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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Front row seats

Updated: Sep 7, 2021

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar) Graham Hughes (double bass)

Imagine being handed complementary front row tickets for a special gala concert at the London Palladium in 1957 or in the same year, dressing up in your finest garms and taking in a symphony at the Royal Albert Hall. Today, in our unique Bridgeside Lodge way, we turned back the clocks and created our very own impromptu concert, channelling the vivid memories of JC and JG.

Graham presented his bespoke and specially composed sea shanty to JG. I wasn't entirely convinced that she was onboard with the chirpy, optimistic sentiment and with her characteristic agency and directness told us as much. She has often expressed her preference for more subdued, reflective music so we gently steered the ship starboard towards more familiar waters and played 'The Water Is Wide'.

"The water is wide, I can't cross o'er And neither I have wings to fly Give me a boat, carry two And both shall row My love and I

Love is gentle, love is kind The sweetest flower when first it's new But love grows old and waxes cold And fades away like morning dew"

As we left JG's room we were met by a new face and introduced ourselves to JG's new next door neighbour, resident JC. She greeted us with a warm smile and conveyed that she'd been listening from next door and came to investigate. We let her know about the Spitz and what we're all about, then offered to play for her. From the corner of my eye I could see JG coming to join in the conversation and within a few minutes JC was hosting us all in her room.

JC had lived in her own 'beautiful' flat around Marble Arch in the 50's and with pride she launched into her fond memories of going to the London Palladium to watch 'all of the stars' perform. Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Judy Garland to name but a few. Her sister used to work in a travel agency and had a ready supply of complementary tickets that she rightfully took advantage of. The vivid memories of exciting nights out in post-war London were sparkling in her eyes as she recounted them, the rest of us (JG included) sat there entirely captivated. For JG, who loves a story, it mirrored a parallel London life as she would have also been enjoying concerts in those years but across town in the altogether more regal setting of the Royal Albert Hall.

By this stage JC had offered JG a spot next to her on the bed where it was much more comfortable and Graham and I attempted to step up to the plate and entertain the ladies (to a fraction of the level of the stars we'd heard about). We played 'Hello Dolly' and then, during 'Fly Me To The Moon' a new face emerged, resident DW. He was wheeled into the room by his enthusiastic carer and gently said 'I love jazz and folk music'...Suddenly it felt like we were in some special, invite only jazz club with all 3 humming along.

At the end of our concert JC told us how much she'd loved listening and asked us if we'd come back again, we left her and JG still sat together on the bed chatting away.

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