“We took around seven children back to the UNICEF compound here in Kabul… there was a little boy called Mudares who was just three and he came in and he kept saying, ‘Where's my mother? You know, ‘why is my mother not here?’ … We put him on the seesaw, he'd never been on the seesaw before, so I was on one end of the seesaw, and he was on the other… And at one point as he went up high, he shot his hands, both his arms right up high in the air and I said, ‘Hold on, you need to hold on’ and my child protection colleague said to him, ‘Why did you let go, you know, he must hold on?’ And he said, because when I go up high, I feel I can reach the stars and I want one from my mother.’ It was a reminder for us all just to keep going for the children of Afghanistan -- because if Mudares can look to the stars, we can all look to the stars and do better.” 

In this episode, UNICEF’s Chief of Communications in Afghanistan Sam Mort speaks to Melissa from Kabul shortly after the Taliban’s takeover. Sam, along with other UN colleagues, has remained in Afghanistan to help the country’s people as they face a worsening humanitarian situation.

She tells stirring stories of loss, reunification and reaching to the stars for hope.

“I see a bravery in Afghanistan's girls and women that I haven't seen anywhere else, because the fears and the threats are real and they acknowledge it. And they move forward,” she says. 


Full Transcript +


Melissa Fleming 00:01

From the United Nations, I'm Melissa Fleming, and this is Awake At Night. Joining me today is Sam Mort, Chief of Communications for the United Nations Children's Fund or UNICEF in Afghanistan. Sam, we're speaking shortly after the takeover by the Taliban after the last US troops left Afghanistan. You are one of the very few Westerners to remain in Kabul along with other UN colleagues, you know, so many people have evacuated left, many others are still struggling to get out, why did you stay?


Sam Mort 01:00

Because this is what UNICEF does. We're here before, during and after an emergency and half the country at the moment is in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and 10 million of that is children. And if UNICEF isn't here to protect them, to give them medicine, to vaccinate them, to give them the nourishment that they so desperately need, to help them recover from the atrocities that they've seen, then who is going to do that? It was an easy decision to stay.


Melissa Fleming 01:35

It sounds very noble and that is the mission of UNICEF and all of the UN humanitarian agencies. But I wonder about you, I mean, did it ever cross your mind to say, ‘What am I doing here staying here? This is dangerous. Maybe I should contemplate leaving?’


Sam Mort 01:56

I think everyone has moments where, you know the speed and the scale of the Taliban takeover strikes a chord in your heart. But we have a fantastic security apparatus who are analysing the situation all day long and keeping us up to date with everything. We haven't been out and about all over the country. We have been lying low. We have scaled back since the Taliban took over. We have been out on some missions around Kabul but we're not reckless. Our national staff are currently staying at home until we get assurances, particularly assurances for our female national staff that they can travel safely and securely and do their work without threat.



Melissa Fleming 02:50

Just describe what it's like going to bed at night, are you feeling safe and secure there? Or, I know that, for me, this is when the kind of fears and the anxiety come up and you're in a place that's going through a very turbulent time, like, what was last night like?


Sam Mort 03:09

Well, last night, it was particularly alarming. I think that's the word I would use. We were unclear whether a new government was going to be announced. We were unclear about what was happening in the Panjshir Valley; there were lots of reports that it had been taken and then there was a lot of gunfire which at the beginning of the evening sounded a little bit like celebrating gunfire but then it grew in velocity and we could see bullets and sparks going over the compound, different kinds of gunfire. At some points it felt like call and response, you know, that there might be different sides and of course, in the dead of night when you're standing at your window, wondering what's going on, wondering if the sound is being distorted and wondering how far away the gunfire is, you know, your imagination can can go overtime. And so last night was not a peaceful one because even when the gunfire died down, you lie in bed and your heart is beating fast.


Melissa Fleming 04:25

Can you describe what the compound is like and what's what's it like to live there?


Sam Mort 04:31

It is... I suppose the circumference is about two kilometres. We know that because that's the only exercise we get, we walk around it every morning, every evening. We have our offices here. There's several UN agencies with our offices here. We have a football pitch. We have a badminton court. We have a social centre so we have everything that we need. We have a barbecue area, there's flowers, there's trees. It's as pleasant as it can be.


Melissa Fleming 05:01

What's it been like for you being there in this kind of fraught period?


Sam Mort 05:08

I think the last three weeks, you are much more aware of the folks with you on the compound, I understand now, when people say, ‘the friends you make in Afghanistan or friends that you'll have for life.’ You spend a lot more time with them eating together, reflecting and of course, the work is super important. You know, we are very focused on getting things moving for children, despite all the challenges of, you know, supply and security so there is a real focus and camaraderie and it was always, it was always a nice group of people to work with. But I feel just in the last three weeks, those bonds have become tighter.


Melissa Fleming 05:58

You are UNICEF's spokesperson. I've seen you on multiple TV shows, TV news shows giving interviews, I heard you on the BBC. Tell me what your life has been like as a spokesperson for UNICEF since the takeover of the Taliban?


Sam Mort 06:15

In a word: intense. I don't think I've ever done so many interviews in a day, in a week. But we are also grateful for the media attention. It's really important to keep the spotlight on the plight of children in this country. Afghanistan has always been one of the worst places on earth to be a child and in recent weeks and months, it's become a much darker place so it's important that the eyes and ears of the world remain focused on the most vulnerable in this country.


Melissa Fleming 06:54

Sam, you mentioned that the mission of UNICEF is to stay and deliver in places like Afghanistan, never gonna leave, my question is why do you do it?


Sam Mort 07:10

I think because I think you can make a greater impact here and because I've never taken the easy route. I've always taken the road less travelled. I was fortunate to be offered a Regional Advisor role in Kathmandu, the same week that I was offered this role and a lot of my friends and family were saying, ‘Well, obviously, you'll be going to Kathmandu and think about the mountain climbing and the yoga’, and deep down inside of me, for reasons that I find difficult to explain to myself, I knew I was going to Afghanistan because I was excited by the challenge and finding solutions and overcoming them and making making a bigger difference somehow I felt and I think that's always what I've done. I've always taken the other route. And I'm not quite sure why. 

I've always been curious, I think of my mum last summer when I was back in Scotland and we were out for a drive and I put the indicator on and she said ‘where are you going?’ and I said ‘I just want to see what's down that road’ and she said, ‘why do you always need to see what's down that road?’ You know, we were on a road where we know where we're going. But that curiosity, I think is what has has driven me forward in life, you know, haven't lived in Scotland since 2001. Because I've always been looking to explore and to do things differently and live in different places. And I think the choice to come to Afghanistan was part of that. I mean, how often do you get an opportunity to go to a country like Afghanistan? Explore it, talk to its people and help them. That's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I couldn't turn it down.


Melissa Fleming 09:33

What has struck you when you've gone out and met the people and travelled around Afghanistan, what has struck you about the country and the culture and the people?


Sam Mort 09:46

Their warmth, their friendliness, their constant ability to look forward and and be hopeful. Wherever we have gone, people greet us with happiness, with gratitude and they want to share their lives, you know, they invite you to their homes for tea. They're curious. They want to know about why we're here and and they want to share their hopes and dreams. 

We work with a lot of young people, for example, and I have been struck by the energy and the optimism and the determination to forge forward, particularly in their lust for for education, despite all the hardships and challenges and that has been particularly the case when we've spoken to young women who, despite the fear, despite the criticism that they might have received from some family members or community members, are just determined to move forward in spite of it. And that confidence, the pluckiness is remarkable. I don't think I was expecting that. I see a bravery in Afghanistan's girls and women that I haven't seen anywhere else, because the fears and the threats are real and they acknowledge it. And they move forward.


Melissa Fleming 11:36

Those fears must be magnified, that they express to you many more times since the Taliban took over. How do you deal with that and what are you thinking yourself when you're thinking about them now?


Sam Mort 11:53

Yeah, it's been harrowing. I have been talking to the young women that we've been working with in the last few weeks. I just check up on them on Whatsapp and you know, I remember the first one that I checked up on, I said, ‘How are you doing?’ And she said, ‘I'm still breathing but I'm trapped. This is a nightmare.’ 

And she said, ‘Sam, I was, I was just finishing high school and I was just about to start University.’ And we have spoken for so many months about what she was going to study at university and why she was going to study and doing her undergraduate at Kabul and then hopefully, going abroad. And she just said, ‘Everything I wanted to do, all my dreams have just stopped.’ And as a foreigner, you have to be very careful about saying, ‘Oh, they haven't just stopped, you know, they'll start again,’ because this is Afghanistan and the Taliban have taken over and everybody is in wait and see mode. Nobody can predict what's going to happen. 

And so I feel with all the young people that I've been speaking to, young men as well, the greatest service I can do for them is to listen, to absorb and to talk to them a little bit about their mental health as well and what they can do on a daily basis to keep themselves busy and stay distracted, but yet stay pragmatic and focused on on their future. We've got a bit of a network of friends who are, you know, supporting research into scholarships and practical things like that, that I think can help these young people going forward.


Melissa Fleming 13:53

And that must be a lot to take in for you, yourself, I mean, how do you internalise that and and cope with this kind of broken dream messaging from these young people you've befriended?


Sam Mort 14:07

Yeah, it's very hard. It's very hard. UNICEF is such a hopeful, forward looking organisation and we try to work with young people to give them a platform to express themselves and realise their dreams and inspire one another and connect with one another and right now that feels very difficult in Afghanistan.


Melissa Fleming 14:31

Is that keeping you awake at night or what is keeping you awake at night?


Sam Mort 14:34

Yes, that keeps me awake at night. I think more than the humanitarian crisis which is horrific and upsetting. It is the unfulfilled potential of young people, particularly young women, that is difficult.


Melissa Fleming 14:43

It's been a really dramatic few weeks since the Taliban takeover. I know that there were a number of families who were separated, you know, kids losing their parents in the mayhem. I understand that UNICEF played a role in reunification, is there any story you could tell us about that situation and maybe a hopeful one?


Sam Mort 15:09

Yes. Yeah, it was an extraordinarily upsetting week at the airports, seeing the crowds, so desperate and of course, seeing children in that mix and there were, you know, there were children that were lost. There were children that were abandoned. There were children whose families, I think you saw the images of them lifting children over the parameter wall and when UNICEF saw that and we were hearing reports of unaccompanied children, we got into the airport and worked to create a safe space for children so that we could find these children. We could trace their families and we could work urgently to unify them with their families. 

So that was not an easy process because the security situation at the airport was very fraught and we saw the two explosions on Thursday night. On that Thursday, there was one family that was trying to leave and, as we understand it, one of the US Marines leaned over and they picked up a little boy and passed him back into the airport. And just as he turned round, an explosion went off and the little boy's father was killed. His mother was severely injured and taken to hospital and the Marine who had, in fact, picked him up was also killed in the explosion. So the little boy, we were protecting him in this safe space in the airport until we could find an extended family to reunify him with.

And so last Saturday, we took around seven children back to the UNICEF compound here in Kabul having traced their families and before the families came, we sat with the children. We had a bit of a picnic, all the UNICEF staff and we have a crèche in the compound. So there's a little swing, there's a chute, and there's a seesaw and there was a little boy called Mudares who was just three and he came in and he kept saying, ‘Where's my mother? You know, ‘why is my mother not here?’ And our national staff were talking to him in Pashto saying, ‘Oh, your family will be here from you. We'll be here soon.’ 

And we put him on the seesaw, he'd never been on the seesaw before so I was on one end of the seesaw, and he was on the other. And he just yelped with joy when he went up high and then I would come down low and he would yell with joy as he went up and I was saying, ‘Hold on, hold on tight’ because he wanted to go faster and faster. And at one point as he went up high, he shot his hands, both his arms right up high in the air and I said, ‘Hold on, you need to hold on’ and my child protection colleague said to him, ‘Why did you let go, you know, he must hold on?’ And he said, because when I go up high, I feel I can reach the stars and I want one from my mother.’ 

And it was a moment where everybody around the seesaw just stopped because, you know, in the 60 hours before this little boy had lost his father, his mother was in hospital, he'd been caught up in an explosion and the fact that he was looking up to the stars, optimistically and wanting to find a gift for his mother was just.. It was a reminder for us all just to keep going for the children of Afghanistan because if Mudares can look to the stars we can all look to the stars and do better.


Melissa Fleming 19:21

So how did the story end, did Mudares end up getting reunified with some of his family members?


Sam Mort 19:27

Yes, extended family members came and took him home. And yes...


Melissa Fleming 19:36

That's good to hear. I hope his mom will recover and I understand that UNICEF was able to reunite dozens or even hundreds of children with their families.


Sam Mort 19:52

We were reunifying them throughout the week that we were in the airport, as we traced the families. And that process that is still going on because some children left the country so we're busy tracing their families and working to unify them.


Melissa Fleming 20:13

Everybody is really concerned that the progress that girls have made in education and getting into schools and being able to enter university, we see lots of women, as professionals, as journalists, as judges, as politicians, as doctors and engineers, that this is going to come to an end. I know UNICEF plays a role in schools, in particular, what is it that you're worried about now for those girls?


Sam Mort 20:48

Well, more than anything, UNICEF wants to see girls in school; at primary school, at secondary school and, if they so wish, at university. There is a huge appetite amongst the girls of this country to continue to learn. You know, I was in a camp for internally displaced people last Wednesday and it had a tiny school in it and in the morning, the boys went and the girls went in the afternoon and I walked in and, as a former teacher, I can tell you that the moment you walk into a classroom, you know, you know how focused children are and how keen they are on their lessons. 

And there were about twenty two little girls beautifully turned out, straight backs, all facing the front, listening to every word the teacher said, and I just thought, ‘Wow, you know, if this was my class, I would be so, so proud’ because they were they were so focused on what he was saying, and clearly enjoying their lessons and I see that in so many schools, I go to all over Afghanistan and at all levels. You know, I spoke to one woman from Kandahar and the reason she caught my eye was that she was sitting in class and there was something underneath her desk. And I kind of squinted and thought, you know, ‘First of all, is it a big bag?’ and then I looked and it was a tiny, tiny little person and it was her daughter. 

And when I spoke to her, and I said, ‘Here you are,’ they were actually doing exams the day we went. And I said, ‘How do you do that? You know, you're studying for exams, you're taking exams, you're a mother, you're a wife, you've got your daughter under your desk reading a book? How do you do it? And she said, ‘Because I want to.’ And it was such a simple response, ‘I want to do and therefore I will do it’ and she said, ‘I also want to show my daughter that her mother is studying and I felt that was very powerful. 

And it goes back to what I was saying earlier about the determination. And that was in Kandahar in the south, which is quite conservative and I said, ‘What does your husband think about this?’ And she said ‘He supports me entirely’ and I said, ‘Does it feel dangerous?’ She said, ‘Yes, it feels dangerous. We live in a small village and every time I leave the house I feel eyes on me. The other women in the village don't support me, they think I should be at home. But my husband bought a motorbike so that he can take me to study and back home as quickly as possible to keep me safe.’ 

And I thought that was a great, great story for Afghanistan, that, you know, not only is this woman teaching in the morning, studying in the afternoon, being a wife, being a mother, but her husband is 100% behind her and her daughter is seeing this incredibly strong role model. And it's moments like that, that just give me such a thrill and really emphasise for me why what UNICEF is doing is so important.


Melissa Fleming 24:18

So that woman's kind of determination to be there so simply because she wanted to, it sounds a bit like you being in Afghanistan because you wanted to. Did you feel a kind of affinity in that personal sense?


Sam Mort 24:37

Yes, I think I did. I was drawn to her strength. I was drawn to the fact that her choice wasn't an easy one but she weighed up the risks and, you know, she had this ambition, this drive and, and she was also supported in her decision and that felt very familiar to me as well. It's not that I have always taken the easy option but I feel very fortunate that whatever I've done in life, I have been supported by friends and family and particularly wonderful women all over the world.


Melissa Fleming 25:27

I wonder about probably the well, the woman you're probably most close to, I guess, your mother. I mean, I wonder what your mom thought about you making that decision to go to Afghanistan instead of Nepal?


Sam Mort 26:44

She was obviously very worried. She... when I was talking to people about this, when I was saying I've been offered this Katmandu role and the Kabul role and my mum would say to them, ‘And I keep telling her about how lovely it is going to be living in Nepal’ and I was thinking, ‘we haven't had the discussion yet but we both know that I'm going to Afghanistan because you know me, that I will take the path less travelled, I will do the more difficult thing.


Melissa Fleming 26:26

Maybe let's try to go, to find out how you got here. You were originally from Scotland, born in Botswana, and you had a family that travelled extensively [and] took you on lots of international adventures. Can you tell me a bit about that and how this paved your way for your work as a humanitarian?


Sam Mort 26:50

Yeah, I think I mean, I was very young when we left Africa so I feel as if I have secondhand memories of Africa. We grew up in Scotland in a house that was full of Africa; pictures and fabrics and, you know, stories and people would come to visit my parents and, you know, they had worked together in Botswana so it was very present in my childhood. And then when I was ten, my parents took us around the world for a year which, for me, was just a defining moment in life. We went from this small village in the Highlands of Scotland to swimming with turtles in Indonesia, to camping and deserts in Australia and digging for shellfish and having them for dinner and exploring caves full of glow worms in New Zealand. And, you know, it was magical, and I have never forgotten it and although we came back to Scotland after that to do High School and university, those seeds were sown and my imagination had been, you know, pricked and I never had a plan but I knew I wasn't staying in Scotland. I didn't know where I was going to go but that round the world trip was a defining moment in my childhood.


Melissa Fleming 28:31

I guess in that year, you were being homeschooled, right, by your parents. What was that like and how did they do that?


Sam Mort 28:38

Yes, we went to... We did a few months of school in Australia, we were there a bit longer than anywhere else, but the rest of the time, my mom homeschooled us and he used the environment that we were in. My dad is a great Classics scholar and we would lie out at night looking at the stars and he would tell us stories of Pegasus and Medusa. 


Melissa Fleming 29:05

It must have been very difficult returning to your classroom in Scotland in the village?


Sam Mort 29:11

It was but, you know, it also has such a joy to it because I was lucky to be living in a village in a national park in the Highlands of Scotland where, you know, the first two years of high school in the winter on Wednesdays, we went skiing, you know, and there were lochs for sailing and kayaking and hiking trails. It was a beautiful place to have a childhood and I think actually what I have become good at I think because of my childhood experiences is just making home anywhere I land.


Melissa Fleming 29:53

You decided to go into teaching that took you to some places around the world, it wasn't a typical teaching job, I believe?


Sam Mort 30:02

Well, when I started teaching, I went to Australia and then I came back to Scotland and worked at a wonderful school called George Harriet School in Edinburgh, which is built on a foundation for children who've lost their father. But I did that for five years and it was a six day a week school so I feel as if the school got all of me and I got not so much of me. So after five years of that, I felt very tired and I wanted some time out. 

And it was at that point that I found myself being drawn back to Africa so I applied to do Voluntary Service overseas which is a two year posting. You were allowed to choose your continent but you couldn’t choose your country. So I chose Africa in the hope that I would get Botswana and I could go and live in the country where I’d been born and really get to know it. 

And in fact, I was given Eritrea and not Botswana and Eritrea was just coming out of a long war and that was a hugely challenging environment. I mean, the country was devastated after the war. I had never seen so many amputees in all of my life and yet, again, you know, coming back to my feelings about the people of Afghanistan, a friendlier, more generous kind, community, you would be hard pushed to find. We lived in a compound, very, very simple. You know, we just had a simple bed that we would pull out at night with our mosquito net over it. We would sleep under the stars, because that was the coolest option. We had, you know, no electricity. You got up and you went to bed with the rhythm of the day. Ate very, very simply. There wasn't very much food. I came back from Eritrea after two years the same size, I went into high school. You know, if there was an orange in the market, that was a treat. 

I remember when I first got to Eritrea, one of the first friends I made was the secretary in the school and we were having coffee one day, and she said, ‘So tell me what you did?’ and I said, ‘I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying?’ And she said, ‘You did something wrong?’ And I said, ‘No, I haven't done anything wrong.’ She went ‘No, Sam. Come on. You must have done something wrong in your country for them to send you to Eritrea?’ And I said, ‘No, Elsa, I came to Eritrea because I wanted to come to Eritrea because I want to help, you know, make the education system stronger.’ And she just paused and looked at me and in absolute disbelief, she could not understand that foreigners would make the choice to come to Eritrea and live there because life was so hard. And that that conversation has always stayed with me.


Melissa Fleming 33:26

I guess when you went back to Britain, you also realised that what you didn't want to do was to teach anymore and you entered into a different career. Can you talk about that a bit?


Sam Mort 33:36

Yes, so an opportunity presented itself. My former manager taught Queen Rania of Jordan English as a girl and she had recently become Queen after King Hussein died and so he told her about me and she reached out. I went over to Jordan initially for one year to work with her in communications and one year became nearly ten. 


Melissa Fleming 34:12

How did you come to join UNICEF then?


Sam Mort 34:14

During my time with Queen Rania, she became an eminent advocate for UNICEF with a focus on education and so we started supporting UNICEF and going on missions with them to spotlight their work. And I was very, very happy in Jordan, loved the team that I worked with. It still feels like a second home to me, but I was coming up to be 40 and it just felt like a natural time to try something new.


Melissa Fleming 35:53

So you became a speechwriter for the Executive Director of UNICEF, Tony Lake, living in New York City at the UNICEF headquarters. What was that like?


Sam Mort 35:05

Well, again, I've been just so different from the, from the Eritrea desert, Royal Palace, Jordan and then suddenly, in one of the greatest cities of the world. It was a very steep learning curve, joining UNICEF as Tony's speech writer and what I loved about working with him was his passion. I saw a lot of passion that I feel in him and his impatience to improve things.


Melissa Fleming 36:38

Passion and impatience. That sounds a lot like you.


Sam Mort 35:42

Yes, yes. That's absolutely...passion and impatience, not necessarily in that order. My mother would say, yes. 


Melissa Fleming 35:55

So when do you get impatient?


Sam Mort 35:58

I can't think of a story. I mean, I get impatient when things are wrong. I get impatient when there is injustice. And I want to put it right.


Melissa Fleming 36:10

That's maybe why you do this work?


Sam Mort 36:12

Yes, I think it is because I think this is 2021 and the world has all the solutions that we need at our fingertips and I get impatient when there is no common sense and there is no pragmatism.


Melissa Fleming 36:30

[It] must be particularly compelling when you're working on behalf of children?


Sam Mort 36:35

Yes, and I would say that I'm particularly feeling that right now, as some entities around the world are talking about cutting funding and pausing funding because that doesn't make any sense to me, because the people that are going to be harmed by those decisions are the most innocent, the most vulnerable, those in greatest need. 

You know, I was talking to one of my health colleagues earlier today and we were talking about the, you know, the potential for the health system here in Afghanistan to collapse and you know, he was saying, ‘Over 200 children under five die a day in Afghanistan. 75,000 women have cesarean sections every year in Afghanistan. These are the people who are going to be affected by these funding decisions. You know, I was in a hospital in Kabul, ten days ago, we went to the malnutrition award and there were exhausted parents sitting next to beds of babies that... I have never seen babies that look so fragile, and so small and so vulnerable. They were clinging to life and they were so weak, they couldn't follow your gaze. 

And you know, when you see a baby in a community and you typically give them your finger, and they clasp on to your finger and sometimes you just can't get your finger back because they're holding on to it so tight and there was a five week old baby in the bed and I put my little finger into his hand and his fingers vaguely flexed and that was all strength he had. He couldn't even begin to hold my finger and it was that tiny little movement that just brought tears to my eyes because there was no strength and so when people talk about funding cuts and pausing funding, I think of that malnutrition ward and the exhausted mother and the child clinging to life and you think these are not the people who who should be punished. There has to be another way. This is 2021. Governments, financing institutions are full of people with master's degrees and PhDs. We have to do better. We have to do better and we can't just cut funding and think that something else is going to happen.


Melissa Fleming 39:27

Sam, thank you so much for sharing your story on Awake At Night and please take care and keep up your advocacy for the children of Afghanistan. 


Sam Mort 39:41

I will. Thank you for your time.


Melissa Fleming 39:50

Thank you for listening to Awake At Night. We'll be back soon with more incredible and inspiring stories from people working to do some good in this world at a time of global crisis. To find out more about the series and the extraordinary people featured, do visit un.org-awake-at-night. On Twitter, we're @UN and I'm @melissafleming.  Sam is @sammort9 Subscribe to Awake At Night wherever you get your podcasts and please take the time to rate and review us. It does make a difference. 

Thanks to my producers Bethany Bell, and the team at Chalk & Blade: Laura Sheeter, Cheri Percy, and Fatuma Khaireh, and to my colleagues at the UN: Roberta Politi, Darrin Farrant and Tulin Battikhi. Special thanks to UNICEF for their support for this episode.  

The original music for this podcast was written and performed by Nadine Shah and produced by Ben Hillier, the sound design and additional music was by Pascal Wyse.