RIP FSC

Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) is no more ... This is the channel, along with the long departed Setanta USA, that allowed me to follow my beloved Reds for the last decade. Doomed by it's loss of the Barclays Premier League games to the rival NBC Sports Network; it has joined its' also recently demised brethren 'Speed Channel' as the victim of Fox's re-shuffling that includes their recently launched Fox Sports 1 Channel. We will miss you FSC. But thankfully not the games ... YNWA.

Cars and Coffee

Car-nuts ... It's now three months and 800 miles into my Seven life (and three months of neglect for this blog), and yesterday I took the opportunity to turn up at 'Cars and Coffee', the monthly car-nut gab-fest in North Dallas. The only theme is 'cars' and the love of them, so you get everything from the local drifting set with their tricked out Mitsu' Evo's to the 'too-rich-too-quick' guys with their Lambo's, tasteless watches the size of Rhode Island and silicon sister girlfriends'. It's held at a huge BMW dealership on the North Dallas tollway who, bless their soul, park their inventory on the grass and anywhere they can find space so as to leave several hundred spots open for we car nuts. There is a God, and I didn't need a televangelist to tell me ... The 25 mile ride over at 6:00 am, the early start necessary to get a decent parking spot, was somewhat surreal. I have never driven the Seven in the dark at 70 mph plus on the freeway and thankfully the eighteen wheeler traffic was sparse. I did encounter, unexpectedly (and all the more frustrating because everyone thought we were done with all of that), closures on East bound TX 114 (the 'DFW Connector'). This road, which used to be locally known, with good reason, as the 'funnel' was recently touted as being complete after three and a half years of pain. So to find the 'completed', and phenomenally improved, freeway was closed for 'paving and signage work' was not good for my blood pressure. Which was also not helped by the additional overly complex frontage road frustration of trying to find a way on to the freeway. Having said the above it is now in mid September and the weather continues to be ridiculously hot in North Texas this year (98 degrees F on Saturday); and so, despite the traffic issues, the early start actually ended up helping a lot. Once on to TX 114 though it was off to the races, which produced a big grin on the face of my soon to be twelve-year-old (who, by the by, has come to love roundabouts, in complete contrast to his mother, who loves the car but likes her Seven motoring to be sedate rides for coffee). The sensation of the warm wind whipping around us at speed, the surrounding darkness, the high-pitched tire whine on the concrete surface and the occasional flash of the tollway camera lights taking our rear-end view photograph for posterity all added to the sense of drama; truly surreal. The car meet' itself was great fun, the variety of cars was amazing and the people knowledgeable and friendly, even, surprisingly, the coffee was decent. Not knowing where to park we ended up opposite a bunch of Jeeps and adjacent to several classic muscle machines on one side and a friendly Stalker (V6 powered Seven knock-off) on the other. We were the only Caterham around as far as I could tell but by the time we decided to leave we had only walked about half of the parking lot, spending most of our time (courtesy of the 'soon-to-be-twelve-year-old'), around the Ferrari's, McLaren's, Lambo's and a singular Audi R8 that were parked in the reserved 'special area'. We did take a detour to the Porsche area (tasty), and the adjacent Lotus area. The latter was highlighted by a very pretty white Exige and an absolutely gorgeous 2007 limited edition Elise in the old Team Lotus JPS black and gold, known as the Elise Type 72D. This particular car I have actually seen before, as it is maintained by Jeff Sloan and the  boys at British Auto Specialists (it's a car I could definitely 'covet') and it's one of only 50 made. As noted, in between, there is anything and everything. A colleague of mine brought his bright orange BMW 2002 that isn't stock (but where it isn't doesn't matter); there were Beemer's, Vipers, Tesla's, Bently's, Corvette's, day-glow Camaro's, Mustang's and Nissan GT-R's but no (to the great dismay of the child) Panoz's. There were Low riders and kits, including several Cobra's and an absolutely perfect copy of an Austin Healey 3000 on a Mustang chassis that had me completely fooled. Classic VW Beetle's, VW vans, Mini's, Jeeps, Land Rover's Aston Martin's and American muscle, both restored and in-the-raw, were all around. A veritable feast for the car lover with the only requirement an early rise on a Saturday ... The ride back in daylight was less surreal, but none the less enjoyable and, to say the least, much fun was had by all. If you live in the Dallas area, or are visiting on the first Saturday of every month, are a  lover of cars and car people, then Cars and Coffee is highly recommended ...

You’ll Never Walk Alone

April 15th is a poignant and sad day for those who associate themselves with the City of Liverpool, whether they are Red or Blue at heart. April 15th is the anniversary of the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster. For the relatives of the 96 Liverpool FC supporters who lost their lives it is a day of reflection and anger, anger at the years of disinformation and lies that blamed the victims for the failings of the Football Association, the incompetence of the South Yorkshire Police and the disinterest of the owners of Hillsborough in providing a safe facility. Only in the last year has the truth come to light after 25 years of never giving in to the injustices propagated by the Police, the Politicians and the Media in an ultimately failed attempt to deflect the blame and cover up the truth. Much of the disinformation was distasteful in the extreme, with survivors being accused of looting the bodies of the dead and worse. This and more was published in the infamous Sun newspaper as truth, and to this day the perpetrators have refused to fully acknowledge their complicity in the lies or offer any meaningful apology. Needless to say there are few if any who now read that rag on Merseyside ... Yesterday the following eyewitness account, written by a supporter who survived that day, came up on a message board I frequent: "24 years ago today, I was a 19-year-old lad, born and bred in Liverpool, the only Red in a family of Bluenoses, I had recently bought my first car. My first child was due in few weeks and I set off from Liverpool for Hillsborough, the FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest. I remember it was a beautiful sunny day, me and four good mates, driving across the Snake Pass, excitement in the car, at the prospect of the game to come. We had tickets for the Leppings Lane. We arrived early and we were in the central pen at the Leppings End. Before kick off, it became obvious something was wrong, I could not move, could not breathe, was gasping for breath. A stranger pulled me from the crush, saved my life. Still do not know to this day, who he was, I wish I did, wish I could thank him, tell him what I have done with my life, 24 years on from that fateful day. I was lucky to get out alive, 96 people, just like me, did not. To this day, my dreams haunt me, I cannot get the picture of fellow Reds, gaping for breath, crying out for their Mothers, dying next to me. Justice has still not been served, last year the truth at last came out, maybe at last, we will get justice. It is very apt, that the 1 person who could have spared the families and loved ones of the 96' the last 24 years of pain and hurt, died last week, God help me, but may the Iron Lady rot in hell, she knew and approved of the cover up. Today, my fellow Liverpool brothers and sisters, let us remember the 96' who were not as fortunate as me, they will never be forgotten and they will never walk alone. I got to see my daughter born, 8th May 1989', less than a month after the tragedy and since then, another daughter and a son, who make me very proud. I thank God every day for the blessings I have received and for saving me that day. I have never spoken of my experience until today, somehow, it now feels like the right time and the right forum. I hope we will at last see justice for the 96 and their loved ones and maybe, finally, my nightmares will go away. I have to close now, I am crying and cannot see the words I write, first time in 24 years, I have cried. God bless the 96, may you Rest in Peace and you will never, ever, ever walk alone." This week will mark the funeral of "The Iron Lady", many in Liverpool will turn their eyes and thoughts away from this event. Liverpool is a traditionally a 'blue collar' city and in those dark and turbulent days of the eighties the Liverpool City Council was essentially communist, and as opposed to the Tory Government of Margaret Thatcher as any city could ever be. In turn her enmity toward the city was well-known and, whether it is true or not, many in Liverpool choose to believe that Thatcher knew about, and condoned, the cover-up and lies that were told about Hillsborough. There will be scant morning on much of Merseyside ... For 50 years the supporters of LFC have used the Rogers and Hammerstein song "You'll Never Walk Alone" (YNWA), as popularized in the early sixties by Gerry Marsden (of Gerry and the Pacemakers fame), as their (our) theme. Sung before and during every game it is iconic, known and justifiably famous the world over, even featuring as part of a 'Pink Floyd' song on the album 'Meddle'. But, on April 15th of all days, the lyrics are especially appropriate: When you walk through a storm hold your head up high, And don't be afraid of the dark, At the end of the storm there's a golden sky, And the sweet silver song of a lark. Walk on through the wind, Walk on through the rain, Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown, Walk on, walk on, With hope in your heart, And you'll never walk alone, You'll never walk alone. Justice for the 96. YNWA

All at sea

After a year of answering 'any day now' Caterham have finally confirmed that my car has shipped. As of last week it's enjoying the late winter weather of the North Atlantic ... on to Denver and then Fort Worth. I have a birthday in late May, could this be a long awaited birthday present, fingers crossed.