Surprised In Secret Paris

Last night my overnight support worker and I went to Secret Cinema’s production of Moulin Rouge. Poppy’s been working on it for months, and she kindly arranged the tickets for us to go.

The show was amazing, immersive, vibrant and exciting. Everyone was dressed up as if they were in debauched 1900s Paris – the effect was dramatic and a little surreal.

Soon after arriving I needed the loo, the accessible toilet was as they often are – a little grubby but functional. I’d expected my support worker to stay outside. I never lock the door just in case I have a ‘ticcing fit’ and need to be reached quickly.

Although we’ve hung out a lot before, this has largely been at the castle and this time he forgot that he needed to wait outside and instead went to the loo himself.

Mid-wee I was interrupted by two men. I could see what was about to happen but was unable to stop the door opening. They stood there for a split second staring at me and then left, apologising as they went. I was shocked and kept calling out for my support worker, confused as to why he wasn’t there. I heard one of the men say, “Mate, you should’ve locked the door.”

The mix of blame, shock and embarrassment was overwhelming, and I began to cry uncontrollably, the intensity of my reaction taking me by surprise. The only other time I can remember reacting this way was when my wheelchair broke on an Edinburgh road a few years ago. On that occasion too I think shock played a big part in my response.

Although this isn’t the first time this has happened, it upset and unsettled me in a way that I wouldn’t have expected.

My support worker was soon back with me. He was very apologetic but it took me a few minutes to calm myself down and be ready to go back to Paris.

We had a lovely rest of evening and I felt very welcome and included. I don’t go to the cinema often – in fact I haven’t been for over a decade. I worry more about my tics drawing negative responses at the cinema than I do at the theatre. I think this is because with live performance there’s more room to be responsive to the requirements of the audience.

Secret Cinema’s way of presenting films certainly suited me. As the film played, scenes were acted out by performers. This felt a lot like a relaxed performance in a theatre.

I’m glad that the toilets weren’t in theme though – I’m pretty sure a 1900s Parisian loo wouldn’t have been very accessible.

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