Melissa Keighley: A one-woman flash mob

It's a cry for help

My job is stupid, although probably not in the same way yours is stupid.

My job is basically a cry for help, a manifestation of my malformed personality, a desperate bid for attention. I am, essentially, a one woman flash mob. I go into care homes and sing and dance for an hour at a time, and encourage the residents to do the same. We do the twist, hand jives, cancan, hokey cokey, the sailor’s hornpipe; we bash plastic plates; we sing music hall classics together.

Twerking

Here’s where my job differs from yours: I’d be doing all that anyway. As my gorgeous fiancee can wearily testify, I trill and twerk my way through every day, whether I’m working or not. I never stay still or shut up, so I’m extraordinarily fortunate to earn a living from it. It says ‘music therapist’ on my tax return, but ‘needy lunatic’ would be closer to the truth. Plenty of residents love what I do, and plenty more find me incredibly annoying, but no matter, I have to do it anyway. Not for the money, but because: look at me! Tell me I’m amazing! Aw, shucks, really? Tell me again!

And honestly, I think there might be something in this music therapy stuff. However hungover, pre-menstrual and sulky I feel when I turn up, I generally leave feeling better. You have to leave your own stuff at the door to fully concentrate on making others happy; when you get back outside you find your own stuff wasn’t important anyway. And I challenge anyone to spend an hour grinning, singing and cavorting and not feel their own mood lift. Most days I pack in three hours, which explains my sickening, unnerving cheeriness.

I’ve faced some challenges –  tea, tambourines and the odd full nappy have all been thrown at my face; I’m regularly sexually harassed with my own conducting batons; I’m often begged to please, please shut up and go away, before they have to call the police and get me removed. I wiggle my way through it all. The constant maraca rattling means I break about six watches a year: I’ll never have long nails: whatever the season, the care home is heated beyond human endurance, so I’m forever sweaty and dressed for Goa, even in January. But lorks a’mercy, when I hear about other people’s jobs, stuck in offices, clock watching with the same old idiots, day after day, I know I’m lucky beyond reason. Whatever I face, it’s over in an hour, and an hour spent warbling at that.

Exercising

The benefits of singing are well documented – it’s a splendid way of exercising your heart and lungs, boosts your immunity, sends your endorphins soaring, increases your life expectancy. I haven’t been ill for years, and I’m certain it’s all the trilling. However you sound, however your loved ones wince, let rip regularly: your body and mind will be so grateful.

Go on, book me in

I’m thinking about setting up my own seated exercise and singing class for the elderly/lesser abled. Let me know if you’d like one, and where. And if you happen to run a care home, I offer a free sample workshop so you can check out the wiggle. Believe me, it’s worth seeing. Get in touch!

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