The historical residents of 62 Falkner Street have become unlikely TV stars at the start of this year, as part of the BBC’s fascinating show A House Through Time. The picture built up from their many personal stories is of fairly standard family and working lives in constant flux, living as they did through a period of seismic social change (from the 1840 onwards). This one terraced house shows us that all of our homes contain so many stories, from which a whole history can be extrapolated.
“Houses live longer than people and the harsh fact is that we are just passing through,” says David Olusoga – the historian and former University of Liverpool student who hosts the show – in a recent article for The Guardian. “Our homes, the most acutely personal places in our lives, come to us second hand, and invisibly link us to people we have never met, people to whom we have no association other than a single shared connection to place.”
I often get the impression that similar feelings of synchronicity are at play when we’re putting together a new issue of the magazine. Echoes from the past mingle with the thoughts of those in the present, whose perspective is to look to what future they can build. Sometimes I think the real picture can only be glimpsed by holding all of these stories in your head at the same time, and looking for the combined meaning where they all overlap. A bit like one of those Magic Eye, 3D-within-2D pictures that were all the rage in the 90s. The fascinating thing for me is that this underlying picture doesn’t become visible until right at the last minute when all the pieces are in place – and it’s very satisfying when it appears.
The tricky thing about this convergence of ideas is that it’s a situation that’s difficult to chase, it just has to happen naturally. Our feature story on Club Corinto in this issue came about when I was approached by a friend and former DJ at the club, and when he started telling me the story I could feel the barrels of the lock slipping in to place. I’ve always been fascinated by the Hardman House Hotel building, where the club was situated, but I never really knew why. Despite never having been inside, or even been aware of it being open in my lifetime, I harboured a dream of buying it if I won the Lottery and opening a music venue there. Little did I know that it was the place that Africa Oyé sprang from 25 years ago. Whether it was the history of the place speaking to me on a fundamental level, or just plain coincidence, that building just connected with me. I have a similar feeling about the old Irish Centre at the top of Mount Pleasant, which I have vague memories of going inside with my Dad many years ago when he was playing in one of his bands. That memory still feels impressive to me now, as though the weight of the building’s history, or what the people there invested in it, was seeping in to me.
Our walls are witnesses: there is so much information around us just waiting to be discovered, and so much energy to tap into. I recently picked a gem of a book from the shelf called 111 Places In Liverpool That You Shouldn’t Miss. It features a number of places that a lot of us will be familiar with, but is also a trove of information. For instance, did you know that the American Civil War officially ended on 6th November 1865 when the Confederate ship Shenandoah lowered its flag while docked in the Mersey, seven months after the Confederate surrender? Or, that the Eros statue in Sefton Park actually depicts Anteros, Eros’ twin who represented returned love in Greek myth? How about the row of decorated houses on Duke Street that make up the Opera For Chinatown artwork? Not only do the images, photographs and information plaques provide a snapshot of the forgotten histories of Liverpool’s longstanding Chinese community – The Blue Funnel Line and the Ingrid Bergman movie The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness – but behind those doors there are countless more stories that could be the key to thousands more memories.
There are loads of rabbit holes to lose yourself in, webs of fact and myth and speculation in which the essence of a location are bound up. Specific places can often be the catalyst for journeys of discovery in to these untapped worlds, where a tangential line of investigation will reveal a connection that brings everything neatly and satisfyingly back to the starting point.
Our relationship with the past is something that we’ve always been very aware of at Bido Lito! as it can be a tricky course to navigate. Certain chapters in this region’s history loom large over us, especially when it comes to music and culture – we’ve never wanted to be dismissive of the past, but we also believe that it’s important that we’re not weighed down by it. It’s only worth having a fascination with history if we’re willing to make use of it in the present. Accumulating bits of trivia can be fun and give you mental exercise, but it kind of misses the point if the romance of nostalgia gets in the way of us affecting the here and now. In many ways, the changes our society is making now are removing us from the context of our personal and collective histories at a greater rate than ever before. Resistance to change often comes about when the pace of the change makes us feel uncomfortable – which is why we constantly need to be challenged to look beyond our own boundaries.
2018 holds a lot of opportunity for us, both in our wider society in plotting a course towards greater equality, and closer to home: this year marks the 10-year anniversary of Liverpool’s Capital Of Culture, but also finds us on the cusp of great change within the creative makeup of the city. It is with that in mind that we’re delighted to welcome two new members to our Editorial team: Daisy Scott and Sophie Shields will be heading up our new Bido Lito! Student Society, and will be helping us to guide the conversations we have towards the challenges facing our next generation of doctors, teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, shop owners, designers, MPs and gig goers. No-one ever got anywhere by standing still – the first step starts here.