Full transcript: Do Blind People Care about Colour? - October 19 2017

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This is a full transcript of 'Do Blind People Care about Colour?' as presented by Emma Tracey, Beth Rose, Lucy Edwards and Damon Rose as first broadcast on 19 October 2017.

EMMA- Last week the sky in London and in other parts of the UK went red or yellow - I don't know, I can't remember. I think it's usually blue. Beth what colour did the sky go last week?

BETH- It went a yellowy-grey, end of the world, sort of colour.

EMMA - An end of the world sort of colour?

BETH - Hm.

EMMA - I'm born blind so that doesn't really make any sense to me at all. But for people who did lose their sight I think they've got a bit of a mental map in their minds about what things are supposed to look like, a mental image. And as we've discovered in the office, Beth I think you'll agree, if that changes, if something changes that isn't in their mental picture they kind of react more strongly than you'd think, don't they?

BETH - They do act very strongly yeah.

EMMA - Very strongly. Get a bit annoyed I think. Anyway that's what we're talking about this week on Inside Ouch. I'm Emma Tracey and with me, as you've heard, is lovely Beth Rose.

BETH - Hello.

EMMABeth is our token sighted person today. Also in London we've got Damon Rose. Hello Damon.

DAMON - Hello. Not related.

BETH - You always have to add that!

EMMA - And we've got a new member of the Ouch team, Lucy Edwards. Hi Lucy, how are you?

LUCY - Hi guys, lovely to be here.

EMMA - Lucy, introduce yourself to the listeners. Who are you?

LUCY - I'm Lucy Edwards. I wasn't born blind; I went blind four years ago. And I'm new to the Ouch team as a broadcast assistant, and I'm really happy to be on the podcast.

EMMA - Yay! And I'm born blind, as I said. And Damon you've been blind for ages and ages and ages.

DAMON - Thanks yeah, since I was 13.

EMMA - How long ago was that?

DAMON - Oh, 30 something years ago.

EMMA - And Damon it was a story about ambulances that kind of sparked this episode. You told a story in the office and we all kind of went, "Ooh okay". Can you tell us what that was about?

DAMON- Yeah, and I still weirdly feel quite sore about it. I was in East Anglia where I used to live and I went to the hospital just on a regular sort of check-out with my mum actually on that day, and we were waiting outside for a taxi to go home when an ambulance went by and my mum said, my mum who comes from Kent said, "Oh, ambulances are a different colour in this area. They've got a kind of green on them" and I said, "Oh what, like green and white then?" and she went, "No, green and yellow". I said, "So, they're green and yellow on white?" and she went, "No, ambulances are sort of yellow". I said, "What do you mean?" And this is the thing because when I could see ambulances were white. Now, I try and keep a track of what colour things are, but this one had entirely escaped my notice, or no one had told me that ambulances are now universally yellow. It totally, it actually really weirdly rocked me on that day. Can you understand that?

EMMA - Explain how it rocked you? What were the kinds of feelings that went through your head? What were the thoughts that went through your head?

DAMON- Okay, so my sense of anchoring to the world; the idea that I know what the environment looks like that's around me. And there it is, an ambulance that goes down the streets all the time, makes lots of whoo-whoo-whoo noises and is just there and is a really big and important symbol in this country of the health service and the support and the care that we give and it's just there, is now not the colour I thought it was. It turns out it hadn't been that colour for over 25 years!

EMMA - But why does that matter really?

LUCY - Oh it matters.

DAMON- It matters. Of course it matters.

LUCY - It matters.

EMMA - Why? I've just never seen colour, don't care. I kind of just assumed that an ambulance was a fluorescent colour, like a colour that everyone would see in traffic and stuff, but I never really thought about what shade.

DAMON - What if they suddenly changed Marmite to a chocolate flavour, Emma?

EMMA - That would help I think. [Laughter]

BETH - That would become chocolate spread, wouldn't it?

EMMA - Yeah!

DAMON- What if they suddenly changed chocolate to a Marmite flavour, Emma?

EMMA - Oh that would be bad. I would be very unhappy about that! I would be writing complaints because I don't like Marmite.

DAMON - Is that a good analogy? I'm not even sure.

LUCY - I don't know.

EMMA - Lucy why does it matter to you then?

LUCY - I feel it's your sense of integrity as a person. I don't know. Me and Damon were talking about this, and I've just moved to London to be a part of the Ouch team and back in Brum, at home, I used to be able to see my environment around me, and it's so weird coming to London: I get lost a lot more and it just really doesn't help my mental state in a way because, I don't know, it's kind of a part that defines me that I know where I am, even though I can't see.

EMMA - In Birmingham where you're from, because you lost your sight so recently, do you have a full mental map of your area then?

LUCY - Yeah, definitely. I also know how many steps to the local Tesco or whatever, but I know everywhere. I know the inside of my house obviously and all the colours of my wallpaper and my room.

DAMON- That's interesting. After I lost my sight I wouldn't let my parents decorate my room for six or seven years.

LUCY - Yeah, it was before I lost my sight I did my room and they weren't allowed to paint it.

EMMA - So, now that you've come to London do you feel a lot more blind?

LUCY - Yeah, I do, very much so. I feel a lot more… yeah. My favourite colour is plum and my room is not that colour and that still frustrates me that I'm in a room that isn't that colour! I know it sounds ridiculous.

EMMA - It doesn't sound ridiculous but it doesn't make any sense to me as someone who isn't any way interested in colour.

BETH - What do you know about colour Emma? Does it mean anything to you?

DAMON- Yeah, what colour do you think plum is?

EMMA - Plum is sort of red, purple.

BETH - Do you know what red and purple are?

EMMA - No. I know colours relating to things. I seem to register what people say about what colour things are and sometimes what colours go together. I was wearing some black and some navy very close together yesterday and I've always been told that that's a crime almost and I was unhappy about it for the day really, but I'm pregnant and it was all that was fitting really so I thought I'll just wear it anyway.

DAMON- Why's black and navy a crime? Sorry, can we have a talk on this?

EMMA - Well, it might not be a crime now. Because like you guys say about things changing and it rocking you, the fact that fashion changes so much really gets my goat because I can't keep track of it. Is black and navy still a crime? Say no, say no.

BETH - It's not a crime but a lot of people say you shouldn't wear it. However my school uniform was black and navy so.

DAMON- So was mine.

LUCY - Yeah, they're quite close colours aren't they?

BETH - Yeah. And people tend to wear jeans and a black top - that's dark jeans and navy. Although this morning when Lucy came into the office one of my first thoughts was: good colour combination. She's got like a grey dress and a dusky pink jacket. So, who put your clothes together or have you had them for a long time?

LUCY - My sister is my style guru. The only way I feel in control is getting my sister on an online shopping spree with me because I feel like she knows my style before I went blind, and if my style changed I think I'd be really annoyed. And because I've only been blind for four years it hasn't changed yet; but as I get older or pregnant or something I think I'm going to get really annoyed at myself.

DAMON- But that's interesting. You have a style. When you could see you chose your style; you knew the kinds of things that made you feel happy and what you liked. By the age of 13 when I lost my sight I was wearing just sort of fashionable clothing at the time, looking like everybody else, as closely as I could to absolutely everybody else at the time, and I hadn't developed any kind of style or worked out what colours go best with me. And now in my 40s I'm completely lost and I don't know who to trust in terms of colours and dress and all of that, so I often just don't go out - I leave my clothes until they're hanging on me and are threading. No, not quite as bad as that. But I'm frightened of clothes buying really.

LUCY - Definitely.

EMMA - As the token sighted person in this conversation Beth we've asked you to create a colours quiz for us. Tell us the rules. What's going to happen?

BETH - The rules are: I will tell you a logo or a product that has been established as one colour and then over some years or many years has changed as is now recognised as a different colour. Now, this is actually quite a hard thing to do because even though I'm sighted I'm clearly not very observant, and I think that's probably what most people are like, so it took quite some extensive googling to come up with these. I'm going to ask the question and then Emma, I want you to answer first because...

EMMA - Because I'll be clueless.

BETH - Yeah. Damon middle ground, and then Lucy has only been blind for four years so.

LUCY - Hopefully I know the answers.

BETH - There is one that might be tough for Lucy I think.

DAMON- Some people, Beth, might say that this is a bit of a cruel quiz.

BETH - You made me do it and you're my editor. What colour is an Apple Mac computer, like a laptop type one?

EMMA - Oh, I'm just going to pick randomly: white?

BETH - Okay. Damon?

EMMA - With an Apple symbol that will be a different colour, but I don't know what colour it will be.

BETH - That's fine. That's going into serious detail.

DAMON- Okay, so I'm imagining that it's a nice clean, because I know they're into their straight lines and their style, I'm imagining it's a nice clean white or slightly off-white.

BETH - Lucy?

LUCY - It's silver and then the Apple logo is like a cloudy white.

BETH - Straight in there!

DAMON- I'm slightly upset about that. Although I don't think I've ever really seen an Apple computer when I could see because for so many years in my head I'd thought of it as a sort of whitey colour I've now got to rethink it.

LUCY - It was though, Damon, it was.

DAMON- It was?

LUCY - Yeah, it was a white colour. But also the Apple logo I feel like when you feel a logo on the back of it in my head it feels like you could see it. It's so weird because it's like a cloudy consistency. That makes sense to me, sorry.

DAMON- It's an apple with a bite out of it, isn't it?

LUCY - Yeah, and then like a little stalk that's off the main bit of it.

BETH - I think they still do their white version, but the main one now seems to be kind of…

DAMON - Silver.

LUCY - Oh good.

BETH - … silvery colour.

EMMA - Damon's sighing with relief: oh, still do a white one!

DAMON - I genuinely feel my blood pressure rising, that's why.

BETH - Oh dear.

DAMON- It really means a lot to me all this stuff.

BETH - Okay another one: what colour is the McDonald's logo?

EMMA - Ooh. Can I just say, other computers are available and other restaurants are also available.

Again I'm going to have to just punt for it. I'm going to say purple. There's no reason why. I did go for the Apple Mac one because of the cleanness of white; that I have an idea that white is clean, like white t-shirts and things like that. But no idea what the McDonald's… I'm going to go for purple because it's sometimes seen as a fun colour and it can be quite bright, and that's why I'm going to go for purple.

BETH - I should clarify it could be colour or colours here.

EMMA - I'm still going to say purple even though you now are telling me there are two colours.

BETH - Not necessarily.

EMMA - Okay.

BETH - Damon?

DAMON - I think that - we're talking about the signs above the doors and things like that, aren't we?

BETH - Yeah.

DAMON- I think back in 1984 when I lost my sight the sign was sort of red, the writing was white except for I think the M was yellow, the big sort of loopy M thing that they do.

LUCY - I think the M's yellow. I have a feeling. Or is it red? I don't know.

BETH - You're pretty good. I thought this might scupper you. Up to 2003 it had a red background with the yellow, the golden arches, which I guess is French fries I always thought, kind of golden.

DAMON - Oh, do you think?

LUCY - Oh!

BETH - I think so but maybe not. That's what I always thought. And James in the corner's nodding. And now it's just the arches so their logos don't have the red in the background anymore, so it'll be on whatever background they have, but the red is ditched.

EMMA - So, chips are gold, right?

BETHYeah, a golden brown.

DAMON- Emma! [Laughter] This is such a weirdly patronising podcast. I'm still not getting it; what is the background colour of them?

BETH - It used to be red and now it doesn't really have it.

DAMON- How can it not have a colour?

BETH - It sort of just transfers on whatever the background is. So, some of the restaurants or outlets have a sort of green background so then it would just be the yellow on green.

LUCY - Ah, since when?

BETH - I don't know the dates here. It hasn't got its own square around it with its own colour background.

LUCY - Oh right, okay, now I get you.

BETH - They just transfer the coloured letters to the background.

EMMA - God, I find this boring!

BETH - Other people might as well actually, to be honest.

DAMON - But you see I find this fascinating, Emma. Why do you find it boring?

EMMA - Because it's just like blah, blah, blah, green, blah, blue, blah, yellow, blah. The only interesting thing that kind of caught my attention was that it kind of transfers onto whatever the background is because I have no idea what that means.

LUCY - Yeah I don't. I can't remember.

DAMON- Because you've never been able to see you just don't care about what colours things are around you?

EMMA - No. I absolutely don't care what colour they are. I care what the stuff tastes like in there and what the morals are and stuff, a little bit, but not what colour the logo is. Let's just do one more little quick quiz, and we're just going to ask Beth about the colour of something that we're interested to know. So, we're interested to know what colour something is and we're going to ask Beth and she's going to tell us and I'm sure we're going to be very enlightened by that. I'm going to ask what colour are reindeer?

BETH - Oh okay. Not Rudolph because he has a red nose obviously, but generally reindeer are a basic browny colour, fawny colour, they might have a bit of grey on them.

EMMA - That's a bit disappointing. [Laughs]

BETH - What did you expect they were going to be?

EMMA - I didn't know, I didn't know. I figured they probably would be something like that but I thought maybe they're a totally different colour to what I had imagined.

BETH - No.

EMMAAnyway that's mine. Damon?

DAMON- The Channel 4 logo when I could see it was this interesting very stylish four shape with primary colours like blues and yellows and reds and things. Is it still the same?

BETH - No it isn't.


BETH - It's still quite stylish. If I'm getting this right it is a white four and then the background is often multi-coloured blocks or they do something different with the background. But the four itself is always quite basic white.

EMMA - Lucy?

LUCY - Mine, weirdly, I don't really know what Snapchat - I know what it is - but the logo. And apparently Instagram's changed now and that annoys me.

BETH - Ah okay. Well, Snapchat is like yellow, and their logo, I'm not sure what it's meant to be, it's like a blob or ghost, sort of an old-school ghost style. I'm sure it represents something. Instagram I'm going to have to look at my phone because I can't even think what Instagram looks like.

LUCY - Apparently because Facebook took it over so now it's changed.

BETH - Now it's sort of purple and oranges.

LUCY - Oh that's so annoying.

BETH - Sort of fading, and there's a white line which they use to denote the camera.

EMMA - What do you remember it as Lucy?

LUCY - I swear it was just an I, like a capital I. Or am I just completely wrong?

BETH - So, now they've gone for a stylised old-school camera style.

DAMON- I've got a whole list here actually to be honest. Mars Bars, Beth, are still red and gold on black?

BETH - Yeah, I think so.

DAMON- Dairy Milk bars are they still, I don't know, white writing on a sort of bluey purple colour?

BETH - On purple, because in fact Cadbury's tried to own that colour - it's a very specific purple.

DAMON- Cars, as I understand it now, they're not quite so colourful; they're more sort of silvers and blacks and whites?

BETH - No, I would disagree with that. You get lots of reds, blues, yellows.

DAMON- This is the other thing, you get liars: people tell you the wrong thing. Bacon I understand now, since I lost my sight, people care a lot more about pumping things full of E-numbers and things, so I understand it's perhaps not so pink anymore, a bit more anaemic. Is that right?

BETH - I don't know on that one!

DAMON- And on a similar thing orange squash is not so bright and vibrant, right? In my head I sort of half imagine is luke-limp orangey water.

BETH - No, it's still quite orange I think.

DAMON- Okay. Have Kellogg's still got that big K thing?

BETH - Yes.

DAMON- British Rail still got those two lines and the squiggly line through it?

BETH - Chevrony things, yeah.

DAMON- Chevron, don't know what that is. Wireless symbol?

BETH - Like a fan, like three little lines fanning out.

DAMON- I never knew what that was but thanks for telling me now. New icons upset me, new digital icons and things, which I understand are around and omnipresent; I haven't got a clue what they are.

EMMA - Because it's not just colours is it that change and put us off and make us feel a bit put out. Lucy you've lost your sight so recently that I'm sure there have been some things that have come about since then that have really wobbled you?

LUCY - Everything annoys me. The last time I saw my sister she had brown hair with purple dip-dye and now she's got black hair, which is just really annoying. And the fact that my boyfriend and my sister have both grown older really, really annoys me! [Laughs]

EMMA - So, they're still whatever age they were four years ago in your head?

LUCY - Yeah. But then everyone says, "Can you remember me?" and I feel like I can in a way but because every time you see something it refreshes your memory on something - is that right Beth?

BETH - Oh, so like if you've not seen someone in a while?

LUCY - Yeah.

BETH - You can never go back to what, like if someone's lost weight you can never then think what they looked like when they were carrying more weight.

LUCY - Exactly, so that really annoys me. But yeah, the fact that she's got more piercings as well really annoys me. I don't understand how that looks really. Everyone always says, "Touch my face; you'll know" and I'm like I really don't, I really don't.

EMMA - Oh my god, do they ask you to feel their faces?

LUCY - Yeah sometimes, which is fine, but the picture of them is never the same and it's so annoying. I'm really annoyed that I don't know what Damon or Beth or you look like. It really annoys me.

BETH - Well, Damon did have a shock once, didn't you? You asked me to go and collect a guest and I didn't know what the guest looked like and he didn't know what I looked like, so I said, "Tell him that I've got blond hair and I'm wearing a black jacket" and you practically jumped out of your skin thinking that I had brown hair.

DAMON- I was like, "You've got blond hair! What are you talking about?" I'm still struggling trying to get this mental picture of Beth, because you're still darker haired to me.

BETH - I look like the most beautiful woman you've ever seen.


BETH - That's nailed it. And I was a lot shorter than you thought as well. You said you had to re-angle the way you spoke to me because I got too close to you once and you realised that I was like two inches shorter. [Laughter]

LUCY - Really!

DAMON- Before we go I would like to ask please if anyone could describe what teal is.

BETH - Lucy can you remember what teal is?

LUCY - Is it blue? It's not sea blue but is it like greeny blue?

BETH - Yeah.

LUCY - Is it?

BETH - Got it.

LUCY - But then I don't really know; can't really remember.

DAMON- So, greeny blue as in sort of turquoise?

BETH - Not as vibrant as turquoise, more muted version of turquoise.

DAMONA muted turquoise.

LUCY - You see, I can't distinguish those two.

BETH - With more green in it I would say.

LUCY - Yeah, okay.

DAMON- More green? Okay, so it's more green than blue?

BETH - No, it's more green than your average turquoise, but then more muted than a turquoise.

DAMON- Turquoise I always thought it was a bit of a nah colour.

BETH - What? It's a great colour.

DAMON- A bit nah, a bit sort of I don't know. Something in me makes me feel a bit sick when I think of turquoise.

BETH - I'm a big fan of turquoise.

DAMON- But now you're saying it's all greeny. Do you wear a lot of turquoise? If so I'm very sorry.

BETH - No.

LUCY - I do.

BETH - It's a good colour though.

EMMA - Is this going to happen for the rest of Beth's time on Ouch for however long's that?

BETH - Oh my goodness!

EMMA - Every day Damon's like, "What is…? What colour is my Brailler?"

DAMON- What about avocados? We were too working class to have avocados when I…

EMMA - No, come on, I have to do the end bit.

BETH - Green.

EMMA - I have to do the end bit. We're running out of time.

DAMON- All right, sorry.

EMMA - This has been Inside Ouch. I'm Emma Tracey. Thank you to Beth Rose, Lucy Edwards and Damon Rose. If you're streaming this over the web on a computer or a device remember that you can subscribe to us as a podcast, on whatever app you usually get your podcasts from, we're BBC Ouch. Each month we have a long talk show with Kate and Simon, and all other Fridays you've got us with a shorter episode.

If you want to get in touch with us by email ouch@bbc.co.uk, find us on Twitter and Facebook @bbcouch and read all of Beth's lovely articles and the rest of the BBC's disability stuff on bbc.co.uk/disability. Bye bye.

BETH - Cool. What about avocados Damon? I want to know now.

DAMON- The issue is: what exact shade of green?

BETH - Ooh, I mean there's two shades.

DAMON- There's two? Oh there's the internal bit and the…

BETH - The internal bit's sort of…

DAMON- Well, when people say avocado I'm assuming they mean the skin, which is darker.

BETH- Oh no, I… well no I would… oh.

DAMON- Do you think they mean the inner bit?

?The inside.

BETH - I would say the inside, the lighter green.

LUCY -Is it like a white green on the inside? I didn't used to eat avocados when I could see.

?It's like an earthy green. Is that the way to describe it?

BETH- Yeah.

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