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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Escaping the city

Updated: May 20, 2022

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

I love this time of year. I think most people do. There's a beautiful moment when the idea of wearing shorts is a genuine reality for the first time in the year and wearing a shirt without a jumper for the bike ride to Bridgeside Lodge will suffice. As I pedalled over Blackfriars Bridge in the early spring warmth, I looked forward to seeing JC and floating the idea of a road trip to him.

The idea of JC travelling to the South Coast had been on people's lips for a few weeks now after I'd shared news that John's guitar videos had reached semi-viral status with my friend Mark and his colleagues who work in the medical profession in Poole, Dorset. Last week JC had been unwell and understandably not fussed about playing guitar or chatting, preferring to rest instead. However, this week, with the rays of sun illuminating his room, I found him in great spirits and apparently fully recovered from his cold. I began to tell him how much joy his videos were bringing to Mark and about our idea of taking him on a road trip. You can watch his reaction in this video... (apologies that the audio / video are slightly out of sync)

We followed this up with a long and winding improvised song about escaping the city, breathing in the fresh salty air, driving really fast with our friends all aboard etc.... It was a long tune and JC was putting his all into the strumming, getting a real work out, to the point where some post-cold fatigue kicked in and he chirped up with 'right, I think I'll watch Eastenders now'. Agreed. Off I went.

I bumped into Zeeta who last week had promised to bring in the 'Auto Harp' she was planning to donate to the residents. She'd remembered and after navigating some faulty lifts and the care of her sister, she rushed back with a bag. I showed the instrument to DW who was having his tea and explained the instrument to the carers who were really interested. Unfortunately, it was wildly out of tune, so after my long explanation had finished, the resulting noise that filled the air was not really what you would describe as music, far from it. Luckily, in the bag was a tuning implement, so next time I'm there doing my lateral flow test, I'll be tuning it up with the hope of some angelic sounds.

I spent a while with DW, IF and a new carer from Colombia who was staring at my guitar, she mentioned that she was taking lessons but didn't fancy showing me her progress. The music I played for IF was deemed close enough to being Scottish for her to accept and she sat serenely, enjoying our company, occasionally tastefully crowbarring a Scottish poem into whatever I was playing. As I began to wrap things up, I noticed JG from the third floor walking in my direction. She seemed to take a strong shine to me and proceeded to follow me closely wherever I went until a carer explained that I was leaving to go downstairs.

Unfortunately AS wasn't available today, I was hoping to show her photos from my recent trip to Spain. I'll try again next time. When I turned the corner towards to dining area I was met with a loud and vocal kerfuffle with the two principle protagonists being ML and JS. Calmly sat in the middle of all that, in the eye of the storm, was GH with a smattering of amusement sprinkled over his face. In one particular crescendo, JS turned to me, pointed and shouted 'WOW! LOOK AT THAT GUY, HE'S HUGE!!!”, I nodded, it's true, I am huge. I tried to help calm ML down with some music but there was so much commotion and she was so worked up that the music couldn't permeate on this occasion. I sat with GH in the eye of the storm, learning a lesson of how to be tranquil when everything around is the opposite. We sang a few songs together and after a while he leaned over to me and said 'are you finished? …. Yes...... 'well, thank you'.

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