“I miss having people around me"
Musicians: Dom Pipkin (piano and vocals) and Graham Hughes (bass, flugelbone, hamonica and vocals)
Although chilly, Wednesday turned out to be a really beautiful autumn day. The sun even came out and a couple of Bridgeside Lodge’s residents took the opportunity to bask in the weak warmth it provided. Dom Pipkin and Graham Hughes came armed with New Orleans classics and made us all laugh with several themed satirical jazz pieces. BSL’s staff and residents were impressed by Graham’s smooth multi-instrumentalism. He swapped seamlessly between the Double Bass, the Flugelbone and the Harmonica. Both residents G and E.J, who are always keen to attend our events, exclaimed: “Oh, another one!” when Graham played a wonderful Harmonica solo.
We were delighted to see S, who had recently spent time in hospital getting stent surgery for a hole in her heart. She was grinning from ear to ear and said: “I’m a whole heart now!” She also told us that she had managed to secure accommodation in a block of flats across the road from BSL. Moving into accessible accommodation is something S has been hoping for for a long time. We are so happy for her, and were touched beyond words when she said: “The best thing about it is that I’ll still be able to come over here to visit you lot every week!” The bond we have formed with S, strengthened over our busy summer, is obviously very important to her.
A few residents had visitors. I.R’s daughter recognised G and even came up to chat to him as he listened to the music. This gave us a lovely insight into the BSL extended community. G told us he was disappointed to have missed the first half. He said he was nostalgic for our summer events: “I miss having people around me, the atmosphere was so cheerful.” It was undeniable that the atmosphere at BSL had changed. Staff seemed nervous, stressed and overworked. Millie, a BSL carer, told us that
they were understaffed and exhausted: “There's a real sense that things are about to get a lot worse.”
The event finished on a wonderfully positive note. A new resident, N.J, joined us for the second half. He sat with his carer and used the table as a drum kit. His rhythm was so spot on that we assumed he must have been a drummer (something that made him laugh as he told us he had been an architect!) The musicians even complimented him saying: “We couldn’t have done this without you!” Millie told me she couldn’t believe the transformation in him, he seemed so happy and calm.