it together

and at the same time it absolutely bloody well does not.

The next item on the news is trauma at its most middle class: lighthearted

advice on how to, somehow, survive the pandemic without access

to the services of a hairdresser. At this point, the stay-at-home guidelines

are starting to emphasise the fractures and the inequality we have across

Merseyside and beyond. As the days progress, the divide gets bigger and

it’s showing itself more. When lockdown first happened, people nodded at

strangers in the street and wished them a good morning/afternoon, like in

the 1950s. That doesn’t happen anymore; it’s more a “keep your distance”

and “where the hell are you going in that car?”.

The absence of free school meals during school closures means poorer

children may miss out on significant daily nutrition. Even as I’m writing

this, the government still hasn’t announced its plans for those eligible for

free meals [Ed: Instead, it is Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford

who has donated his money and time to help fill the void of free school

meals, further lobbying the government for their reinstatement while

schools remain shut]. Wirral Council has introduced a voucher scheme in

the meantime. Parents can buy food with

the vouchers in local supermarkets to feed

their children, a bridging of the gap the

government should have predicted. The

queue lengths outside different supermarkets

vary; with lower-priced ones there is

invariably a wait due to more people needing

food, and the one-in, one-out policy to

prevent overcrowding and virus transmission,

but with the more expensive stores it’s a case

of just walking in. Being poor is exhausting, it

takes more effort just to live.

To be kind is something we’re all meant

to think more about doing and it is true

there is a lot of kindness about. Yet in these

lockdown times, much like Christmas, we

give our comfortable lives a smug glaze as we conduct our social lives

online. It’s easy to mock this new, weird, mad shit world. I myself was ready

to comment on Facebook that just because technology allows anyone to

perform online gigs it doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Stopped

myself just in time, though it hurt and my fingers itched to type it out. They

still do. It’s killing me. Giving thanks for being able to write it here, in a more

formal setting.

The comedians are out in force on Facebook, though, sharing a picture

of an idyllic sunny beach scene with a palm tree and beautiful blue and

thinking they’re hilarious writing “with less travel, less pollution and less

human activity the earth is healing and recovering. This was Birkenhead

this morning”. Birkenhead is replaced with whatever working-class town or

area with high levels of poverty is near to the poster geographically. Near,

but not too near. Because poverty stinks and if you get it in your nostrils

it’s getting too close for comfort. Reflect on your loss of personal freedoms

if you want, but remember this: donating to foodbanks is a kind move if

you can afford it, but it doesn’t absolve the giver of sneery sins. Punching

up in humour is fun and a great British tradition – there I go again – but

downwards, not so much.

As my own world shrinks, living on my own with two heroically loyal

cats, more books than I’ll ever read and a library of albums to enjoy, plus

“After we’ve lashed our

face masks in the bin,

key workers are going

to need way more than

a blink and you’ll miss it

package on the ten o’clock

news as a reward”

so much to write about, I still find myself obsessively searching out any

sort of greenery. The plants in my own garden seem to be trolling me, any

budding spring leaves and flowers on a go slow, so I make do with the

grass verge at the top of my street, the clutter of council-planted daffodils

on the main road or the long hike up to the park. Green shoots of optimism

were mentioned on the news, though it’s a couple of days since anyone

mentioned those.

Access to green spaces, pretty flowers, having a full belly and the

ability to work from home is more than a privilege. Key workers don’t

have all this. They go to work on terrible pay and risk their health to boot.

Key workers on minimum wage are at the coalface, job roles expanded to

accommodate the new circumstances, dealing with the public.

We can all indulge in some black humour to get us through. I was

always convinced that if the world was ending tomorrow, the Skeleton

Records shop would still be stubbornly open selling rows of Hawkwind

and ELO vinyl. Yet here we are, the door with the trippy skeleton painted

on it locked right up. It’s a strange world indeed. Oxton Road, which boasts

a new Lidl attracting the four-wheel drive families from the posh parts of

Wirral, leads into Birkenhead town centre. It’s a length of social housing,

empty boozers and independent shops that’ve been there for years. A

lad bellows to a woman by the fruit and veg shop. He can’t get hold of

his dealer, he laughs. He’s gonna dig out his old bongs and scrape off the

residue and smoke or snort that. “Stay safe,” she laughs as well, keeping

the distance between them way more than

the law-abiding two metres.

Lockdown is no fun for anyone, but life

is grimmer for poor people. Will the world

gain more empathy for the poor, I can’t help

but ask myself? Universal Credit has taken

on a new reputation, after all. A fortnight or a

lifetime ago, depending how you view it, UC

was all about avoiding sanctions and getting

by. A million new Universal Credit claimants

over the first two weeks of lockdown have

discovered, or will discover, that the benefit

isn’t enough to live on. Paid monthly to help

people learn how to budget, because eating,

clothing yourself, warming your home,

keeping clean on the pitiful sum is doable

if you’re thrifty, right? The world is learning, slowly, that claimants are not

trousering fat wads, don’t drive Ferraris or spend thousands of pounds on

Christmas presents for their kids. The Daily Mail, and just about everyone

else, has been lying to you.

Whether changes happen after this pandemic is over is food for

thought. If cleaners and carers are heroes, then surely it follows that they

look forward to secure futures, our newfound knowledge ensuring our

support. Will zero hours contracts be a thing of the past? Will Universal

Credit be ditched? Are we willing to pay for our online food deliveries so

the driver who kept you fed during these (all together now) unprecedented

times is financially secure, or make sure one’s weekly cleaner gets holiday,

maternity, sick pay? Freshly delivered of shiny new key worker status they

may be, but once this pandemic is over, will they revert back to unskilled,

unseen? Will we let them? Because, if we really, honestly truly think they’re

so valuable, after we’ve lashed our face masks in the bin and started talking

to people again, they’re going to need way more than a blink and you’ll

miss it package on the 10 o’clock news as a reward. !

Words: Cath Holland / @cathholland01

Illustration: Aisling Woodward / @aisling_bridget

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Over the course of the past three months, we continued to profile some of the best new

artists in Merseyside who carried on offering their services in the face of uncertainty.

Lockdown has been a contrasting period for creatives. While some have been able to thrive

in isolation and greater afforded space, many others have had an opposite experience

as a result of the socio-economic pressures of the pandemic. When the tightest social

distancing measures were implemented, the livelihoods of many musicians, reliant on gigs

and healthy touring schedules, were instantly cut off. Musicians and artists themselves have known

the precarity of the industry structures they operated within prior to the pandemic. Yet, Covid-19

and the ensuing lockdown brought a greater emphasis on the sheer lack of financial safety net and

the largely transactional nature artists are used within society. The audiences were removed while

the artists remained.

Music was an essential service during lockdown. But artists were not simply able to be placed

in a box and reemerge happily when playing crowds where reinstated. Like many professions that

have rightly been recognised as essential and key to society, artists and musicians fall into the same

bracket. We use musicians every day. Their companionship was unswerving during the heights of

the pandemic, be that through access to their music, live streams or playlist curation. Artists and

musicians truly are essential. !

“Give your music its own name. That opens

you up to a concept in your head, that you

can build on what’s fully your own”

Brad Stank

“Music is a form of

communication that

goes beyond words. It is

intimately linked to our

basic humanity”

Sola

“I love the vastness of

coming up with your

own music. There are no

rules or restrictions”

Lucy Gaffney

“Sometimes it’s not always necessary to follow the

recipe. Throw things together and you might make

something you don’t expect”

James Madden, Seatbelts

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Photography from left to right:

Sola (Sophia Carey / @sophiajcarey)

Lucy Gaffney (Thom Southern)

Seatbelts (Michael Kirkham / @MrKirks)

Brad Stank (Daniel Longmore / @prettygrimphoto)

Natalie McCool (Robin Clewley / robinclewley.co.uk)

NAK (Rebecca Oliver / @ollie_606)

Eli Smart (Marieke Macklon / @mariekemacklon)

Ragz Nordset (Courtesy of Ragz Nordset)

Doomshakalaka (Nick Duckett)

For me, lockdown manifested as a

beautiful dissonance; like everything

is too still, and simultaneously

wickedly intense. Perhaps a state not

too uncommon for most artists”

Ragz Nordset

“Just being able to

lean out for ideas, just

by being open to the

possibility of being

inspired by something,

it just becomes its own

inspiration”

Doomshakalaka

“You’ve got to get used to the

environment of sharing your deepest,

darkest thoughts with somebody

else. That’s the hardest thing”

Natalie McCool

“I’m going to be making music for

a long time, in any scenario. It’s

a comforting thing for me and I’ll

always have that”

Eli Smart

“I feel like if my dad didn’t die, and I

hadn’t experienced going to church

and feeling the spiritual connection of

the Afrobeat music, then I wouldn’t be

making Afrobeat music today”

NAK

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As lockdown and social distancing measures curtailed our usual activity, many of

us found ourselves with more time to listen. Now is when we’ll know which voices

we truly rely on for cultural navigation and information.

up all frontline workers,” booms down the mic as a

slick rewind pulls through the last track of the morning

on Melodic Distraction Radio. The socially-charged

“Big

sign off, delivered with underlay of murky bassline and

sporadic synthesiser most commonly found on grime instrumentals, isn’t

your average public service announcement in a time of crisis. Nor is it the

usual offering of chirpy music and current affairs chatter on your average

breakfast show. For a start it’s much closer to midday than the first spritely

pips of Radio 4’s agenda-setting Today programme. But this is no barrier to

the club-focussed selections setting the music-first agenda on MDR.

The online radio station’s combination of spirited selections and

spirit-raising conversation has watermarked its first month of live morning

programming. Whereas the station previously broadcast each day from

4pm in its Baltic Triangle studio, the programming team has added two

live shows from 8am-12pm every weekday – all of which are broadcast

from the living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens of the station’s radio show

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hosts. “We basically scaled [the setup] back,” explain station co-founder

Josh Aitman and manager Nina Franklin, tuning into a steady connection on

Google Hangouts. “People donated so much kit, close to 70 microphones,

cables and audio interfaces,” Aitman adds. “As the lockdown was coming

into effect, we’d been able to deliver equipment to our host’s doors and get

them set up.”

It’s not only the record collections of the hosts on show. The live

streaming aspect of the programming brings the listener further into the

room. Yesterday’s breakfast show was complete with its hosts, Tom Lye

and James Binary, riffing off one another’s

music choices in an attic bedroom.

The station’s presenters, like many across

commercial and BBC networks, have assumed

the role of quasi-frontline workers since the

nation went into lockdown. Tuning into radio

has provided the only access to outside voices

for many in isolation. Yet, musical connection

isn’t merely enough on its own. The presence

of steady human navigation is there to

reinforce the emotive connection within the

listener.

On the more established local radio waves

of the BBC, its role is typified by delivering

the latest information and retaining high

spirits for its listeners, albeit with fewer grime

instrumentals. “We need to give trusted

information,” says BBC Radio Merseyside editor Andrew Bowman. “In that

sense, institutions have never been more important as being somewhere

people can look to for information that’s well checked and well trusted.” But

there’s an equal incentive to retain a familiar atmosphere that flattens the

angular nature of information emerging from the crisis. “[It’s] important to

be offering people a distraction, and being somewhere people can turn to

in really hard times,” he says, speaking over the phone on a rare day in a

usually busy office, where the workforce is operating on a skeletal level in

line with social distancing measures.

“We’re going to need

the tastemakers, the

navigators, these trusted

voices more than ever,

because it’s going to look

a fuck of a mess when

we’re on the other side

and we start to rebuild”

For MDR, forming a digital web of musical connection across

Liverpool’s postcodes has been a key component of the programming,

according to station manager Nina Franklin. “I stopped listening to albums

and recorded mixes really quickly after lockdown,” she starts. “I wanted

to hear somebody’s voice. Anything with a chat room integration and a

comforting voice suddenly became really

important.” Jovial phone-ins and song requests

have also been a regular feature throughout

the live programming, arguably a lifeline

for many at home self-isolating, working or

furloughed. “The current situation was the

push that we needed to launch the morning

schedule, but it was never intended to be in

this format. It’s a strange and enjoyable thing

to be doing at this time,” Franklin notes.

As a nation we’re listening a lot more

since the lockdown. Not just in terms of

statistical figures – up by 18 per cent across

BBC networks at the end of March – but in

terms of a willingness to connect to other,

trusted voices; seeking out a more personable

and emotional connection with content being

delivered. And this runs through both culture and information with many

relying on daily briefings where the politicians don’t field the majority of

questions. This, in an era when people were supposedly sick of listening to

the experts.

The nation shutting its front doors and staying home is an obvious

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marker for growth in listenership on radio. However, in parallel,

streaming figures are down – as much as 8 per cent on Spotify. In this

there are early signs that human voices are taking greater prevalence

over algorithmic navigation as we find ourselves with greater time and

space to listen.

Melodic’s listening figures have gone “through the roof” according to

Franklin. “We’re having thousands more people tuning in every week,”

Aitman reinforces, “and this is live.” Given the challenging circumstances

the results have come at an even greater surprise. “This has changed

the game for us. Whether it’s the chatbox, or Facebook live, people are

getting in touch more than before. Our listenership has increased by over

100 per cent.”

The online station has come good on its promise of providing a

‘distraction’. As the virus has proliferated and news reports and briefings

grown otherworldly by the day, the station’s

light-hearted approach and commitment to

following the musical tastes of its hosts has

been a portal to momentary solace. However,

to steer clear of the hard talk of exponential

graphs and ventilators is not to assume an

apathetic discourse. “We’re not frontline

workers, and we don’t have any coronavirus

expertise,” says Franklin, “but we do have

loads of tunes. That’s what we can offer to

people.” Most importantly of all, the voices at

the heart of the programming remain sincere

and informed on the music choices.

Key to following a trusted navigator

stems from understanding and sincerity. As

an institution delivering news and curating

culture, the BBC is a ubiquitous presence in

many households with its raft of familiar and ‘trusted’ voices. For many,

it remains the gold standard of news and analysis on national and local

level – even while its sincerity will be questioned by some. Its radio

stations are still the most listened to in the country, with the Today

programme on Radio 4 drawing in just over seven million listeners each

week.

In recent years the broadcasting institution has found itself wedged

in between an increasingly polarised political sphere. Up until the current

pandemic, its very existence and use as non-partisan organisation was

being brought into question by the Government. And yet, similarly to

Melodic Distraction, the challenges have seen the institution come into

its own as resource for listeners confined to their homes with a growing

appetite for information.

“The companionship of radio is different from most other media

because we’re in people’s kitchens, people’s living rooms, people’s

bedrooms,” says Bowman. “Often, if they are living on their own or not

seeing family and friends as much, we’re a link to the outside world.”

Bowman concedes that trust in journalism has been tested in

recent years, but he stands by the “importance” of institutions like radio,

magazines, newspapers and publishers to assume the role as trusted

voices at a time when people are looking for leadership. “Journalists

are there to tell stories and tell them in a truthful and accurate way,” he

continues. “The current crisis has shown that we need quality journalism.

We need that at a local level too.”

“We’re not frontline

workers, and we don’t

have any coronavirus

expertise, but we do have

loads of tunes. That’s what

we can offer to people”

The local connection Bowman speaks of has seen a huge spike

company and solace.”

in engagement in the past four weeks,

with 300,000 calls to the station’s Make A

Difference teams – a virtual notice board where

members of the public can ask for, or offer up,

a range of help during the lockdown. All of

this comes down to the connection with the

voice according to Bowman. “It’s not OK to not

have a local voice. I think the BBC has a unique

position to provide that.”

Speaking to The Guardian last month,

professor Sophie Scott, director of the Institute

of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, underscored

the huge importance of voice familiarity. “From

the moment we are born,” she stated, “we

react differently to voices we know. We are

calmed by them. It’s a profound connection. A

familiar voice, one that we are fond of, is both

But what exactly is in a trusted voice, and why does it matter now

or in usual circumstances? Writing in The Observer, Alan Rusbridger

opined: “In our isolation we are rediscovering community. In our

confusion we are rethinking whom we trust… but what it amounts to is

this: there is such a thing as society and we are all interdependent. And

if it sometimes takes a grave crisis to remind ourselves of these truths,

then this moment may well be historic for the possibilities of hope.”

Climb to the top of Everton brow and Rusbridger’s thoughts are

echoed more economically. Sprawled on a wall nearest the parks peak

are the words “there is such a thing as society”. The graffiti makes a

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poignant point in its location. The views take in Scotland Road as far as

Waterloo, past Liverpool’s modernised docks. To the right, monuments to

social housing projects stand in line as they taper towards Everton Valley.

Beyond the insincere cityscape, punctured by new builds held together by

dirty funds, the riverside of L8 comes into sight with its terracotta-flecked

terraces and community steeples. Every direction you look you can take

in the existence of society. Even without the people present a shadow is

still cast on empty streets by busy households. A drive for individualism,

most forcefully pushed by Thatcher, is countered by the view on offer and

the riposte on the wall. Without society the landscape wouldn’t be quiet.

There’d be no trust in calls to stay at home.

Radio is just one medium where we have seen societal bonds tighten

in the ensuing lockdown. Faith in the BBC has grown. Those who dared

to question the NHS now clutch at straws to lay blame at the exhausted

hands and feet of medical professionals. But the role of cultural navigation

remains just as important in retaining these societal bonds. As with Melodic

Distraction, trusted voices remain at the heart.

“On the other side of all this, we’ll say to ourselves, ‘We got into a

bit of a mess here’. Not just in politics, but in cultural navigation too,”

says Roger Hill, who has fronted the explorative Popular Music Show

on BBC Merseyside for over 30 years. “We’ll be looking to those whose

voices convince us – the curators. The person who shimmies together a

characterised cluster of content. Just as John Peel was doing.”

Hill’s comments take in the age of the influencer and the voices who’ve

risen to prominence through social media. One glaring omission from the

trusted voices cohort since the crisis gained pace is celebrities. Toe-curling

renditions of Imagine and You’ll Never Walk Alone have been enough to

see their stocks plummet at a similar rate to crude oil. For Hill, this has

reopened the door for the trusted voices. Those at the heart of institutions,

those strengthening society through the subtle rallying cry of radio

broadcasting – even when music takes centre stage.

“The crisis has increased our alertness,” Hill starts. “It hasn’t showed

us that there are new, trusted voices per-se. If you look at the stars in the

garden at night, in one sense you’d say they’re all the same brightness.

But actually, some are brighter, some are more penetrating and visible, but

we’ve never bothered to look at them long enough for quite some time.

“Now, in isolation, we’re taking a moment to look a little bit longer and

reacquaint ourselves,” he adds. “Through this we’re starting to see which

voices among the masses offer the widest perspective and inform us, bring

us something new. We were always capable to do this, but we didn’t have

the motivation to do any hard looking.”

Hill’s perspective is shared by Joel Hansen, editor of Scottie Press

Newspaper, who has been zeroing in on the impact of the pandemic

in North Liverpool. “People are feeling more and more detached from

the world around them. Familiar platforms and institutions giving them

comfort is more important than ever. That’s what Scottie Press is, even

when outside of the current circumstances.” While the paper has moved

to digital production for the time being, Hansen does not see it taking

a reduced role as a trusted voice in the North Liverpool communities –

something which it has offered for over 30 years. “We’re seeing figures

and we’re hearing stories that might not be too close to home. Local

press is able to take these stats and stories and relay them in a way

that relates to a local community, with added first person accounts

that people can resonate with.” In doing so, community connections

are established and strengthened on the micro level, and if propagated

enough, levels of trust in what we see and hear grow on a macro level.

Taking a step back in isolation allows us to venture back to root of what

we believe in.

Back over at Melodic Distraction, Josh Aitman is at the controls for

today’s full morning schedule. For the past four weeks the news has

continued to grow more serious as signs of a peak in deaths haven’t fully

materialised. With an extended lockdown, the country is in a different

place to when it started. But at MDR, the focus hasn’t shifted. “We’re

here with you, bringing the connection through music while we can’t

be together,” he says into the mic. The resolute, uplifting attitude is

likely of paramount importance to listeners at home placing trust in the

music and the voice that’s guiding them through social distancing. It’s no

less important than the authoritative voices standing either side of the

politicians every day at 5pm briefings.

Access to these voices is an essential public service, and one that

spans all layers of society – from politics to culture. Now is the time when

we’ll understand which voices we truly rely on – those we’ll need to be

just as vocal once lockdown ends. As Hill puts it best: “We’re going to

need the tastemakers, the navigators, these trusted voices more than

ever, because it’s going to look a fuck of a mess when we’re on the other

side and we start to rebuild.” !

Words: Elliot Ryder

Illustration: Aisling Woodward / @aisling_bridget

melodicdistraction.com/radio

bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/live:bbc_radio_merseyside

facebook.com/PopularMusicShow/

11


Illustrations: Aisling Woodward / @aisling_bridget

From exhibition managers to displaced students, Covid-19 and the requisite

lockdown saw individuals having to take a step back and reflect on their

relationship with work and their industry, their hobbies and futures. Perspectives

was a regular feature in which we sought out the points of view of a range of

people traversing isolation, detailing changes to their regular creative practices.

“Being able to slow down our processes, integrate

the content we are creating and re-engage with

the artists with whom we were speaking (in a more

open and experimental way) has been incredibly

valuable. There has been space where we can

look at what it is we should be doing, and how

to best achieve that now, and in the near future.

Across the sector, we constantly facilitate artwork

about precarity, labour, neoliberalism and active

suppression, and maybe this is the thing which

forces us to confront how we perpetuate these

very systems.”

Lesley Taker is the exhibitions manager at FACT

Liverpool.

“I think everyone in the live touring industry

is looking at what is happening here and

realising that the only people who can make

this whole industry more accountable,

secure and professional for its members in

the future are its members.”

Doug Wood is a tour manager and runs

Liverpool Band Vans.

“Being a freelancer is generally precarious.

There’s a lack of stability for creatives,

and we often keep circling back round to

the stupid notion that being a creative is a

luxury and that we should be grateful when

things that we do are funded, which is a

toxic way of thinking. I believe creatives

have an important role in society; lots

of people have stable jobs that form the

infrastructure around artists but the artists

themselves (partly due to the nature of

them working with multiple partners) never

really get that stability.”

Frances Disley is a visual artist.

12


“The value of creativity seems to have been

recognised during the crisis. Kids and adults are

being encouraged to stay active and be creative

during lockdown. It’s painfully ironic that creative

subjects are disappearing from school curriculums.

Let’s hope this is remembered when the crisis is over

and things don’t just go back to normal.”

Ali Johnson is the studio director at Dorothy.

“The enduring power of music is something

we often take for granted; it connects us to one

another, moves us emotionally and soundtracks

the milestones in our lives. In testing times, it is

comforting to listen to old favourites and all the

more exciting to hear fresh new sounds.”

Conal Cunningham is a regular Bido Lito!

contributor.

“After University closed, everything seemed to go

double speed. My housemates went back home, my

friends started to isolate and shops closed. I avoided

my mum’s calls. Going back home meant accepting

it was over, accepting that this was my farewell. The

unknown lay ahead as my future job was taken from

me, the life I had created for myself in Liverpool had

gone into lockdown and I was thrown into a reality that

I never anticipated. A month after my goals aligned, I’m

here, sat in my parents’ house, unable to contribute to

rent. My graduation dress is hanging in the wardrobe.

It’s likely to stay there.”

Megan Walder is a regular Bido Lito! contributor.

“As a long term self-employed worker, it was

distressing at first to be left out of the government’s

support scheme. Thankfully that seems to have been

sorted out. It’s a really tough time for the live music

and events industry, since it’s all about bringing groups

of people together to jointly experience something.

Going forward, I hope that this period will give people

a chance to work out what is actually meaningful to

them.”

Luke Avery is a tour lighting designer and operator.

13


Following the release of his latest book, Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay,

we spoke to screenwriter and author Jeff Young about Liverpool’s architectural

trajectory and the uncertain future of stories swept aside by brazen regeneration.

On the first Saturday night of nationwide lockdown, Merseyside

Police shared footage of mounted officers riding into an empty

Concert Square. The scene in the video was vacuous.

Gone was the ever-present thud of bass, the breaking of

bottles, collective merriment and hedonism. The only perceptive sound

was horseshoes on street cobbles stained with memories of years gone

by. “Ghost Town”, was a two-word comment left below the video by JEFF

YOUNG.

The screenwriter and author’s aside was a simple observation, but

also a nod towards his most recent book of the same name, Ghost Town: A

Liverpool Shadowplay, released in February – a full month before Liverpool

was in the grip of the pandemic.

“A few people have said to me over the last few weeks, ‘Oh, what

a prophetic title to choose’. But it was never intended to be any sort

of prophecy for the situation we’re in,” says Young,

talking over the phone from his home in

Aigburth. “The footage is a desolation. A

Wild West-style scene; the horse riding

through the deserted town. Seeing a

place that is normally so over-populated

at that time of night so quiet is quite

dystopian,” he adds.

Where those images appeared

ghostly for their momentary absence of

human activity, Young’s book hinges on

the essence of human connection to the

city’s streets and buildings. These ‘ghosts’,

which Young recalls, draw on his personal

memories and the dreams of a city lost to

redevelopment. For Young, the failure of

the city’s architectural dreams are the most

prevalent ghosts of all. “My fundamental

belief is that architecture is nothing without

humanity,” he continues, “and without

humanity, it’s the absolute erasure of the city

heartbeat.”

The failure of Liverpool’s contemporary

architectural trajectory was visibly clear prior

to the pandemic. The removal of sincere

human presence and interaction has dogged

much of the city centre since the arrival of

St John’s Precinct, Young notes. Further

thoughtless planning followed at the turn

of the millennium as Liverpool received its

capitalist makeover. But these actualities only

grow more apparent when the lens is widened,

and the people are removed from the scene all

14


together – as we saw over the first few weeks of the lockdown period. “The

newer developments, such as that on Lime Street, are alienating. There’s a

clear lack of empathy for the people in the city and the people who move

through the city,” Young comments. “Taking the people out of the city, as is

happening now, you see the only reason so much of the city centre exists

is for commerce and consumerism. Maybe this current situation can be a

wake-up call.”

This drive for a consumerist central hub in

Liverpool is perforated by towers offering short

term rents and the ease of inner-city living. But

as we’re drawn inside, these spaces become

as isolated as Liverpool ONE, Lord Street and

Church Street. The flats in the city centre are

devoid of continuity and human energy. This

is a far cry from the dreams of St Andrew’s

Gardens, more commonly known as the Bullring,

situated just off Brownlow Hill, a housing

project built in the 1930s and now home to

students. “One of the visions of the Bullring

was that all neighbours would face the other

neighbours. It’s a Viennese school of architecture

design. It’s built so you can see one another

and have contact,” says Young, commenting on how our failures to realise

the buildings’ social potential has grown more prevalent as we continue

mandatory isolation. “It’s community focussed, the opposite of alienation.

It’s embracing,” he adds.

Throughout the book, Young pores over similar stories pulled from

locations built with its people in mind – lambasting those that do the

opposite. As Young argues, architecture is integral to the social experience

of society. Physical presence, accessibility, placement and fulfilling

expectations for the needs of the landscape are all essential to ensuring

that municipal dreams don’t become ghosts, haunting the hollow facades

that come to whitewash the cityscape.

Words: Elliot Ryder

Writing on one of the prevailing themes of his book, Jeff Young warns of

sleepwalking towards ‘city-death’.

In 1948 the City Architect, Alfred Earnest Shennan, contributed to a

book called Liverpool, Past, Present, Future published by the City Council.

In his chapter devoted to The Future, Shennan wrote: “Can we of this

generation evolve for our City the maximum of material and spiritual good,

building on the achievements of our predecessors and conjuring phoenixlike

a new city out of the enormous evil of the war?”

Together with his fellow architects J.F. Smith and Gordon Hemm,

Shennan made the case for a Utopian vision of the future metropolis,

asking, “Shall we not aim at beauty, dignity, hygiene; speed and safety

of movement; the general convenience and happiness of the people?”

He saw an opportunity to create a dynamic new city, one that honoured

and respected the past but also embraced the future with “impulse and

momentum”.

He had in mind a city of thrilling architecture and vibrant public spaces,

rising from the rubble of the Blitz, designed and maintained by benevolent

custodians, a place where the enfranchised masses felt themselves to be

participants in its day to day life and in its future. Gordon Hemm’s artists

impression of this Futuropolis is a science fiction cityscape straight out of

60s TV cartoon The Jetsons. However, very little of this vision was realised,

and arguably there hasn’t been a vision to compare to it since.

One of Shennan’s finest achievements is the Art Deco Forum cinema

“The city should be allowed

to grow organically,

an ever-changing,

metaphysical project…

where the vital memory of

the past nurtures the pulse

of the present and sustains

the dynamic future”

on Lime Street. This palace of dreams is now empty and gutted and these

days it’s mainly used as a convenient place to hang an advertising billboard.

A building that was once one of the heartbeats of the city, once the very

embodiment of velocity and vision, has been treated with contempt.

I have written about this street on numerous occasions, and the equally

neglected – now demolished – Futurist cinema. Lime Street was once a

place charged with the energy of its citizens; a vital artery pulsing with

life. Walk down Lime Street today and the new

development that replaced the Futurist looks like

a cut-price kitchen unit, or some dubious type

of packaging material, the sort used to wrap a

cheap fridge. This was presumably someone’s

bargain basement idea of ‘The Future’. It fails on

almost every level.

Nostalgia can be somewhat problematic,

sepia-tinted and morbid if we ‘let it be’. But what

if we re-imagine nostalgia and use it as a form

of subversive divination that brings past, present

and future together? Instead of discarding the

past, we create an altered state where the

invisible city of memory literally regenerates

and takes its place within the city of today, an

imaginative space where the barren consumer zones are re-wilded with

vitality, playfulness and visionary energy. What if we reclaim the word

‘regeneration’ from property developers and repurpose it with beating

hearts and dreams?

The American city activist Jane Jacobs believed that cities were “…

composed of movement and change… The art form of the city… an intricate

ballet in which the individual dancers all have distinctive parts which

miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet

of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and… is

always replete with new improvisations.” This dance interprets the city as a

place where human activity is of paramount importance. It moves the focus

from top-down property, business and commerce interests and empowers

the public realm with ‘the ballet of the sidewalk’. You will see this on Bold

Street where the independent retailers, cafés and bars are buzzing with

ideas and imagination. The art form of the city is in evidence.

In the 1960s there came another future and its name was demolition.

The wholesale destruction of the city’s very centre erased Liverpool’s

magnificent market place and replaced it with the imaginative failure of St

John’s Precinct. The city has never recovered from this. Go to any city in

Europe and the importance and vibrancy of the market place at the centre

of things is evident. Liverpool’s centre is diminished but this brutal erasure

was once seen as The Future.

There are at least two kinds of city-death; the first is demolition, which

is not just a death of bricks, mortar and concrete but of the dream inside

the building and the memories it contains. The lives lived within. The

second kind of death is the type of ‘progress’ that proceeds blindly, and

pays no heed to the first. It’s a mixture of entropy and amnesia; it often

occupies contested spaces and it ignores storytelling.

The city should be allowed to grow organically, like Balzac’s Human

Comedy, an ever-changing, metaphysical project haunted and enhanced by

ghost-memory, where the vital memory of the past nurtures the pulse of

the present and sustains the dynamic future. Don’t erase – or exorcise – the

ghosts. Let them live in the shadows, let them whisper their stories. !

Words: Jeff Young / @jeffyoungwriter

Photography: Graeme Shackleton

Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay by Jeff Young is out now via Little

Toller Books.

15


16

With social distancing measures in place, photographer Marieke Macklon spent lockdown venturing into her

subjects’ homes through the lens of FaceTime to capture this intimate and playful collection of portraits of

Liverpool musicians.


Photography: Marieke Macklon / @mariekemacklon First row: Tarek Musa, Sara Wolff, Rebekka Anstem; Second row: Eli Smart, Abby Meysenburg; Third row: Guro, Luis, Rich - All We Are

17


Filmmaker and artist Amber Akaunu

talks about the sacred act of getting

afro hair done, a ritual captured in her

work for BBC New Creatives.

me nan’s” calls out a teenage girl as she closes

the front door to her home behind her and walks down

the street. Arriving at her grandmother’s house, she

“Going

changes into a pair of slippers, picks from a tray of

potato snacks in the kitchen and moves into the warm hues of the living

room where she greets her nan. The teenage girl places herself at the foot

of her couch where her grandmother sits and begins to untie her hair,

combing through a combination of water and oils. The scenes captured

in the film is an intimate act that celebrates a central part of many black

women’s lives.

Created in partnership with BBC New Creatives and Arts Council

England, Afro Hair Rituals is part of a collection

of short films showcasing the brightest talents in

new female directors. It captures the bond within a

Liverpool family shared between a teenage girl and

her grandmother as she carefully proceeds to style her

granddaughter’s afro hair – a process which can take

a number of hours.

Created by local filmmaker, artist and illustrator

AMBER AKAUNU, Afro Hair Rituals “was made with

the intention of showing black women and girls just

how beautiful their afro hair is,” she tells us, speaking

over the phone during the early weeks of lockdown.

“To have this hair is to have a connection to a

community and to a history, a bond and a relationship to the past and the

present.”

Akaunu initially pitched the idea for the film to BBC New Creatives on

the basis of her interest in afro hair, notably black women’s relationship

with their hair: “Especially black northern women, because we are such

a minority here,” she adds. But, as the film underscores with its gentle

nuance and intimate cinematography, the process compiled into the

sub four-minute production goes beyond the tactile act on display. The

resulting short film offers an insight to the sacredness of afro hair and its

embodiment of ancestry and a continuation of black culture.

“The sacredness is definitely a mixture of my personal feeling and

tradition,” Akaunu tells us. “The aim of the film was to uplift and show black

women how amazing their afro hair is. I wanted to show it as a sacred ritual

“The aim of the

film was to uplift

and show black

women how

amazing their

afro hair is”

as it’s something that has been passed down for generations, practised by

ancestors hundreds of years ago who all went through the same process

that the film displays.” The film, however, is not simply repurposing a

historic account or recalling of nostalgia. The ritual, as she points out, is still

firmly rooted in contemporary black culture. “Black people are still doing

it today. We’re using the same techniques, some of the same products,”

she continues. “I do a lot of my friends’ and family’s hair. It’s such a sacred

moment where two people come together. You bond and grow together. It

makes me feel more connected to history and the past.”

Where the film focusses on the positive celebration of the ritual,

Akaunu notes there still remains a sensitivity surrounding afro hair. The

artist’s own experiences growing up in Liverpool featured consistent

bullying for the appearance of her hair. She recalls anxieties over wearing

her hair out in her youth due to vocal discrimination among predominantly

white peers. “A friend even went as far as saying she wouldn’t play

with me while I had my hair out,” she adds. “Still, today, we see people

discriminated against for their hair. It still comes across as radical to

perceive black hair as sacred and loving it despite what people think,” she

explains. “But there are signs that people are wanting to embrace it more.”

Akaunu continues: “There was a point in time where if you Googled

beautiful hair, the results were a swathe of white women with long straight

hair. Then if you typed in unprofessional hair, the results would show as

black women with afro hair. That’s still common today. Having afro hair

is seen as undesirable, not seen as beautiful, not seen as professional.

The act of loving your hair is therefore radical.” For added context, and

a resource used in research for Afro Hair Rituals, The Good Hair Study

outlined in 2016 the ongoing discrimination black women faced due

to their hair. Key findings from the study showed that one in five black

(American) women felt social pressure to straighten their hair for work and

that white (American) women, on average, showed explicit bias towards

black women’s textured hair – which they rated as less beautiful and less

professional than “smooth” hair.

In the intervening years since the study, there have been signs of

“progress” says Akaunu. Solange’s 2016 album A Seat At The Table

brought the sacredness and imbued regality of Afro

hair closer towards the mainstream on the song Don’t

Touch My Hair, featuring the lyrics “Don’t touch my

hair/ When it’s the feelings that I wear/ Don’t touch

my soul/ When it’s the rhythm I know/ Don’t touch my

crown.” A book under the same name by Irish writer

Emma Dabiri has furthered the ubiquity for afro hair

celebration closer to home, a personal-cum-political

take on the history of black people’s hair. Even at the

Oscars, an institution which has lagged behind in

representation and celebration of black filmmakers,

Hair Love, a story about a father who has to do his

daughter’s afro hair for the first time, took home the

award this year for best animated short film. “In California,” Akaunu adds,

“it’s now illegal to discriminate against people based on their hair. I think it’s

an interesting time to discuss hair.”

These discussions surrounding race and hair which Akaunu mentions

have been platformed by her other creative outlet, ROOT-ed (revolution

of our time). Created in collaboration with friend and former Liverpool

Hope University art school classmate Fauziya Johnson, ROOT-ed zine was

created in response to the lack of diversity on their course, with no lecturers

of colour and a “distinct lack of [black] representation in the curriculum”,

as the pair wrote in Bido Lito! in September of 2018. The zine therefore

provides a platform and safe space for artists and writers of colour based in

the North West.

Akaunu believes that both her and Fauziya Johnson have been received

18


well by Liverpool’s arts community, but she cautions that the progression

isn’t yet at its end goal. “The galleries are welcoming, but I think that’s just

with us, as I think we have a bit of a platform. There are so many more

black artists in the city than me and Fauziya. I don’t see all of us getting the

same opportunities. There’s still a lot more that the galleries can be doing,

and there remains a bit of tokenism involved.”

Having initially run in print for its first nine issues, ROOT-ed has since

transferred to online publishing during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing a

drop in funding for the change. At the mention of this, our conversation

naturally segues to the theme of their next issue: work. “We had it planned

in ages ago, but right now the notion of work feels even more important,”

says Akaunu, as we inevitably begin to chat about the effects of the

pandemic. “People are losing their jobs, or they’re happy to work in really

dangerous conditions. It’s going to be quite a historic moment, I think it’s

important to continue with that topic.

“I think people are beginning to realise that the NHS, care workers,

people who work in supermarkets and run the local shop, they’re all

essential,” Akaunu concludes as we round off our conversation. “Just recently,

we were having this conversation about only essential workers being

allowed into the country. Well, all the people who work in the shops that are

providing people with essentials while at home – the nurses, all these types

of jobs – they’re all essential. I think it’s interesting that the pandemic has

kicked in so soon after the discussion regarding what is an essential worker. I

think this will change a lot of what society sees as essential.” !

Words: Elliot Ryder

Photography: Funke Alafiatayo

@AmberAkaunu

Afro Hair Rituals is available now on BBC iPlayer.

19


Array: Aisling Woodward / @aisling_bridget

Throughout lockdown

we reached out to friends

across the globe to find out

how other creative scenes

were being impacted by

Covid-19. A record label

professional in Istanbul, a venue

manager in Eindhoven and singer in

Cairo were among our correspondents

giving us insight into how those working

in arts and music were responding

to an unprecedented hiatus.

Across the features a picture

was painted of a global arts

scene wrestling with

uncertainty, hopeful for the

future and embracing

new technologies.

“It’s great to see institutions/labels/bands

promoting each other, but I also feel like

there’s something of a content overload.

I’m concerned about the financial impact it

will have on DIY and underground spaces,

which are already pretty precarious to

begin with. I do hope that when people

are able to congregate together again, that

there might be more of an interest in live

music and an appreciation for community

spaces.”

Josh Frank is one half of China-based

psych duo Gong Gong Gong. He spent

lockdown in his hometown of Montréal.

“I found that our team had to re-learn how

to communicate and work together, while

most of us are working from our homes.

Our live streaming project The Isolation

Sessions, is something most of us have

never done before. There is a lot to learn. I

really miss having a coffee and a talk. Or a

group meeting in the flesh. I find that the

forced new ways of communication is a

complicating factor.”

Robert Schaeffer runs the Effenaar

venue in Eindhoven.

“The centre where I am is stifling now,

with the combination of super strict

lockdown measures and the dense

population. Most of my friends are trying

to use the time productively, if they can.

Hopefully something good artistically

comes out of this for some of us.”

Ry Vieira is a singer-songwriter in

Barcelona

20


“I want to stay positive and believe that a

situation like this can change the cultural

scene for the better. The way the art world

has functioned before wasn’t sustainable

at all. I’m sure that there are going to be

cutbacks, hopefully also in the extensive

travels that centre around biennales and

festivals. Despite these potential silver

linings, the economic backlash worries me

a lot.”

Léna Szirmay-Kalos is the artistic

director of an interdisciplinary event

series called Montag Modus and cofounder

of the MMPraxis curatorial

platform in Berlin.

“I think people are already thirsty for

cultural activities that they may have once

taken for granted. I feel that once things

open up again people will flood to them.

However, no one knows when normality

will indeed return and if it will return in the

same format or an adjusted one.”

Nadya Shanab is a singer-songwriter

and runs her own label Hamzet Wasl

Records in Cairo.

“Tomorrow is blurred. Unfortunately, many

places will not survive. But, also, new

things will emerge from this chaos. A new

way of thinking is super precious now and

I hope Istanbul’s artists will be creative,

adapt to the new reality and make new,

fresh solutions.”

Kornelia Binicewicz heads up the project

Ladies On Records in Istanbul.

21


By simply taking the city into their neighbourhoods, people did their part in the effort

against the health crisis. Photographer Michael Kirkham spent lockdown documenting

these smaller worlds thriving on the streets of Wavertree.

The world is now an inherently smaller place. In the age of

expansive globalisation, few will have predicted this would occur

with such little notice. Lockdown seemed to arrive swift, but fewer

will have known it didn’t come near swift enough.

Beyond key workers, coming to terms with our smaller worlds will have

been common for those confined to their homes. But while the tangible

reaches of existence have contracted, the worlds which we locally share

haven’t become deserted. With new, tighter perimeters applied to the dayto-day,

our lives have become inversely more detailed. The localised lens

through which we’ve viewed lockdown is a microscope of its own. The larger

telescopic frame of the world beyond our streets is more pixelated than ever.

As we work, think and exist within the confines of our postcode, the

finer details of our immediate surroundings have stepped into a new clarity.

Buildings seem to stand stiller and offer a closer look in the longer shadows

of spring. Our daily heatmap of footsteps seems to be concerned with who

and what is here, rather than there. We’ve probably

never seen so much of our neighbours.

It’s momentary frames like these that have

become the subject of documentary photographer

Michael Kirkham’s latest work: a series of photographs

which show a city retreated into its streets, where

seemingly every street has become a village.

The collection of images, which were taken

within a few miles radius of his home, mushroomed

from late March and were initially just as a means

of coping with lockdown. “When out with my

camera in the last month, it was just a case of taking

snapshots,” he says, “little things that caught my

eye. Human interactions, moments that have been created by the pandemic,

objects that have been left behind because of it.”

Wind the clock back to mid-March and the streets around us painted

a different picture to their current slowness. A tense atmosphere weighed

in the air. Shops and restaurants teetered over calling for continued

support or closing their doors for safety. Offices gradually morphed into

living rooms. The notion of considerate British mannerisms lay in tatters as

queues splintered and shop shelves were left hit as though by a swarm of

locusts. “There was a bit of a vibe, a bit of panic” says Kirkham of his initial

experience around Wavertree. “There was a certain edge to everything. You

had people glancing in each other’s trolleys with expressions of ‘What do

you even need those for?’ That sort of behaviour was at a sharp edge when

the lockdown was about to arrive.”

Once the lockdown solidified, the tension Kirkham notes relieved

and streets brandished themselves clearer than ever before. There’s a

palpable sense of acceptance in the stillness of his photographs of queues

and vacated business. Our streets themselves bathed in an early spring,

picturesque and unnerving, like pictures of the model towns used to test

nuclear weapons. “It’s quite a strange and surreal situation when focusing

the camera on the busier streets like Picton Road. It’s so quiet you can walk

through the middle of it,” he says.

The vacuous elements of Kirkhams’s photos are a common feature for

most hubs of commerce. But it’s in the tighter streets where micro features of

a new localised society come into greater focus. Away from shuttered shop

fronts and supermarket queues, more front doors are being left ajar. Their

communities are spilling out onto the streets at a safe distance, breaking with

the closed off divide that bookends the normal working day.

“During the first half of lockdown the weather was beautiful. We have

a south-facing back yard, so we were spending a lot of time out there,”

Kirkham says. “But everyone opposite, they were all out in the front; talking

with each other, neighbours having drinks over the fence, children playing at

a distance in the street.

“I got to know a lot

of my neighbours

when I moved in,

but since lockdown,

I’ve gotten to know

pretty much everyone

on my street”

“My street is quite friendly. I got to know a lot of my neighbours when

I moved in,” he continues, “but since lockdown I’ve gotten to know pretty

much everyone. Everyone is chatting away when they get the chance. A lot

more people say hello. You get the sense that people in the local community

feel like they’re all in the same boat.” Kirkham’s images

show neighbours talking while perched on opposing

pavements. In another, a group are playing makeshift

tennis while wearing PPE. An image of The Edinburgh

Pub, its proprietor adding a layer of varnish to its

Victorian windows, could have been pulled from a

sleepy Sunday in a rural town. “It’s mellowed a lot

from the initial atmosphere, and I think you can see

that in the series of images,” Kirkham replies. “It’s

been nice – in a strange way, once you’re over the

shock of having to queue for shops and struggling to

buy things likes paracetamol and toilet paper.”

For residential areas, unlike the city centre of

Liverpool or its commercial thoroughfares, the presence of fewer people

doesn’t brandish bare bones devoid of community. A quick look at the empty

faces of Lord Street and Church Street tell you how much sincere community

can be hinged on transactional commerce and marketing.

But it’s not just in Wavertree where streets have become villages of

their own. Walk to the riverside of L8 and peer down each of the sloping

‘Bread Streets’ and you’ll see families perched on chairs outside their home,

conversing with their neighbours on the other side of the road, children

taking their turn to run the chalked hopscotch which lines the pavements

running down to the river, where ever-clearer views of Welsh hills are

seemingly in touching distance.

By simply taking the city into their streets people are doing their part in

the effort against the health crisis. All across Liverpool groups have come

together while remaining at a distance. A community effort to match the

mounting health risks has risen in tandem. While it doesn’t replace the huge

losses of life and livelihoods that have occurred, perhaps there’s positives to

be had in the conscious drive to replant our streets as collections of homes

within a community. !

Words: Elliot Ryder

Photography: Michael Kirkham / @Mrkirks

22


23


John Johnson / @John.johno

Bido Lito! stands in solidarity with those fighting

racism and injustice. Bido Lito! stands in solidarity

with the global Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the past 10 years Bido Lito! has sought to

broaden perspectives and reflect the diversity in

Liverpool’s creative community. We have been nonracist

and inclusive, but perhaps not clearly as antiracist

as we could have been. We can do a lot more.

We are conscious of the privilege the magazine

brings and we will take the time to properly reflect

on who this privilege is working for. We will do more.

We all, as a majority white city, have in our

power to educate ourselves on, understand

better and oppose systemic racism at a local

and global level. The privilege of this platform

demands this as a minimum from us.

The murder of George Floyd may have taken place

on the streets of Minneapolis, but its effects can

be strongly felt here on the streets of Liverpool.

Racism and systemic racism is a Liverpool issue.

A range of figures from within Liverpool’s

creative community share their thoughts

on the protests and momentum for real

change spreading across the world.

Outrage. That was my initial reaction to the murder of George Floyd. A

black man was murdered in front of the world. Bless Darnella Frazier

for really opening the world’s eyes to what has been happening to Black

people for far too long.

I feel empowered by the show of outrage and the way the Black

Lives Matter movement has enabled people to mobilise and vocalise their

opposition to injustice. The very fabric of this city was built on slavery and

is ingrained in its culture, across all our major institutions and the city’s

economy. Our largest Black festival, Africa Oyé, is under constant threat

and pressure to become a ticketed event, yet there are major events in

this city that have been funded without question. For far too long race and

tackling racial injustice has been diluted and become hidden as part of

the wider equalities agenda. It needs putting firmly back on the table and

everyone needs to be accountable for action.

Now is a time for action. A time for Black community led solutions

and opportunity. I expect the many organisations and institutions who

have made commitments to listen to what we are telling you and what

we want. Then help us to do it, or act where appropriate for you to do so,

based on what we are telling you and what we want. Actions speak far

louder than words. I hope the many statements made around BLM were

not made in vain. It’s good to look good, isn’t it, by saying the right thing?

But it’s even better to do the right thing. I know what I want and I know

our Black communities will also know what they want, and the countless

Black individuals whose voices are ignored. But that requires a proper

dialogue with the institutions and economic strategists in this city. Far too

many times have our ideas been stolen, our music plagiarised, our images

sexualised or used as mascots of racial negativity and mockery for the

purpose of jam jars, cereal boxes or T-shirts. When the cultural sector reopens

post-Covid, I want to see an end to the virus called racial hatred.

Sonia Bassey MBE, chair of Africa Oyé and Mandela8

24


Michael Kirkham / @MrKirks

Michael Kirkham / @MrKirks

When you look at your own organisations and lives, how many people of

colour do you employ and are in your networks? If the answer to that is

none or very few, then you need to do some work

Is diversity just a word that pops up every so often when the reality

of a situation for marginalised people is glaringly brought to light, or is it

something that actually matters to you? Only you can answer that.

Do you have an operational equal opportunities policy that you

constantly refer to and adhere to? If not, why not? If yes, are you

implementing it effectively?

Has racism even been an issue to you until the modern day lynching of

George Floyd or have you just reacted to it now? Please answer truthfully.

Is proactivity towards equal opportunities for all on your list of priorities

on a day to day basis? Is it an intrinsic part of your thinking and intention?

If the answer to that is no, then you are a part of the systemic racism that I

have been asked to talk about.

People in positions of privilege need to look inwards and do some

research themselves so that they have a true sense of responsibility to

make honest, sustainable changes, if change is something that is genuinely

cared about. Otherwise, questions [what are your views on systemic racism

and slavery education?] are the same questions that I and other Black

people – when we are actually included, remembered and respected –

always get asked. When dealing with this issue, in order to avoid becoming

an added part of the systemic racism that for us is a constant and for you is

an unknown quantity, the changes have to come from you.

Jennifer John, creative director, music mentor and manager of Sense of

Sound Singers

Systemic racism nationally is so subtle as an undercurrent that it’s

almost impossible to notice, and it is difficult to demonstrate, and this

is the challenge we face today. How can we shine a light on something

that has become so ingrained in society that you either don’t see it, or

have become apathetic or immune to it? Liverpool is a tolerant, open,

welcoming city, but we have some more work to do on our respect and

understanding for diversity. Ethnic minorities represent some of the

biggest, oldest and most important cultures in the world.

We have to teach British history better, especially in relation to

the Empire, and colonial history, and make them part of our everyday

knowledge and culture. I’ve always been impressed with the way Germany

dealt with its Nazi past, and rather than trying to erase those chapters in

their history, they have moved from collective guilt to European integration,

virtually guaranteeing peace in Europe and preventing a return to

widespread Nazism. Their past has been a history lesson, and we would do

well to openly and honestly do the same.

I don’t think Britain has truly moved on from the arrogance of our

colonial history. Perhaps a more humble, collaborative approach to

international relations, nationalism and our history would make our country

progress much faster. Liverpool’s independence, openness, rejection of

racism and the ‘Scouse before English’ identity suggests this city will really

embrace the history of slavery and learn from it.

Alok Nayak, CEO and Artistic Director at Milap, the Liverpool-based

international Indian Arts And Culture company.

25


Glyn Akroyd / @glynakroyd

Michael Kirkham / @MrKirks

As you get older, you become more aware of the subtleties of systemic

racism. It’s when you look back you realise things people have said, the

way they have acted that it’s not OK. We pick up on things like people

saying ‘Where are you from?’ We respond with where in the UK, only for

them to reply ‘No, where are you from?’ The idea that because you have

brown or black skin, you’re not properly British. I think that’s something

a lot of [the younger] generation will experience. You’re never British

enough, it seems, people will always be digging deeper. When a Black

person asks you the same thing, it’s in solidarity, but there’s always more

to it for a white person.

At university, systemic racism is subtle but not subtle, which is

interesting because you really do find your people at university. You

surround yourself with people like you and start to see how a lot of people

around you aren’t the same. There’s always some guy who’ll counter

everything in lectures and seminars, being Islamophobic, saying things

against refugees. You see this explicit hate, and you become more aware of

it. You also realise when you’re not speaking out. And you get annoyed with

yourself for not saying something at the time and thinking about it after.

But it’s also the subtleties that other people would never even

observe in their own actions, such as lecturers confusing Black people

for one another when we don’t look the same. That’s the hard part,

because you don’t really have anyone to go to about it. It’s hard to go

to a white face, a figure of authority, and complain about another white

face saying something that was subtly racist, because they won’t really

understand it. I think that’s a big thing at universities. A lot of BIPOC drop

out of universities due to mental health. I think it’s because they don’t

have the people in place to speak to that look like them. Universities are

predominantly white institutions among academics with a predominantly

white syllabus and reading list. That’s what makes it harder. You’ve already

moved away you’re in a new environment and you have nobody to talk to,

or to help raise or escalate an issue. That’s why a lot of the time you let it

lie, but it still hurts you.

It’s the places that people learn that need reform. That’s where people

are being embedded in traits of systemic racism. It will take a lot of change

to make that happen.

Mia Thornton and Rachel Duncan, Go Off, Sis Podcast

The debate around statues and street names is very, very important.

In Liverpool, I don’t think we should just focus only on Penny Lane. In

ongoing research, we are asking whether Penny Lane is linked to the

slave trade, trying to establish if there is a clear link. Penny Lane is

important because it is emblematic of Liverpool, it’s in the story of The

Beatles and is internationally known, so I see why it is important. But I

think it is dangerous to only focus on Penny Lane. A wider debate asking

what is the significance of a statue in the public space? What is the

significance of a street name? Why do we not use a number like in some

countries – 5th Avenue, for example. What does it mean to celebrate

somebody? Society needs to reflect on that.

When you put emphasis on somebody and you give honour to a person

from a particular time, you give honour to what they represented from that

particular time – which is often economic value and apparent social value of

this person. But, more than likely, at the time they were alive nobody was

talking about ethical value, so the values agreed upon 200 years ago are

not the same as now. So let’s consider that, not as a problem, but as part of

progress.

I think the debate is more complicated than simply to remove or to

keep. It’s our past but removing the statue is not just removing the past.

You can remove a statue but the past is still here. Understanding the past

is better. Asking questions like ‘Why was this figure so popular?’. Answers

will suggest the money they represented was the only value then, but is

it acceptable that Edward Colston stayed in the middle of Bristol for 200

years? The scandal is not removing the statue, the scandal is the fact that it

was there for 200 years.

I think the debate is not about a political decision, it’s about a societal

decision. I think the discussion has to be open between groups of people

like charities, organisations, the city council, historians, philosophers,

academics, the public and the people who live in the area. There are

traditionalists who have always lived with these statues, for example. Then

we ask if they are comfortable with what this statue represents, or can we

imagine a better person to be there, or can we imagine flowers in its place,

or a tree?

Jean-Francois Manicom, curator at the International Slavery Museum

26


Portraits: Liam Jones / @Liamjonesphotie

These portraits of care workers, taken by photographer and health and social worker

Liam Jones and commissioned by St Helens based Heart Of Glass, provide a snapshot

of those on the frontline of the pandemic – an essential role that Jones says “takes more

than compassion”.

27


Social distancing measures have provided

greater room for us to consider the

ownership of space. As society looks to

reclaim its public realm from the pandemic,

Laura Brown questions the equality and

egalitarian credentials of Liverpool’s

pavements and shared spaces.

Public spaces, our pavements, squares, streets and parks will be of

increasing importance as we begin to emerge from our homes and

adjust to the outside again. Yet for our public spaces to work for

everyone, they must be shared in an egalitarian way.

Once we fully emerge from our homes, we are going to have to give

each other space, allow each other to breathe. And what that will mean is

recognising that we each have the same right to that public space. Yet, public

space is not equal; certainly, access to public space is far from equal. We

weaponise them because we bring into them the bias and prejudice we have in

the rest of society.

The most successful cities and places are built to serve the people who

live and work in them. The last three months have turned cracks into chasms

within the tears in our hegemonic society, making it evident the extent to which

we need to be able to share space. Our public realm is active and it’s possible

many did not realise how actively political our public spaces are. Public space

is the place where we define our ownership; where we protest, where we

rally; it is where we parade and celebrate. We talk of ‘taking to the streets’, the

physicality of turning our individual presence into a tens, hundreds, thousands

turns the street into a stage for a collective show of strength and identity.

The visibility in itself is seen as a political act, because the public realm is

increasingly privatised, increasingly part of our commercial state.

Erecting a statue of a slave owner because you’re grateful for his fiscal

contribution after his death two centuries ago is one thing; arguing he still

has a place to be venerated in the public realm is another. Asking people, as

you tell them that the public realm is equal, to be reminded through street

names, through statues, through the names of buildings, of a multi-million

pound industry that bought and sold their ancestors like cattle, is barbaric and

heartless.

Yet we are told our physical presence, our physical protest, is a threat, it

disturbs the status quo. In 2020 we are told protest threatens public health

during a pandemic. In 2011 it was civil disorder, fuelled by BlackBerrys. In 1981

they said it was lawlessness. In fact, two things unite 1981, 2011 and 2020;

race and the police. One is about a lack of visibility and a lack of ownership of

physical space, the other is the representation of the power that believes they

own the space. We are literally fighting over control of the pavements.

28


Civic pride, civic duty, civic responsibility, change depending on your

perspective. Is it our duty to protect statues, or to tear them down? Can you

support the removal of street names, but not graffiti calling them racist and

covering their name? Is civic respect tied to one’s purse and power? Having

one’s name on a building, a statue in a public square, a name adorning

a street, is a patriarchal display of who is in power, who has control. It is

rarely female, it is almost never black.

In Vienna in the early 1990s, city officials wanted to use data to

discover how people used their city. It would provide a foundation for their

infrastructure and spend. Because this was pre-internet, they conducted

interviews, with a survey on the street. The questions centred around how

people travelled, what transport they used, what issues they had. Men

wrote quickly and were done. Women wrote paragraph after paragraph.

Women, they discovered, were more likely to use public transport, to

walk and use pavements. Men, by contrast, walked from their front door

to their car and from their car to their office. The

“varied pattern of use”, how cities tend to assume

their population uses pavements, wasn’t something

they considered to be gendered. In 1992, Vienna

established The Women’s Office and since then has

supported 50 projects examining how to embolden

the city, and its women, putting it at the forefront

of urban development. In many UK cities when it

begins to snow we’re still waiting for pavements to

be gritted at the same time roads are. Cities here

aren’t often built with equality in mind. It has taken a

global pandemic for us to accelerate the cycle lanes

that make a city such as ours as accessible on two

wheels as four.

In the past three months, using public space has been full of import

and purpose. Every other person is a potential threat. It has also been fistgnawingly

frustrating. Sharing space has not come naturally to many, and

it seems as though the amount of space you feel you deserve to take, or are

unwilling to cede, is linked to how important and significant you feel you

are.

Take the family of four who walks astride each other along the

path, either unaware or unwilling to budge. In truth, they are illustrating

their understanding and recognition of their place and worth to society.

Society has told them they, with their whiteness and 2.4 children, are the

backbone and most important social construct in the country. They are

more important than the single woman who has to walk into the gutter to

provide adequate space to pass. They’re certainly more important than the

older man who’s stopped, two metres away, to let them pass because they

won’t edge nearer together.

You think that’s not true? 2020 is the year a British Prime Minister

decided (again) who you could and could not have sex with, who defined

what a household looked like, what a relationship looked like (married,

living together). Only three months in, the government said couples who do

not live together can share the same space again.

To say spending three months inside has been hard is as self-evident

as saying a cold beer is refreshing on a hot day. The outside, the public

space we have, may be limited and it may feel like a relief. But it is there for

“There is an

opportunity for us

to change how we

perceive our public

space and, in turn,

how it sees us”

each of us to share, not for those who perceive their importance to take up

more room because they feel they deserve it.

The idea of social cooperation, of fairness and of sharing, are going

to become more important as we begin to take our first tentative steps

outside and how we learn how to live alongside each other again. The

public realm will look different when we begin to explore it. There is a new

website, Love Your Liverpool, detailing how we need to be kind, patient

and responsible, as the city slowly reopens. Keep left, socially distance,

use the one way systems in place, only go in lifts with people of your own

household. The guidance is much needed, helps with confidence (in truth

seeing some kind of handholding is appreciated) because it is frightening.

More spaces will be pedestrianised. Bold Street and Castle Street will

have tables, chairs and, crucially, heaters spilling into the public realm to

help restaurants and eateries make up for the space they will lose. We’ll

have to learn to live on top of each other. We all own the space we use. It

doesn’t belong to one or the other.

It’s striking how much the idea of public space

has changed in three months. Every decision made

out of doors now feels fraught. I cannot imagine

myself casually wandering down Bold Street,

popping into Mattas to grab something for tea,

thinking maybe I’ll have a quick browse in, well,

anywhere. I’ve done it a thousand times.

Outside won’t be carefree for the next few

months. We won’t be pushing alongside each other

to get anywhere. We won’t be in that mindless throb

of a crowd. We won’t be able to see each other’s

faces (please wear masks). How prepared are we to

create a more equal public realm to help us cope with that? How ready is

the public realm to be the place where we test ourselves back in society,

how we define our new borders, our new responsibilities, the new ways we

need to live and work?

There is an opportunity for us to change how we perceive our public

space and, in turn, how it sees us. Seismic events, like the one we are

currently living through, tend to do two things: they make a change that

was coming happen faster; and they bring an entirely unexpected change

no one saw coming. We will use our public spaces differently, but it

would be an important shift after this if we felt it was there for us all. The

arguments over tourism, over students, is on hold for a while, so we have

to talk amongst ourselves. We’ve talked a lot about who our city is for. Now

it’s for us, all of us.

If one thing has defined much of the discourse in Liverpool over the

past decade and a half, it is the sense we have had little control over our

public realm. Some has disappeared, some is, quite frankly, ugly. Sparse

green spaces have gone, the purpose of buildings altered. Change will

continue but perhaps we need to learn a new sense of empathy, of how to

share and how to have equal voice in our public spaces. If we’re spending

more time on our pavements, one of our biggest questions is how loud of a

voice we’ll have over their existence. !

Words: Laura Brown / @MsLaura_Brown

Illustration: Aisling Woodward / @aisling_bridget

29


Imagination and creativity will be an essential material in the rebuild when society

begins to piece itself back together, says screenwriter and children’s author Frank

Cottrell-Boyce.

What does the future look like? It’s a question we’ve

all put to ourselves in recent months, with varying

degrees of intensity. Some will have simply been

concerned with what the next day holds. Others will

have stretched their thought potential far into the distance over the

uncomfortable contours of the unknown.

But, what happens when a vision of the future derails, elements of a

collective idea pulled off course? Should our imagination work to put it back

on the same track, or, alternatively, draw tracks

anew?

In the initial phases of

lockdown, the former will

have presented itself as the

simplest option to retain

a status quo. In 2008 it’s

exactly what occurred

following worldwide

financial ruin; those

wielding the most

strength quickly reset the

course. No other thought

process was considered

by those with hands

on the levers of

power. But,

11 weeks

on, a similar eventuality looks increasingly unattainable as we pick through

the ruins of another global crisis. And so, it’s within our homes where the

blueprints for the world outside are being redrafted. Our imagination is

now the core material for a rebuild.

For screenwriter and children’s author FRANK COTTRELL-BOYCE,

these future-facing demands on the imagination aren’t unusual. Nor is the

requirement to stay at home and dream of the world beyond it. “I yearn

to be at home writing,” he puts it to me over the phone as we talk about

the power of imagination to construct a new world in the face

of adversity. But what does the future look like when it’s

your occupation to imagine things, to coax possibilities

in from the ether and present them as alluring

experience?

A vision of the future owes much to the

imagination and creativity. The future, in essence,

is a blank canvas: it requires collective imagination

to shape its potential and offer an attainable

realism. If there’s been any positive to this

pandemic, it’s that it has brought greater clarity

to see what works and what doesn’t. There’s

been more space to think. The

future remains a societal

playscript in its most

basic form. And this

very playscript

is currently

30


open for rewriting. There’s space for each one of us, each community, to

receive a credit.

Over the course of a career spanning three decades, Cottrell-Boyce’s

writing has served as a fitness trainer of the imagination glands, a creativity

coach for the minds who’ll be writing about the future of tomorrow. Since

lockdown was implemented, Cottrell-Boyce has continued his efforts to

tune the imaginations of the future in an entirely new role, that of teacher.

Much of his work since March has been in running online creative writing

workshops via Instagram while schools remained shut. “I angled all of

the lessons towards mental resilience,” he says. “Thinking of adventures

that can still happen when you’re in the house; secret worlds, unexpected

visitors.”

In the initial days of lockdown, a common reaction would have been

momentary stasis, creativity and artistry falling by the wayside. Flexing

the imagination didn’t yet seem to fall under the essential category. But

Cottrell-Boyce instead saw the opposite. “I think there’s a truism in the

arts and drama that in situations like this, you arrive at societal breakdown,

people eat each other and it’s all Lord Of The Flies,” he says, referring back

to the anxieties delivered by the most palpable change in the British way of

life since the second world war.

“What we actually saw was community bonds getting stronger,

celebrations of kindness, a recognition of who keeps society going, those

who really keep it ticking over,” he replies. “The

macro picture was positive even though there

were large amounts of death. The story for me

was people rising to the challenge.” It’s this

reaction which the writer says owes much to

creative thinking.

“A real bugbear of mine is talking about

creativity as though it is something artists do,”

Cottrell-Boyce continues. “I think creativity is

important across the board. It’s important to

have creative engineers. Creative people within

medicine. Above all, creative parents.”

With tangible social existence limited

by lockdown conditions, the coal fires of the

imagination undoubtedly rested heavily on the

digital sphere. But, in turn, these limitations led

to discoveries within our own homes, Cottrell-

Boyce argues. Similarly within our postcodes.

“People slept where they live, but during the lockdown, they’ve

rediscovered where they live,” he says when asked about ways to draw on

the imagination as means of expanding the contours of the present. “[A

key part of imagination] is exploring the things under your feet that you’ve

often ignored and left.”

“Life in front of you is amazing,” he adds. “That’s a very strengthening

way of looking at things. It gives you resilience. They’re the things that are

going to stop you falling apart in times like this.”

Cottrell-Boyce’s fascination with the immediate world will be one

shared by many through the stricter weeks of lockdown. With curbs on

social gatherings, roving outdoors offered the most palpable freedoms

from homes-turned-workplaces. Even the simplest walk around the

neighbourhood suddenly became exotic, like being on holiday in another

country. Senses were heightened, familiar sounds and sights presenting

themselves sharper and more vibrant.

As Cottrell-Boyce points out, training the imagination to build potential

locally is no less enriching. With globalised ideas hampered for the coming

year, it is locally where we’ll form the foundations of an adapted vision of

the future. “When you talk about imagination and creativity, we have a

huge challenge in front of us,” he says. “We have to reimagine how to live

in cities, how to do culture, how to do live performance. Everything is up for

grabs.”

“When you talk about

imagination and

creativity, we have

a huge challenge in

front of us. We have to

reimagine how to live in

cities, health, how to do

culture, how to do live

performance. Everything

is up for grabs”

“We have a great British tradition of eccentric, explosive creativity that

we often don’t count as creativity. Things like the industrial revolution,”

he continues. “We’re good at rising to these challenges. We’ve got to

reimagine everything. How to do food, community – all these things need

to be revised. And I think we are capable of doing that.”

Cottrell-Boyce has form in drawing positivity from the imagination

when the nation is in a state of upheaval. The 2012 Olympic Games

Opening Ceremony, for which he was one of the lead writers, offered a

spirited glimpse of Britishness through the ages. What’s more, it was

delivered at a time when national confidence was at its lowest. The

coalition had been in government only two years and the country was in

the stranglehold of austerity. Prior to the rare moments of sporting unity,

the ceremony brought the world’s attention on the NHS and the marvel of

its existence in a world increasingly driven by individualisation.

“As a nation, there’s a lot we can point to that’s good. There’s been a

huge amount of neighbourliness, a huge amount of good humour – many

of the things that we celebrated in 2012 are definitely still there,” Cottrell-

Boyce says when asked if he sees any parallels eight summers apart. “In

spite of a fairly sustained campaign over the last five years to sow division

and to get political power by creating binary choices and pitting one group

against another, if we were to [hypothetically] do

another ceremony this summer, I think the content

would be different, but the feel would be the

same.”

lockdown, and its creative community selfdetermination,

shouldn’t be forgotten.

“One thing that’s crystallised is looking back

and knowing we were absolutely right to put the

NHS front and centre stage,” he adds. “It is [the

NHS] that brings us together and unites us.”

For Cottrell-Boyce, prior to the Dominic

Cummings scandal – where Boris Johnson’s

disrupter-in-chief flouted lockdown rules at the

peak of the pandemic – there was a feeling of

national unity that hadn’t been apparent since

before the “referendum took place in 2016”. But

the saga, waged in tabloids and Downing Street’s

back garden, “completely broke the mood,” he

says. But he is adamant that the reality of the

“For me, walking on the beach in the morning in Crosby, built on the

rubble of the Blitz, has been a fortifying metaphor,” he says. “[Prior to

lockdown] I’d go on a big walk or run and look away from the rubble. But,

when what you’ve got in front of you is all there is, you look at it a lot more

closely.”

“Those people who were caught up in the Blitz,” he continues, “they’re

the people who built the National Health Service. They came out of that

war, that pain, saying ‘this needs to have been for something’.”

Creativity, imagination and community self-determination are the tools

to change our social make up and build a future from apparent rubble.

As Cottrell-Boyce says himself, everything is up for grabs, everything is

up for change – politics, culture, social standing, the very way we live

and connect with one another, who the systems of power are working

for. It’s up to our collective imaginations to ensure the devastation of the

past three months has been “for something”, a future worth celebrating

generations down the line. !

Words: Elliot Ryder

Illustration: Nick Daly / @nickdalyart

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