Illustration: Mr Marbles / @mrmarblesart

How many times can you rip up an idea and start again before you lose sight of what you’re trying to create? Torn, frayed, dripping with hopeful adhesive, this was the final resting state of 2020.

In Liverpool, unlike the majority of the country, there was a surrealness in the societal door being partially wedged open throughout December. It offered some respite in an otherwise draining year.

You could see a refracted vision of Liverpool as the city it was just 12 months prior. But the creases, frays and patch work repairs were still visible. Too many shutters remained hunkered to the ground, like the blown bulbs in once trusty Christmas lights. There was the odd rattle of live music played to the lucky few. Art on gallery walls could only present itself to single households spaced in safe twos and threes. But most telling of all, people were kept apart.

Christmas is often the time of year where the venn diagram of our lives condense to form tight circles looping together. This year they were pulled in the other direction, awkwardly oscillating around one another like cold particles. 2020’s festive period was equal to a shop window Christmas display; our faces pressed up the glass as close as possible – just out of reach of the warm hues inside.

Having weathered Tier 3 in the autumn, a new national lockdown, seeing monthly calendars torn up to be started again, the vision of Liverpool as a destination city was just about clinging on in December. Shoots of hope appeared with arriving vaccines. Everything was pieced back together as best as it could to reflect our established ideals.

And yet seeing the city partially awake was perhaps more bewildering than the excruciating months of seeing it empty and lifeless – the financial devastation racking up day by day. The city centre appeared Twin Peaks-like through December, twinkling and picturesque, an off-kilter unease spectrally whispering through the air. Sleep interrupted nights at home, seeing the national picture unravel, felt more Black Lodge than cosy Christmas postcard. And then the inevitable happened. Tier 3, lockdown, and now a city region bearing one of the highest caseloads per 100,000 across the country.

"Were this to be the last of the lockdowns, just how many pieces should our plans and ideas be torn into before another reassembly?"

Rip it up and start again. It’s a process we’re getting pretty good at, not just here at Bido Lito!. Once again we’re being asked to start the year anew. Only this time the aphorism of annual renewal takes on an added sense of importance. Were this to be the last of the lockdowns, just how many pieces should our plans and ideas be torn into before another reassembly? Only the coming months will provide the full answer.

There’s been a core feeling of hope that’s typified Bido Lito!’s output for the last 10 months. That hasn’t diminished, even with the setbacks in the new year. Our calendar for the next four months is therefore being halved and stitched down the middle. Rather than migrate online again, we’ll be producing two double issues covering, firstly, February and March with issue 112, and then April and May with issue 113.

It was our intention to return to an uninterrupted print schedule in 2021, but the logistical and financial difficulties of national lockdown are too constricting. Being sure that we can ride out the coming months and make it to spring, financially, while not compromising on our editorial coverage, is more important than ever. So, amending our schedule again is a necessary trade-off for now.

Where 2020’s setbacks posed the question of ripping up, starting again, I’m convincing myself that 2021 will have more tactile relationship with calendars and clocks. One of the dominant side effects of lockdown is its impact on my sleep. At the best of times I struggle to be asleep at a reasonable time, but more consistently in lockdown I’m always punching hopeful numbers into the alarm clock as my head tries and fails to fall deep into the pillow. Come morning I accept defeat, swatting at the snooze, pushing the times back another hour maybe two. It’s a feeling that seems to capture where we are now in another state of lockdown, grasping for more respite.

Where 2020 left scorch marks of burnout, I think it’s important to accept the grip of the momentary situation we’re in. Instead of tearing up, starting again, perhaps we can find some solace in rolling the hours along, taking one last deep breath and getting our heads down for now. Come the end of these weeks of structured restoration, we’ll be better placed to embrace Liverpool’s full cultural offer, the intricacies and wonderment of its social landscape – something we’ve been separated from for far too long.


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