Friday, October 18, 2013

Sharmanka - where did all the Singers go?

My late grannie had a Singer sewing machine and I remember learning to sew on what I have always thought of as a truly beautiful piece of engineering: it was, however, unceremoniously dumped in the skip without a second thought sometime after my grannie's death.  Little did I know then that, although originating from America, the largest Singer factory was in Glasgow - the place I now call home - and that one day I would come to see a whole different side to the humble Singer.

I always wondered what happens to discarded Singers, carelessly abandoned, wistfully forgotten; recently I found out - they find a home at the Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre @ Trongate 103!

"What has been is what will be,
 and what has been done is what will be done 
and there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1: 9 (NIV)

The Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, featuring the work of Eduard Bersudsky, is a hidden gem of a place.  Not knowing what to expect, I took D on our "date night".  The lights went down, the dream-like scene was theatrically lit and there in front of me were the "Wheels of Life", the "Tower of Babel" and "The Clock of Life".  I sat in awe as the music started far back in the corner, coming from a little (hidden to my eyes) barrel organ, hurdy gurdy or Sharmanka.  I now know that this was rather apt as in Russia the Sharmanka is associated with the repeating circle of life - as sure as the sun will rise, it will set; the sun was rising on this feast for the eyes, ears and soul and I was mesmerised from start to finish. 

I can not go into detail for there was too much going on to see everything: the kinemats would come to life and something would catch my eye for a moment or two before I would be distracted; then I would flit to some other turning, moving, chiming object; and then become absorbed in the music of a Russian Troika or a piece composed by Brian Irvine.

The show was mesmerising and magical and eccentric but equally so - if not more so perhaps - weird, grotesque, haunting, kooky and even kinky, too.  It has to be experienced to be, well experienced!  Trust me... and get yourself a ticket...

So where did all the Singers go?  They were incorporated in to the mechanics of these amazing - and alive - pieces of art and engineering.  I have never seen such a choir of Singers under one roof and I will remember - always - my grannie's Singer in a new and very different light.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Fiddler's Lament

A funeral: blue skies, green hills and autumnal trees.  A small church at the heart of a thriving and connected community; a community mourning a loved one and friend.  Fiddle music echoed mournful laments to a woman I respected and liked.  A sad goodbye, but it was time, it was time.  I knew no one bar the woman lying peacefully - at last - in the coffin, her beautiful daughter sitting nearby and the nurse to my left who had cared for her.

I was once asked by a chaplain, "what makes a person more than just a patient?".  I form a relationship with all my patients, underpinned by empathy and compassionate care, often with unbidden acts of kindness too.  On occasion there is a shared kindredness and they see all that I am and the many hats that I wear.  We give to each other and, over time a mutually beneficial relationship forms: that is when a person becomes more than just a patient and I become more than just a doctor.

This woman was more than just a person, more than just a patient, and I was more than just a doctor.