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  • Thom Rowlands & Nat Keen

Anchors away!

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Morning musicians: Alice Zawadzki (violin & vocals) Ben Hazleton (double bass)

On Friday 1st October, the lovely folks at Hidden Depths Canal Cruises took residents of Bridgeside Lodge on a cruise along the Regents Canal. Activities co-ordinator Yvette suggested a musical accompaniment to the journey so Alice Zawadzki and Ben Hazleton found their sea legs and jumped aboard "Freda" with violin and double bass. We were pleasantly surprised to see resident DB climbing aboard, as well as JS and his wife who was visiting.

Anchors away! We passed through the City Road Lock and along the canal, through the Islington Tunnel (which passes under Upper Street) The tunnel is 875m long and creates an amazing reverb! As we entered the tunnel Alice's voice was suddenly amplified, bouncing off the curved stone walls of the tunnel.

We travelled as far as St Pancras Lock near Kings Cross, where we performed a quick three-point turn and headed back to Bridgeside Lodge. As we went through the Islington Tunnel for the second time, Spitz GM Thom asked if anyone could think of any songs about tunnels. Alice immediately began to improvise and created "Tunnel Vision" which had residents and carers clapping their hands and stamping their feet as we burst out in to the afternoon sunshine.

As we manoeuvred out way back to Bridgeside Lodge we saw musicians Pete Lee and Nat Keen in the garden, preparing for their afternoon session. Their friendly waves welcomed us back to shore and linked our morning and afternoon events!

A huge thank you to Emma, Denise and Rory at Hidden Depths Canal Cruises for a really fun afternoon with residents and staff of Bridgeside Lodge. As the water rat said to the mole:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing,

half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”


Afternoon musicians: Nat Keen (guitar & vocals) Pete Lee (piano)

Entering the reception of Bridgeside Lodge each week we will often pass resident LG sitting alone in the corridor with her glass of juice. Alice had previously mentioned how music has a profoundly transformative effect with LG's mood and so today Pete Lee and I played her one of her all time favourites. 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' conjures up an other-worldly, dreamy quality that seems to transport us to a place of nostalgia and reflection. It was visibly clear that LG was connecting with the song, her normally glazed eyes now appeared present and bright as we played. At the end of the piece we asked her whether she'd enjoyed it, she replied 'yes, I really did' and smiled.

We played for Ms JC next, her first question was 'shall we invite my neighbour to join us?' her neighbour JG was fast asleep however, so we didn't disturb. Pete had not met JG before and I filled him in on her glamorous life of concerts at the London Palladium;

'She's seen EVERYONE! Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald,

Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, you name it'

(JC was proudly grinning in the background). We played three jazz ballads which we felt would be enjoyable for JC given her deep love of crooners from that period. As we played we noticed a familiar face at the door way, it wasn't a sleepwalking JG but in fact our very own Alice, who was on her way home from the canal voyage and had been drawn to our award-winning vocal performance. To JC's delight she sang with us from the doorway and we experimented with impromptu 3-part harmony versions of songs.

In the first floor kitchen we found a particularly positive looking FS in his wheelchair. We asked him if he had any special songs that he'd like to hear and he indicated 'Hey Jude' by the Beatles. After our rendition was over he gave us a huge smile and said 'thank you, my favourite song!' In the same kitchen we had ML, SW, HF and JS who appeared forlorn and down until he became immersed in the music and temporarily forgot his troubles. I was also pleased to see DB who I was keen to make comfortable. Knowing that he feels uneasy socialising or in confined spaces, I continued to play music without engaging directly in conversation, hoping that without this pressure he would feel free to come and go and listen in his own time.

We concluded with a pilgrimage to the blues club (Mr JC's room on the top floor). He was in fine form, much of his energetic life force appearing to be driven by his frustration at the current political landscape. We switched off Bargain Hunt on his tv and jumped into a driving rock classic about his dislike of our political leaders.

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