The local community has been brought together by the performances of its very own Elvis Presley.
Ben Marskell, known in the music world as Ben Presley, is a professional impersonator of The King who has performed in the likes of Las Vegas, Memphis and Canada.
Recently, however, he’s decided showcase his talents on his own local street to help bring people together in this time of crisis.
Ben said: “I just wanted to bring the neighbours together, really. We’re all stuck at home, yet we’re all in a kind of rat race so no one stops and chats.
“All my gigs were cancelled when lockdown began, so I was practicing in my garden a lot and I thought, ‘rather than just annoy everyone with the noise, why don’t I go out on the street and get people to clap, sing along and have a drink?”
In his initial street concerts, which take place in Elmbridge Close, Ruislip , Ben was just being himself and singing classic songs to see what sort of response he got. Once he saw how much people were taking to his performances, he began doing his full-on Elvis concerts, which last around two hours.
Videos of his performances, posted by both himself and people on his road, have received thousands of views worldwide; but the main thing for Ben is the impact it’s had on his little street.
“Our street only has around 15 houses and a lot of the residents are elderly – some have lived here for 40-odd years. I had one resident come up to me after a gig and say the last time they had a street party was for Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981, so it was amazing to hear I’d brought them together again.
“Even though it’s a small road, people on surrounding roads can see me from their windows, so they wave and put their lights on like they’re at a concert. It’s also been great to see cyclists or people walking their dogs stop and watch for a good half-hour or so. I’ve had letters through my door from so many different people I don’t know saying they love what I’m doing – one was signed from ‘the little girl who sits on the window ledge’, because I always see her sitting there waving at me.
“I also have people come up to me and request songs for the next concert – someone even stopped me in the Aldi queue and said something along the lines of, ‘My sister always used to like this song, can you sing that?’
“It’s nostalgic for a lot of people to hear these old-time songs. And I’m glad I’m able to do that for them – with the doom and gloom of all that’s gone on, it’s been great for everyone to turn off the news and have a good time.”