A good Monday morning to you all. That was a quick weekend, it seems like only yesterday I was dictating my last diary entry. As usual it was breakfast with the gang, me keeping an eye on the Mutt to stop him trying to snaffle mine. The radio was playing and an advert made me stop eating for a second (but only a second). My second cousin twice removed, Worcester, was on, advertising central heating boilers. I nearly didn’t recognise him as he was putting on his “posh” voice. I wonder what they pay him, I’d demand to be paid in Felix chicken. I wonder if Bozzie can get me a gig. There must be a job out there for a handsome, intelligent feline such as me.
Bozzie’s plans for a free trade agreement with the USA were released by the Department for International Trade this morning. Strangely Scottishland is expected to benefit most from an agreement, with increased exports of salmon, whisky, cashmere and high-quality meats. Others to benefit could be Welsh lamb producers, car and machinery manufacturers, financial services and the IT sector. The published document states that “The NHS will not be on the table” whether it be the price of drugs or the supply of services. The document says that an FTA could benefit the UK economy by as much as £3.4 Billion per year.
12 new Covid-19 cases were announced this morning following yesterday’s tests. This brings the total in the UK cases to 35 with one being in Scotland. The numbers around the world are increasing rapidly and have reached 86,000 with 2,900 dead. Iran, South Korea, and Italy seem to be the main sufferers. Talks start in Brussels at 10:30 this morning on a trade agreement between the UK and the EU. Talks will then alternate fortnightly between London and Brussels. I hear that the two teams, each about 100 strong, will not be shaking hand due to Covid-19 concerns. The EU has already made it clear they are not happy that the UK has not already given in to its demands. This week’s talks are expected to establish opening positions. It appears that a row has broken out on Salford council after Labour Councillor Mike McCusker wrote about “Tory pigs” on Facebook. He said that we’re not enough Tory pigs on the farm to get 60 candidates for councillors at the forthcoming local elections. It seems it’s not only the Tories that he hates. In another post he referred to Fine Gael as “Blue shirt bastards”. Seems like a nice man.
I read that a Muslim Uber driver in Southsea refused to pick up a blind woman when he discovered that she had her guide dog with her. He’d accepted the fare but cancelled when he got a message saying she had a guide dog. In court he claimed to have hay fever, making him sneeze and rubbing his eyes, however his own cars CCTV showed this not to be true. Under the law a cab driver is obliged to take a guide dog unless he or she has an exemption certificate. He didn’t. He was fined £800 with £1500 costs and an £80 surcharge. To make his day even worse he was sacked by Uber. Bozzie has been pushing people to sing Happy Birthday twice as they wash their hands, it takes about 20 seconds, to help stop the spread of Covid-19. However, the Mogg has gone one better, suggesting singing the first verse of the National Anthem twice.
A big day today for Bozzie. He gave a press briefing on the Governments action plan regarding the virus outbreak, taking questions afterwards. He was flanked by the Governments chief medical officer and chief scientific officer. Bozzie was on his best behaviour, not his normal jokey self, and was very calm. The two experts were very impressive in their knowledgeable approach and laid out the facts, warning that things are only going to get worse. They said that in a worst case scenario 80% of the population could become infected. Some good news, it looks like cats and dogs can’t catch it. I worry if Bozzie gets it and dies who’s going to feed me. Will I have to kill and eat the Mutt? He’s only a skinny little thing and wouldn’t keep me going for long.
The Limp Dumps showed themselves up as idiots again today. Their London mayoral candidate, Siobhan Benita, went on a litter pick along the banks of the River Wandle. Nothing wrong with that you might say but she was assisted by the Womble Orinoco in an effort to promote campaigns to increase recycling in London and to make London plastic free. I can’t see how that would be possible, given just how much is made from plastic these days.
Today is “Super Tuesday” in the US, Democrats vote in 14 states and 1 Territory for their Presidential candidate. In London Americans can vote at the Abbey Centre, I understand many plan to do so. The Democrats own version of Steptoe is called Bernie Saunders and he’s the bookies favourite. Your expert cat thinks he’s too “left wing” for most Americans and they’ll back Sleepy Joe Biden. I think we’ll have a good idea of the results tomorrow. An interesting new bill passed its final reading in the Commons today. It now only needs Royal Assent to become law. The idea of this new law is to force convicted sex offenders to name their victims and, in the case of murderers, where the bodies are, before they’re released from prison. It’s nice to see that this bill got all party support. You might remember the huge fuss back in October last year when 39 illegal immigrants from Vietnam were found dead in a shipping container, well, I read today that another load of illegals have been found in a shipping container at King George dock, Hull. Not so much media interest this time, maybe because they’re all alive and will probably be claiming asylum.
There’s currently a huge row about constructing a 3rd runway at Heathrow Airport, with environmentalists trying to halt it. It’s funny that these same environmentalists who, predicted the Maldives would be submerged under rising sea levels, don’t seem to concerned that the Maldives is reclaiming land from the sea to build more four new runways.
At breakfast this morning, as he usually does Bozzie was skim reading the papers. When he got to the Daily Mirror he started laughing at a report claiming he would be shutting down parliament for months to stop the spread of Covid-19. The Mirror went on to suggest that parliament would be shut down from 31st March (the Easter recess) until September (after the Summer recess). Bozzie had a good chuckle and said it would be lovely to govern without parliament but it wasn’t in his hands, Parliament itself would have to make the decision. The Times suggests that MP’s could be 650 super spreaders taking the virus between Westminster and their constituencies. This was echoed by SNP MP Carol Monaghan at PMQ’s, she wanted to know Bozzie’s plans, he said he would set them out within the next 48 hours.
Yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” big winner was Joe Biden, just as I predicted. According to the MSM he was supposed to be dead and buried but he’s made a Lazarus like comeback. Of the 14 states up for grabs he won 9 while Sanders won 4. At the moment Maine is yet to declare but is expected to go to Biden. For what it’s worth Bloomberg won the Territory of American Samoa. All but Biden and Saunders are now expected to quit the race.
After PMQ’s today Andrea Leadsom made a personal statement, following her sacking from cabinet. Unlike the Saj she took no shots at Bozzie, instead she turned her ire to John Bercow. She denied telling the former Chancellor George Osborne to “F Off”, saying there was only one person in parliament she would use that language to and it wasn’t the current Speaker. She actually gave Bozzie her full support and added her congratulations on the Little Otters pregnancy. Bozzie announced an emergency change to Statutory Sick Pay. He said legislation would be brought forward to start SSP from day one of any sickness rather than day four, which is the current rule. This change will cost the government nothing as SSP is paid by the employer. A lot of MPs said that the government should pay the extra days as it’s very hard on small companies.
Something called “Spitting Image” is to come back to TV after 24 years. As I’m only 12 I’ve never seen it. I understand that it’s a sarcastic show where rubber puppet caricatures of prominent people perform in sketches, it was often very rude. The new series will be on something called BritBox so will probably not be seen by many in the UK. Among those to be ridiculed will be Bozzie, Dom, The GKP, Randy Andy and Whinge and Ginge.
It’s only Thursday but the Brexit trade talks broke up for the week at lunchtime. I understand that EU officials don’t like work and almost never work on Fridays. Their chief negotiator, Barnier made a statement basically saying “it will not be business as usual after the transition period”. He clearly wasn’t happy with progress so far. If he expected the UK to fold and give the EU all they are demanding he was clearly wrong. Bozzie’s idea of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland seems to have evolved into a tunnel. People are worried that a bridge would be unusable for up to 100 days a year due to bad weather. Modern undersea tunnels can be constructed by dropping precast sections onto the seabed, joining them together and having the water pumped out, making them far cheaper than bridges.
The first UK death from Covid-19 was announced after I’d retired to my cat basket last night. This morning I’ve learned that it was an elderly lady, she died in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, she had a number of underlying health conditions. She’d been admitted yesterday when she tested positive for the virus. The number of positive cases in the UK is beginning to take off, more than doubling in the last 48 hours to 116. From Scotland I hear news via my Scots cousin McCat; the former childcare minister Mark MacDonald is to resign as an MSP at the next election. He resigned his position from the Scottish government in 2017and left the SNP in 2018 after sending an inappropriate text message to a woman. Wee Krankie had called for him to resign as an MSP but he refused and continued to sit as an independent.
I thought FAX machines were a thing of the past, even the FA has given then up for registering player transfers on deadline day. I remember them buzzing and beeping in the offices when I was a young cat but they disappeared years ago. Apparently an FOI request has revealed that local government still has 511 in use. Last year they sent over 50,000 faxes at a cost of £37,000. I thought the reason they were ripped out of No 10 was because they were a security risk, clearly those in local government didn’t think so.
MP’s pay is to rise by 3.1% from £79,468 to £81,932 pa. This is the basic pay they all get, so even Bozzie is entitled to it. He may need it with another mouth to feed in the summer.
I chuckled this morning when I saw a headline in one of Bozzie’s papers. It said “Green Dog Scheme”, I pictured someone dyeing the Mutt bright Green, now that would be terrific. Sadly, it was about a group of councillors in Market Rasen who are campaigning to tackle dogs fouling the streets.
A report says the Government has spent £4.4 Billion on preparing to leave the EU the National Audit Office says most of the money was spent on staff costs and building new infrastructure, 22,000 government officials were working on Brexit. Surely those were mostly already government employees who were transferred to Brexit duties so their wages would have been paid anyway. As the GKP would say, “Fake News”. In today’s Covid-19 news Bozzie is to give a further £46 million for vaccine research and the development of rapid diagnostic tests. The bit I like is the source of the money. It’s to come out of the foreign aid budget. The reason given is that a rapid test could be used abroad. If successfully developed it will be manufactured in both the UK and Senegal (no I don’t know why Senegal). At the same time that this was announced, the news came out of a second death in the UK. It was an elderly person with other health problems. He’d been on an ordinary ward before he tested positive. He should have been in isolated but now other patients, staff and his family have to be.
Nissan is to spend £400 million converting its Sunderland factory to build the new model Qashqai despite Britain having left the EU and the threat of Brussels imposing tariffs. This is the same Nissan which has continually threatened to leave the UK, in fact I seem to remember they took Vote Leave to court after they claimed Nissan had no intention of leaving, however the vote went. Vote Leave had issued a leaflet claiming Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall, General Electric, Unilever, Airbus and “many more” would stay. So far it seems they were right. Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate for London Mayor, has said that if elected he will put 40,000 police officers on the streets of London. As he didn’t say extra police I guess he has a plan to reallocate manpower from other jobs like policing the internet and guarding Ginge and Whinge in Canada.
I read that Forrest Green the Gloucestershire 2nd division football club has been given outline planning permission to build a new wooden football stadium. The team claims to be Britain’s only “eco-friendly”, they only serve vegetarian food to the players and supporters. Is a wooden stadium really a good idea? I remember hearing about a fire in a wooden stand at Bradford City back in 1985, when someone dropped a cigarette butt between floor boards, 56 spectators were killed and 256 were injured.
Bozzie was rushing around a bit this morning as they were all off to Chequers, leaving me alone again. He was also trying to arrange a visit to a hospital where they are treating Covid-19 patients but it’ll have to be late in the evening, or early morning so the staff can spare the time away from patients. It’s a good job I’m not needy like the Mutt. I can wander around the estate and get stroked and fussed over by some of the regulars who are here at weekends, like the policeman on the door and the cleaners. Bozzie was in such a hurry he left the Guardian open on the table. Not a paper I would normally bother with but there’s an article about Alex Salmond’s trial, starting on Monday. He’s denying all charges against him, they include sexual assault and attempted rape. The law in Scotland is a bit different to England. They have a third possible verdict of “not proven” that a jury can return. The trial is expected to last 4 weeks, it’s bound to attract plenty of media attention.
Several whispers about next week’s budget are doing the rounds but because of the Covid-19 virus nothing is certain. I hear Rishi Nic-Nak is to take advantage of leaving the EU to remove the so called “tampon tax”. The EU classes sanitary products as “ luxury items” which must be taxed at 5%, it’ll be removed when the transition period is up. I also hear that there are to be new measures to protect access to cash. The banks would love to go all electronic as would HMRC. The banks could save a lot of money by not having to deal with cash and HMRC would be able to eliminate much of the black economy where people are paid “cash in hand”. It looks like there could be a new law forcing banks to continue to make cash available to customers. A rumour is that the flood defences fund is to be doubled to £5.2 Billion. It will be used to build 2000 new flood and costal defence schemes, protecting 336,000 properties.
One last entry before I retire to my basket, MP’s spent nearly £50,000 buying biscuits in the commons last year. The top five were Kit Kat, Twix, White Chocolate Raisin Cookies, Paterson’s Shortbread Snack Packs and Double Belgian Chocolate Cookies. I can exclusively reveal that Bozzie is a chocolate digestive man. Steptoe prefers Shortbread.
Night Night all, I’ll be back on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file