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  • Writer's pictureNathaniel Keen

She loves her tea on Fridays

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Musician: Nat Keen (guitar / vocals)

The first port of call today was JC. Earlier, Jane (Spitz founding director) and Thom (Spitz GM) had suggested that it would be nice for him to have some more up to date photos of some of the musicians on his wall. Thom and I started jamming some improvised blues as we walked through the corridors towards him and as we entered JC's room he was already strumming his air guitar in anticipation and exclaiming 'yeah!' to welcome us in. We managed to get some great snaps of the pair of us and Thom hung around for a little while and graced us with some soulful guitar solos whilst tuning JC's guitar.

A song that stood out was 'Work Song', written by Oscar Brown and made famous by Nina Simone. The sentiment of the song seemed to resonate with JC and he enthusiastically speculated about the terrible conditions that prisoners on chain gangs were forced to work in.

I spent a good long time with DW playing him some arrangements of Brazilian guitarist/composer Baden Powell. He listened with great concentration and the music was interspersed with long, winding chats about the unique wonders of Brazilian music, our regret at having not visited and the particular rhythmic swing that the large and significant African diaspora had contributed. We segued into chats about the generational/political/cultural gap between his parents and him and how he had once propelled himself towards inevitable fisticuffs with the national front at a rally in his youth but thought twice when he witnessed just how imposing and violent they were. I played some more music and we chatted a while longer before I left. By that point I noticed DW in a less tense state, 'Thank you, you've really made my day'.

I popped next door to DF who I was keen to see, having heard that she doesn't receive many/any visitors. She sat by the window fixated on something through the glass. As I began to play, I noticed the gentle, rhythmical convulsion of her weeping and wondered whether I should continue. Understanding that crying can often offer a soothing release of tension and form of cleansing, I decided to finish the piece before checking in with her. DF then attempted to communicate something to me which I wasn't able to make out but I was glad that she was engaging. I then played 'Here Comes The Sun' as a kind of gentle but firm nudge to the UK weather gods and I was pleased to hear her voice, frail but with conviction singing along to the chorus.

In the dining room I sat with LD while she supped at her tea and dipped her digestives. I improvised a cheeky skiffle song, something profound along the lines of 'LD Loves Her Tea On Fridays' and every time she heard her name, a large grin would erupt across her face. During this commotion K and her sister entered the dining room and I swivelled around to include them. K had come to the end of her walk and decided to sit fairly close to me presumably to listen. I played 'Micheal Turner's Waltz' which they had both enjoyed last week and K's sister said 'You playing music is the only thing that seems to stop her from walking around, it's amazing how calm she becomes'

To finish the day I had made a note to visit and introduce myself to the newest resident at BSL. J is an ex-army chap and when I met him he was in a restless mood, briskly walking around trying to fix the surrounding furniture. It must be very disorientating to find yourself in a completely alien setting surrounded by strangers but his carers were displaying amazing patience and assistance to him. I invited him to sit and listen for a while and although I heard a few bellows of 'this is wonderful' and 'marvellous' I felt that he was understandably pre-occupied with his new surroundings. I look forward to spending more time with him in a calmer setting.

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