Musician: Marcus Bonfanti (guitar, vocals)
This week guitarist Marcus Bonfanti played at Bridgeside Lodge on Tuesday, Great Ormond Street Hospital on Wednesday and Northwick Park Hospital on Friday. After Friday’s session, Marcus gave us an account of his experience at Northwick Park…
First off, I loved this week, doing all three venues I really felt like I got into the sessions in a different way from before; having a run of them, like when we did Northwick Park for the week. Really enjoyed it.
Today at Northwick Park was pretty beautiful. There were a lot of moments. Alex [Lukjaniec, ward matron] was amazing in coordinating it all and made it so easy. She is a star.
We visited a new ward today on the ground floor. Alex described it as being a bit of a ‘forgotten ward’ as it was quite tucked away so she wanted something special for them. We visited all the bays there and had some lovely interactions with the patients. Then we went upstairs and visited Evelyn Ward.
In the first bay, a lady had shut herself in the bathroom and nurses couldnt persuade her to come out. I started playing in the bay and a patient asked for some ABBA so I started Dancing Queen. Suddenly the toilet door swung open and the lady came out with her walking frame dancing. She turned out to be Italian so we spoke in Italian a little bit and then I sang her Louis Prima’s – Buona Sera Signorina and she danced while I played.
An Irish lady in one of the bays was a little hesitant about having any music because she wanted to sleep. I said i’d play her some quiet songs to help her sleep and she agreed. I did an old Big Bill Broonzy song – When Did You Leave Heaven? and she smiled and closed her eyes but by the end of the song she had decided it was music she wanted and then engaged in the other songs, clapping and singing along when she knew the words.
A gentleman in the last bay was very sure that he wanted some country music so I played some Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson which went down well. A quieter gentleman was really enjoying it and got a little bit emotional about how much he appreciated it and was sat talking with Alex about how this had made his day. At the end the first gentleman pointed to the patient opposite him in the bed who had been asleep and said ‘Larry likes Elvis, play him some elvis’ so I did and he woke up and looked like he was listening but also slightly confused (fair play there wasn’t a long-haired fella with a guitar in his room when he’d gone to sleep!). I thought it was beautiful that the first gentleman had the thought to get a song played for him. As I was leaving, the gentleman that had been talking to Alex was very emotional and kept thanking me and quietly said ‘do you know Wichita Lineman? I went into it and he sang with me and cried as well. It was beautiful as you could tell this meant so much to him. Alex was in tears as well and we had a beautiful moment altogether.
I love doing these sessions.