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Listen to Excess Baggage for

09 February 2008

Travelling abroad can sometimes be a reminder to black British people that in some parts of the world attitudes to colour are not always positive.  John McCarthy is joined by Simon Hudson, Deborah Loftus and Dotun Adebayo, three travellers who have experienced different reactions to their race, in places from Sweden to the Seychelles and from Moscow to Morocco.  They describe how they’ve coped with open prejudice but also share some of the benefits of travelling to places where a black face is virtually unknown.

There are hundreds of islands in Scotland ranging from rocky outcrops to the largest, Lewis and Harris.  Most of the islands are uninhabited and many are accessible only with great difficulty, but self-employed painter and decorator, Andy Strangeway, has staked his claim to be the first to visit all 162 islands.  He recounts his adventures and tales of feral sheep and puffins and force 11 gales amongst some of the most stunning scenery Britain has to offer.

Presented by John McCarthy

Isay (courtesy of Andy Strangeway ©)

Photo: Isay is an uninhabited island in the Inner Hebrides of the west coast of Scotland
(courtesy of Andy Strangeway ©)

This week’s guests:

Simon Hudson
is a black British teacher and his partner Deborah Loftus is white and works for a voluntary organisation, together they have travelled extensively, visiting most parts of the globe

For the past ten years Simon and Deborah have been to Turkey, Cuba, India, Vietnam, Israel, the USA, Israel, Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Brazil; Malaysia, the Seychelles... Before travelling to Eastern Europe, they were warned to be cautious as they were told prejudice was endemic.

Simon and Deborah have realised through their travels that racism take a variety of forms. In Vietnam people constantly asked to have their picture taken with them. Usually this kind of curiosity seemed driven by good will. But in other countries, they experienced a higher level of racism in the form of obstructionism. At borders Simon would be made stand to one side and wait for no apparent reason while Deborah would let straight through. In some countries they were stared at or called names. 

Dotun Adebayo is a broadcaster, writer and publisher. Dotun presents the BBC Radio Five Live programmes Up All Night (Friday and Saturday, 1.00-5.00am) and Brief Lives (Sunday, 6.00am & 7.00pm)

Dotun was born in Nigeria and moved to England when he was four. As a young man he spent a lot of time hitchhiking around Europe. He travelled all over France, Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. On the then Yugoslav/Greek border Dotun was jailed when border officials got extremely suspicious of his Nigerian passport. Later released with an apology, he was unable to hitch, and it took two trains to get to Athens where he arrived at midnight; he spent his first night sleeping rough. In Eastern Europe, Bulgaria and East Germany he was regarded as more of a novelty and a curiosity. 

Andy Strangeway is a self employed painter and decorator.  By the age of twenty three he had begun to travel independently all over the world. Andy has performed the feat of visiting and sleeping on all 162 Scottish islands.

In 2002 Andy read a book by Hamish Haswell-Smith called The Scottish Islands. Smith was a yachtsman who catalogued the islands of Scotland from a yachtsman’s point of view. The groups include the Shetland Islands, The Orkney Islands, the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

A year later Andy started to visit them all, he did not just to set foot on them but also spend the night there too. In the end it took Andy eighteen trips from Yorkshire to complete the task which he did on Tuesday 28th August 2007, when he landed on Soay, St. Kilda.

Island Man Naive Beginnings
By Andy Strangeway (available from Andy’s website)

The Scottish Islands
By Hamish Haswell-Smith
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd 
ISBN-10: 1841954543
ISBN-13: 978-1841954547

MUSIC: Track (1): Hebrides Overture
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra - Joseph Swensen - conductor/violin
CD: Felix Mendelssohn
Label: LINN CKD216 (1)

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John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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