Going by my rough estimations, there were definitely a few more people out on the streets for Liverpool FC’s Champions League victory parade than were out in Birkenhead for Tranmere Rovers’s League Two Play-Off victory celebrations six days prior. Just a handful fewer, I’d say, maybe the odd half a million or so… I was there in Hamilton Square for Tranmere’s civic reception, and though we didn’t have quite the pomp of Liverpool – nor the glitter cannons, the multiple buses of millionaire superstars, the pyro or quite as extensive an arsenal of annoying chants (Zoum Bakayogo’s rendition of “Oh Birkenhead!” aside) – we still enjoyed it for what it was. It may have been quaint, but it was ours.
I watched the Liverpool FC parade on the endless scroll of news updated and Instagram posts – I even heard the fireworks on The Strand from the other side of the river. Perhaps I was still on Cloud Nine following Tranmere’s back-to-back promotions, but I felt a similar kind of warmth from watching these celebrations taking place across the city. As a football fan, it’s hard not to feel a bit envious when watching these things, wishing it was you and your team; but I actually felt weirdly proud from the city’s point of view. Here was a team at one with the place it was representing, the players and fans feeding off each other, and bringing out all that is good about Scouse exceptionalism (NB – if you haven’t read Laura Brown’s excellent The Problem With Scouse Exceptionalism article on Liverpool Long Reads yet, do so; it’s excellent). Here, also, was the world’s media with their eyes trained on the city; and huge numbers of visitors basking in the positivity.
Now, this strain of Liverpool culture is one that’s easy to package up and sell around the world. Indeed, it’s done very well by LFC, so much so that they can command such a global audience. But it’s far from the only form of culture the city has, and my mind started to wonder about the visitors and well wishers present at the parade, and how much they knew about the city’s many different strands of culture. Did they visit Homebaked when they made their pilgrimage to Anfield, or stop by Kitty’s Launderette to look in on the workshops? Did they stop by Squash for a cuppa, pick up some souvenirs at the Granby Street Market or swing by Output gallery to see work by local artists? How, indeed, can you grasp the multitude of conversations and ideas that make a place what it is, even if you’re just passing through?
I’m pretty sure that I already knew the answer to this question – but it was upon reading Emma Warren’s brilliant book Make Some Space that the answer became crystallised. We document what happens – the small and the big, the glitzy and the decidedly un-trendy – so that we can piece together a much richer story. We give a voice to those movements and people that might not always have their voice heard over the tumult. We bring together what happens on the streets, in the minds of the doers and behind closed doors, laying down the stories and myths of the future – the things that don’t make it so readily into Twitter streams or onto newspaper front pages. Documenting your culture is a way of preserving it, making it real. That’s why our monthly cycle of Bido Lito! feels so important: because there are so many stories to keep telling, such a rich tapestry of life contributing to our society, that we need a repository for them that can be accessed by anyone who wants to know more about the living culture that surrounds us.