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Review: Battle for the Winds with Breathe at Weymouth live site - disability arts online
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Gini: Access - all the glory/gory details of the day

a photograh taken outside at dusk from a high vantage point with people in a crowd in front of the view point and then below watching an acrobatic act

Gini takes a view on Breathe. Image: Gini

Breathe, it's a good title, I need to keep reminding myself.

Advance warning that accessible parking may not be booked for cultural events in Weymouth rules out approach by car. I don't tolerate buses, so: no park and ride. That leaves the train, and while I can book assistance and a priority space, I cannot book parking. I haven't yet figured out how to fold my car up and pop it in my wheelchair...

Breathe is good.

There are only two accessible parking spaces at the station. The road traffic line reports possibilities of delays up to two hours; the day, starting fine and sunny, is my logistic nightmare.

Breathe is good.

Empty roads mean I'm early at the station with my pick of parking spaces. This should be good, but the expression on the face of the man in the ticket office warns me that I am not expected. Assistance at this station was discontinued years ago, but even worse, the train leaves from the opposite platform, across a stepped bridge - I am definitely not expected.

While I am busy breathing, the ticket man turns into a fairy godfather and makes a phone call.

The train is diverted to 'my' platform and my trip is still on.

Breathe is good; very good.

Weymouth is Weymouth, but wears her Olympic veneer well and the atmosphere is quite special. I'm in time for a 'carnival' of the Winds; streets are cordoned off and there is a massive security presence as well as the hundreds of cheerful, helpful volunteers with free maps.

The viewing area for the wheelborne is well chosen, the wheelless seeking to take advantage are politely chased away, and I settle to enjoy the fun. As it happens I'm glad, later, to have had this opportunity.
Like carnival floats, the contenders in the Battle of the Winds haul or roll their Wind Harvesting devices through the streets accompanied by music and banter. I get great close-up views of Heath-Robinson contraptions, circus-styled pirates and confused Nordic-Greek sirens.

The sun shines, breathing is easy, things are looking good.

After the parade it all quietens down. The Live Site closes to make preparations for the evening and I set out to explore what else is on offer. I have an invitation to a B-Side event: the premiere screening of Juan delGado's Sailing out of Grain, at the Warehouse Theatre, and ask volunteer ambassadors for directions.

Several teams of volunteers later, we believe one of them does actually know where this B-Side venue is, and I head for the colourful harbour-area to cross Town Bridge.

I never make it over; the steep curving slope of pavement would be a challenge to negotiate safely on my way back so, disappointed, I decline the risk.

After an afternoon of sun, sea and sand, I eventually sit on a windy and exposed raised platform on the beach to await the evening performance: the final Battle of the Winds, including Breathe. I layer on every garment I possess while we wait a couple of hours for something to happen; several too-cold people leave apologetically.

The evening begins with folk being encouraged to mingle, move around, inspect the Wind Harvesters. Up here, packed on the platform, we look on, bemused and cold. There is not much mingling, the area is too crowded.

Between long unproductive silences (when we entertain ourselves), superfluous, uninspired wordiness gives us a near-miss event that would have benefitted from a lot more show, a lot less tell.

It has its moments: flashes of fun, wonder and enjoyment, and even a little warmth from fireworks and flames.

Sometime after ten it is finally over and the ambulant audience is invited to accompany the performers along the beach to where 2012 people with torches are wading into the sea. Hastily fleeing our platform we scurry to get away from the Live Site to somewhere we can maybe see this stunning spectacle.

I find it strangely eerie, not in a bad way; it feels very moving, very final.

The last breath.

I have a length of the beach to appreciate it, like a peep-show, between bodies, on my way towards the station for the last train home.

I am expected. Push-chairs are moved. I join a train full of chatty people already back in their own worlds, warming-up, moving on; as if the thing had never happened.

Breathe? For me, it had the potential to be more than an attachment sadly contained within a disappointing framework.

On the train, I am entertained by family mini-dramas, and breathing is taken for granted.

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