Yo! Bozzie’s home; He got back early yesterday evening and marched in like his old self, it may be my imagination, but his voice sounds a bit huskier. The bloody Mutt went potty, rushing round and round yapping, when he got too near me I gave him a quick right hook, he didn’t get close again. When I went to get my supper, my bowls were back in the kitchen and my basket was back in the corner. Bliss. Breakfast in my bowl when I get back from my early patrol and the radio on LBC, just like old times. This morning Bozzie was on TV, speaking from his podium outside No 10. I tried to get into camera shot but they wouldn’t let me out. He didn’t really say a lot, but he thanked the NHS again and said that over the next few days he would start looking at getting out of Lockdown, but now was not the time to give up everything that has been gained. I understand he has a busy day of digital meetings lined up, with a Coronavirus meeting along with all the normal cabinet meetings.
I was moaning about too much sun last week, now it looks like we are going to get a cold wet spell of weather. That will give me something different to moan about. I read that Arsenal and Brighton footballers are returning to training, of sorts, today. I don’t know how Brighton are doing it, but Arsenal players are going to turn up in batches of 5, on their own, at their training ground. There are 10 full size pitches at Arsenal so players will have a pitch each to work on, their own footballs to practice with and a trainer each who’ll keep to social distancing. They’ll have to turn up in their training kit and go home to shower, as all the other facilities will be locked up. With talk of the Premier League possibly resuming and matches being played behind closed doors Arsenal must be aiming to be fit to go.
The BBC has published a piece on its website saying that as we are spending hundreds of £billions on saving the country from Coronavirus then we should do the same and spend hundreds of £billions every year on climate change. When the article was pointed out to Bozzie this morning I thought he was going to explode. “How could they be so F***ing thick” he shouted. He said that we’re virtually bankrupting ourselves to fight the virus, much of our industry is shut down and the population’s in Lockdown, it was going to take years to get the economy back onto an even keel and these idiots thought we could afford to spend the same every year, he wanted to know if they thought he’d found Steptoe’s Magic Money Tree. After Barnier’s rant about the UK not giving in to the EU over changing our position regarding a Canada style FTA I see a Government spokesperson has batted the ball back into their court. Unless the EU were to make a substantial movement in their position on trade and accepted our position on fishing then we’d walk away from the talks on the 30th June deadline and revert to WTO rules on 31st December. He went on to say we would not be agreeing to an extension to the trade talks as the timing is fixed in British law.
Michael Gove was giving evidence to the Brexit committee this afternoon when his cat interrupted an answer by meowing loudly. I can translate for you that the cat wanted its tea. It wasn’t grumpy as was reported, it was just hungry and fed up with Tony Benn asking questions, stopping him being fed. More shop chains announced today that they are taking their first tentative steps to reopen. Some can open straight away as they were never legally obliged to close, others are preparing for the future. John Lewis is planning for future opening but it also announced that internet turnover was up 80%. Timpsons, the shoe repair and key cutting business, is looking to reopen 20 of its shops that are located in supermarkets while Greggs the Baker is reopening a number of its shops which, as they sold takeaways and food, never needed to be closed. Richie Nic-Nak made a couple of announcements in Parliament today. He introduced an insurance scheme for NHS staff which will pay out £60,000 for workers killed by the virus. He also announced a loan scheme for small businesses, with loans of up to 25% on turnover up to £200,000. The loans will be 100% guaranteed by the Government and interest free for the first 12 months.
Bozzie comes back and it rains, I’m not going out and getting my fur wet. I can’t even sleep in Bozzie’s office chair as he’s using it. At least it was Felix chicken for breakfast and LBC on the radio, with Matt Handoncock answering questions. I was a little disappointed to read that an application for a privately owned Spitfire to make a fly past of Captain Tom Moore’s house on his 100th birthday has been declined. It’s rumoured to have been because it was a “non essential” journey. Now I hear that the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster) is going to mark his birthday with a fly past. Being an RAF unit, they aren’t subject to the same civil regulations.
Wee Krankie wants all the people in Scottishland to wear face masks when they are in places where it isn’t easy to socially distance. Matt Handoncock says the “scientific evidence” is very weak and the British Government is not going to recommend wearing them. British Airways is going to have discussions with the trade unions about making 12,000 employees redundant because of the lack of flights. I wonder what they’ll say if the unions object. It’s hardly likely that BA wouldn’t make them redundant. This is the stupidity of the redundancy laws which say that employers must consult with employees or their representatives. Pretty pointless, if an employer has made up its mind to make large numbers redundant it’s hardly going to be convinced otherwise by consultations.
The number of people tested went up yesterday to over 43,000 and capacity has gone up to 74,000. Will Handoncock get to his 100,000 target? At the weekend the papers were all saying 100,000 by the end of the month was impossible. It’s beginning to look like it might be a close thing. With the increase in capacity the right to be tested is being opened up to more groups. All people and staff in care homes and in hospitals, whether symptomatic or not, can now be tested. In addition, anyone over 65 with symptoms or anyone who has to leave home to do their work along with their families can now get a teat. Soon it’s going to be everyone, perhaps even cats. Councils have been complaining about the increased level of fly tipping. It’s widely recognised that the reason for this is that most councils have closed their tips. The Government had told councils to close tips if it was impossible to maintain social distancing. Councils just took this as confirmation that they could close tips without trying to manage social distancing. The Government has now instructed them to reopen the tips, I wonder if they’ll comply or if some sort of action will have to be taken?
Tony Lloyd, the 70 year old Labour MP for Rochdale who was appointed shadow minister for Northern Ireland Steptoe and held on to his post under Stoma has now resigned, saying it is so he can focus on recovering from the virus. He’s been in an ICU and has only recently been released. I suspect that Stoma didn’t have the heart to sack him while he was in hospital but now he’s home he’s been given the opportunity to stand down gracefully. Can you imagine what would have been said if Stoma had sacked him whilst he was in the ICU!
It was mad here yesterday evening, Bozzie was in a right state. At first I thought it was a reoccurrence of his illness but then I realised he was fussing around the Little Otter. They rushed off to hospital and I gather they now have a baby boy. The Mutt’s quite excited but I fear he’s in for a shock when the Little Otter gets back and he’s no longer the apple of her eye. Personally, I’m not too fussed, just as long as my food and water bowls are filled and my cat basket is in the kitchen corner. I hear Bozzie isn’t going to take his paternity leave yet, but will take some of his legal entitlement later in the year.
Bozzie and the Little Otter have received lots of messages of congratulations from all over the world. The various party leaders were quick off the mark, as were fellow members of the Tory party and MP’s from all parties. Even the Queen sent them a private message. Bozzie was back late this morning, he practically floated in and bounced up stairs beaming from ear to ear, but he didn’t have time to prepare for PMQs so the Rabbit is going to take it today, while Bozzie catches up on his sleep. Being Wednesday Bozzie has his audience with the Queen. Since the start of this crisis she’s been in isolation so they chat on the phone. Spanish authorities are in trouble after spraying a 2.1km long beach at Zahara de los Atunes, near Cadiz, with bleach. The local authorities thought that, as children were to be let out of Lockdown for the first time in weeks, they would make the beach safe by killing any virus that might be on the sand. Instead they’ve caused an environmental disaster by killing nearly 24,000 cormorants. The beach and its dunes are a protected breeding and nesting place for migratory birds.
It seems that the report by the Cabinet Office following claims of bullying by Home Secretary Pretty Patel has given her a clean bill of health, finding there was no bullying. Sir Phillip Rutnam, who quit as Permanent Secretary at the Home Office had claimed he was bullied and shouted at, forcing him to resign. I have heard stories that Pretty had told him to do something that he didn’t want to do and he refused. It’s been said that he refused for political reasons, I have no idea if this is true, it was suggested that he jumped before he was pushed.
I had a little chuckle while watching PMQ’s at lunchtime. Keir Stoma clearly had a senior moment when he asked Dominic Rabbit to give a load of Coronavirus statistics that he’d read out only a few minutes previously. Was Stoma asleep? Was his mind elsewhere? Perhaps he was sticking to his list of prewritten questions and was incapable of thinking on his feet when he found the question had already been answered? Ian Blackford asked why we weren’t doing as Barnier wanted and extending the transition period with the EU. The Rabbit as much as called him an idiot for believing Barnier and repeated that the law of the land said we leave on 31st December, deal or no deal. Captain Tom Moore is to have one of GWR’s new Class 800 trains and a GB Railfreight Class 66 locomotive named after him in honour of his fund-raising efforts. The GWT train has his name on its nose together with a picture of him and his walking frame. Both trains are due to go into service tomorrow to coincide with Captain Tom’s 100 birthday. So far over 120,000 birthday cards have been received and opened by a team on volunteers at his grandsons school, where they’ve been put on display.
While on the subject of locomotives, due to a 10% increase in freight being moved by rail, GB Railfreight has hired a privately owned and long retired Class 55 Deltic diesel locomotive, number D9000/55022 to haul trains in the North West of England. It will only be used for a few weeks until a brand new locomotive is delivered. Last Friday South Yorkshire Police, acting on a tip off that drinks were being served in contravention of Lockdown regulations, raided the Pitsmoor Hotel in Sheffield where they found drinkers hiding in cupboards. Subsequently the council issued a prohibition order, closing the pub down. The police are planning to object to the renewal of the pubs license because the landlord has previous form having broken licensing regulations at another Sheffield pub.
Yet more businesses are working on reopening. This time it’s two more DIY chains, Homebase and Wickes, although they needn’t have closed in the first place. Homebase had a successful trial at 20 stores last week and opened another 50 today. Tomorrow Wickes plan to open six stores as a trial. It’s no wonder that there’s more traffic about. A man in Norwich has been taking his daily walk dressed as a 17th Century plague doctor. Plague doctors were common in France and Italy during the Black Death, they wore full length black cloaks, wide brimmed black hats and a bird like mask. The beak of which were often packed with aromatics such as lavender. Unhappy locals have complained to the police. They would like to offer “words of advice” to whoever is dressing up this way as it’s scaring children but admitted, whoever it is, he or she isn’t committing any offence.
Breakfast with Bozzie and the Mutt this morning. I did wonder if I’d get fed but when he saw me he muttered a bit, in Latin I think, and put some food down. He seems to be quite happy today, just wait till he has a bawling baby to deal with. Do they make ear plugs for cats? Bozzie headed off to his office to start work, he’s holding a digital cabinet meeting later this morning and will be back on press conference duty this evening. The radio and TV are full of Captain Tom this morning, as it is his 100th birthday. His fund raising has topped £30 million but the web page will be closed at midnight tonight after he’s walked double the 100 laps he set out to complete. Today he’s had a card from the Queen, a message from Bozzie, been made an honorary colonel, an honorary member of the England cricket team, had a train and a locomotive named after him, had a flypast by a Spitfire and Hurricane and will have a helicopter flypast this afternoon. A post box near his home has been painted NHS blue in his honour.
The Electoral Commission is in trouble again. It reported Aaron Banks and Liz Bilney to the National Crime Agency regarding the sources of money he used to support the Leave campaign. Banks and Bilney took the Electoral Commission to court after they were fined by it. The commission had been egged on by a number of left wing journalists, newspapers and broadcasters who tried to tie the money to Russia. The NCA has totally dismissed the Commission allegations, saying that any money Banks used was his own and he was perfectly entitled to do so. This has led to the Electoral Commission settling the court case and issuing a statement admitting it had been wrong on all accounts. This, after the commission losing their case against Darren Grimes last year asks lots of questions about the impartiality of the commission. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the lack of media coverage, given the blanket coverage of original the Russia smear.
It never rains but it pours for Boeing, it’s now admitted it has a serious problem with its new KC-46A airborne refuelling aircraft. The plane is a military version of the old Boeing 767. The problem revolves around the refuelling boom camera system that suffers badly in some sunlight conditions. Unlike the RAF, where a refuelling aircraft trails a hose with what looks like a basket on the end for the receiving aircraft to stick a probe into, the USAF use a rigid boom. The boom is steered by an operator onto the receiving probe. Operators use cameras to judge the proximity of a probe to the boom and to manoeuvre it into place. The RAF place the onus on the receiving aircraft’s pilot who can see both the probe and basket through his windscreen. Sunlight dazzle during test flights has caused many operators to scrape the boom across receiving planes, badly damaging them. Unable to address the problem with software modifications the whole camera system needs to be redesigned at an estimated cost of $551 million. Boeing has already lost $4.6 Billion on this program and would love to make some of this back by selling overseas, this looks doubtful as only Japan (2) and Israel (8) have bought any of them.
The prospects of a UK produced vaccine took another tentative step forward today. The Oxford University’s Jenner Institute has partnered with AstraZeneca for development, manufacturing and distribution if mass testing is successful. There have been no adverse effects reported from the early test subjects and more people were vaccinated on Tuesday. Originally there were 500 volunteers but this has now been expanded to 1000. Oxford think that they may have some preliminary results from this programme in June. Both Oxford and AstraZeneca will work on a cost only basis until the pandemic is over. I had a little chuckle this afternoon when Bozzie gave out the test numbers yesterday. The MSM naysayers have been saying it’d be impossible for the Government to get anywhere near its target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month. By yesterday availability of tests had risen to 72,000 with 51,000 people tested but the MSM repeated it’s “impossible” mantra. Today the number rose by 30,000 to 81,166. With one set of results to come the MSM have now changed tack, saying it’s not the number of tests that matter it’s who’s having them and front line NHS workers must have a weekly test. It’s called moving the goalposts.
In the early days of the crisis there was a worry that we’d run out of ventilators so the NHS was delighted to receive 250 from China. Now it seems that they were like many things from China, rubbish. The hospitals that got them have never dared use them, worrying that they could kill people if they did. Many never worked at all and those that did quickly failed when under test. They were very poorly made with tubes that didn’t fit and missing parts. The decision has been taken to scrap them and replace them with home built models from reputable manufacturers. The Chinese have really lived up to their reputation for supplying shoddy goods.
It’s nice having breakfast with Bozzie and the Mutt, the radio’s always on and Bozzie throws the papers all over the place giving me a chance to read them before I go out on patrol. The first thing I read this morning is that Ryanair is to sack thousands of employees, as BA is doing. However, it seems that BA’s parent company, IAG, is to get a £900 million loan from the Spanish Government. When air travel restarts in earnest it’s not going to be anything like we’ve know it; health checks before take off, fewer seats, hand sanitiser and face masks, flying isn’t going to be much fun. I’m glad cats aren’t frequent flyers.
It looks like NASA wants to land people on the moon again. They have placed development contracts with three companies for preliminary design work on a moon lander. The three companies are Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Alabama-based technology company The Dynetics Human Landing System. At the end of the development period two of the companies with be chosen to build demonstration models. NASA will then choose one to provide a lander for a mission in 2024. It’s already been announced that the astronaut team will include at least one woman. The moon landing will be a practice for a trip to Mars. NASA is already working with a number of companies who are designing a Mars base/colony. I would love to be the first cat on Mars.
Whinge and Ginge won’t be very happy today. They’ve lost round one of their court action against the Mail on Sunday. The Mail applied to have three parts of the action thrown out as not relevant and the judge agreed. I heard someone say that this preliminary hearing had cost £100,000. It’s no wonder ordinary people can’t afford to go to court. Despite all the moaning and groaning about the GKP the latest poll in the US shows his approval rating has returned to where it was at the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, rising 6% to 49%. The testing naysayers must be feeling pretty sick this evening. Matt Handoncock, at the daily press conference, announced that they’d surpassed the 100,000 target. The number of tests rose yesterday by over 41,000 to 122,347. Handoncock announced that there are even more labs coming online next week so the capacity to test is still growing. LBC’s Nick Ferrari had a £100 bet with Handoncock that the target wouldn’t be met, a Hospice is now going to be £100 better off.
VW had a costly day in court today. In most other countries they have paid compensation to owners of VW diesel cars to which they’d fitted emissions cheat devices. In Britain they’d refused to pay compensation claiming they hadn’t fitted such devices and that owners hadn’t lost anything they should be compensated for. A group of 90,000 British VW owners clubbed together to sue VW and last December a judge ruled against the company saying that they had clearly fitted the devices. Today VW’s appeal against the judgement was rejected and leave to appeal the decision was refused. Costs of £3 million were awarded against VW. The main case remains to be heard.
It looks like it’s back to being on my own again this weekend. Bozzie has gone off to Chequers to start chatting to ministers about ideas for coming out Lockdown and he’s taken the Mutt with him. Dogs are so needy, what with walking and being fussed over, us cats can be left on our own, so long as someone feeds us. The Dreamies girl’s on duty, she’s my favourite stand in human. Some of the left leaning MSM have decided that Matt Handoncock has been cheating with the test numbers. Their hatred of all things Tory has come to the fore, so much so that they can’t admit that the government may be getting something right. They always find something to moan about. If it isn’t test numbers it’s about how we’re doing worse than other countries for virus related deaths. But simply counting the number of people who have Coronavirus on their death certificate is plain silly. If someone who has mild Coronavirus falls down the stairs and breaks their neck then they’ve died with Covid-19 and not from it. In Britain we include them in the Coronavirus statistics but in France and Germany they don’t. It’s like comparing apples with eggs.
St Thomas’s and Guys hospitals are to start testing Coronavirus patients using blood plasma taken from people who’ve recovered from it. Virus antibodies in the blood should help people recover. In the past week more than 6500 people who’ve recovered from Covid-19 have registered to give blood for this test and enough plasma has been produced to treat 143 people, it’s hoped that enough plasma can be recovered to treat thousands. In the US the drug Remdesivir has been granted an emergency license to treat Covid-19 after tests showed it reduced recovery time by 4 or 5 days. In the UK tests of the same drug are still being conducted, but Public Health England seems to have a deep reluctance to accept any US drug as being helpful here.
From Monday anyone travelling on Eurostar to the continent will have to wear a face mask. Eurostar says this is because of rules brought in by France and Belgium. Anyone who refuses will not be allowed to travel. The availability of face masks in the UK is somewhat limited but as the service has been reduced to 4 trains a day, which are hardly crowded, perhaps Eurostar should provide masks for its passengers. I saw a picture of Bozzie’s latest baby being cradled by the Little Otter. He looks like he needs a haircut! Poor little fellow has been named Wilfred after Bozzie’s grandad; fancy being called that old fashioned name. Wasn’t there a mouse in a children’s story called Wilfred? Earlier this week councils were told to reopen tips and recycling centres. Some have done so but many haven’t bothered, they seem to be deliberately dragging their feet. Manchester was one of the first to react; I’ve seen pictures of cars queuing up to dump rubbish. Manchester recognised that tips would be very busy and is trialling a scheme whereby cars with even and odd numbered registrations can use tips on alternate days. DIY stores are also very busy, it looks like people have been spending Lockdown clearing out and are now redecorating.
I’ve just been reading an article about why us cats make better pets than dogs. Cats don’t take up as much space as dogs, cats are cheaper to keep, cats are self cleaning, kittens are less work than puppies, cats don’t need taking for walks and are generally quieter than dogs. Having a cat means you’ll never have rodents in your house and people who let cats adopt them are healthier. Cats win!
It’s time to see if my supper is in my bowl yet, I’ll chat again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file