All the lonely people
by Rebecka Colldunberg
When I was fifteen, I went through the obligatory Beatles phase.
I bought bell-bottoms. I invested in a lava lamp. I developed an opinion on the Vietnam War. I spent my nights gazing at my poster of the four Liverpool boys as I bathed in their music. Their lyrics told of men who claimed to be walruses living in a yellow submarine, who court a woman called Lucy because all they need is love—all dedicated to some fellow called Jude. Oh-bla-dee, oh-bla-da. I didn’t really get it all, but as a child of the 80s I tried pretty hard!
Ten (and a bit) years later I have dumped that obsession and caught up with my peers. But one Beatles song still occasionally runs through my head: Eleanor Rigby. The lyrics tell of a woman who is completely alone in life. The chorus sighs, ‘Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?’ The song finishes with the death of Eleanor. No-one attends her funeral, and the song ends on a cynical note, lamenting that no-one ever saved Eleanor from her loneliness.
It is a heart-wrenching song. I think of it often because, tragically, I see it often: people who somehow get lost down the cracks of our society and who are forgotten. Where do they come from? Where do they all belong?
In 1993 one man pondering these questions was Bob Lally, from Immanuel Lutheran Church, Gawler, in South Australia. He was tired of seeing ‘all the lonely people’ and decided to do something about it. He called an urgent meeting with a troop of women from his