• Nathaniel Keen

As constant as a northern star

Updated: Jan 18

Musicians: Kat Eaton (vocals) Nat Keen (guitar)

Today was the debut for a new musical combination, myself and the talented singer/rain stick shaker Kat Eaton. We'd met for the first time at Monday's Spitz meeting and looked forward to meeting musically today. After our lateral flow tests we headed up to the office in search of the travel suitcase full of miscellaneous percussion instruments. Kat settled on a rain stick (an oblong wooden instrument that when held vertically is meant to sound like a violent downpour on the Serengeti). Unfortunately this particular rain stick sounded like a couple of hailstones bouncing down a wooden staircase in Slough, however when used as a shaker it sounded brilliant.

Kat employed the rain shaker on our first visit of the day which was to the king of the blues JC on the top floor. I'd given Kat a heads-up not to mention politics but as soon as we entered the room it was “that Boris Johnson! Wass ‘ee gone an done nah’!?” It was a fair point which we incorporated into a driving rock tirade a bit later on. Before that though we warmed up with an all-time favourite of JC's 'No Particular Place To Go'. Kat launched into the song whilst keeping time with the shaker and JC shifted his focus onto some rip-roaring guitar work occasionally peeking up and grinning at the newest member of the band.

We saw LY next who was in a particularly talkative mood and movingly talked of his fond childhood memories of assimilating into the British culture of his New Zealand primary school through learning folk music. He explained that being from China had led him and other foreign children to feel apart from the dominant culture, however unlike the other children he found that through consciously learning British songs and customs he felt integrated and welcomed into this new world and therefore associated these songs with warm, comforting nostalgia. The 3 of us sang as many as he could remember and in the end, we had to drag ourselves away as I felt bad that his lunch was sitting on the side getting cold. As we left, he said;

'Thank you for coming. Singing these songs takes

me back to my childhood and I feel very happy'

Next we found ourselves in the kitchen and approached GH who was about to tuck into a steaming custard pie. I'd been proudly telling Kat that 'this guy knows ALL the Beatles songs' and right on cue he requested 'Yesterday' and 'Hey Jude'. Personally, I've become accustomed to GH's confident musical explosions but Kat (being new) got a nice surprise when he suddenly switched from his reflective and distant demeanour into that of a confidently carefree crooner complete with a booming baritone. Some newish staff members also seemed surprised by GH's singing and promptly gathered around clapping and yelping with encouragement 'Go G!, well done G!' One of the smiling staff members suggested that we visit JB who was apparently not very verbal but loved music. We took her advice and although her words were limited, we found that JB would thank us after each song and we both agreed that she was also dancing at times with her left arm.

Towards the end of the day we visited AS, she loved hearing my stories of travelling around her homeland on my recent trip to Spain. I apologised for STILL not having learnt a flamenco song to play her.....(it's a very difficult style) but me and Kat busked ‘Bambaleo' which seemed to go down well.

We finished our day by dropping in to see JG and played her some Joni Mitchell who she wasn't familiar with. It was beautiful to watch her transfixed by Kat's singing and also paying close attention to Joni's masterful and emotive lyrics. As we played "Case Of You" from Joni's 'Blue' album, JG said she was interested in the lyric "I would still be on my feet".

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