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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

Guitarist to the first floor please...

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar)

'Afternoon Freddie' I said to our cheerful Dane on the front desk (Frede Jensen, Administrator of Bridgeside Lodge), 'Afternoon Nat, you're needed on the first floor immediately, It's DB and Sue's wedding anniversary'

So I power-walked down to the lateral-flow station to test myself and prepare to celebrate the special day.

I entered the living room and was met by offers of cake and a little grandchild called Jake careering around the room, buzzing off sugary treats and walloping balloons in every direction. DB and Sue sat close together occasionally joining in with the odd balloon bash. Their daughter was there too along with special guests SR, HW and (activates co-ordinator) Yvette who I think is trying to fatten me up with any food going.

I suggested some songs and SR was keen to hear some Bob Marley. We tried to work out which tune it was that Jake used to sing with his Dad and once 'Three Little Birds' began, he paid attention, stood calmly, close to his mum and helped us to sing the chorus. Later on Sue mentioned that she'd heard and enjoyed some Spitz musicians playing 'There's A Place' from Westside Story, I happen to love Westside Story and so I asked if she wouldn't mind singing the melody again, which she obliged with beautifully. We heard from Sue about the time that she'd seen the original version of the classic when it first came out back in 1961, she'd gone up to Blackpool on holiday and booked cinema tickets, unfortunately the main thing she recalls is a rowdy crowd, to the point where she couldn't hear any of the music.

I was then asked if I knew any Richie Havens any songs, I didn't, although I did recall seeing an amazing video of him opening a stage at Woodstock festival. I seem to remember it was just him and a conga player on stage, frantic and powerful. Sue mentioned that her and DB used to listen to a song of his called 'Indian Prayer' when they used to go on holiday to Ireland together and the daughter began to play it from her phone. When the music began, there was a reaction in DB, a memory triggered, he began to engage with his family, answering questions and at one point, singing along to some of the lyrics. This was an incredibly moving moment for me, but evidently it was especially moving for his daughter and wife who were able to meaningfully connect again with their dad/husband for a beautiful, brief moment.. I finished by asking if I could take a photo of husband and wife on their special day (I think they mentioned 47 years of marriage!)

I moved along the corridor to see JG, she welcomed me into her room and as well as singing 'Ca The Ewes' together, she helped me decipher old English/Scottish words and phrases, or at least speculate what they might mean!


Ca'the yowes to the knowes,

Ca' them where the heather grows, Ca' them where the burnie rowes,

My bonie Dearie.


Drive the sheep to the hills Drive them where the heather grows Drive them where the stream flows​​​​

My beautiful dear

I later spent a lovely time with our resident Blues legend Mississippi JC. Clearly there was only ever going to be one topic available to us, possibly the same reason JC was in a great mood, Boris leaving! So, we created a driving, repetitive Blues epic where we both got to purge our political grievances in the form of a song. JC was on fire as usual!

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