Monday, 29 October 2012

Day at Top Gear Live

On Thursday, we went to Top Gear Live 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham. The drive down seemed to take 70,000 years, and i must admit, that as we drew closer to the NEC, i became a small child again. The excitement of seeing a huge room full of supercars, ones that i have dreamt of catching eyes upon ever since seeing their first pictures in Top Gear magazine. And then of coarse there is actually seeing the Jeremy, Richard and James in person! This to me was going to be heaven.

When we arrived, we picked up our press tickets and were taken through the press corridor to avoid the huge crowds queuing to get in. Between me and those cars stood one silver door. My heart was thumping in my chest (sorry, i don't mean to sound all Fifty Shades of Grey). As the door opened into the brightness and my eyes adjusted, i made out the first super car i would see. The first car i would see at Top Gear Live 2012, the one that would stay with me for a long time. So, Ferrari California? No. Aston Martin DBRS? No. What stood before me was a plain, boring Citroen DS4! Now im not complaining, i think the DS4 is a very good car, but having it as the first car people, especially the press, see when they arrive??

But i digress. We started moving our way to the right, looking at other Citroens,  until we got to the Citroen rally cars. Then the big smile returned to my face when i saw Sebastien Loeb's car.

I must point out at this point that Sebastien Loeb is, to me, one of the greatest rally drivers that have ever lived, second only, perhaps, to the late Colin Mcrae. And although this isnt Sebastiens latest rally car, it is by far, my favourite.

It was then, after seeing the Citroen section, that we realised that the exhibition itself wasn't awfully that big. Infact, we went round every car, taking what seemed like 2 million pictures as we went along, in just over half an hour! And although there were lots of beautiful cars there, they were a bit crampt together. Half of the hall was almost empty. As someone who uses a wheelchair, there is nothing worse than a wall of people coming at you. You just know that someone is going to going away with a broken ankle! So in my view the hall could have been spread out a bit more, to give people more room.

But all of these little niggles where overshadowed by what i really came to see. The indoor show featuring the Top Gear cast and of coarse, The Stig. And although I was a bit confused as to why Tiff Needell Vicki Butler-Henderson were there, the first half was good, with some fantastic drifting by the American Ken Block:

Plus some very bizarre, but very funny, half a car racing. Basically, they get some front wheel drive cars, and chop then in half. Some funny racing ensues:

But the highlight of the day, and quite possibly the funniest thing i have ever seen, came in the second half. A few years ago, Jeremy Clarkson took a Chevy V8 engine, and turned it into a food blender. In the end James had to drink a drink made from raw beef and bricks, with a dash of Tabasco sauce. So now, Jeremy has decided to put that engine into the mobile stage, which he drives on stage. Below is a video of what Jeremy decides to do next:

As we went on Thursday, which was the first day of the event, i have decided not to publish this blog until after the event has finished, so that i do not ruin any surprises for those people who are going. And nothing more so, than the world record attempt of riding a motor cycle around 2 consecutive loops, called a 720. This has never been attempted before, not even in rehearsals! This has been done by Top Gear live in a buggie earlier this year in Durban, South Africa. Below is a video of what happens:

The rest of the second half was made up of Jeremy getting shot in a G-Whiz convertible, the guys playing a new sport of sidecar polo and some people on pogo sticks, jumping over Citroen DS3's. All of these videos are available to watch on YouTube.

After the show, we had another walk around the exhibition, taking some final photos of the day, such as the beautiful Ferrari 458, and the engineering masterpiece that is the Bugatti Veyron.

Even despite the cramptness, and the fact our press tickets couldn't get us into all of the places, such as the paddock, so we can't review those, we left at the end of the day with a smile on our faces, and a lot of very funny memories. I just now cannot wait for the new series of Top Gear to return to our screens in January.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

things are looking up!

Wow, what a week! first, after a lot of phone calls, and ending with a trek to the job center to hand in a medical note that i had already sent to the DWP months ago (luckily i kept it after they returned it to me), i have FINALLY had my payments backdated. FINALLY i have a bit of money on which to live on. It really is worth persisting with these people, do never let them win and never let them beat you down!

I have also had some mail through about my tribunal, so I'm guessing that will be coming around sooner or later. I just hope i can get some representation before it does, and I'm not using the CAB again. Although they did not represent me for my DLA tribunal, the advice they gave me, meant that i lost the tribunal.

On a medical topic, yesterday i went to see my new Orthopedic surgeon. Probably the best surgeon i have seen to date. He was a nice bloke, cracked a joke etc, but also got down to the straight and narrow. After many pokes and prods, and several discussions about different forms of surgery, in the end we both decided to do some further investigating first.

First he will be arranging another MRI, but this time for my upper spine. (something i have been asking for for over a year now). Then, he is going to put me in a 2 week intense pain management course at Salford hospital, where they might put me up in a hotel as its quite a trek from Lancaster!

If the pain management course proves no results, then surgery will most probably be on the cards. And the surgery that will most likely happen is Disc Replacement surgery, where basically they remove the damaged discs from my spine, and replace them with fake ones!. He said that having operations like a Discecomy (complete or partial removal of the disc) would probably result in me being the same or even worse off than before, and having a PLIF - Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, (AKA spinal fusion) would most like result in me being rather pain free, for about a year to 18 months, then, because of instability, the healthier discs above, which are already showing signs of natural degeneration, will quickly worsen, and i will be back to square one.

So basically, there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm still left with the basic fact, that no matter what anyone does, I am going to be in some degree of pain, for the rest of my life, and that to me, is the worse thing of all.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

productive day

Due to several people contacting me about any information i might have regarding Motability cars, i have decided to start a new blog, linked to this one, with the aim of test driving, and reviewing Motability cars for the disabled. as i am physically disabled myself, i feel i am in a good position to give positive feedback about cars which i feel will appropriate to physically disabled people.

Although there are many kinds of physical disabilities, i will aim to address as many criteria as i possibly can.

I have had positive responses so far from Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Citroen of Blackpool, to which i look forward to working with in the near future.

I wish to help those people who are struggling to decide whether a Motability car is right for them, and to help them decide which car would be best suited to their needs.

On a more personal note, i am still undergoing further physio for my upper spine. my physio is very concerned about the nerve pains that i am getting down my arms and into my hands. she suspects at least one more disc has prolapsed. every day i can feel it getting that bit worse.

And with the fight against the DWP, i currently have no further news. i am still awaiting part back payment from May, to which i will be ringing them, again, on monday (if BT openreach decide to get round to installing a phone line for us, which they should have done on Monday!!)

I will keep you all updated about any further developments.

As always, many thanks for reading, and do pass my blog on to others.