A Hospital on the Move: Leaving Sciennes 2017 - a film to package some of the memories

Illustration by Cate James


Two years ago, and exactly two years into the residency, we transformed a poem I'd written about the journey the Mail Porter takes around the Sciennes site into a film with narration by Alexander McCall Smith (and a nod to WH Auden and the film 'Night Mail' of 1936). It is now available to view

The Director is Sandie Jamieson and graphics, as above, are by our own Cate James. It stars John Fraser - a familiar sight to many visitors to the Hospital, stepping out with his bag and arms bundled with envelopes. Additional roles were played by many from the Hospital community and of course Cathy Leckie behind reception where the sorting takes place. I wrote about the filming process whilst it was underway here.
Photo by Sandie Jamieson
With Alexander McCall Smith,
who narrates the Mail Porter poem on the film
Photo by Sandie Jamieson
It was the right stage of the residency for this project as we had been collecting memories and impressions of the Hospital since the beginning; an important part of our brief was to capture the character and help transfer it to the new building. 

the humble 'fortune-teller'
When I first  started, I felt immediately the great affection that warmed the place and rang laughter around its corners and corridors. It was tangibly a shared community of caring. I wandered around with a paper ‘fortune-teller’ (pictured) which I'd made, asking people daft questions like: 'if the hospital was an animal, what would it be?'. Some of the answers are posted here.

Later, Cate and I asked a cross-section of staff to complete a questionnaire about the things they would remember. They told us they would miss things like: 'those who do not follow on to the new hospital', 'the proximity to the Meadows and surrounding area', and 'people acknowledging you in the corridor'.

This material we collected has been compressed into the poem and into the film, with its circuitous journey around the current site, and the voices of staff and families. We hope that when the hospital moves next year, the Mail Porter film will help to evoke the many warm memories of this characterful and much-loved place.

A leaflet with the printed poem is available from the Friends Foundation. Please call 0131 668 4949.

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