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Can I have your autograph?

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Musicians: Louise Messenger (vocals) Harry Diplock (guitar)

We first visited Riverview Lodge Care Home in December 2021 and were pleased to return on Friday 28th January. Vocalist Louise Messenger was joined by gypsy-jazz specialist, guitarist Harry Diplock who was making his Spitz debut.

We began the session in the first floor lounge. Louise and Harry's opening bars were interrupted by a resident who insisted that no-one wanted any music. He told us that everyone had work to do and music would be disturbing and that we had to leave.

It's not unheard of for us to encounter residents who aren't especially welcoming. Perhaps they object to strangers entering their personal space, it is their home after all. Or maybe they really genuinely don't like music. It's very hard to say for sure. Our experience is usually that if we're able to get through a few tunes, residents tend to 'soften' and become more amenable. Today was not such an occasion. Our saboteur was very committed to his cause, to the extent of trying to unplug Harry's amplifier. We accepted defeat and made our way downstairs.

On the ground floor, the welcome was much warmer. We saw many familiar faces from our last visit, smiling and even applauding as we arrived. Resident R was sitting in her arm chair beaming at Louise and asked her to sign the poster we'd sent on ahead earlier that week.

This felt like a bit of fun at the time, but also shows the high regard in which our musicians are held. The residents knew that they were in for a good time and that a bit of sunshine was being brought to their day.

We often talk about the magic of music, of its ability to reach people when not much else can. Witnessing this can be overwhelming and beautiful, but we must also be prepared for the times when the magic doesn't visibly land. A resident who had really loved the music last time we visited had deteriorated somewhat in the weeks since our December visit. Hopefully some of her favourites, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, managed to reach her, although it was not immediately apparent if this was the case.

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