Eleanor Rigby

Statue of Eleanor Rigby by Tommy Steele on Stanley Street, Liverpool. “Dedicated to All the Lonely People” (Image: Wikipedia)

‘Ah, look at all the lonely people…’

The Beatles sung happy, predictable songs about love until 1966; then yellow submarines, cartoon characters… and Eleanor Rigby, their first serious song…

It still resonates today. Vaccine programmes, excellent projects addressing hunger and homelessness provide for physical needs. But isolation, Christmas, hospitals, care homes… ’Look at all the lonely people’.  

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been;
Lives in a dream.
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door.
Who is it for?

Lonely Eleanor Rigby finds no hope in church; she has no-one to look good for. The living, loving world, of weddings and dreams lives the other side of her window.

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear;
No one comes near.
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there.
What does he care?

Lonely Father McKenzie’s life consists of unheard sermons and darned socks. His position and faith doesn’t bring meaning or purpose.  No-one shares his life, thoughts or church.

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name;
Nobody came.
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.
No one was saved
.’

Eleanor Rigby dies unnoticed, buried in the church where she saw but didn’t experience love. Father McKenzie wipes his hands of her, caught up in his own failure and loneliness.

When in ‘survival mode’, I protect my nearest and dearest; I lose sight of my ‘Eleanor Rigby’, who lives alone, or my ‘Father McKenzie’, whose beliefs aren’t enough. ‘Looking at all the lonely people’ is not enough; I must take responsibility for ‘where they all belong’…

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

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