Disability

Transcript: 'Alex Jones will kill me if I tell you...'

This is a full transcript of "Alex Jones will kill me if I tell you..." Ouch, Invictus Games, as first broadcast on 26 October 2018.

Presented by Beth Rose

Jingle: BBC Sounds. Music, radio, podcasts.

BETH - There's been sun, sea and sport in Australia this week.

Oh, and a whole load of medals and camaraderie at the Invictus Games in Sydney.

And at BBC Ouch we didn't want you missing out on all the gossip, so we, well me, Beth Rose, thought we'd bring you a bonus podcast and head all the way down under to Sydney, via the power of a mobile phone, to chat to our old friend, JJ Chalmers. How are you, JJ?

JJ - I'm very good, thank you. And thanks for travelling all the way via the medium of a mobile phone.

BETH - I know. We did try some other technology, but hey, mobile phone was the best way forward.

JJ - Well yeah, I mean airplanes work too, but it does take a long time to get here, is what I would tell you.

BETH - I mean, how's it been? It's been a whole week of competition.

JJ - It's been amazing.

And you're right, it's sort of getting towards the end, all bar the singing of course, we'll have a nice big closing ceremony too, but the competition has been amazing.

It's been everything that we kind of expected.

It has been Invictus, it's been this magical sporting competition which is also much more than sport, amazing stories everywhere.

And we've done it upside down in beautiful weather.

BETH - Have we had any really standout performances?

JJ - Well, the UK team has done very well across the board, and we've won lots of medals everywhere and there have been some phenomenal, phenomenal individual performances.

We had a guy, Martin Tye, he lifted 206 kilos in the power lifting.

That's the first person in the Invictus Games ever to lift more than 200 kilos.

But he does it in his wheelchair.

And if somebody had told me before I was disabled, had showed me a video of him doing it I would have been like, oh he couldn't be doing that, he's in a wheelchair, whereas now I just see this absolute monster.

BETH - But there's been a few stories this week about the PTSD effect.

JJ - Yeah.

BETH - I think, was there a helicopter that went over and…?

JJ - Indeed. Paul Guest, who's a UK tennis player, has linked up with a Dutch player and they created a team they called Team Unconquered, and basically during one of their matches a helicopter began to circle above and his emotions began to get the better of him.

And effectively he began to break down, he began to lose his composure.

Obviously his Dutch partner, who he'd never really met before until they were on a court together, took him over to one side, they both had an embrace, had a moment.

I believe that they sang the title track from 'Frozen'. You wouldn't believe it, but it's true.

They sang that and that was sort of the moment that got them through it.

And, beautifully, at that point in the match they were behind and they went on to win it.

I mean, this is stuff of Hollywood movies really.

BETH - It is.

JJ - But it's wonderful and it's true. And things like that happen here.

BETH - Because also, am I right in saying, because you put out a tweet earlier in the week, you've got your family out there with you, and your daughter flung her shoe away and off it went into the hedges.

You had to kind of face something from your background as well?

JJ - Yes, we were moving between venues and she kicked one of her shoes off.

So when we got to the other end, we realised that the shoe was gone, so the next thing I was sort of traipsing back across the Olympic Park, which is very big by the way, trying to find it.

And I'm looking round in all the sort of shrubs and undergrowth, and when I was down there I saw a sprinkler head, a sort of watering system that keeps this place looking lush.

And it reminded me of the 2014 Games when one of my friends was getting off his bike at the Olympic Park in London.

He was stood there next to one of these sprinklers.

Now, to him it looked like an antipersonnel mine, and he let out this huge shriek, and I remember sort of grabbing him, you know, and just being like, "It's all right, it's all right."

Now, luckily the ones here in Australia are sort of bright pink, the ones there were kind of green and black which looked identical to these antipersonnel mines.

We used to call them toe poppers.

And in the 2014 Games somebody had to go round and put a cone on every single one of these, but it's a sort of reminder that you have so many unforeseens because ultimately you're dealing not with your normal brand of competitor at a sporting competition like this, these aren't elite athletes, these are individuals who have lived through tremendous amounts and are wearing the scars, whether that's physically or mentally.

BETH - Do they put a few things in place?

JJ - There's some wonderful things in place.

Each team has psychologists sort of on hand, but the most wonderful thing I've seen here this week is assistance dogs.

There are 12 labrador dogs that are all around the park and they're just there to be patted basically, and if anybody ever feels a little moment where they need a bit of companionship and a bit of destressing they can go over and they can just cuddle into one of these dogs.

BETH - You are in a bubble when you're out in a foreign event.

So you're not sure how much is getting over here.

But JJ, you're prime time TV at the moment.

I mean BBC 1, I don't know, 7:00, 7:30. Eight o'clock last night, 8pm for a whole hour, I mean, that's big, that's making a real impression isn't it?

JJ - Yeah, absolutely. And we know that if we put this on the TV the people that want to watch it would find it, but actually there's so many messages within it that we want to educate people about it.

And so that's why BBC One have got this commitment for putting it in a prime time slot to make sure that that inherited audience off of the back of the 'One Show' or 'EastEnders' or whatever it is ultimately stumbles across it and hopefully falls in love with it.

BETH - Because actually, one of the things I'm interested in to find out, so obviously you're co-hosting with Alex Jones, who does the 'One Show' and like loads of other stuff, and is obviously very popular, and as far as I'm aware she doesn't have a disability.

So she's like in the same position as me, which my team like to tell me I'm the token able bodied person on BBC Ouch. So she's kind of similar.

I mean, what's it been like for her? I don't know, has she learnt a lot? Has she found situations difficult?

JJ - Absolutely. You know, Alex is, first of all we know how fantastic she is, she is arguably, or probably unarguably, one of the best presenters in the country, if not the world.

But it's been very interesting being partnered with her because we sit in very different ends of the spectrum, in that I have an understanding of disability, having lived it, I have an understanding of Invictus, having lived it, but at the other end of the spectrum Alex comes in as the curious person who ultimately is the type of viewer that we're trying to get.

You know, of course she's learned a lot. I mean she'd kill me for telling you this, but we've been joking all week, you know, day one of this thing she went to shake my friend, Dave Watson's hand, a triple amputee, stuck her hand out, went for his hand, hand's not there, went for the forearm, forearm's not there either, sort of worked up the arm and got to the shoulder.

And then just shook his shoulder, to which, you know, Dave's a legend and he just kind of went, "Well, no one's ever done that before."

These are fairly unforseens, shall we say.

BETH - What was Alex like? What did she do?

JJ - Oh, you know Alex, she just laughs it off.

She was mortified inside but Dave took it like a champion and didn't make a big deal of it because all that's going to do is have a negative effect.

You know, Alex now knows that all right, actually so you've got a left hand.

The problem we sometimes have with disability is we jump down people's throats too quickly and say, "Oh, you can't say that or that," rather than going, "Oh, by the way, we don't say that anymore," or, "We don't shake somebody's shoulder."

So instead of vilifying people we should be educating people, and that's what these Games try to do.

BETH - Also, have you happened to learn a tremendous amount from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, who have been out there? And who you kind of know.

JJ - Well, they've been around.

I had a great interview and a little catch up with them at the beginning of the week about wow, you know, this was something that started four years ago in London but we didn't really know what the future of these Games would be.

Here we are now, four years later, in Sydney, a lot has happened in that space.

And now he's married and he's having a kid, so yeah, a lot's changed.

BETH - A lot has changed. Have you got any exclusives for BBC Ouch?

JJ - No, I don't.

BETH - Oh.

JJ - I genuinely don't, and if I did I would be giving it to BBC Ouch, you know that.

BETH - I do know that. [laughs]

JJ - But, no.

BETH - So, four years is how long it's been going on, and I was looking at the dates.

I've got my notes here, like a proper journalist. So, you had 2014 was London.

Two years later, Orlando. Then it picked up, so Toronto 2017, Sydney 2018, and now The Hague 2020.

Is there a method to that madness, like dates-wise?

It's a bit haphazard.

JJ - Ah, yes. 2014 was meant to be a one-off. So there was one year to sort of, you know, go all right, actually there's an appetite for this and let's go out there and have a bidding process.

In that process, Orlando came forward, so did Toronto and so did Australia, but at the same time we got to the end of Sydney and thought, well maybe this is the end, shall we just take this and put it in a box and say, "In times of war break glass and then we can get it back out".

And actually what we discovered, there are always people, unfortunately they are serving in the military who are going to get ill, they're going to get cancer, or going to have road traffic accidents, so there is a continued need for it.

And so the plan now is to have a two year cycle, The Hague being 2020.

And actually, when I was a young marine, Mark Ormrod, who's a marine triple amputee who's, 10 years he's been a triple amputee now, or over 10 years, he's competing at these Games and won a whole bunch of gold medals for Team UK and he was injured long before I was.

So I knew when I was a young marine that actually, this is what happens, you know, triple amputees are a result of war.

But I was able to see him on his prosthetics running across the country, cycling round it, doing incredible things.

And actually there was a part of me that was already inspired by an individual, long before I found myself in a similar situation.

And so I was taking strength from him in my day-to-day life, you know, then I get blown up and I become friends with the guy.

So it was quite a nice thing.

He's a bit of a rock star if I'm completely honest.

BETH - And what about the idle gossip and the general vibes when, maybe the sport's over or the media teams are released from the studios?

Anything to tell us? Confess?

JJ - Well, I mean we are working a fairly relentless schedule here because we're upside down.

So right now I'm looking at my watch, it's 8 o'clock at night here and I'm about to go over to the studio and start rehearsals, because we record our programme at the very end of the night when ABC, the local broadcaster is finished. We share a studio with them.

But during the day we've got to be across the sport, we've got to be across what's happening.

Most importantly because it's not just about who wins at these games, the greatest moment of these games can come from somebody coming last, so you've really got to be watching every moment of it to try and get what we call these Invictus moments, where somebody sacrifices their chance of winning a race to help somebody across the line, whatever it may be.

So we're very much living in that bubble right now.

But we're nearly there, we're nearly across the line ourselves and I'm pretty sure we'll be able to let loose and probably have a good cry then.

BETH - Oh yes, you must enjoy every last moment and kind of the weeks after when you reflect back on it.

Well thanks so much, JJ, for chatting and giving up your precious half hour when you could have been having, I don't know, a hot dog or something.

JJ - Yes, well actually I am quite hungry, maybe I will get a hot dog.

BETH - Another of those free meals that you managed to get in Korea?

JJ - Well, you know me, you know me. I'll catch up with you on the other side.

BETH - Yes, please do.

JJ - Look after yourself.

BETH - And you.

JJ - JJ Chalmers, out.

BETH - Well, thanks so much to JJ for giving up his final half hour before he goes and does the TV programme.

You can still watch the last few days of competition of the Invictus Games, and there's loads of stuff online if you want to catch up with those amazing stories.

This is your bonus podcast, so I hope you enjoyed it.

It was great catching up with JJ.

Do get in touch though. As always, BBC Ouch on Twitter, just search BBC Ouch on Facebook.

On Instagram we're bbc_ouch_disability.

And of course there's always email, ouch@bbc.co.uk.

Jingle: BBC Sounds. Music, radio, podcasts.

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