"That's a big fiddle!"
Updated: Jan 11
Although the second lockdown has been lifted and Christmas is around the corner, there was a sense of real sadness at Bridgeside Lodge today. A lot of residents were upset and confused while staff were exhausted and stressed. But Ben came armed with his Double Bass and a book of Christmas carols with which to gently distract and cheer. Starting on the third floor, we played in the communal dining area. Two residents who don’t usually join our activities came and sat with us. One Scottish lady was thrilled to join us: “That’s a big fiddle”, and even more delighted when we played and sang Auld Lang Syne for her: “I’m proud to be Scottish!” L also sat with us, reaching to me as I sang to her. When we finished a song she said: “I want love”, which brought tears to my eyes. Being without your family is hard enough, let alone at Christmas during a pandemic. R was another resident who was soothed by the music. He was very distressed when we arrived but when he heard the music he sat down, asked for Silent Night and closed his eyes to listen - only moments before he had been shouting and desperately walking the corridors.
Our 1st floor audience were already sitting waiting for us - word of our visit had spread! N.J was upset and missing his wife. We played him Deck the Halls to gently encourage him to start his usual hand drumming. The music seemed to bring his emotions to a head, but once he had had a cry he began his incredible percussion-ing and was soon smiling. Yerland, a BSL carer appeared during O Come All Ye Faithful and harmonised with us. We were suddenly a choir! She had to run back to work as soon as the song finished but I managed to thank her for her lovely Alto singing. She apparently loves hymns, so we will have to do more in the future! I.J was also missing her family. Our music cheered her up and she sang along to several carols. Before we left she said: “Thank you, you stopped me from crying today, I feel like new.” The ground floor and 2nd floor were quieter than usual. Ben played some of B’s favourite jazz, and we then chatted to him for a while. It’s his birthday next week so we sang him Happy Birthday. He enjoyed the attention and said: “I can almost see the pub from here so I can imagine having a birthday pint!” In the dining room we played for A.K, Sh and E.J. We let E.J use the book of carols and all sang together while Sh laughed as I danced with her carer. Several of the staff came in to join in the singing. A.K wasn’t feeling good but he enjoyed the music. He made a few requests and was very engaged, adjusting his chair for a better view, but was also clearly in quite a lot of pain. Before leaving we got a request for God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen from J. He sang along in a surprisingly strong Baritone. G also showed off her singing. Her son was standing outside waving up at her, and as we left he said: “I could hear you all singing and playing, she loves it so much and I’m so glad you always make the effort to go in to her.”