Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Sisters of Mercy



The reason the senior nurse on my ward is called 'sister' is because hospitals were first opened in convents and priories. St Bartholomew's Hospital is no exception as you can discover if you watch this short film. Situated between St Paul's Cathedral and Smithfield's meat market, the area has been a place of butchery and healing for hundreds of years. The Scottish rebel, William Wallace, was hung drawn and quartered here – just a gentle reminder of how cruel things can get with our rulers. I live behind the Holloway Road, a few miles north of here. Why Holloway? The cattle drovers arriving in London on the way from the North to Smithfield came along that road. It would get clogged up with animal shit and had to be hollowed out from time to time. End of history lesson. Watch the film and here is Leonard Cohen with 'Sisters of Mercy'. A great singer and poet.

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.

Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned:
When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.
They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.
If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.
Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.
And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:
We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,
We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

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