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Black Books

Musicians: Ben Hazleton (double bass) Preetha Narayanan (violin)

Guitarist Nat Keen recently spent time with resident D, learning about his career, early retirement and love of music. On Thursday, Ben and Preetha continued this, learning more about D's amazing life.

D has a number of books in his room, his "black books" as he calls them. They are full of photos, tickets, letters and all manner of memories and reminiscences. Due to his condition, D struggles to turn the pages of these books, so Preetha obliged while Ben provided a low-frequency underscore on his bass and D regaled them with stories. He expressed a concern about Ben and Preetha's time, not wanting to hold them up from visiting other people. "no rush" replied Ben.

We're lucky to be able to visit Bridgeside Lodge so frequently. It allows us to concentrate on the quality of time we spend with residents, rather than feeling a need to hurry round and visit as many people as possible in our two-hour sessions. It was clear that D had a lot to talk about and wanted to feel heard.

He talked about the part he played in the campaign to free Nelson Mandela and about his many visits to Russia in the 1980s. He talked about his involvement with the Helen Bamber Foundation, helping survivors of torture and trafficking.

He showed the musicians photographs of his wife's art and sculptures and an invitation to an auspicious event in London from the Russian Ambassador.

You can hear some of their conversation in the video below.

Music is of course the driving force behind our work, we also recognise the need to listen. The needs of residents vary, and today what D needed was an interested and sympathetic ear to share his stories with.

He told us that he loves chatting to us because "I can talk about Fela Kuti and Charlie Parker and you guys know what I'm talking about".

After they had made their way through his book, Preetha and Ben played for D, which you can see in the video below.

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