Updated: Sep 20
Musicians: Marcus Bonfanti (guitar, vocals) Izo Fitzroy (vocals) Ben Hazleton (double bass)
Northwick Park Hospital
One of the trickiest parts of any Spitz session is leaving it. The fun that is had, the deep connections made and the quality of the music and the musicianship makes tearing oneself away a real drag. Not just for the patients or residents being left behind, but also for the departing musicians. Part of our mission statement is about relieving isolation with the power of live music. Therefore by definition, as soon as the session ends, isolation begins to return (that said, we certainly find that a warm afterglow persists long after the final song, for days sometimes).
With this is mind, it's always great when we can say "see you tomorrow" or "see you again next week". As Marcus Bonfanti and Izo Fitzroy hit the final notes of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car at the end of their session on Friday 28th July, it was with a smile that Marcus could say (over the combined cheers and boos!) "See you on Monday!"
Towards the end of the video, you'll see a woman pop out of the ward bay and dance with a member of staff. Earlier in the session she had been crying and holding her dad's hand as he lay in bed, thanking Marcus and Izo for singing for her father who loves music. The moment of release, brought on by just a few moments dancing with a fellow human was palpable. The support that Spitz sessions provide is indeed wide-ranging and finds its place in the complexities of life.
Earlier in the session we were joined by Dr Bonnie, camera in hand, who asked if he could take some pictures of the musicians...
1) Izo Fitzroy, Marcus Bonfanti and (Spitz GM) Thom Rowlands.
2) Northwick Park Hospital activities coordinator Rhoda Yevugah.
In the last photo you'll see Izo and Marcus looking at Izo's phone. Our musicians have HUGE repertoires but the breadth of requests they receive means they'll often need to look up a chord chart or some lyrics. This often leads to patients/residents teaching songs to us!
Grief impacts us all differently. As does the worry and anxiety we feel when a loved one is ill. In Bay C of Fletcher Ward we met two sisters who were visiting their dad. Just as one of them returned to bay after stepping out to take a phone call, Marcus asked if anyone had any requests. She immediately called out "How About Staying Alive!?". This type of gallows humour might sometimes seem inappropriate, but we all had a chuckle as she apologised "Oh no is that awful of me?" We all agreed that it was good advice and then enjoyed Izo doing her best to navigate the Bee Gees ludicrous falsetto. We didn't manage to catch that on film but here's their rendition of The Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want.
The benefits of bookending the weekend in this way were clear to see when we arrived at noon on Monday 31st to smiling faces. "YOU'RE BACK!?" This time Marcus was joined by bassist Ben Hazleton as we visited Hardy Ward and also returned to Fielding Ward after playing there on Friday.
Greeting him like an old friend, a patient asked if he knew Que Sera Sera (made famous by Doris Day). Whether he knew the lyrics or not was irrelevant, as our friend in bed 5 knew every single word and sung with gusto as Marcus negotiated his way through the chords.
After this initial success, a new challenge. "Any ABBA!?" Another duet then...
Towards the end of our session, another invitation for song requests was issued. A patient piped up (possibly with a hint of smarty-pants-ism) "I'd like to hear a Bach cello sonata". Clearly he doesn't know the versatility of Ben Hazleton.
Ben drew his bow and treated us to a baroque recital to round off two hours of jazz, blues and ballads in perfect style.