Monday, August 25, 2014

Filming the Mail Porter

A familiar sight as you come into the Hospital is mail being sorted behind the reception desk. The porter, John, then circulates the Hospital at high speed (he gets fit by hill-walking and marathon-running too!), delivering and collecting mail as he goes. His job, perhaps more than anyone else's demands a thorough knowledge of the maze-like site, its linking passages and quirky corners. Having shadowed him on his rounds, I wrote a poem about his journey, using the rhythms of WH Auden's 'Night Mail'. 

Instead of starting with: 
This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.

my poem begins:
This is the mail carried by the porter
bringing get well cards to son and daughter
letters for a doctor, letters for a nurse
letters that are long, letters that are terse.

Auden's poem was written for the film ‘Night Mail’ (1936), and so we decided we should make one ourselves! The purpose is to help create a celebration of the current Hospital site in a creative way, capturing something of the character just before it moves to a contemporary purpose-built site in 2017.
He leaves a pile, collects a pile, goes on his way,
bag dangling by his knees, gathering weight.                                       
Like a black-cab driver or a blinkered horse
distractions and chat cannot turn his course.
His route’s set in stone through secret doors,
banisters that coil between Victorian wards.

Earlier this month, film-maker Sandie Jamieson began filming and taking audio recordings. We're very excited that as she starts to put the footage together, we have Derek Williams to compose and record a score for it and a wonderful reader for the poem with a highly distinctive Edinburgh voice!

See more here

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