Episode – Record Breaking Baby

With co-hosts Emma Blackmore and Elanora Ferry

Summary

In the last of our main episodes you’ll meet Emma and Rosie who’ve just met over coffee, and Dougie and Andy, they perform improv together. As you follow them on their journeys into the city expect comedy and romance, toilet paper on shoes, seeing like Monet, and being your own hype man. Oh and a bloke on a horse named George, or is it Henry..? Featured theme: Theatre and activism.

People featured

Featuring the journeys of Emma Blackmore with her travelling companion Rosie Poebright; and Dougie Walker with his travelling companion Andy Kelly. 

Maria Oshodi, Guest contributor; Artistic Director of Extant theatre company. For more info on Maria Click Here

Organisations featured

Extant; for more info on the UK’s leading professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists and theatre practitioners Click Here

For more info on the Extant training programme ‘Pathways’ mentioned by Dougie in the episode Click Here

SENSE; for more info on the deafblind and complex disabilities charity that Emma works for Click Here

The National Theatre; for info on this london based large scale theatre where Dougie worked Click Here

Themes and issues raised

Rubella Syndrome: for more info on Rubella Syndrome Click Here

Accessibility and Theatre; for an article on access to theatre as a human right Click Here 

PIP; Personal Independence Payment: for more info Click Here

LGBTQ+ people with disabilities: for resources and articles on the intersectionality of disability and LGBTQ+ communities Click Here

Places and spaces visited

The Eye Hospital; for the official website Click Here

The Hippodrome; for more info on Bristol’s very own West End theatre  Click Here

The Harbourside at Wapping Wharf; for more info on this vibrant area visited by Dougie on his journey Click Here

Queens Square; for more info on this elegant and historic Georgian Square Click Here

Castle Park; for more info on one of Bristol’s most popular city centre green spaces Click Here

Bristol Old Vic; for more info on Bristol’s much loved and Britain’s oldest continuously working theatre that Dougie visits on his journey Click Here

Turtle Bay carribean bar and restaurant; for more info on Emma and her wife’s favourite restaurant  Click Here

Episode Transcript

Podcast Starts

Narrator: In October 2019 a team of visually impaired and sighted artists and collaborators took journeys together into the city of Bristol with the aim of uncovering the usually unheard stories of visually impaired citizens and returning these stories to the heart of the city narrative.

The journeys were recorded and revealed such a treasure trove of insights and shared experiences that the City of Threads podcast was born.

Each episode is hosted by core members of that team, and features the journeys they took.

So join us on an immersive audio journey into the City of Threads.

 Welcome to ‘Record Breaking Baby’.

Sound design: Logo and theme music weaves through the following audio fragments:

Emma: Record breaking baby [Laughs]. 

Rosie: I think I can’t think of a better combination than comedy and romance.

 Emma: Oh no.

Rosie: That is actually a total winner.

Emma: Yeah, it is. 

Dougie: Is it meant to be a seat?

Andy: I’m kind of wondering if we’re looking at a piece of art right now.

 Dougie: I would almost certainly just have sat on it. 

Emma: I’ve never quite forgot that night. It was like helping me get through that time in my life.

Dougie: T.S. Eliot.

Andy: Yes.

Dougie: Is an anagram of toilets! 

Andy: It is, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Elanora: Well we’ve both got very loud raucous laughs. 

Emma: Yeah.

Elanora: And we’re both quite extrovert. We’re quite out there and we’re quite what I would call blurters. We’re just out with it, say it. 

Emma: Oh we say it as it is. 

Elanora: Say it as it is.   

Sound design: Intro music segues into softer journey music. 

Intro – Dougie, Emma, Elanora

Dougie: Often when you go into a working environment in the arts you’re the first visually impaired person that this company has worked with, and so you always have to be your own advocate. Also at some point you have to sort of put your foot down and say ‘no, you have to change your process to accommodate people with different abilities’. 

Emma: Yes, and this is the thing isn’t it, it’s a case of like you have to work that extra harder, it’s not the case that you’re only doing that job, it’s the case that you also have to fight for your rights to do that job, constantly. 

Dougie: Yes yes. 

Emma: And it shouldn’t have to be like that. 

Dougie: It’s funny because as an actor you are, for any actor, you are always your own hype man, in a way it’s part of the job, you’re always saying ‘pick me, pick me, pick me’ but for disabled actors, there’s just one more thing that they’re saying, you know. 

Elanora: Because you’re working with the unconscious assumptions. 

Dougie: Exactly. 

Elanora: All the time. 

Dougie: Yeah.      

Elanora: Yes, I can see that. 

Sound design: Segue.

Co-hosts Intro 

Emma: Welcome to ‘Record Breaking Baby’, I’m Emma Blackmore. 

Elenora: And I’m Elanora Ferry and we’re your co-hosts for this episode.

Emma: That was us with Dougie Walker whose journey features in this episode, along with mine.

Elanora: Dougie is an actor and a writer, and he is also our City of Threads narrator. 

Emma: We’re going to hear more from him later in the episode, but for now we’re going to star, t with my journey!

Sound design: Journey music builds momentum.

Arnolfini – Intro to Emma and Rosie

Sound design: Arrives at Arnolfini.

Narrator: We’re in the light studio at Arnolfini, Bristol’s centre for contemporary arts, and the place where all our journeys begin.

Emma: I love coffee, I always love coffee. I got to drink about five to function in the morning. 

Rosie: Really? 

Emma: Yeah. 

Rosie: Wow, that’s a lot. 

Emma: ‘Specially on a work day. 

Rosie: Do you drink them through the day as well? 

Emma: No after two o’clock I don’t drink coffee. 

Rosie: I’ve got that. Midday is my cut off point. 

Emma: Oh is it? 

Rosie: Yeah. 

Emma: Two o’clock’s mine, purely because of work.

Narrator: That’s Emma with her travelling companion Rosie, they’ve only just met but have already bonded over coffee. Here they are introducing themselves to others taking journeys that day.

Emma: I’m Emma Blackmore and I am the journey lead today. 

Rosie: I’m Rosie Poebright and I am the travelling companion. 

Emma: And me and Rosie just met today.

Narrator: And before setting out, Emma tells Rosie her journey route and about her sight, and how she would like to be guided.

Emma: So one side I’m completely blind in one eye and then the other eye I have limited sight in and with guiding, Rosie is going to hold my arm, and I’m going to tuck my arm in quite secure, I’m going to hold on to her arm. I do sometimes use a cane, but this time I haven’t got it with me. I’m going to have cane training soon so hopefully that will be different. But, yeah, I also have the added thing that I have a hearing aid so my guide Rosie will be helping me a little bit extra just in case I don’t hear things coming as well. So that’s about it. 

Rosie: Yeah, sounds pretty comprehensive. 

Emma: Yeah. 

Rosie: Think so. OK!

Leaving Arnolfini

Narrator: On their way out of the building. 

Rosie: OK, we are rolling.

Emma: So the only thing that I can see really, really clearly in this hallway is this. 

Rosie: Oh yeah. 

Emma: Which is the fire hyd… what are they called?

Rosie: Hydrants. 

Emma: That’s it, hydrants.

Rosie: Yes.

Emma: ‘Cus it’s red and it’s very bright, it’s quite good that it’s bright in this hallway because if there was a fire it would be very helpful.

Rosie: If there was a fire do you think you would be first there with the hydrant like?

Emma: Well, probably. 

Rosie: Going at the flames. 

Emma: ‘Cos I could see it [Laughter].

Outside Arnolfini

Sound design: Sounds from outside Arnolfini.

Narrator: Once outside the building they stop on the Harbourside to read the first of the four wild cards, designed to be read during the journey. 

Rosie: So shall I read this card, the wild card? 

Emma: Yep, yeah.

Rosie [Reading wild card]: Take a moment to stand together, notice your breath and the ground beneath your feet, the movement of the air and the sounds of the city.

Narrator: As they tune into the city, the weather takes a turn for the worse, so they set off in search of a taxi to take them to Emma’s first stop, the Eye Hospital. As they go, Emma describes her ‘ideal’ weather conditions.

Emma: It’s kind of in the middle with me, it’s like too much sun is like, like it reverses it the other way and then like too much rain and wind, has thrown it like this way, so I am like in the middle, I like it, kind of like settling. 

Rosie: Not too bright, not too dark. Not too wet, not too dry? 

Emma: And no snow, snow is the worst. 

Rosie: Snow is the worst, yeah. 

Emma: I always fall over in snow.

The Taxi Ride

Narrator: And as the rain begins to pour, Rosie spots a taxi and they climb in.

Sound design: The taxi journey plays underneath the sounds of them chattering.

Co-host Elanora: If you haven’t guessed already, Emma is a born and bred Bristolian. She’s from a large close-knit family and grew up in Mangotsfield, on the outskirts of Bristol, which, when Emma was a little, had the feel of a leafy and friendly village. As we follow Emma’s journey through the places that mean something to her in the city, we’ll also be finding out a bit more about her story. 

Sound design: Journey music segue including sounds of a taxi arriving, cab door shutting driving, tyres in rain.

Eye Hospital – Hello My Old Friend

Sound design: Outside the eye hospital.

Narrator: Emma and Rosie have arrived at Emma’s first stop. 

Emma: So we are now at the Bristol Eye Hospital, which is in fact where I began.

Narrator: Founded in 1808, the Bristol Eye Hospital is one of the country’s leading specialty hospitals. 

Emma: (cont.) and I do like this building because it is very tactile. 

Rosie: Yeah. 

Emma: So when I was a kid, like, this is how I used to know we were here. 

Rosie: Because of these carved bricks that you’ve got. 

Emma: Yeah. Like I used to love like standing on here, it used to be my favourite thing, like standing on here, feeling across the wall and all that.

Eyes Hospital – Early Years

Sound design: Shift ambiences as we move into the next section.

Emma: When I was just about a month old, I was brought into the Bristol, well I came in before that. I came in literally not long after I born to be tested and stuff like that, about two days old, and they figured out I had cataracts.

Narrator: Emma’s visual impairment is as a result of rubella syndrome. A condition that can affect the eyes, ears and heart, and is caused when a woman contracts German measles whilst pregnant. 

Emma: So um when I was about, just under a month old or a month old, twenty-eight days I think it might have been. I had my first operation to remove one of the cataracts. Between having the other one removed at two months old, the old children’s hospital was then just up the road, so I was up there pretty much, in between, the whole time, because I had an infection in my, an infection. I was so young, like really vulnerable and everything. So they had to get rid of that before they could do the other operation, so they were hoping to do that a week or so after, but they couldn’t. 

Rosie: Right, OK, they had to get you better first.  

Emma: Yeah, So then once that cleared they transferred me back down here. Had my second operation. At that point I was the youngest baby in the West UK to have cataracts removed. 

Rosie: Wow, gosh! 

Emma: I’ve now had that record beaten, when I was twenty-five, I think it might have been and I met that child, he was a week old. 

Narrator: Meeting that child had a big impact on Emma, but we’ll come back to that later. 

Consultants, Appointments, Education

Emma: We used to get the hospital bus up to here ‘cos when I was younger we didn’t have a car, so used to get the bus into town and then get the hospital bus to whichever hospital we was going to. So that used to be well, probably about three or four times a week, because I had so many consultants and so many different hospitals, sometimes twice a day, if w had hospital appointments in the morning or different hospital appointments in different hospitals.

Narrator: Once in primary school the amount of time taken attending medical appointments began to effect Emma’s education. 

Emma: Then it got to a stage where they had to, where all the consultants got in one room, that was a very big room! [Rosie laughs] They said, ‘look we need to sort this out because Emma’s education is starting to fail’. 

Rosie: Right, because you are spending all this going between one and another and another.  

Emma: I mean it’s still primary school but they said. She’s going to be starting secondary school soon. So you will have to do something about this.

Narrator: Emma’s appointments were re-scheduled to reduce her time away from school but it wasn’t until Emma was eight that she was discharged from the eye hospital.

Pirate Emma’s Party 

Emma: So when I got discharged from Hospital, I was still in primary school, the first time, my class actually threw me a party. 

Rosie: Ahhh. 

Emma: Like, ‘cos they were so happy for me ‘cos they knew how much sight problems I had. It was so sweet. 

Rosie: Yeah, that’s great. 

Sound design: Sounds of children’s party, playing, laughing.

Emma: ‘Cos they used to love me taking off my patch in reception, like that was a big deal, I was Pirate Emma. 

Emma: But that was cool because it didn’t make a difference. They just used to like it, it was a cool fun thing, it wasn’t a difference. So, yeah this place means quite a lot to me.

Sound design: Journey music segues into travelling.

City Journey

Sound design: Sounds of the city journey as we hear the following description. 

Narrator: The rain has now dried up and Emma and Rosie leave the Eye Hospital, walk past the Bristol Royal Infirmary and the Children’s hospital, and turn down a small back road that cuts behind Bristol Beacon. They are on their way to Emma’s second stop.

Secondary School   

Sound design: Sound of primary school underscores Emma’s story. 

Co-host Elanora: And while they do that, let’s pick up the thread of Emma’s story.

Emma: So when I left primary school, I went to secondary school and as everyone knows secondary and primary school are completely different, and as someone who has added needs, things weren’t put in place properly for me either, like for me with my disabilities, they had a care plan in place but the school didn’t follow it. I experienced quite a bit of a bullying. I think it’s more so of the case that kids didn’t understand what was going on with me.

My school did try and help by getting someone in to try and explain my disabilities and a lot of the kids did kind of then understand it. I did have friends, I wouldn’t say I didn’t have friends, ‘cos I did have friends.

When it came to Year Ten because I was trying to stay off school as much as possible. I would say I’m ill. Sometimes it was making me so ill that I was ill, but sometimes it was a case of I don’t want to go to school, I was petrified to go to school. It came to the decision that I would be home tutored through the school, so they would have my one to one support tutors come to the house and teach me through my GCSE years. That was great but my social aspect was suffering really bad, so one of my tutors who actually ran the local youth club, Rachel, she was lovely, she was brilliant, and she was like really, as they say ‘down with the kids’, she said to my mum ‘do you want me to take Emma up to the youth club?’. 

Co-host Elanora: So Emma went along. 

Youth Club Honey 

Emma: I was scared, you know like you would be when you’ve been away from kids of that age for so long. But this one memory of, that I have is going to the cinema with them.

Sound design: The sounds of the cinema – a group of teenagers arriving. 

Emma: A lot of them there were from a dance group, ‘cos Rachel taught dance. The film we went to see was ‘Honey’, which was a street dance film, with a lot of like RnB music. I remember going and we were all dancing in between, like you know, loving it! It was brilliant and the last track on the film. The song itself has really big meaning for me, it’s called ‘I Believe’. The song itself like pinged something in me.

Sound design: Music underscores the story.

Emma: I’ve never quite forgot that night. It was like helping me get through that time in my life, it was a very special night for me, that night, and it gave me that lightbulb moment. Because at that point I didn’t think I was able to get through, do as well as what my friends could do, like educationally kinda thing, but that night I realised that I can. 

Sound design: Music swells to support the feeling of the story.

Co-host Elanora: And music has continued to mean a lot in Emma’s life.

Emma: I listen to any sort of music, but RnB is definitely my kind of vibe. So on my, left hand? Yeah left hand, and going down my arm, I’ve got a tattoo that says, ‘When words fail, music speaks’, in writing, and it’s quite meaningful to me, ‘cos like music is meaningful.

Like you know, when you’re like, a bit isolated from the world, you just sit listening to music. It kind of helps. Like a therapy, a music therapy, kind of thing. So I work for Sense, the deaf blind charity, and we do a lot of music therapy. So the children we work with have sight impairment, hearing impairment and some with more complex needs ,and they love music. So we put the music on and they feel the sound board so they will be laid on it and they can feel the music coming through.

I have a hearing impairment myself as well so, I can put my hand on it and just close my eyes, and take my hearing aid out, and I’ll just feel how they are feeling it, like the vibrations of the music, and because like, even if I don’t know the song, I can still feel the rhythms of it coming through and it’s quite good, so I know now even if I do lose my hearing, I can still experience that. 

Sound design: A moment of tactile music.  

Journey to the Hippodrome

Sound design: Music segues into city soundscape.

Narrator: We’re back with Emma and Rosie on their journey and are now in the slightly subterranean Frogmore Street, in the older part of the city, where you’ll find LGBTQ+ clubs and the oldest working pub, The Hatchett, which allegedly had a front door covered in pirates’ skin. They turn on to the busy city centre.

Outside Hippodrome – Family & Shows

Emma: So we are now at the Hippodrome which, throughout my thirty-one years of life, I ‘av been here quite a few times. 

Narrator: The Hippodrome was built in 1912 and survived the Blitz. It seats almost two thousand people, hosts plays, music, musicals, comedy and dance, and it’s Emma’s second stopping point. 

Emma: I love this place because: a) It’s quite tactile and also because of all the theatre stuff that goes on in here. My Aunty actually used to get us tickets for Christmas. Like all the family, and there’s quite a few of us! What she used to do was get us front row-ish tickets, well nearish the front that was close enough so I could visually see. But not right at the front because I am too short but enough to see so I can get enough back, as long as there wasn’t someone really tall sat in front of me it was fine! 

Rosie: Yeah, and is that, is that for the panto? 

Emma: The pantos, I’ve also been to see ‘Wicked’. That was good fun, dancing, singing, my auntie nearly falling over the bannister, so…

Rosie: ‘Cos she was dancing so hard? 

Emma: Yes, yes.

Rosie: She sounds like a cool auntie. 

Emma: Oh yeah, yeah. I’ve been to the ‘Lion King’. That was my favourite, just amazing. Like, I was beaming from ear to ear. You get this massive giraffe just come down and you’re like looking up, and I’m so short, and looking up at this massive giraffe thing, it was just awesome. 

Narrator: And it is not just the live performance that makes this a place of sensory delight for Emma. It is the very fabric of the building.

Tactile Hippodrome

Sound design: Emma’s voice inside the foyer. 

Emma: So it’s an old building isn’t it? So it’s just like, you feel the walls and you know it’s an old building. My way to go through, I tend to stand by the wall, so I’m secure, so I got someone on my arm and I stand by the wall. So I feel the walls like going through, you know when you go up the stairs, the railings are quite um, the rail is metal but at the bottom it curls off. 

Narrator: The old walls and rounded metal bannisters that curl at the end are all tactile way markers on Emma’s journey to the auditorium.

Emma: I will wait for everyone to go in, so it’s easier for me to go and find my seat and someone guides me in.

Sound design: Voices inside the auditorium. 

Rosie: It’s an amazing space isn’t it when you get inside the Hippodrome. It’s like this big round space. Does it feel different? To be sat there than it is to be inside another space? 

Emma: Yeah, yeah it’s big, you feel tiny in there. That particular room feels like a massive building to me. 

Sound design: Amplifies Emma’s voice in the space.

Emma: The only thing I would criticise about it is that I have fallen over and the lightings not great.

Rosie: Yeah ‘cos it’s quite dark isn’t it?

Co-hosts

Emma: I always take a moment to allow my eyes to adjust to the lighting. 

Elanora: Yeah I can really relate to that, I’ve been an audience member and a performer, and although I’m sighted, I do have very poor sight in my left eye and the darkness of theatres has been a real issue for me at times. 

Narrator: There have been many threads of connection since Elanora joined the project.

Elanora: I came into the project right back at the beginning in 2016 and at the beginning I think that I just thought as a sighted performer that it would be interesting project to be involved in, to find out how to make theatre with visual impaired people, but it’s changed a lot over the period of time and I now feel very much an integrated part of the team.

Narrator: Including getting to know Emma.

Emma: Yeah, we went outside and we was having a laugh about something or other and we just found so much in common. I don’t think I have a friend like you, because you aren’t like me but you can also help guide me because you have more life experience. 

Elanora: Well darling. I’m forty years older than you.

Emma: You can help me, and say ‘now Emma’. 

Elanora: I would hope if I was going to do it, which I haven’t ever felt the need to, I would hope I could do it with a bit of humour. 

Emma: Yeah exactly and that’s what I like about you, ‘cos you are like me and you would tell me, but this is why I think we get on so well ‘cos we’re just… 

Elanora: We’re blurters right. 

Emma: Yes, we’re blurters [Laughter], I like that I like that, I’m taking that saying, that’s going in my Emma dictionary.

Audience Energy

Sound design: Segues us back into the journey.

Narrator: Back with Emma and Rosie.

Rosie: I know whenever I go and see something where there’s a big live audience, there’s a different feeling? Do you pick up on that? Like the electricity?

Emma: I may not be able to see as well as everyone else but I can just definitely sense when everyone is like really buzzing, really enjoying it.

Sound design: Brings alive the feeling of being in the second row, then segues into sounds from live performance – Dougie live onstage with laughter and applause.

Co-hosts Segue   

Co-host Elanora: And that’s Dougie – our series narrator and the other journey taker in this episode. We’re going to follow the thread of Dougie’s story now and come back to Emma’s a bit later. 

Co-host Emma: Yep, that’s alright with me!

Co-host Elanora: Right, then let’s head back to the Arnolfini and join Dougie and his travelling companion Andy on the day they took their journey.

Arnolfini – Dougie and Andy Intro 

Sound Design: Journey music segues to Arnolfini.

Dougie: Is it meant to be a seat? 

Andy: So, what we’re looking at here is just by the wall up here on the second floor of the Arnolfini, we’ve got a kind of grey metal box. What’s interesting about it is it’s kind of been, it’s been interfered with, it’s got kind of pock marks in it.

Dougie: Mmmm. 

Andy: And the sides have been kind of crushed and bent slightly. 

Andy: So it’s kind of got a warped surface. 

Dougie: Yeah. 

Andy: And I am kind of wondering if we’re looking at a piece of art right now. Certainly we’re looking at something that’s been…

Dougie: I would almost certainly just have sat on it.

The Light Studio – Journey Prep  

Co-host Elanora: And here they are a bit earlier practising with the audio recorder!

Sound design: Background noise, then ‘click, click’. 

Dougie: This is a test!

Tarim: Press it to stop. 

Co-host Emma: And introducing themselves to the other journey takers. 

Dougie: My name is Dougie Walker, I’m going to be the journey lead today. 

Andy: And my name is Andy Kelly and going to be the travelling companion, and Dougie and I know each other from performing in a theatre company together, we perform in an improvised theatre show. 

Co-host Emma: All of us that were journey leads, started off explaining to our travelling companions about our sight. 

Dougie: So we were actually discussing this just before we got into the circle. I have two different eye conditions one is called Staargarts disease or Staargardts syndrome, and it is a macular dystrophy of the retina. Which basically means that there is an area in my central vision which doesn’t get the proper, the proper information doesn’t travel from my eye to my brain and that area slowly builds up as I get older and I have another condition called keritoconis, which is sort of like a stigmatism, but sort of, like a stigmatism plus. 

Co-host Emma: And the kinds of things they needed to look out for on the journey.

Dougie: It’s really variable depending on the conditions but things like crossing roads, I’d be a bit more cautious, sometimes finding the edges of steps or curbs and, yeah, obstacles such as cyclists or pedestrians are things that if I am travelling with someone I might ask them to look out for. 

I don’t travel with any specific visual aids except for magnifiers if I was trying to find my way about, I’ve got a little monocular telescope that I would use say if I needed to see a street sign or read a bus timetable or something like that.

Co-host Elanora: And all essentials communicated, they leave the Arnolfini to head for Dougie’s first stop.

Outside Arnolfini  

Sound design: Journey music and sounds of the city.

Dougie: We’ve just been walking up from the Arnolfini and it’s a really lovely sort of cobbled street which is lovely underfoot and then we transitioned and almost without noticing, I think if I wasn’t paying special attention, I wouldn’t have noticed that we are suddenly transferred to a bit that is now tarmacked and this still feels like a pedestrianised area in terms of the amount of, you know, that there aren’t any cars here, but suddenly you are on tarmac and you think wait a second, have I just wandered into a road? [Laughter]. 

Sound design: A van roars past them, creating a jolt of adrenalin.

Both: Woahh! 

Dougie: And as we speak a van comes haring round the corner. 

Andy: And he wasn’t going to stop. 

Dougie: [Laughs] He wasn’t going to stop was he! 

Andy: It was a transit van with places to go. 

Dougie: That was um, I feel like that was real serendipity in that recording and we can probably just leave it there.

Sound design: Journey music.

Co-host Emma: And after that near miss, Dougie and Andy carry on.

Dougie’s Backstory 

Co-host Elanora: Before they get to their first stop, let’s hear how Dougie ended up in Bristol. 

Sound design: Suggests geographical moves from Edinburgh to Brighton to Bristol.

Dougie: So I’m from Edinburgh originally, I’m one of four. I have a brother and two sisters. My brother actually has the same eye condition that I do. 

We went to a mainstream school and then I moved to Brighton for University. I studied philosophy but got involved with the drama society and started doing comedy while at university and then a few years later I met my partner, Ray, in Brighton, before we moved to Bristol together. 

Sound design: Segue to next section.

Dockside – Bristol Nostalgia 

Sound design: Sounds from Whapping Wharf and harbour.

Co-host Elanora: They’ve arrived at Dougie’s first stop, the harbourside. 

Dougie: So we’re outside the M Shed, and it’s a place with all the train tracks where the steam train still has a chug on a Saturday for the delight and edification of children, and adults, and this is the place, when I first found out about this journey I thought ‘yeah I am definitely going to come here’.

So, like I say, I moved to Bristol about eighteen months ago and it wasn’t totally an easy move. We’d heard lots of nice things about Bristol but I’d lived in Brighton for twelve years so all of my favourite people and pubs were in Brighton. 

It took a long time to feel at home here and to feel fond of it, you know it was a bit of a trial to start with and I can remember about a year ago, so when I’d been living in Bristol six months, this was the first place that I really felt fond of, that I was really like ‘ah yes this is where I live and I’m fond if it’ and I can remember it because it was autumn and it was night time, and it was a bit cold.

Sound design: Atmosphere of a crisp autumn night.

Dougie: Being a bit cold is a real trigger for that feeling you get when you know you’re going to be nostalgic for something in the future, d’you know what I mean?

Andy: Oh yeah yeah there should be a term for that shouldn’t there. 

Dougie: The Japanese will have a word for it. 

Andy: Oh they’ll have several. 

Dougie: Oh yeah yeah.

Harbour Elephants 

Dougie: While we are thinking about all the different sensory experiences you know there is loads here, there is the smell of the river, there is wind always here, but actually as a visually impaired person, as most visually impaired people do, I’ve still got useful vision and I think here is a place where it really comes into it’s own, in that the lights reflecting in the water, make this a really beautiful, blurry, ethereal picture.

Sound design: Augments what he is describing.

Dougie: I don’t know what it looks like for people with full vision but it looks really shimmery and beautiful to me. 

Andy: I would also describe it as shimmery and beautiful. 

Dougie: And these cranes that I guess used to be for unloading ships. I really love ‘em. To me they look almost exactly like elephants. 

Sound design: Elephant ‘cranes’ trumpeting.

Dougie: Like I do almost think of them as the elephants now. Sort of Salvador Dali-ish, mechanical elephants.

Andy: Sticking their trunks up into the air. 

Dougie: Stocky little legs, stocky bodies and then their trunks held aloft. 

Sound design: Sounds of elephants segues into journey music. 

Co-host Elanora: Dougie and Andy say goodbye to the harbour and set off across the city towards Dougie’s second stop.

Aesthetic City – Emma and Dougie

Co-host Emma: And while they do that, here’s me and Dougie talking more about appreciating the visual side of the city. 

Dougie: It’s maybe a common misconception that people who are visually impaired don’t or aren’t interested in how things look. Which maybe it sounds like that makes sense, but almost all visually impaired people have some useful vision. How a city looks, the kind of aesthetics, how it makes you feel that, that is a huge part of your experience of the city. What I’m missing is detail. Which means that my experience of the city that I’m in is going to be very different from a sighted persons ‘cos I’m missing all those details but the textures and the colours are all there.

Emma: I think what a lot of people miss is the fact that we can still appreciate stuff in the city but we appreciate it in a much different way. 

Dougie: Yeah, and even different from one another I imagine. 

Emma: Yeah. 

Dougie: The visual experience we have will be interesting, or beautiful, or exiting in a different way to sighted people. You know there this idea that some painters, people, you know, impressionists like Monet and Manet had bad vision and that’s why they made these blurry paintings, but that’s now considered this really sort of interesting and beautiful way of looking at the world and I think actually that’s probably a fair description of what I’m seeing when I look at the cityscape is an impressionist view of it. It’s patches of colour and things blurring into one another but that’s great.

Emma: Yeah, yeah on my way here this morning actually, I did actually see someone painting a lovely picture on the side of a building. 

Dougie: Yeah. 

Emma: And it was lovely yellow and a few different other colours and it was just beautiful.

Sound design: Segues back to the journey and arriving at a cycle lane.

Cycle Lane Crossing

Co-host Elanora: Back in the city journey. 

Dougie: Come round the corner from the harbourside. We’re on this completely flat pavement but all of a sudden cutting straight through in front of us is this cycle lane and it’s a nightmare. 

Andy: Yeah. 

Dougie: It’s a nightmare for visually impaired people. 

Andy: I would like to add that it’s a nightmare for sighted people as well! And all along here actually there’s all these cycle lanes where, basically at some point you do just have to step out into the cycle lane. 

Dougie: Yeah. 

Andy: There’s no other way of doing it. 

Dougie: And on this journey today is literally the first time I have noticed it, the bit that we’ve come to, does seem to be some sort of official crossing point, because there’s a bit where, you know there’s some painted markings that indicate cyclists maybe ought to give way to pedestrians. 

Andy: And a little blue circle which says ‘share with care’. So this is a designated area where we’re sharing.

Dougie: So if you’re lucky enough to have stumbled upon this designated area, this is the point at which you are officially meant to be sharing with care, but yeah, my god, is it difficult to navigate at any other point. 

Andy: It seems to be clear now, but you don’t know who’s going to come round that corner. 

Dougie: Well, we’re just going to have to take the plunge.

Sound design: Takes the plunge and heads off on journey before arriving at…

City Journey – Queen’s Square

Sound design: Queen’s Square – grass and gravel sounds.

Co-host Elanora: Dougie and Andy have arrived at Queen’s Square, not strictly a stopping point, but they’ve been waylaid.

Dougie: It has a, not quite sure what you’d call it, it’s a gravelly, not quite gravelly, it’s more compounded than that, kind of sandy path that goes through the middle of it. 

Andy: This is putting my powers of description to the test here, these are things I’ve never had to articulate it before, exactly what this material is, it’s gravelly, but not loose gravel, it’s something, it’s been set in something, don’t ask me what! [Laughs].

Dougie: Aaah but again it makes quite a pleasing noise when you walk on it and, ah, the grass, I do love to walk on the grass! Yeah it’s a nice little square. 

Co-host Elanora: A statue catches their eye.  

Andy: A bloke on a horse. 

Dougie: Bloke on a horse.

Andy: Not the queen. 

Dougie: Dunno who it is. 

Andy: I always need to check who it is and I remember I’m always disappointed, shall I find out for the record? 

Dougie: Well, no. 

Andy: It’s a bloke on a horse. 

Dougie: Yeah. 

Andy: Is it George? 

Dougie: Might be George. 

Andy: George, could be. 

Dougie: I mean, if I had to take a punt on a name, George is a good shout. 

Andy: Yeah, maybe Henry? 

Dougie: Was it William? 

Andy: Aah, might be William. 

Dougie: I’m going to go with George. 

Co-host Emma: And with that sorted out, they head off.

Sound design: Segues back to journey music and a sense of travelling.

Castle Park 

Co-host Elanora: And as they get to Dougie’s next stop, it starts raining.

Dougie: Here we are in Castle Park. I used to, the first year I lived in Bristol I lived up in St George and I worked down in Southville. To get to work I would get the bus, so halfway, basically, I would get the bus to near here and then I would walk through Castle Park, so this was a route that I walked quite a lot. One of the first places I got to know in Bristol, I guess. I really like it. It’s a lovely to have this space next to the river I really like the river. The path that goes through has a pedestrian bit and a cycle bit, but they are fairly well defined you know, the whole way along one side is, the, I mean I suppose you do have to know which is which, but one side is the cycle path and one side is the pedestrian bit and it’s easier for me to stick to that and know that I am not in that much danger of getting clattered into by a bike here. I like how rabbit warrenny it is, all these criss-crossing paths that get through it.

It just feels like a very Bristol, sort of, all life is here, sort of part of Bristol, which I like. 

Andy: Yes, definitely 

Dougie: Nice park. 

Andy: Nice park.

Sound design: Journey music starts to create a break from all the talking and segues to the next section.

Googling Your Way

Co-host Emma: Dougie and Andy are on the move again, through the rain and puddles.

Sound design: Sound of rain and walking through puddles. 

Dougie: Just recently you might recall I was on my way to your birthday party and my google maps took me through a park at night and that was a classic, can’t see the puddles, I ended up just fully up to my ankles in puddles [Laughter]. Something that’s interesting about being new to Bristol, it’s the first new place I’ve moved since google maps was a thing.

Andy: Aaha, so you are able to navigate more easily? 

Dougie: Yeah, in a sense more easily. It does help you navigate more easily but possibly it builds up a reliance on using that technology and that method which you wouldn’t otherwise have. 

Andy: Well this is the modern world, we are outsourcing everything to the machines and the google aren’t we? 

Dougie: [Laughs] Yeah I guess so! 

No Go Zone 

Sound design: Sounds of a roundabout.

Co-host Elanora: They’ve arrived at one of Dougie’s no go zones in the city.

Dougie: What is the name of this roundabout? 

Andy: I would refer to this as the Old Market roundabout. So we’re standing at the edge of Castle Park to the left of us we’ve got a road taking us down to Broadmead and we’ve got the roundabout here, if you take a right it will take you to Temple Meads, if you go straight on it’ll take you to Old Market! 

Dougie: Yes. Old Market roundabout think that’s about right. And again so on my way to work when I was coming from St George I used to get off at Old Market and then walk across this roundabout and then up into Castle Park and maybe a month ago, maybe a bit longer, all of a sudden this roundabout is a complete nightmare because they are replacing the pedestrian bridge or they’re doing something. And just huge sections of it are barriered off with those big steel barriers and concrete blocks and bits that you would normally walk through are impassable and you have to go round the outside but when you do go round the outside there’s bits of pavement missing and you have to go this side or that side, and as a visually impaired person it is pretty disconcerting to all of a sudden have a familiar part of your route changed. I was recently, had to have a tribunal for my personal independence payment. 

Co-host Emma: Or PIP for short. PIP is a payment that disabled people can apply for. 

Dougie: And one of the questions they were asking is ‘do you need assistance or aids to conduct a familiar journey?’, and one of the things that, one of the arguments that comes up between those advocates for disabled people and, you know, the DWP.

Co-host Elanora: The Department for Work and Pensions, who are responsible for administering PIP.

Dougie: Is, familiar journeys aren’t always familiar. I mean, yeah absolutely, on a normal day when everything is as it’s meant to be then I was pretty good at navigating across this roundabout and into Castle Park but then all of sudden something like this comes up and it really throws you off, and one of the things is to discover where you are meant to go, you know there are signs there, but you have to know where they are and you have to be able to read them, and when you come to a barrier and you could go either side of that barrier, well, here is a personal experience I had. 

Sound design: Gives a felt experience of Dougie’s experience on the roundabout.

Dougie: I was trying to get round the side of this roundabout and there was a barrier and I couldn’t tell which side of the barrier I was mean to be going. It was like as I approached it was making a fork in the path and I wasn’t sure which fork I was supposed to take and I ended up taking the wrong fork. 

Sound design: Underscores this section.

Dougie: And ran out of pavement after about ten metres it turned it slag and sand and I realised, oh I was meant to be on the other side the whole time, so I had to retrace my steps and go round the other side of the barrier to go on the other side. That would be something very easy for someone that could see, you’d be able to see that ten metres away and say ‘ah ha the pavement runs out’ but yeah, there’s a lot more trial and error as a V.I. person, which, you know, that at best only takes up your time, at worst, gets you into hot water. 

Andy: Well yeah. 

Sound design: Journey music begins again to create a segue out of the roundabout and into the break.

Co-Hosts

Elanora: And we are going to take a short break here.

Emma: Yeah I need it after that roundabout experience!

Both: Back soon.

End of Part 1

BREAK

Part 2

Co-hosts

Emma: Welcome back to ‘Record Breaking Baby’, I’m Emma Blackmore!

Elanora: And I’m Elanora Ferry, and we are your co-hosts. 

Emma: Right let’s dive straight back in.

Bristol Old Vic  

Sound design: From Castle Park to Bristol Old Vic foyer, an immersive warm welcoming, sounds of theatre shows and applause. A similar soundscape to the theatre where we picked Dougie’s journey up in the Hippodrome, a sense of coming full circle.

Co-host Elanora: Leaving the nightmare of the no go zone behind them, Dougie and Andy wind their way back through Castle Park, heading for their last stopping point.

Dougie: Here we are in The Bristol Old Vic. Yeah it’s a lovely space. 

Co-host Elanora: The Bristol Old Vic is the oldest theatre in Bristol and the oldest continuously working theatre in the UK. Dougie and Andy are sat in its shiny new foyer, with a cup of tea.

Dougie: I ah, really love the theatre I have always loved the theatre since I was, I think I went on stage at the age of five. 

Andy: Wow, what was that for? 

Dougie: I used to do like community pantomimes. 

Andy: Oh nice!

Dougie: When I was growing up. One of the things I have really loved since coming here is the theatre scene in Bristol. It feels ah, it feels like quite a rich theatre scene, feels like there’s quite a lot of stuff on lots of different levels, there’s really nice range of theatres from small community based, like up and coming artists, and then places like this, the Old Vic [Fades out].

More Theatre – Dougie, Emma & Elanora 

Co-host Elanora: We really wanted to hear more about Dougie’s theatre work. 

Co-host Emma: So we invited him to a socially distanced chat, back in September 2020.

Dougie: Like I said when I went to University I got involved with the drama society and comedy and actually then was a professional comedian for many years.

Elanora: Oh right! 

Dougie: And the comedy I made over the years slowly became more theatrical and more theatrical until the last show I made, which I think you came to see, was ‘Of Christmas Past’ at the Tobacco Factory. 

Elanora: Yes, really enjoyed it. 

Emma: Yeah same. 

Dougie: It was, oh well thank you very much [Laughter]. It was, I started writing it as a comedy and it ended up more or less a play, and so for the last few years I’ve been doing more acting in theatre. So I’ve worked with The Globe doing some research and development. Really interesting work on comedy characters in Shakespeare that are blind and what is acceptable to laugh at and is it ever acceptable to use blindness in a comedy context, and if it is what are you going to do to make it acceptable, and if it’s not what are you going to do when these scenes are in the play and that kind of thing. Earlier this year, I was in a show at the National Theatre, which was a really exciting project because it had two visually impaired characters in the cast and so when I went up for the part I assumed that I was sort of going up for one of these visually impaired characters, but as it turned out they cast three visually impaired actors in the production but I was playing a sighted character. So yeah, sort of fascinating.

Emma: How did you feel about that? 

Dougie: Do you know what, it’s really interesting because I felt proud! And I don’t know if that’s how I should have felt [Lots of laughter].

Elanora: I can understand that. 

Dougie: But I did and I thought, when going up for that part, I was definitely thinking oh great they are doing a play with visually impaired characters, this gives me a chance, and then it turned I wasn’t playing one of them, and I took that that as this ‘ahh it wasn’t just because I am visually impaired’, which of course it wasn’t. It was interesting doing that work, especially as the two characters in the play were sort of fully blind characters and none of the three actors were fully blind, we all had some vision and we all had very different vision, so it was really a collaborative process between the three of us to work on what those characters would be like. The characters in the play both used canes, and none of us were cane users. Having done as much work with visually impaired groups that I have, even though I don’t use a cane, I know about, you know how often that’s misrepresented and so we were all really keen to avoid that kind of thing. 

Co-host Emma: I was interested to hear how Dougie’s access needs were met as a visually impaired actor.

Dougie: Often when you go into a working environment in the arts you’re the first visually impaired person that this company has worked with, and so you always have to be your own advocate. Also at some point you have to put your foot down and say ‘no, you have to change your process to accommodate people with different abilities’. 

Emma: Yes, and this is the thing isn’t it, it’s a case of you like you have to work that extra harder, it’s not the case that you’re only doing that job, it’s the case that you also have to fight for your rights to do that job, constantly. 

Dougie: Yes yes. 

Emma: And it shouldn’t have to be like that. 

Dougie: It’s funny because as an actor, you are, for any actor, you are always your own hype man, in a way it’s part of the job, you’re always saying ‘pick me, pick me, pick me’ but for disabled actors, there’s just one more thing that they’re saying, you know. 

Elanora: Because you’re working with the unconscious assumptions. 

Dougie: Exactly. 

Elanora: All the time basically.

Dougie: Yeah. 

Elanora: Yes, I can see that. 

Sound design: Takes us out of this section.

Maria Oshodi and Extant  

Dougie: The place I learnt to how to do most of that was from this theatre company called Extant.

Co-host Elanora: Extant are the UK’s leading visually impaired theatre company. 

Dougie: The most important thing I learnt from my work with Extant was definitely the advocacy stuff and the sort of, having the confidence to be assertive about what you need as a disabled artist.

Co-host Elanora: Here’s Maria Oshodi, its artistic director, talking about their work. 

Maria Oshodi Interview

Maria: I brought together some other visually impaired performers who I had met through my work at Shape. The deaf community were sort of doing this for themselves, forming theatre companies and forming specifically around their impairment or cultural experience, and I thought ‘well this isn’t happening around visual impairment’, maybe we should start doing that ourselves and that’s how the whole thing began. 

I think on one level, especially around our productions, we still are that space for exploring the creative performing voice. The exploration around visual impairment in terms of form and content. That’s on one level, on another we’re a training organisation and on another level we are a participatory organisation, so we have other things happening as well as the productions, and the research and development around those productions. 

Dougie was part of the first year of Pathways, which was and is a training programme that initially came out of an idea, I was thinking about, creating laboratory incubation space and we just started to think about the wider industry and what there was out there for visually impaired people, and how what we were offering could support visually impaired people through a bespoke training programme, and then they also work on something together and create a sort of a showcase at the end of it. 

Co-host Elanora: The Pathways Dougie did was for V.I. actors, this year they ran one for directors, next it’s writers, with future plans for backstage crew.

Maria: Other aspects of our training do include working with venues and also audiences. So for instance around our touring work we have a wrap-around programme of activities that are designed to, in the lead up to one of our shows going to a regional venue. So that’s been great and as part of that, because there have been lots of visually impaired people coming to our show, attending a theatre for, you know or that venue, maybe for the first time, we then run training with the venue around visual impairment awareness. 

We found like in a couple of the regions that some of those groups have actually been so sustainable that they have formed into their own sort of drama performance groups themselves and are still going now without really any of our involvement.

Narrator/ Dougie: Extant’s work is great and much needed, but on the whole the arts sector has a long way to go in becoming more inclusive. 

Sound design: Music to end the section starts.

Bristol Old Vic

Sound design: Sounds of Bristol Old Vic and Dougie and Andy talking seep back in.

Dougie: Yes, so this is a place I like to come. I’m a member of the Old Vic, they talked me into that.

Sound design: Fades under for Dougie.

Dougie/Narrator: As Andy and I leave the cosy foyer of the Old Vic, and head back to Arnolfini, we read the final wild card, designed to be read out at the end of the journey. 

Andy: Here we go, oh, we’ve got a quote here from T.S. Eliot ‘And the end of all our exploring, will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’, well, that’s what we’re doing! As you head back toward the Arnolfini, reflect together on this quote and what might have changed for you or that you might be noticing for the first time, as a result of taking this journey together today [Thoughtful pause]. 

Dougie and Andy: Hmmm. 

Andy: What are we noticing for the first time.

Dougie: T.S. Eliot.

Andy: Yes?

Dougie: Is er, an anagram of toilets! 

Andy: It is, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Narrator/Dougie: And as Andy reflects on the experience of his journey with me, I’m resuming my previous role: narrating.

Andy: Certainly, doing this walk has given me a better understanding of the experience of walking around outside as a visually impaired person. I feel like, it’s kind of raised my consciousness a bit, kind of given me something a bit more, you know, helped me stand in that person’s shoes a bit more, so to speak.

Sound design: Closes off Dougie’s journey and picks up the thread of Emma and Rosie’s journey.

City Journey Segue

Sound design: Creates a shift through music and the momentum of journey back through the city.

Narrator: Since we last saw them, Emma and Rosie have travelled from the Hippodrome, crossed the city centre shared space, a no go zone for many of our travellers, Emma included, and arrived outside Turtle Bay: Caribbean bar and restaurant, and Emma’s final stopping point.

Turtle Bay 

Emma: We are sat outside of Turtle Bay, which is one of my favourite restaurants. It is just really nice and I just love the smells.

Rosie: Mmm. 

Emma: ‘Cos obviously being V.I. your senses are ten times more stronger in every other aspect, like my hearing’s down as well, so it’s like any smell, from anywhere I can smell probably a mile off! So, this place is awesome for that. 

Rosie: So even though we’re sat outside it can you smell it? 

Emma: Yes, yes yep. 

Rosie: Right. 

Emma: A few years back I was introduced to it by my partner who is Jamaican, English-Jamaican. I love Jamaican food, I love it. And basically she brought me here. We come here on a few different occasions because they do like a Valentine’s evening out and I was in hospital at the time so I thought I’d ring up, and arrange it as like a surprise. So I rang my mum and I said can you ring the hospital and say to them I am gonna let Emma come home for the evening like and I didn’t tell my partner that I was doing it so I did it and arranged for her to come here and then go to the cinema and stuff like that. So it was a lovely meal, they had lovely music going on. 

Rosie: What’s your favourite meal here? 

Emma: Curried goat. 

Rosie: Curried goat. 

Emma: Curried goat yes. 

Rosie: Nice. 

Emma: I love curried goat and Natalie usually has jerk chicken. The funny thing is, with my sight when I come out the toilet basically I also check my shoes, I bend down and lift up both my shoes to check for toilet paper. 

Rosie: Haha yes. 

Emma: And we came her on that Valentine’s night and basically I went to the toilet and checked my shoes, shoes were fine, didn’t realise until I got home from there that I had actually had a bit hanging out my trousers [Laughter].

Rosie: Nooo. 

Emma: And Natalie didn’t realise either and she went oh my goodness you must have walked out the restaurant, and one of the waitresses who was actually staring at me and I thought she thought I was cute. 

Rosie: Checking you out. She was checking you out! 

Emma: Yes, but no, I had toilet paper hanging from my trousers. And that’s one memory that stands out for me and that’s the thing, stuff like that, when you’re V.I., can happen quite a lot.

Rosie: Oh yeah. 

Emma: But you know I am one of those people that can look back on that and just laugh. 

Sound design: Illustrates what Emma’s saying – the restaurant, the bus. Helps draw out the humour of the story.

Rosie: I am sorry for laughing I’m laughing ‘cos it’s the sort of thing I do all the time. 

Emma: It’s fine, it’s fine. 

Rosie: I think I can’t think of a better combination than comedy and romance. 

Emma: Oh no. 

Rosie: That is actually a total winner. 

Emma: Yeah, it is. 

Co-host Emma: I told Rosie how it doesn’t matter in my relationship that one of us is V.I. and the other one isn’t, ‘cos we work as a team. 

Rosie: So you’re the nose, is she, is she the eyes? Has she got? 

Emma: Yes she’s got eyes and I’m the nose. So between us we’ve kind of built up one sensory element, we’ve got all the senses between us! 

Emma: So it works, it works well.

Sound design: Atmospheric planetarium music.

Emma: She on another Valentine’s night she organised a night down at the Planetarium. 

Rosie: Yes. 

Emma: For me to see the stars, because I love star gazing and stuff like that and she wanted me to experience that before my eyesight got really bad. 

Rosie: Aaaah. 

Emma: And she knows how much that means to me and stuff like that, so she organised a stargazing night in the Planetarium, which was awesome. 

Rosie: Oh my god, oh that’s amazing. 

Emma: It’s like she knows how much it means to me to experience stuff like that in case the worst does happen. 

Rosie: And what is the worst?

Emma: That I lose my eyesight completely. I mean my hearing is already deteriorating and they did say it’s possible my eyesight might, it hasn’t deteriorated in a while, so hopefully not, it’s stable at the moment, so that’s good.

Rosie: So that makes you really value what sight and what hearing you have now, and do things now. 

Emma: Yes, and it also makes me value how important it is to have inclusion in our city, like understanding of other people’s needs, anything like that it’s just like, value life. 

Emma: You only get one shot at it. 

Rosie: That’s it! 

Emma: Yes. 

Rosie: That is it, absolutely, I completely believe that too and like, to hear you talking about really, going into the detail of like sitting and having a meal with your partner, the smells and the love and… 

Emma: And the comedy as well. 

Rosie: It’s beautiful, you’re making my heart swell [Laughter].

Emma: Yeah. 

Rosie: It’s good to hear these stories.

Sound design: Takes us out of the journey and into a zoom call.

Love and Romance 

Co-host Emma: Me and Rosie had a zoom call to talk more about love and romance and finding our feet as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Emma: I think everyone feels those struggles, like are you going to be accepted?

Rosie: I spent quite a lot of my life feeling like I didn’t fit in with any of it and so therefore trying to find ways to fit in. 

Emma: Yeah, yeah. 

Rosie: So discomfort felt like it was part of the deal. 

Rosie: It’s only the last few years I’m like ‘oh’ [Laughter]. It’s only been a few years for me, so it’s still quite new and exciting in some ways. 

Emma: Yeah. Funnily enough I only came out to my friends because one of my friends was getting picked on. One of the boys basically called her gay in the class and I turned round and said ‘what’s wrong with that? I’m gay’. I just sat there and blunt out said it. That’s the first time I had said it out loud in front of the whole of the class and then all the girls came up to me afterwards and said ‘knew it’ [Both laugh] ‘knew it’. They knew all along, I was like ‘really?’ and they said, ‘yeah we were just waiting for you to say it’ [Laughter]. 

Rosie: It’s kind of annoying, I’ve had a load of people say yeah, like of course you are [Laughs].

Emma: Yeah, well why didn’t you like tell me that! 

Rosie: Yeah! [Laughter].

Emma: I think I found it easier that people did say that to me because it just made acceptance after that a lot easier. When I was twenty-two I found my wife and then I was really comfortable, I was happy and that’s when I first thought oh, you know, this is what happiness is, this is what being in a relationship is.

Emma: When they met Natalie they fell in love with her. They love Natalie more than me to be fair [Laughter].

Rosie: It’s interesting isn’t it. If people really love you and really care about you, that’s really the main thing they care about.

Emma: As my family would say you’ve got to go through a lot of thorns to get to the roses. And my Nan, the first time my Nan actually acknowledged, bless her soul she’s passed away now, but the first time she acknowledged I was gay to my face was when she told me, I love Natalie, you’re happy now, forget the rest, you’re happy, and I balled my eyes then, when Nan said that I was so happy. 

Sound design: A palate cleanse that takes us back to Arnolfini.

City Journey – Back to Arnolfini

Sound design: Gives a sense of the journey.

Narrator: Back in the city Emma and Rosie have finished their journey and are headed back, checking their shoes for toilet paper as they go. But before we leave Emma’s journey, we’re going to go back to that moment when Emma met the other record breaking baby, at the eye hospital.

Change Maker Happy 

Emma: And I met that child. 

Rosie: Right. 

Emma: And he was a week old, two weeks old, when they had it done and I was actually sat next to ‘em and I realised they had cataracts and I was speaking to them and, it was in here, in the eye hospital, and I was chatting to them and they said ‘oh she’s got cataracts’ and I said ‘oh I had former cataracts’ and I said how old? And they said ‘two weeks old she’s having the op next week’, which would have been younger than me. 

Rosie: Yeah! 

Emma: And I said that means my records been beaten and they said ‘what do you mean?’ And I said ‘well at this moment in time I am the youngest baby in the UK to have it done’, she said ‘oh my god it’s really nice to meet you, like, how are you now like?’, I said ‘well I’m twenty-five’. I said I’m not doing too bad, like, work for a company that supports people with sight loss and they said ‘oh my god that’s really inspiring to hear’. So that really touched me like.

Rosie: How do you feel about how far you’ve got?

Emma: I do like the fact that I do work with people who are going through similar journeys, I do like that, yeah OK my life didn’t quite plan when I was younger but I have found a path that works for me so. 

Reflections

Sound design: Music weaves with moments from Arnolfini to create a soundscape for reflections.

Narrator: After their journey Emma and Rosie agree they’ve made a rare connection, and Rosie tells Emma what she is going to take away with her from the journey they’ve just done together.

Rosie: I really like it when people remind me that like love is possible [Laughs] and I feel like you have renewed my faith. 

Emma: That was my achievement for today then. 

Rosie: Yes, you renewed someone’s faith in love.

Sound design: Journey theme plays.

Narrator: And if that’s not a good place to end an episode, we don’t what is.

Co-hosts 

Emma: So that’s the end of our episode Elanora.

Elanora: Yes, and this is also the last in our City of Threads main episodes. 

Emma: But don’t forget to tune in to the sister episode of ‘Record Breaking Baby’.

Elanora: Where, through the magic of immersive sound, we’ll take you deeper into the heart of some of the places and moments in the journeys.

Emma: So you can experience the city, in our shoes. 

Elanora: Best listened to on headphones! 

Emma and Elanora: Bye!

Narrator: To find out more about these podcasts and the people featured in this episode, you can find additional information at: www.partexchangeco.org.uk

Sound design: Theme music swells, takes over and plays out.