The investigation continues...
Updated: Feb 25
Musician: Nathaniel Keen (guitar)
Storm Franklin was well and truly battering London today. My long and slightly treacherous cycle from Peckham came to an end when I walked through the door into Bridgeside Lodge to find a warm and tranquil atmosphere with zero wind and zero scared faces. I caught up with resident J's partner Matt who described being hit by a bench which had been tossed around by the storm and bruised his leg.
I made my usual rounds, visiting residents all around Bridgeside Lodge, Here are some highlights...
I went up to see JC, I was imagining that the carnage outside might be frightening for him but I was relieved to see him calmly taking in a winter Olympics curling event on TV. I'd been learning a new song by Doc Watson with JC in mind. Doc Watson was a virtuosic blind guitarist and singer from the Appalachian mountains in the USA and was responsible for preserving the rich musical folk heritage of that area. The Appalachian mountain area is hugely connected to the British diaspora from the 18/19th centuries and many of Doc Watson's songs derive from melodies that are now long lost over here, therefore acting as a sort of time capsule. The song in question was 'Blue Ridge Mountain Blues' and it seemed to be right up JC's street. After the strumming workout had finished, I commented on the new additions to JC's photo wall (Spitz GM Thom had printed off some new photos of JC playing guitar with Spitz musicians). It took him a while to remember that there were new ones there but after a while he piped up 'oh yeah, he came and put those up for me the other day'. The Spitz have become akin to family members for JC and I'm sure he feels that sense of belonging when he looks up and sees the photos. As it happens, today was the birthday of one of JC's favourite Spitz musicians, singer and violinist Alice Zawadzki. Unsurprisingly he was game for celebrating and we recorded her an impromptu country-tinged version of 'happy birthday'!
When I first joined The Spitz I spent many sessions with GB and a rapport had built between us. Today was the first time I'd seen him a while - we'd kept missing each other, with him being asleep during previous visits and perhaps this was why I felt apprehensive about how I would find him after all this time. I was pleased to find a calm and welcoming GB sitting up in bed, he was keen to proudly show me a beautiful framed photo of himself with someone who appeared to be his grandaughter (unconfirmed). I played some gentle jazz ballads and he slowly closed his eyes, taking on a much more reflective persona. He reminded me of my father who also closes his eyes when listening to music, as if to truly give himself to the experience and allow himself to drift off into imagination. GB broke free of this calm state only to regularly bring my attention to the all encompassing excellence of the red fire latch on his door. This fixation would run throughout our session and I was encouraged that he had found solace in the protective qualities of this device on his door.
Birthdays were the theme of the day as today was Ms GH's. I noticed that her son was visiting so I sang 'happy birthday' to her from the corridor and left them to it, moving on to visit resident IF. Before I'd made it I was summoned back 'Mum would like you to come back and play for her'. I sang 'All You Need Is Love' which went down well and then 'Here Come The Sun' which triggered an emotional response in her, as the tears began to fall down her cheeks her son asked 'does it remind you of Phillip?' I asked if she'd like me to perhaps move on to another piece and understandably she said yes.
I finished the day with Mr GH. He wasn't in his normal detective's chair outside the lifts but instead in his room. I'd never entered his room before but I was welcomed in warmly and I wondered how this change of scene would affect his engagement with the music and our conversation. In recent times GH has been surprising many of us with his amazing singing and learning of songs. Beyond our musical interactions, I was keen to chat with him about music in his life....we got onto the Beatles (my favourite subject)
G: 'I saw Paul McCartney once, in London'
Me: 'You saw him?!, walking about or at a gig?'
G: 'Walking about'
Me "which other musicians do you like?'
G: 'Joni Mitchell'
I then scoured my memory for Joni Mitchell songs and Geoffry helped me with certain lyrics for 'Circle Game' and 'Big Yellow Taxi'. I then gleaned vital intelligence for future sessions, he doesn't like Jazz, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young or Stevie Wonder
The investigation continues...