One offshoot from the ‘Cissie’ project has been an unexpected but enjoyable foray into care home entertainment. Through my work with the Alzheimer’s Society I got to know an activities co-ordinator in a local care home who was interested in the show. The original idea was for me just to go in and give a concert but we talked this through and realized we could get more from the character and props. We have worked together over several months developing a session we call “Music and memories” and ‘Cissie’ has now made several visits to the home and other dementia units. I dress as the older Cissie, a 1940s housewife, and take a basket of props – not forgetting my trusty Eubank carpet sweeper. (Didn’t everyone’s Grandma have one of those?)
There is a rough order of anecdotes and songs but we are guided by the memories sparked off by the props and we just run with those until it feels time to introduce another idea or sing another song. I enjoyed learning some Gracie Fields songs which fit with the ‘Lancashire housewife in clogs’ persona. We include everything from ‘Daisy, Daisy’ to ‘We’ll gather lilacs’ and I love it when some quiet sleepy resident perks up and sings every word of something. The power of music to communicate and get through to people still astounds and moves me.