So it was 1993 when I was last in Prague and here we are Prague II The Return. This time instead of gegging in on a school trip even though I has left school by that point the return was with some lads I play footy with on a Wednesday. Yes I know any excuse for a trip away. Sadly 6 became 4 before we even left and things didn’t start of to plan as I turned up at The Rocket and we were meeting in The Fiveways ! Schoolboy errors before I had even had a drink. A swift pint and a taxi later and we were in the bar in Manchester Airport sharing a jug of Estrella. Before we knew it we had landed in Prague and were en route to our apartment. The taxi driver took us down some very narrow streets only to have us at the wrong gaff. Lucky enough the real apartment wasn’t too long away and a quick spray of Lynx and we were out in the chilly Prague night for some reason wearing t-shirts only ? The was a bar in the basement of our apartment so why not get the real night going. It was a small but busy local establishment but we were refused a drink because there was nowhere to sit for a bevy. Strange rules but hey ho and off into the Old Town of Prague we headed. So when abroad what do most Brits gravitate to. Yes you know an Irish Pub. A very busy Irish pub and a smokey Irish Pub. Old Skool cigarette rules in Prague. Deciding the main room full of boozed up brits aboard including a gang of St George’s we sat in the quieter back room. Next up a more local bar and a stop afterwards at a Pizza Shop (Eating is cheating) we stumbled across a nice bar called the “Follow Me” bar. With some chilled out dance choons and a good DJ we ended up hitting the cocktails and Sex On The Beach followed by a Cosmopolitan was the choice for me. Cracking bar but again a bit smokey but we were going to have to get used to it. A couple more bars including yes you guessed it another Irish Pub and we grabbed some ale for the apartment whilst the lads again had pizza and I treated myself to some Slovakian chips. 3am and time for bed. I had nabbed a nice double bed in a separate room but the downside was the wifi didn’t reach. I pulled up the duvet to cover my body and my legs appeared at the bottom. Alas a single duvet on its side was the conclusion after a bit of fumbling in the dark I finally sussed the out !
So Saturday morning and not feeling too bad I headed out on a walk by myself to shake the cobwebs off ready to get back on the ale again. I ended up walking over the beautiful Charles Bridge. It was 1993 the last time I was on this bridge as an innocent 19 year old. Thinking about it could not remember a thing. Indeed it was just over 24 years since I had stood on this bridge. No selfie sticks back then polluting your view. But I did have a moment and thought that 24 years is a very long time. I was last on this bridge as a child really and now I am back a fully grown (A bit too much grown in places) man. I thought of the people who in them 24 years are no longer here but the glass then being half full looked at how my life has changed for the better with getting married, kids and my first iPod etc but I am still waiting for Liverpool to win the league. I decided that I must revisit this bridge in 24 years time if I am still here. How 24 years will look so far away then and being 43 would be boss as apposed to being 67. The 19 year old me would be a lifetime away then and it will most probably be my last visit to Charles Bridge to have a moment in another 24 years age 91 is not going to happen.
Back to the apartment and my “moment” on the bridge now in the past we headed off to hit the grog again and breakfast was a pint and a plate of fries. A walk around the main shopping area and a spot of a C&A which was the shop of choice in getting my school uniform before I had to follow trends as was asking for Farah pants and a Fred Perry jumper.
A few more beers around Prague Old Town and we jumped in a cab as we had decided to go and see a footy match and Bohemians 1905 at their Dolicek home. The taxi rocked up right outside the gate with 5 mins to go and through the turnstiles we sat in the main stand to watch this top flight game. Sadly there was a lower flight goalie on show as an error lead to the home team going behind against FC Fastav Zlin. The goalie was that shite that he got subbed at half time. I have never seen that at a match before though back in 1986 I was playing for a kids team APH (Aigburth Peoples Hall) and I was a sub and we took our goalie off at 1-0 down and muggins went in goal. We won 2-1 and that remains the only thing I have ever won in footy. It was chilly sitting in the main stand so we had to warm ourselves up with a beer and left before the end (Missing the second away goal) and got a cab right outside the ground and we were back in the old town before we knew it in a sports bar.
So as with my last trip way the soccer dice were out and our four man league was coming to a boil. To cut a long story short I was leading the league and Ste needed a win to claim the Prague Premiership. With the last roll of the season Dave equalised thus giving the league and a nice £15 profit to me. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane at Speke Airport to see the crowds and then straight onto an open top bus around South Liverpool. As the night got hazier we went to our fave Follow Me bar for some more cocktails and we stopped off for a scran somewhere. Final stop of the night was an Irish Bar with a fancy dress Power Ranger and Scary Spice from Bo Selecta the highlight and we rounded the trip off with a Bailey’s each. Into my wifi less bedroom and I then spotted an wifi extender plug in my bedroom and a quick shuffle and back in me bills to the living room and back and I was back on the grid.
Sunday morning I had the lads on role call as we tried for Glastonbury tickets. Mrs Fay had bagged hers and we were trying for my mate Alan. One of the lads got in but frustratingly we never got the page to dept the payment. So close yet so far and mixed resale day result. Expect more Glastonbury blogs nearer the time and of course the world famous daily blogs live from the farm. As my eldest Elizabeth is 12 (You have to pay full whack at 13 for Glastonbury) she will be coming down at some point to join me at the festival and ensuring my best behaviour ha ha.
So a pleasant enough flight home and another great European trip away I was soon back on the couch watching Liverpool get beat. Ended up just the four of us but we had a laugh and an adventure. I look forward to 2041 and my next visit to Prague and moment on the bridge. Just the last picture of a beautiful city that when I was 19 bypassed me. Dont get me wrong this was a boozed up weekend but I now appreciate whats around me more and always know to look up and check the local architecture out.
Fay x x x x x x x x x
Different year, same blog (ish)
So the 15th of April comes around yet again and its a day I dont look forward to. 15/04/1989 and its now 28 years since Liverpool fans went to Hillsborough for a F.A.Cup semi final and 96 of them died. I didnt go the match that day but had friends who did and I still remember making the phone calls that evening wondering what I would do if I heard any bad news. All my close friends made it back. There was however one lad who I played football with who did not. His name was Philip Hammond. He was only 14 and I has played in teams with him from Sudley juniors through to APH. He was a good player, that good that he was in the year below us but often played with my year. Hid dad Philip Hammond Senior has been a tireless campaigner for justice for those fans. It’s nice to see Calderstones school name their sports hall after Phil and I have had a bit of contact with his younger brother Graeme on Twitter and my thoughts are with him and his family and the other families today. What a shocking waste of a life and as I get older both as a person and a parent I can feel the pain that the families have suffered both of the tragedy and the 28 year fight for justice. But sadly still many people need educating about the facts of Hillsborough and even though the inquest in Warrington provided the truth which some people still choose to ignore the families of the 96 are still waiting for justice. Just remember don’t buy the sun.
As if by some cruel twist of fate 15/04/2006 came around and after battling cancer for the best part of 10 years my mum finally died after some time in a hospice. She was brave to the end and went through so much in those 10 years and I grab the positives that she seen me get married, and have our eldest Elizabeth. I can’t quite believe it is now 11 years since that day forever etched in my mind. It pains me that she never got to see Charlotte. Time does heal things a bit but certain dates stick out. I often think what she would have made of the kids growing up (So fast) and its heartbreaking that every body has missed out, the kids, me and my mum. Both my daughters have Lillian as a middle name after my mum so they will always remember nana. In 2012 we had another daughter born in early April called Holly who never got to see nana and also my mums mum is no longer here as well and Holly has her name Eillen (poor girl) as a middle name. Added to the misery is that my dad has now joined the great Fay/Roper party in the sky. Nobody prepares you for losing a parent and when the second one bites the dust it made me re-evaluate my life, a process which is still happening. No longer anybody to look up to and ask questions. All of a sudden you become technically an orphan. I had been giving Thatcher stick in an old blog but her daughter hit the nail on the head by saying “It is a deeply sad and rather thought-provoking landmark in life.” Talking about losing a second parent. Now I am leader of the pack with a massive hole in the family make up. Just a short blog today to remember my mum and those footy fans who went to see a match but never returned.
Fay x x x x x x x x
So Mrs Fay headed off to Belfast this weekend. Cue instant memories of listening to the Boney M single “Belfast” in our front room in the late 1970’s. Hazy memories include my dad with a muzzy and a perm. My mum with a bottle of wine (No change there) and everything in the house was painted brown ?? Boney M were my first venture into music and not just that dance as well. Check out the moves on Bobby Farrell in the video below. You will be able to see me busting similar moves at Glastonbury this year. Bobby is sadly no longer with us. Very soon after his death was reported, it was observed to have occurred on the anniversary of, and in the same city as, the death of Rasputin, described in Boney M’s eponymous hit single, in a case of life imitating art. As David Icke would say “No such thing as a coincidence”. That meant I was left with our three “Bin Lids” 12, 9 and 5. It was time for daddy bootcamp AKA what methods of bribery can I use to maintain a decent order in the household. With an early finish from work on Friday I had a gentle 4 mile jog in preparation for the Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon on Sunday (More of that later) It was then off to Allerton Road to drop some documents off with my solicitor (Super Injunction holding tight and so far so good) and then I was dragged to Home & Bargains and Poundland to buy some goodies for the kids to be bribed with. It was quite a coincidence that I found 8 bottles of Desperados for just over £8. How good is that. Tea was good old fashioned beans on toast. Don’t want to peak too early with the McDonalds golden arches ticket I was saving that for Saturday. So all three kids packed off upstairs and relative calm that was until I took the “cone of shame” that our youngest dog has been sporting. For his first birthday present he got his crown jewels cut off. Such was the post cone excitement that there was major friskiness with our other dog Benny (Nearly 3) the end result was one cushion in rags and them trying to bum each other at 10pm in the evening. Now its 2017 and I have no problem with my dogs being gay. Indeed any excuse for me to regress into my late 1990’s Garlands mode. I had to put an end to it all as I banged Zuma’s cone of shame back on. I mean who wants to give one to their partner with a cone on their head? Come to think of it…………….. So night one all sorted. I let the youngest fall asleep in our bed and I await a tap on the head as she wants the iPad to watch “Horrid Henry” at 7.30 in the morning. I leave you with Boney M who have a special place in my musical heart.
So Saturday and the kids were up sharpish at 5.30 for cleaning duties. The good news was a rare saturday off work, the bad news and it was “Daddy” duties and taking the eldest to Ice Skating. On the plus side to kill some time whilst she was having the lesson we went to the B&M in Widnes which seemed Costco in size. So many goodies under one roof. Anyway the kids ended up having Easter Eggs for breakfast. It was time to bring the bribes out next and each child was on a tenner bonus if Liverpool win the derby and they didn’t annoy me all match. So thats £30 down for the day and to not be accused of neglecting my children we headed off to Crosby beach. Though the eldest was wasn’t interested. She is 13 in August and everything is such an effort and why move out of the loft bedroom when you have Netflix ? So we went the beach and the kids enjoyed splashing in the sea and plying on the sand dunes. The tide was on the way out and we got the obligatory picture with the iron men of Antony Gormley’s “Another Place” I instructed Holly (5) not to touch the willy. Well you know what happened next and can see by the cheeky smile below.
Kids wanted McDonalds for tea on the way home and whilst not my favourite it will have to do for my pre race preparation for there Vitality Liverpool Half Marathon I was doing on Sunday. 4 Desperados where screaming at me from the fridge and this half marathon had earned the title of least preparation so I necked them. I mean at this late stage it couldn’t make things any worse.
So Sunday and race day up early and happy I only had 4 Desperados left as I would have had a couple of more me and the sister in law (Emma) got the train into town ready to start. Emma is in the middle of trying for a marathon the poor fool, been there done that and lost the toe nails but I had agreed to run with her to get her a new personal best. We started off fast for Emma and it was a lovely day to run. My pre race reservations about lack of training evaporated as I was fine and we ended up getting 2:25 which was 15 mins quicker than Emma’s last half marathon. Job done and she must have the fattest fitness instructor going. But my results are there so if you want to pay me to drink Desperados the night before the race I too will run with you and get you a PB. Post race was walking the dogs and doing household chores (Come back Mrs Fay all is forgiven) The in-laws had decided to do a post race BBQ and I have around 2000 calories to consume to get to zero calories. Mid BBQ there was a loud crack and the arm of my patio chair had a crack in. Phewww thought I was going to be one of those fat bastards that breaks garden furniture. Well one burger and beer later there was a louder crack and a thud and the chair imploded much like the Twin Towers and I was in the same position but on the decking. Oh how they laughed. I just put my arm up to the table and had a swig of my beer whilst remaining on the decking. I eventually got up grabbed a cookie and declared “Diet starts tomorrow” With Mrs Fay’s flight from Belfast coming in she turned up and as the prezzies were given out I was left empty handed.
The hard work starts for Emma now pushing on for the full marathon. Being a veteran of two marathons I know how bloody hard they are. People see you on the day with you medal and say well done for running 26.2 miles. They never congratulate the hours of hard work before and the numerous half marathons you do training for no medals which enables you to get to the position of cracking the big one. I am sure with the same dedication you are showing Emma you will reach you goal. Sadly this lard arse personal trainer only does half marathons so you on your own for this one.
Fay x x x x x x x x