• Kate Millett

Happy & Glorious

Musicians AM: Kat Eaton (vocals) Arthur Lea (piano, vocals)

Musicians PM: Arthur Lea (piano, vocals) Brian 'Mussinghi' Edwards (tenor sax) Josh Carpenter (drums)

The Spitz joined Bridgeside Lodge on Thursday the 2nd of June for the community’s Platinum Jubilee party. A whole day of celebrations was planned, with two bands, a delicious BSL barbecue, and friends and family visiting. The garden was decked out with balloons and flags, and the sun shone all afternoon. It was the biggest event we’ve had at BSL since 2019 with almost every resident joining to take in the music and community atmosphere. This led us to reflect on how much everyone has been through in the last few years and how our lives have changed. This was my time at BSL since September 2021, and I was blown away by the palpable responses from the residents.

A duo of the wonderful Kat Eaton (vocals) and Arthur Lea (piano and voice) kicked off the day, playing until lunchtime. Both musicians know the community well and played a variety of BSL favourites. They made a conscious effort to include their audience. Kat used a wireless microphone which meant she was able to walk through the audience, taking requests from residents, while still conferring with Arthur at the keyboards across the garden. It worked really well and gave the session an intimate and inclusive feel. Many residents gave requests, some of which were unknown to the musicians. Kat and Arthur made an amazing effort to value every request, sometimes improvising or sight-reading. Arthur thanked one resident, D, for his request of “Salt Lake City Blues'', saying that he hadn’t known it and that “discovering a new song has been a journey for which I am really grateful.” This was a wonderful example of how our work is collaborative. The residents give so much during our visits. It is a reminder that we are forever learning from each other in life.

It was such a privilege to be back at BSL, seeing some new faces among the familiar ones. Being brought together by live music in their back garden had a profound effect on all the residents. One resident, SR, immediately began repeating lyrics when she arrived in the garden. Her previous words had been “No”, but she joined in with “Here Comes the Sun ' as though she had been expecting it. Her initial confusion was transformed so seamlessly by the music.

There were some beautifully touching meetings between residents and their families. Among the families visiting, for two residents, there were four generations! I sat with one man while he explained what the Jubilee was to his father, finishing with “You were 16 when the Queen was coronated”. While there were Jubilee parties happening all over the country, very few people actually witnessed the Queen coming to the throne.

It was humbling to celebrate the last 70 years at BSL with people who lived that history.

In the afternoon, we welcomed saxophonist Brian Edwards back to BSL and welcomed Josh Carpenter (drums) for his first Spitz outing. Josh and Brian joined Arthur Lea who was on full-day duty. The band took requests and played some reggae for resident JR who is a big fan. One of the microphones had been set up for JR to use; he joined in with amazing enthusiasm, punching the air, whooping, and smiling. After each song, he promised that we’d see him again on Britain’s Got Talent. Brian supported JR’s solos on the saxophone and later congratulated JR for his singing, promising to go with him to his Britain’s Got Talent audition.

Some surprise visitors joined the party in the afternoon. Two policemen came to sit with the audience in the garden, saying they had heard the music and followed it “for miles”. After posing for a few photos, they were offered some of the BBQ. Apparently, they had been to six other parties that day but our one was deemed the best (this may have had something to do with the fact that other parties were alcohol-fuelled, but we think it’s more likely that BSL’s community made the day!)

The power of the event resounded through to the following week, with JR constantly asking to see videos of his performance and wanting to know whether he was on Instagram yet. - We assure him that he is!

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