Full transcript: Is it harder for disabled people to lose weight? - January 12 2018


This is a full transcript of the January 2018 '"Is it harder for disabled people to lose weight?' as presented by Kate Monaghan and Simon Minty.

Ouch's own Lucy Edwards provides a round up of recent social media highlights. Guests include Becky Dann who's looking for love, Robin Christopherson tells us about the latest tech available whilst actor Jack Binstead and trainer Kris Saunders-Stowe give expert advice on how to get fitter.

KATE - Hello, and welcome to Ouch. It's our New Year hangover show, the one where we drag people in for a good old chat with a lot of water and a lot of coffee. If you've never heard our show before, some may say it's about disability, existential angst, self-loathing, and occasional inspiration perhaps.

SIMON - Ugh.

KATE - You love the inspiration, Simon.

SIMON - I don't.

KATE - You do. We wouldn't say that about ourselves obviously. But I'm Kate Monaghan.

SIMON - And I'm Simon Minty. Round the table today we have Becky Dann, fresh from appearing on Channel 4's 'Undateables'. Ouch's resident Brummie, Lucy Edwards, who's looking at some of the intriguing news and social media stories from recent weeks. There's AbilityNet's Robin Christopherson to talk about disability tech in 2018. He's in our Coventry studio. And comedy actor, Jack Binstead, talking about food and exercise with our expert, Kris Saunders-Stowe.

KATE - How are you feeling today? Hungover? Happy? Joyful? New year, new you?

SIMON - I'm okay. I didn't drink too much actually.

KATE - Oh, really?

SIMON - Yeah. How was your Christmas? Any disability-related stories?

KATE - So I'm having a small procedure done, so I went to hospital yesterday to have my pre-op kind of, you know, chat and sort it out because I have to have a general anaesthetic.

SIMON - Oh! This is a serious thing?

KATE - Oh no it's not, it's just little. But while I'm under the general anaesthetic they're going to do a smear test on me.

SIMON - Hello.

KATE - Yeah, hello. This might be a bit TMI for this point in the show, and the year in fact, but ladies and gentlemen…

SIMON - I think we're waking up from our hangovers all of a sudden aren't we?

KATE - I'm having my smear test.

SIMON - Hang on, why don't they do that while you're awake?

KATE - Ah, I just don't really like it.

SIMON - Oh, you want to be out for it?

KATE - Yeah, I don't really want to be around while they do it, so knock me out.

SIMON - [laughs] I've got so many things I want to ask but I'm not going to.

KATE - So I go in for my pre-op, the woman says, "Hello, what's your name? What's your date of birth? How old are you? What's your ethnicity? Do you have a disability?" And is said, "Yes, I have a disability," I explained about my disability.

SIMON - Very good.

KATE - Then she said, "Oh, I see you're having a smear as well. When was your last smear test?" And is said, "Oh, I actually haven't had one." I'm a very bad example, so ladies, always get your smear test done, but I haven't had a smear test. And she looked at me and she said, "Oh well, if you're not sexually active which you're not, you don't need to worry so much about a smear test."

SIMON - Oh! What…? Hang on, had you sort of implied…? What do you mean?

KATE - Yeah, exactly. So…

SIMON - Had you implied…?

KATE - No, the only thing that could have given it away is that I…

SIMON - Talked about 'The Undateables'.

KATE - [laughs] No, I said I had a disability. And she inferred from that…

SIMON - Quit it!

KATE - …that I was therefore not sexually active. And I can be active all over the place my friend if I want to be.

MARVEL - Yeah, all right, you're scaring everybody now. Did you push back and go, "Actually, I'm doing all right," or something?

KATE - I'm so ashamed, [laughs] this is the worst thing I think…

SIMON - This is awful.

KATE - In fact I just went, "Yeah," because I felt so guilty about not having had a smear test before that I didn't want to then say, "Oh but, no I do have sex, but I just don't have an excuse for not having a smear test." So then the whole thing continued with like, "So, who's going to be coming to pick you up?" And I said, "Oh, Holly." And she went, "Right, your mum."


KATE - "And Holly's my wife."

SIMON - Well hold up. If you've never met Kate, if I looked at you I wouldn't know that you have anything, so I would never be able to tell. And you don't frighten the horses, you know, you're perfectly…

KATE - Average looking.

SIMON - There's no disability visible.

KATE - Yeah.

SIMON - How did you describe what you had? Did you say, you know, "I'm constantly tired and I'm not interested in the sexy bits?" What…?

KATE - No, I just said, you know, "I've got an arthritis type condition which means I've got chronic pain and I use a wheelchair when I have to walk far." That was all I said.

SIMON - This is terrible.

KATE - And from that came, you know, well you don't have sex. So then Holly turned into my mum who was going to come and pick me up, and "Check with your mum about whether this day works for her," and I was like, okay.

SIMON - When you said your wife, did you put in brackets, platonic?

KATE - No, because I didn't say my wife, she asked who was coming to pick me up, I said Holly, and then she just assumed that was my mum. So I then didn't change that either, I just went along with it.

SIMON - It's like you were treated like a 12 year old little girl.

KATE - Yes, yes. Because I said this to somebody else and they said, "Do you think she thought you were like 16?" And I said, "No, because she'd read out my date of birth and asked how old I was, like a moment before. And I'd said I was 33."

SIMON - What about the smear test? Do you think that's related? Do you have more smear tests if you have more sexy bits?

KATE - I have no… Well no, you still have to have them regularly. I think you can wait a bit longer to have a smear test I guess if you aren't sexually active, but by my age you really should be having them.

SIMON - So let's bring in the guests…

KATE - I look round the women around the room to see if that's correct, but I think that's correct.

SIMON - Most of our guests have gone very quiet and awkward now.

KATE - Yeah, they really have.

SIMON - They're like, smear tests and sexy bits. Er, hello. Happy New Year! Dear oh dear. Well, I'm a bit… I don't know, it sounds like you were so embarrassed you didn't know how to come back. With hindsight, what would you say if you were in that position again?

KATE - I'd have said, "Yes, I have loads of sex, thanks so much. Sex all the time, all over the place. I'm always having sex. You can't stop me."

SIMON - Which is slightly more awkward now isn't it? [laughs] The tone in the whole studio is…

KATE - Yeah, I just thought about my parents listening to this. So… [whispers] I don't really have sex, Mum and Dad. I'm a virgin.

SIMON - How's your child?

KATE - Well, that was the other thing, she said, "Have you got children?" And I said, "No," because I couldn't then say, "Yes, and I have a child." It was a really awkward sort of 20 minutes.

SIMON - When are you having the surgery?

KATE - Next week.

SIMON - Fingers crossed for you.

KATE - Thanks very much. And before your hip surgery you were saying goodbye to everyone. I'm not going to be doing that.

SIMON - Whoa, whoa, I can't believe our guests are actually giggling. But mine was touch or go, it was scary.

KATE - Was it?

SIMON - Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'd never had a general anaesthetic.

KATE - Oh wow, I've had loads of them, they're fine.

SIMON - I still don't like them.

KATE - Yeah. I think everyone round the table, or most people round the table… Becky, you're nodding your head?

BECKY - Yeah.

KATE - General anaesthetics, they're fine aren't they?

BECKY - Yeah, I mean I react a little bit badly to them.

KATE - Oh, this is not what I want to hear. [laughs]

JACK - I've had over 30 surgeries and I've never had a problem with it.

SIMON - That's Jack there.

KATE - Yes, thank you Jack.

LUCY - I've had under three so it's all good.

BECKY - I've been fine, it's just…

KATE - Lucy's fine.

SIMON - But hold up, Becky… Well, you're a different short, but you're short. Don't you have breathing problems with neck and stuff?

BECKY - A little bit. I've got compressed lungs, so…

SIMON - And then it gets a bit scary doesn't it with a general anaesthetic?

BECKY - I don't know, I mean I've never been told that it should be. [laughs]

KATE - Stop scaring everybody, Simon. And also, I feel like you're a weird disabled person for not having had a general anaesthetic or surgery until the age of, what are you now? 70…?

SIMON - Knocking on a bit now. My friends who have a similar condition cannot believe I didn't have surgery until I was like, mid 40s, yeah, absolutely. But let's get back to our guests. Becky Dann, hello.

BECKY - Hello.

SIMON - You're 23 and you are a disabled woman. And we've got you here because you're on the new series of TV disability dating show, 'The Undateables', looking for a hot date and possibly a relationship?

BECKY - Hmm-hmm.

SIMON - Let's hear a clip.


"When I moved to London it was just nice to finally feel like I fit in. I do feel confident quite a lot of the time, it's just when it come to guys that suddenly I'm like, hmm-hmm, no. I never approach guys, I can't do it. Well it's always, I've just been through dating apps but I could never find someone that actually wanted a relationship, so I think that's where I struggle a little bit."

SIMON - So, tell us how the show works, Becky, and who was your date?

BECKY - So, I've been filming for a couple of months, I actually sort of contacted the show through social media, because it was something that I really wanted to take part in. I've loved the show since the first series, I've always watched it.

KATE - Can I ask? If you are somebody who is a bit scared of dating or you say you're not confident, why would you then decide to go on a show where you're going to be filmed going on a date?

BECKY - Because I am very much a, I like educating people, I like raising more awareness about different disabilities and showing people that we're just like everyone else. And that's kind of my thought processes, that if someone watches that. My condition isn't something that you see all the time. Because of my spine protruding so far out of my back it's something that people don't see a lot.

SIMON - So this is a scoliosis?

BECKY - Yes. So yeah, I just like the sort of raising awareness part of it and if I met someone out of it that I could have a relationship with then even better, because that's something that I've wanted.

KATE - So it wasn't so much about finding love, as it was about just getting more disabled people on TV and people understanding what scoliosis is and what you go through?

BECKY - Yeah, it was a bit of both really, because I do get judged because of my back when it comes to dating, and so I think it was a mixture of this is how I am and that's fine, I am just the same as everyone else, and I wanted people to see that.

SIMON - This sounds like a very confident person to me, there's a sort of vague contradiction to… We know it might be more difficult if you have a disability, but then to actually go on a television show and show that, oh!

BECKY - I mean, on the inside I'm screaming [laughs] but you can't see that.

KATE - And so what's your dating history been like then? Sorry to get personal, but we are talking… We've gone quite personal quite quickly I feel in this show already, so yeah, how's it been, dating-wise, before?

BECKY - It's varied, I mean I've only really had dates through dating apps, which I've had different results from. I mean I've never really got past the second date, that's about as far as it's ever gone.

SIMON - On your dating app do you say that you have a disability, or do you wait till you start chatting or at what point do you throw that in?

BECKY - I've done both really. When I first started dating I was just starting university, and at the time I thought I'm not going to put anything about my disability because my mentality was they'll get to know me and if they like my personality and they like me then the disability won't be an issue. But I actually found that it was worse because I'd get to know someone, like we'd talk for weeks, sometimes months, and then as soon as I mentioned the disability they would just disappear. And it's this whole thing of like with technology they can just do that, they don't have to give an explanation, they can just disappear.

KATE - They can ghost you. That's what the kids are saying nowadays.

BECKY - Yes.

SIMON - Has that happened a lot to you, Kate?

KATE - Many a time, yeah.

JACK -There's also that little thing though, like you said there about you don't mention it and then you talk for months and months and months, mention it and they go away, whereas it's almost like if you… What I found with that situation is if I don't mention it straight up I leave it for months, when it finally does come up they go, "Is the disability so bad that you couldn't have told me straight away? It's that bad you had to keep it a secret for months?" It almost makes it sound worse, like you are ashamed of it, but if we're confident people and we're not ashamed, we are just normal people, we might as well just get out there and say it.

BECKY - Well that's the thing, so that's why I got to a point where I was like something's not right here, I'm getting bad people, I'm not meeting the correct people. So I did then start then changing my profile so that it said from the outset that I have scoliosis and I actually took a self-portrait when I was at university and it shows my spine.

SIMON - Because you're a photographer, or you studied photography?

BECKY - Yeah, so I put that image on there and I was like this is it in full form and so if you don't like that and you can't accept it then you're not worth the time, sort of thing.

KATE - I feel like it's good to get the rejection done so that they don't even get…

SIMON - [laughs]

KATE - Do you know what I mean? Like if someone's going to reject you for the disability, like just get it down straight away.

SIMON - Do it now.

BECKY - Yeah.

KATE - So that you don't form any… And then you're not quite as hurt by it as you would be later down the line.

BECKY - Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

SIMON - And when you changed your strategy did that sort of get the numbers up or more quality, not quantity, perhaps?

BECKY - More quality more than quantity, yeah. The numbers dropped a little bit [laughs] but I was just like they're obviously the ones that aren't worth it, I'm glad that I didn't waste my time with those people. And I actually ended up going on a couple of dates with people that, they were genuinely lovely, it's just that it didn't quite work out. I did go on some bad dates with people that sort of said to me afterwards, "I can't handle your disability," and it's just like you don't have to handle anything.

KATE - In what way could they not handle it?

BECKY - I don't know, but sometimes it's the wheelchair, as soon as I mention that I use a wheelchair as well, that scares them and… Yeah.

SIMON - You're nodding, Jack?

JACK - Yeah, well I mean I use a wheelchair, I don't have any other option, so for me you take the wheelchair or you don't, you know, I haven't got really a choice to walk.

KATE - Because Becky, you can use crutches sometimes can't you?

BECKY - Yeah.

JACK - The wheelchair is a big factor for scaring people off because it's so different, it's almost a bit abrupt.

KATE - Becky, can I ask, how do they find you a date on 'The Undateables'? Because when I watch the programme, which I always do, like I used to be very on the fence about the programme, but I do enjoy it as television. As a disabled person I'm still not 100% sure about it as a concept, but you know, I really enjoy it as a programme. So I always notice that the people with learning disabilities, they have a specific dating agency that they go to to find dates for people with learning disabilities, but you never see how they match up people with disabilities. And they're always matched up with people who are non-disabled, I think I'm right in saying. How did they find you your date?

BECKY - It's through dating agencies, so I met with the lady from the dating agency, she came to my house, and she sits and she just talks to you about what your type is, what you'd ideally like, and then they find someone that they think would suit you. And they try to get as best as they possibly can, they don't just sort of match you up with any person.

SIMON - And what's your type?

KATE - Yeah, so people who are listening, you know, they're thinking oh, I've seen her on the telly, she's lovely, you know, maybe we could play a bit of Cilla Black. What is your type, who are you looking for?

BECKY - [laughs] I find this question so hard, because I'm so clichéd in that I don't really have a type, I just like someone who's open minded and that can have a conversation and who are funny; I like people who are funny.

KATE - Okay. Dark, blond hair?

BECKY - I go for gingers quite a lot.

KATE - Ginger, okay. Yeah, ginger was on the show. I think I can give a spoiler that she went on a date with somebody who's ginger. And blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes?

BECKY - I'm not fussed about eyes.

KATE - Tall, short?

BECKY - I mean, I'm short so anyone's taller than me really.

SIMON - Easy, easy.

BECKY - Oh! [laughs]

KATE - Almost anyone, Simon.

SIMON - Which is a lovely segue. So, would you consider…? This sounds really bad now, would you consider dating someone with the same condition as you?

KATE - Would she consider dating you?

SIMON - Is the aim that you want to be with someone who's not disabled or are you indifferent to that?

BECKY - When I was younger I was sort of like I didn't want to date someone with a disability because I was in the mentality of like I didn't want…

SIMON - It's like a cliché.

BECKY - Yeah. And I did have that a lot, it's like people assume, oh you're in a wheelchair so you know everyone that's in a wheelchair sort of thing, and obviously you must date people that are in wheelchairs, and things like that, and it's just like, hmm-hmm, no. But I'm not bothered now, as I've got older I just see people for themselves and so it doesn't bother me if they have a disability or not.

KATE - What was it actually like filming the TV show, especially on the date? How awkward was that?

BECKY - The actual filming process was amazing, I was terrified going into it, it was a very new experience, but the people that are on the team are so lovely, they just make you feel so relaxed, and I think that's what really helped me. And then it just becomes a bit like the norm, you just get used to it, you get used to having the camera in front of you. It gets difficult when you're in public and people are watching and staring, but then you've just got to stop.

SIMON - On a date it's awkward enough, but then to have the cameras and public watching.

BECKY - Yeah. I was worried about that, but it was okay because weirdly enough you blank everyone out, you're so focused on being in the date that it's like you've got little, what are they called that horses wear?

KATE - Blinkers.

BECKY - Yeah, little blinkers that you just can't see anyone else. I totally forgot that the cameras were there and it was really natural.

KATE - What was your date… what was he like?

BECKY - He was really nice, yeah. He was chatty and that's exactly what I asked for, I really like that, because I'm the type of person where if someone's really quiet and they don't really talk much then I don't talk either, I just go quiet. And so it was helpful, he was funny, and I think he was really nervous as well which kind of made me feel a lot better that we were both just as nervous as each other.

KATE - Are you seeing him now?

BECKY - I don't want to spoil anything, people need to see the show.

KATE - Oh dear. Okay, fine.

SIMON - Do you, and this is to everyone, do you ever get…? I used to get this, particularly at university, where I'd get a lot of female friends because they saw me as a sort of a non-sexual being. And they loved it, because I could be their close friend. I'd fancy the pants off them but they didn't reciprocate it. Have you picked up lots of male friends who love being close to you but don't see you in a sort of sexual partner way?

BECKY - I don't know, because I don't really fancy any of them. [laughs]

SIMON - That's handy, okay that helps.

BECKY - I've got male friends but not any that I'm attracted to. So I don't know, I've never thought about it like that really.

SIMON - Is it just me, Jack?

JACK - No, I've had female friends, I still do have female friends but…

SIMON - Yes, and so do I, which is lovely.

KATE - I wouldn't ever see Jack as a non-threat.

SIMON - [laughs]

JACK - It sounds really bad, because when I do meet up with other disabled people and they say like, oh you know, "I'm really struggling to get a date," or, "I've never been on a date," I never have had that problem, I've always had dates, I've always been in a relationship, I've never had trouble having sex. I've never had that. So for someone like me who's confident and open about that to be around loads of disabled people who have that problem it sort of feels like I'm bragging but I'm not, it's just…

SIMON - It's who you are.

KATE - So Becky, knowing what you know now would you do the show again if they asked you to come on another time? If you haven't found the love of your life on this show would you do another episode?

BECKY - Yeah definitely, I think it's such an amazing experience and it's made me feel more confident. So definitely.

KATE - And you still won't tell us how it went?

BECKY - No, no spoilers.

SIMON - We can watch it.

KATE - Okay well yeah, 'The Undateables' is on Monday nights on Channel 4 at nine pm, or if you can't watch it live it's on All 4 on your internet device.

SIMON - It's time for our regular look at some of the disability news that you might have missed, and what's been flying around social media. Ouch's own Lucy Edwards is here to talk us through it. So it seems Netflix provides a service beyond just streaming movies, Lucy?

LUCY - Yes Simon. A Netflix user was binge watching 'The Office' so much he got contacted by the company via email. He was actually having a depressive episode, and he posted this on Reddit, his name was King_Salamando, he was really glad that the company cared enough about his depression that they contacted him.

KATE - So they emailed him and said what, "Oh gosh, you're watching too much of 'The Office'" or did they say…?

SIMON - "Are you okay?"

KATE - "Are you okay," or…?

LUCY - Yeah, basically it was due to him not having his regular scheduled viewing, he just streamed it for a good week and a half solid and they were really worried about him.

SIMON - Oh… Part of me says this is lovely…

KATE - Yeah, part of me thinks that's cute.

SIMON - My TV turns off after six hours itself, and also Netflix I think sometimes says, "Are you sure you're still watching this?" at certain points doesn't it? But…

LUCY - Yeah, but don't we think that's really creepy?

SIMON - I don't know. Jack, what do you think?

JACK - I don't know. I never knew that they knew that about us.

KATE - Well, before Christmas…

SIMON - Particularly about you. They know about you…

JACK - They know exactly about it, yes. And I don't use Netflix that much, I've only recently started watching Netflix more because I've got it on my phone. And so where I can't hear so well, my TV doesn't have the option to put headphones in right now, I watch it on my phone. So I've been watching it more recently, but I never knew they had that capability to know that you're binge watching one programme.

KATE - Well, I only knew because before Christmas they did a press release where they talked about various people who'd binge watched stuff or they said somebody had watched 'A Christmas Prince' every day for the last 30 days, you know, "Are you okay hun?" kind of thing.

JACK - Wasn't there an article a couple of weeks ago about a guy who watched the 'Bee Movie' 147 times in 2017 and it became the most… He watched one film 347 times.

SIMON - His name was Jerry Seinfeld was it? Becky, would you be creeped out or would you feel how kind of them?

BECKY - I think I'd be a little bit creeped out but I feel like everything's monitored these days that I feel like you'd expect it. I mean you can't talk about something without an advert coming on your phone and it's just like you…

KATE - That's so true.

SIMON - A very good point. Well, I'm thinking of a bank and if you have an unusual transaction you get a phone call from the bank and you're like well, how did they know that so quickly? Robin?

ROBIN - For my thinking it's not about I'm not surprised at all that they can do this sort of thing, because there's so much that they know about us and it's just algorithms and people having the ideas of monitoring for X, Y and Z. And particularly with social media they've got so much data to go on, the vocabulary that you use in your posts, the frequency, the tone of the language, they've got so much clever machine learning these days that they can really mine things very deeply. Even on Instagram, a marked reduction in selfies can indicate a change in self-esteem, or whatever it might be.

SIMON - Goodness me.

ROBIN - And all of these things can be mined very, very easily. The big question like we've been talking about is what part should they play? What should they do about it? And with this one in particular I think that it's all in the tone of the message that they sent to that person, and you could imagine that it would be a very encouraging, yet relatively vague message about, you know, a change in your viewing habits, and "How are things going and is there anything…?" that sort of thing. As long as the messaging was right I think it's appropriate.

KATE - Yeah, I think I'd feel cared for. I think I'd feel that was quite nice.

LUCY - Well, that's what he said, definitely.

KATE - I always think about the pervasive drip, drip of technology, but we…

SIMON - I mean, some of them I kind of think well I'm getting all this stuff for free so I know I'm going to have to pay someone either way with my information, but actually with Netflix I'm paying for that subscription.

KATE - Yeah. How else could other companies check up on us, Robin?

ROBIN - Well, I mean we're going to talk about probably everyone's favourite Christmas present that we got this year, the Echo, and there's a huge potential there.

SIMON - Absolutely.

ROBIN - I know that there have been cases where in the States law enforcement have subpoenaed recordings from these home voice assistants, these smart speakers, and there is a big question mark over what people do collect, what these companies are storing. And by and large they're aggregating, they're anonymising the data, they're just using it for kind of machine learning purposes, but you could easily imagine, with something like the Google Home, that already can recognise different people's voices in the family, so that when you ask it for your favourite music or play list or calendar, whatever it might be, then they know which person in the family's talking. And that's coming…

SIMON - Sorry, Robin. Jack, your face. Have you been doing something a bit dodgy? You look a bit shocked there.

JACK - No, no, no. I don't have that, like the Echo or the other one, I don't have that, but I didn't realise that they…

SIMON - It's phenomenal isn't it?

JACK - That's amazing.

ROBIN - So you could easily imagine that with algorithms, again you know, not having humans involved unless it was escalated because a red flag was shown that there was an issue you could imagine that these things could detect aggression in the household, a raised tone of voice, the arguments, they would be able to analyse the vocabulary, they could tell that it was people and not the TV, because they knew which members of the family sounded like what. There is so much scope here for doing good as well as super creepy evil. So, like any tool, you can use it, you know.

KATE - Yeah, where's the line?

SIMON - We need some moral philosophy lessons on this. Kate?

KATE - Yeah, I think we'll come back to this later in the show I'm sure when we start talking about tech for 2018. But in the meantime, Lucy, on mental health, there's been another one of these play along pass it on hashtags that was shared a lot over Christmas.

LUCY - There has, there has. Yeah, last month on Twitter we saw the hashtag, my mental health in five words. And a lot of people took to their Twitter screens and tweeted about it. What are your five words? I'd love to know.

KATE - Five words. Oh.


KATE - Mine would be 'alright at the moment, ta'.

SIMON - Because you are here today.

KATE - It's because I'm all right. It's because I'm with you, Simon. So I'm doing alright.

SIMON - Oh, ten words, but yeah, not to worry. Our guests. Becky?

BECKY - Oh blimey. Five words. I don't know.

KATE - Lucy, have you got five words?

SIMON - Keep it under pressure. Jack, are you ready?

JACK - I'm trying to…

KATE - I'm asking Lucy.

LUCY - Yes I do. I would say 'too strong to give up'. I've thought about this in advance.

KATE - What was that? Too strong to…

LUCY - Too strong to give up.

KATE - Oh, Lucy. She had time to think about this before didn't she?

LUCY - I did.

SIMON - That sounds like a personal battle going on inside there, Lucy.

LUCY - Yeah, definitely. Well I went blind four and a bit years ago, so I was too strong to give up guys.

KATE - Lovely. Jack, have you got…?

JACK - So, what is it? My mental health…?

SIMON - In five words.

KATE - In five words.

JACK - Oh, [bleep] the lift's broke.

SIMON - [laughs]

LUCY - Do you want to hear a few from Twitter?

SIMON - Yes, give us some inspiration.

KATE - Let's see, has Becky got one?

BECKY - I'd probably just say 'under control at the moment'.

KATE - Nice. And Robin?

ROBIN - Well, I would probably say 'grateful for what I have'.

KATE - Oh, that's nice.

ROBIN - But I probably wouldn't post it because I don't know if it's going to be skewed against people that are not feeling so positive, because it could come across as oh well, I'm alright Jack, you know. So I'm wondering whether that would kind of skew it towards the sort of people that would post it. But yeah, I think it's a very good thing.

SIMON - Lucy, what were people coming up with?

LUCY - Yeah, so 'self-love saved my life'. 'I have no mental health'. 'My smile is real today'. I love that one.

KATE - That's cute.

SIMON - Thank you so much Lucy, you got us chatting.

LUCY - No worries, thank you for having me.

SIMON - You're listening to Ouch, a monthly talk show from the BBC, safely tucked away on a podcast so you don't accidentally come across it. You can find us in lots of ways. Why not go to bbc.co.uk/podcasts, and type Ouch in the search box. Still to come, we'll be talking about food and exercise, plus what the world of technology has waiting for us disabled folk in 2018 and beyond. And we have music at the end from a disabled performer.

KATE - Round the table we are still here with Lucy Edwards, who we just heard from, Becky Dann, Jack Binstead and Robin Christopherson down the line in Coventry. Also joining us on the phone from Dorset is Kris Saunders-Stowe of wheelygoodfitness.com. Now, hello Kris, how are you?

KRIS - Hi, I'm good thank you.

KATE - Good. Wheely Good Fitness. I reckon I could probably take a good stab at what this is, but why don't you tell me all about it, Kris?

KRIS - I now want to say it's something completely different. [laughs] Well it started off for me myself being a wheelchair user and it was initially becoming a fitness instructor to teach and work with other wheelchair users, hence how the name came about, but it's progressed now to be mixed ability, so it includes people with or without a physical disability or with intellectual disabilities. And also regardless of whether they're actually a wheelchair user or not.

KATE - So you do fitness classes or personal training or…?

KRIS - Yeah. Originally I was just going to be a gym instructor, and the idea actually was just a job that I could do that was in an environment that was suitable to my needs. So it was actually all about me initially, but no sooner had I started I sort of thought this is going to be a bit boring just hanging around a gym, and I looked on YouTube and other things like that to see what was out there with regards to classes. And to me I just saw it was very patronising and very, very sort of tame for what I considered the needs of somebody with a disability. And so I then went on to do my qualifications and put classes together. So now I teach high energy aerobics and we teach wheelspin, which is the equivalent of a bike spin class but for wheelchair users.

KATE - Cool. Now, obviously it is the new year and I don't know if anyone else has put on a little holiday weight, but I certainly have.

KRIS - Naughty. [laughs]

KATE - In fact, I got on the scales a couple of days ago, saw how much weight I'd put on, popped downstairs to tell my wife, Holly, said, "Oh this is how much weight I've put on," she looked me up and down and said, "Wow, you really committed to Christmas didn't you?" [Laughter] And then I said, "Yes my friend, I did." But it does feel like new year, we are now being bombarded. I don't know, does anyone else feel like this with this whole thing, get fit, eat clean, all of this kind of thing? Becky, do you get that?

BECKY - I see it a lot. I've got a lot of friends that are very much like right, Christmas is over now and now I'm on a diet. And I'm just, I've never been that type of person, I love food too much, so I'm just going to carry on eating.

KATE - Jack, do you think it's a thing that's happening more than ever before this year, or do you think it's every new year?

JACK - I think it's every new year, if one has that, you know, in the last two weeks and then they sort of go back to how they were, I mean the majority of people, but I had my first gym session back over Christmas yesterday and it was horrible, it was absolutely horrible, but you've got to get on with it, you've just got to persevere.

SIMON - And Jack or Kris, this wheelspin thing, what's that? Do you do that, Jack?

JACK - I've never done wheelspin no, I've never actually done a class or a gym session that's specifically to do with disability, I just go to a normal gym and lift weights.

SIMON - So what is it, Kris, wheelspin?

KRIS - Well wheelspin, we use rolling roads, so they're the equivalent of a treadmill, but specifically for wheelchairs so you can actually get the resistance and everything else as you would if you were cycling but as a wheelchair user. So it's a high intensity cardio workout but it improves wheelchair skills and pushing abilities as well. But again, being a group exercise class you've got a lot of competition there and a lot of people bouncing off each other, not literally, but bouncing off each other to be the best that they can be in that class.

SIMON - Robin, when I've met you, you always seem to be pretty trim, in good shape. Are you saying new year, I've got to be fit?

ROBIN - I think if you've got a guide dog you're always going to be lighter than you would if you didn't perhaps, particularly as mine goes at 400 miles an hour, he's only got one gear, but I do need to lose a stone, I have actually set myself that as a goal for 2018. And my cunning plan, which has worked so far in the last four and a half days is cutting out sweet stuff, because I've got a real sweet tooth, and particularly after a large meal it presses a button that, you know, I need to have something sweet to finish it off.

KATE - I'm exactly the same.

ROBIN - And I have found that in the past when I've knocked that on the head that whole sweet tooth thing goes away. So I'm not limiting myself in anything else, but there's so many calories in sweet stuff that you can pretty much go wild in the other areas. And I've already lost a pound so that's what I'm going to do.

KATE - I'm going to put blind people aside for a second, because I think you can exercise. I think you guys…[laughter] yeah, can exercise really…

LUCY - It's just an excuse, it's an excuse.

SIMON - We're getting to the nub of this.

KATE - Yeah, I think it's more for people with more physical disabilities.

SIMON - So non-visible difficulties like you.

KATE - Yeah.

SIMON - And visible ones like me, it's tough for us isn't it?

KATE - Becky, what do you think? Do you think it's harder for people with physical disabilities to lose weight?

SIMON - And please use your disability as an excuse, which is what we're all doing.

KATE - Yes.

BECKY - I mean, I can't talk for everyone, but I know from like myself I find it quite difficult because a few minutes exercising and my back is in so much pain that I can't continue. So it's frustrating but I think it's finding what works for you. I like swimming, I can't swim very well, but I like it because it gives me freedom to exercise my legs a bit more and things like that, so I try to do things like that anyway.

SIMON - Jack and Kris are going to embarrass us aren't they?

KATE - Yeah I know, I'm just waiting for this now.

SIMON - So Jack, you're…

KRIS - I'm not going to embarrass you at all actually because I had the most depressing Christmas, because I put my back out over Christmas and I was going to train every single day and I was going to lose weight ready for the new year and instead I did absolutely nothing. I felt sorry for myself and binged on more chocolate than normal and now I'm twice the size I was before I broke for Christmas.

SIMON - Oh, and Jack is kind of doing some muscle stretching exercises, and he does it every morning.

KATE - Yeah, Jack is getting those guns ready to show them.

JACK - No, none of that, no. I definitely gained weight over Christmas myself, I think that's why going back into the gym was so tough the other day. But no, I have always found that losing weight, for me personally, I've been in a wheelchair since I was three years old, I've always found it's a lot harder to lose weight. And I actually tested it recently actually, I went out with one of those watches on that tells you, it counts your calories and your steps. And I've got one that I calibrated it so it's almost like the same for me pushing my wheelchair as it was for them walking.

And I did, I walked with somebody, next to them, and they burned something like 400 calories and mine said I'd burned around 220, so it was quite a substantial amount less because I guess I'm using less muscle groups, I'm just using sort of back, shoulders, pecs and biceps or whatever, but whereas if you're walking your abs are incorporated, and all your leg muscles. So you guys would burn more, but I mean I was a wheelchair athlete for Team GB for seven years, I've been in the gym lifting weights and I focus on gaining bulk rather than cutting down, it's where I'm at at the moment. But I've always been slightly bigger than other people.

SIMON - I have an electric mobility scooter. Two of my fingers are quite muscular from pulling that trigger, but that's where it starts to…

JACK - I actually met someone in the gym the other day in an electric wheelchair and she comes to me and she goes, "How are you so in shape, how do you stay in shape?" and she said, "I just keep gaining weight." And I said, "So are you in an electric wheelchair all the time then?" and she goes, "Yeah." "I think I know your reason why you're not losing weight then."

SIMON - Kris, you've had some amazing stories, people who've come to you, out of shape and unconfident, but working with you they've kind of turned it around.

KRIS - Yeah, and I mean it's a mixture of things because it isn't just about, you know, setting yourself a routine or a goal or making that first step of doing something to actually improve your weight or your fitness, it's a whole holistic thing, because you've got to start feeling good about yourself and confident enough with yourself to actually make that step in the first place, as anybody does going to a gym or a class for the first time.

But I find with people where they've had a physical disability, and again, it doesn't make any difference actually whether it's an acquired or a congenital disability, but they spend so much time being told they can't do stuff that they actually don't realise what they're capable of anymore, because you've spent all this time thinking, well I can't do that and I can't do that, and then you start taking medication which has its side effects and you actually get to a point where you don't know what your capabilities are and people stop you from trying to push the boundaries a little bit. So for me the people that come through the door are very, very different to those that leave, certainly within a few weeks.

KATE - In what way?

KRIS - Their mood changes first of all. I mean that is one of the reasons, in actual fact seven years ago I was referred for exercise on referral for a treatment for my depression, because exercise is so beneficial for improving your mood. The mood generally improves quite quickly. For a lot of people who maybe isolated there's then the social aspect which is what's nice about the classes because you're mixing with people and you're building up a social group.

Then you've got the way you actually look around at other people and think, do you know what, I'm doing better than that person, I must be better than I thought I was. So you start noticing some of the good qualities about yourself as you are. And then as those things build up over the weeks you start to notice that maybe you've lost a bit of weight, not from going on the scales but your clothes suddenly feel a little bit different or you wake up feeling a bit brighter. You know, all those little signs that start to make you feel a bit better about yourself.

SIMON - I can see definitely the positives of what I can do and the improvements and so on. Do you think it's different because…? Are most of the people there, disabled people there, they're looking around each other and go this is okay? What if they were in a non-disabled gym, I guess is what I'm saying?

KRIS - Well, I think disability does play a part, because the majority of my classes, apart from one, are mixed ability, so there are people who are able bodied who will look at somebody with a disability and think they're doing far better than me, I've got no excuse because I can use my legs or I've got two arms. And they will compare and actually they think I just need to get on with it. But there are other people with disabilities who will look at somebody else in the group who's got similar impairments and sort of think she's doing that so I really want to compete with her. And I notice this within the group, one person will up their weights one week and another person will copy. They'll struggle but she's not beating me, you know, so it helps motivate. But I think everybody actually gets something from observing people around them, regardless of their ability.

SIMON - I totally agree with this. I'm thinking when I hang out with other short people and all my excuses, they fall by the wayside 'cos they look at me and go…

KRIS - Yes, it takes away, the thing that we're used to…

SIMON - To hiding.

KRIS - Not in a disrespectful way but using it as an excuse or justifying why we can't do something. And I think it's human nature to find a reason for not doing something.

SIMON - Kate.

KATE - Hmm-hmm.

SIMON - Becky?

BECKY - If I'm told I can't do something that just makes me want to do it more and show them that actually I can do it and don't just assume that I can't, especially when it comes to fitness and things like that. And if I'm out in my wheelchair people just assume that I can't go swimming. Or I recently wanted to try yoga and someone was like, "Well, you can't do that, how can you bend with a spine like that?" And I was like, I can still bend.

JACK - You're missing a rib, you can bend more than all of us. [laughter] You're like flat pack furniture aren't you?

KRIS - I was just going to say, because one of the things as well, when I said earlier about confidence, is the fact you're able to do that thing, no I can do this, whereas for a lot of people who don't have the confidence they'll just accept what somebody says and won't bother trying something.

KATE - And do you have the self-confidence, Becky, to step into a yoga class and not think oh everyone's going to look at me? I guess that's what it comes down to, what Kris is saying, people need to have the self-confidence to get that first step into the gym.

SIMON - And with sport and with any physical activity you've got to have a little bit of gumption to step into the ring as it were.

BECKY - Yeah, well that's the thing with me. So I don't like going into classes straight away. I've contacted someone recently to do one to one sessions with me because they actually specifically work with people with disabilities, and I feel more comfortable because I know then that they know how to sort of work with me, whereas I've had… I used to play table tennis, we used to do wheelchair table tennis, and I found that I went into an all able bodied group and they just put me down with kids. And I was like actually I can play. And they just dismissed me.

KATE - That is harsh.

SIMON - You would have got a few medals though if you'd stayed in that category. [laughter]

BECKY - Ah yes, probably. They'd all be like, what am I doing here.

SIMON - Happy Christmas. Bang! But that's back to the, infantile, what's it called, when you're childlike?

ROBIN - Infantilisation.

SIMON -That's it. That's the same with them doing that to you, it's terrible.

BECKY - Yeah. It's frustrating.

KATE - Kris, I want you to leave us with some simple tips and ideas about how we can get a bit healthier. So what are your top tips for listeners this new year?

KRIS - Top tips. The main one I always think of is it has to be fun. And people, come to the new year they all trundle down to the gym regardless of ability and they look so miserable because they're just going through their routine thinking I've got to do this, I've got to do this, and if it's not fun you're not going to keep at it. So it shouldn't be a chore, so find something that you actually enjoy first of all. So if you're not into lifting weights then find a class that's a good activity or take up something, as you mentioned you're a wheelchair user, wheelchair tennis or basketball, a sport that's going to interest you and engage you.

The second one is to be realistic. It's very easy to think you're either invincible or set an unrealistic goal that's only going to lead you to failure. So being realistic about what you want to achieve and the timeframe in which you can achieve it is so important to actually being successful. And I think also from a disability point of view one of the key things is to get yourself comfortable with where it is you're actually going.

SIMON - That's a good point.

KRIS - I mean I work with a lot of my clients and I'll meet up with them before the class if somebody's coming along for the first time and have a chat with them, break the ice. They might get a free class and just sit at the back and observe what's going on so that next time they can feel comfortable and confident about what they're actually going to be experiencing. So it's about not being afraid to actually take the first step of making contacts and explaining what it is you want to do, what you need in the sense of any adaptation, so that when you turn up there for your first gym session or class you know that person understands you to a degree and what it is you actually need.

KATE - Brilliant. Thank you, Kris, that's very helpful, and thank you for joining us today. Do you want to give your website another plug for us before we go?

KRIS - Yes. It's wheelygoodfitness.com and we've got some videos on YouTube as well showing some of our class groups having a lot of fun, but working hard.

KATE - Excellent, thank you very much.

SIMON - Thank you, Kris.

KRIS - Thank you.

SIMON - If you like what you're hearing please go to your podcast provider and rate us very, very highly please. And don't forget, we've got a website, bbc.co.uk/disability. And that's got lots of Ouch's videos and different articles that we've written.

KATE - And now until the end of the programme it's all about technology. You've heard from him already, but Robin Christopherson is from AbilityNet and he's here to talk about some of the trends we may see more of in 2018 that are of particular note for disabled people. Now Robin, tell me more about automated homes.

ROBIN - Well, I think the first thing I'd like to talk about, I must talk about, is these home assistants, smart speakers. We all know what we're talking about. In the run up to Christmas, the whole Christmas sales from amazon.co.uk and amazon.com, of all of the items, all of the probably hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of items that they sell on those two websites the top selling single item was the Amazon Echo Dot. So these are absolutely huge.

KATE - This is what I got for Christmas.

ROBIN - Yeah, well.

SIMON- I bought a couple for friends and… How many tweets have people given them for work presents? Yeah, absolutely.

ROBIN - Yeah, so we've all pushed the stats up quite significantly, we're doing our bit.

KATE - Yeah.

ROBIN - And they're just so compelling. When you've got one and when you find out what it can do, you know, you just don't want to go back and they're very, very easy to use.

SIMON - So give us some specifics, Robin. So when you're talking about home automation what might you ask it to do and what would it do?

ROBIN - So this is another area of great growth. It's called IOT, people have probably heard about it, Internet of Things, and it's making the rest of the things in your home as smart as your smart TV or your phone or whatever it might be.

KATE - So can it make me a cup of tea?

SIMON - Does it boil the kettle? Yeah.

ROBIN - So in our house for example we can control the lights by voice. We've got a number of smart plugs which you can just plug into the socket in the wall, connect the devices to the Echo for example and then plug something that's dumb into it and it will make it smarter, it will make it voice enabled.

KATE - Like what?

ROBIN - Like a fan for example, the coffee machine, so that when you get up in the morning you can just ask the Echo to turn the coffee on. So when you get down there it's a £20 coffee machine, it's not one of these £500 enabled ones with a built in android tablet in it which obviously do exist as well.

KATE - So why is this different to home automation that sort of disabled people have actually been using for years now?

SIMON - It used to be the Possum. I remember early really expensive stuff for people who didn't have much movement.

ROBIN - So my sister has one of those. As well as being blind, the whole family are, she also has MS and so she can only really move her head and talk, and she has a Possum and it is many thousands of pounds. And the way that it works for her is to scan down through spoken menus. And there's lots and lots of things it can do, including communicating with DVRs and TVs using infrared which can be programmed into the Possum, but it's very, very pedestrian. To change the channel or to even put the volume up and down on her TV takes whole minutes as it speaks down through these different menus and you have to go into sub menus for the particular thing that you want, whereas with the Echo now for example you can just connect it to these devices, make them smart, and just ask it to change the channel, ask it to record something, to record a whole series, whatever it is you want to do.

SIMON - You've reminded me, the speed. I do have one and I'll ask it to play a record and it just comes.

KATE - Play a record. How old are you?

SIMON - Sorry. I want you to play a song. And it's just instant, it kind of blows my mind.

KATE -Yeah.

ROBIN - Absolutely. You'll be able to do your banking, you'll be able to do your shopping, many different things through these devices and it will just become… It's called the conversational internet is what people are calling it, where we've had screens for a long time with keyboards and mice attached and that sort of thing, but there is so much learning associated with those and so much complexity, the antivirus thing pops up or it's doing an update or whatever it might be, or it takes whole minutes to load, whereas this is just something that is always listening, always helpful and eager to do whatever you want.

KATE - So it's just simple and easy.

ROBIN - And for older people, for vulnerable people, the fact that people can call device to device to drop in on you and find out how you're doing. You can call emergency services through it, it's got a lot of potential, with the right permissions in place, to help really vulnerable people. And there are a range of sort of volunteering and support services that you can access through these devices as well.

KATE - Jack, Becky, have you got…?

JACK - Well, I was just going to say, I feel really bad for asking this at this point in, I wanted to butt in before but I didn't want to, but I have like a £30 kettle in my kitchen, right, it's just a normal plain, press a little button, it boils my water. How can I connect that? It's not smart or anything, how does it connect to that and so I can say, "Boil the water, make me a coffee?" [laughter] How does that work? It's not smart at all?

ROBIN - You buy a plug…

SIMON - So you haven't got the only old one.

JACK - I literally have no clue how this works. I'm not even sure what the Echo is.

SIMON - Now, I could explain it but I'll leave it to Robin this time.

JACK - Yeah, go on.

ROBIN - So they come in different shapes and sizes, but the ones that I prefer are around £40. The Echo Dot, and it's just a little puck, a disc of about two inches high and four inches across, and it's always listening to you, and it can connect with smart plugs or other smart things around your house. Like if you've got a dishwasher that's smart you can…

SIMON - Does Jack need another kettle though? He needs to buy a new kettle?

JACK - That's what I'm asking though, do I need…?

ROBIN - There's a plug, you would buy a smart plug, and there's a number of them, £15 typically, and it will then talk to the Echo. You plug that into the socket, you plug your kettle into it and then it will only let power through when you've given the right voice command to turn on the kettle. So the kettle has to be on its thing, it has to have water in it and you have to push the lever down, ready for you to then from your bedroom in the morning call down to turn on the kettle.

JACK - As much as I love technology I think I'd rather just go to my kitchen…

SIMON - Hold up, hold up…

ROBIN - But if you have a disability which means you're…

KATE - Right, yeah.

SIMON - Yeah, it's lovely.

ROBIN - So for my sister, with her Echo next to her bed she's got every podcast that's out there, she's got all of her audio books, she's got all of these things, she can contact people…

KATE - Yeah, but with the Possum, you know, she could open her curtains. Can she do that with an Echo?

JACK - No way.

SIMON - Yeah, but it takes so long.

ROBIN - Absolutely, if you're got a smart curtain rail thing which is exactly the same thing that the Possum's talking to it can now be talked to by the Echo.

KATE - There's a smart curtain rail thing?

ROBIN - Absolutely, because people need to be able to open and close their curtains if they can't do it themselves.

KATE - Right, Simon. That's what I want for my birthday, a smart curtain rail please.

ROBIN - And the beauty is that these are very affordable now, because that used to be the domain of the disabled…

KATE - See? Affordable.

ROBIN - …and so they cost correspondingly high prices, but now everyone wants to open their curtains by their Alexa. So that's one thing that we're definitely going to see more of in 2018, it's going to be the year of the home assistant.

KATE - And so your next thing is apps and services which connects consumers and suppliers together easily. Specifically things like Deliveroo, Uber, Task Rabbit, that kind of thing.

ROBIN - So these crowdsourced new industries like Uber, Uber was the first big one, so people always refer back to Uber as being this thing where tens of thousands of people can suddenly become self-employed and access this service and be available to be a taxi service for example in the case of Uber, or with Deliveroo, to be able to deliver something to you for a fee. And the main phrase for it is the gig economy, and the gig economy is going to be massive. It's already been around for some years. Task Rabbit was one of the first ones, all of these have apps on your phone as well.

SIMON - What is Task Rabbit?

ROBIN - So anything that you want done, people with skills, and we've all got skills, and in fact this could be a really empowering thing for people with disabilities, it needn't be something which you would even have to get out of your chair for, it could be something that you can do. When you sign up with Task Rabbit on the web or on an app on your phone you can say these are my skills, I can do internet research for people and come back with a written report on something, I can do sewing, I can do translation, whatever it might be. Or if you can get up and about, I can deliver things for you. So if you want to be a task rabbit then you put in your skills and if anyone ever wants that doing and they find you through that service then they will pay you to do that.

SIMON - And when I get my new piece of flat pack furniture I can ask Task Rabbit to put that together?

ROBIN - Yeah, assuming that there's somebody in your locality who's happy to come to you.

KATE - You can also, like I know, Simon, you're always keen for the latest bit of kit from Apple, you can just get someone to go and queue for you, you don't have to queue any longer.

SIMON - Stop.

KATE - Is there any way of like, you know, could there be an Uber for the caring profession that you can connect a disabled person to a PA that they need if their PA is sick? You can just, you know, tap one on your phone.

ROBIN - Yeah, I mean an app that had that as the network of support potential that they could put in. They would have to have the DBS checks and all that sort of thing, but absolutely, the potential for this and then to tie it into the Echo, or Google Home or whatever, and make it just something that you can just ask for intuitively would be really, really powerful.

KATE - Thank you so much, Robin. And thank you to everyone for the wide-ranging discussions we've had today. Has your hangover been made worse or better for listening? What do you think anybody? Good? It helped?

JACK - Oh better, I feel. We gave some good advice and good tips didn't we, so…

KATE - Good, okay well good, excellent. Well,

BECKY - I feel more relaxed.

KATE - Well, whichever way it is let's say thank you to Lucy Edwards, Becky Dann, Jack Binstead, Robin Christopherson and Kris Saunders-Stowe. The production team this month were Lucy Edwards, Helen Weaver and Damon Rose. The studio manager has been Drew Leckie.

SIMON - Music this month is a beautiful piece of acoustic guitar work by Zaina Arekat. Zaina describes herself as a Palestinian girl in Bahrain, easy going, a guitarist, ventilator dependent with muscular dystrophy, and blind since 2008.

KATE - It almost sounds like an entry form for 'The Undateables' TV show doesn't it? You can find Zaina's work on YouTube and Facebook. The tune we're playing out with is called 'Mind Journey Finale'. And we should say a final farewell to listeners on AMI Audio in Canada. This is our last programme on this service, and we have loved being with you at the weekend and working with all the guys there at AMI. So yeah, goodbye to you guys. We're still here though and available on podcast if you want to find us. But that's it for now. Goodbye everybody.

SIMON - Bye.

[music: 'Mind Journey Finale', Zaina Arekat]

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