Good morning everyone and welcome to a year of my diary. I must admit I didn’t expect it to last this long. I thought you, happy readers, would have got fed up with it by now, that my translation slave would have got bored of helping me or that Swiss Bob would have told me to take a hike. Anyway until one of those things or something more serious like Bozzie retiring me or me getting hit by a Ministerial car takes place, it looks like you stuck with me.
Anyway, down to happenings here in Downing Street. Wilf has slept a bit longer the last couple of days, I only hope this is a sign of things to come. Did you see the picture of him in the papers yesterday? If I had told you before that he looked like a mini Bozzie you would have laughed at me, perhaps it’s just his hair. I must say the weather forecast for this week is much more to my liking, warm with a gentle breeze, it sounds like heaven. So I took an early morning turn round the estate and chased, but didn’t catch, a mouse. I shall keep a eye out for him venturing back into the building and up date you as soon as I can.
There are so many stories doing the rounds this morning it difficult to know where to start. How about the EU’s big row. On Friday the 27 started a two day conference to decide on their Corona Recovery Fund. Well they hadn’t reached any conclusion on Saturday so they went into a third day of discussions on Sunday and that went on all night breaking up this morning. I hear that it is to restart late this afternoon, which will be day four of a two day meeting. Insiders report that the country leaders have been shouting at each other and that the French Midget got annoyed and banged his fists on the table. It seems that 4 countries, Holland, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, won’t agree to a €750 billion scheme that pays huge amounts out to Spain and Italy at their expense. The are holding out for a €375 billion scheme. I wonder if it’s going to be another all nighter.
I had a little chuckle when I heard that they had a coronavirus outbreak in a Scottishland coronavirus test and trace call centre. They wouldn’t have to go far to find out who had been in contact with whom. I understand that the call centre is currently shut and will be under going a deep clean. The company says an urgent investigation is taking place and that all employees will be tested.
Now that the Government has decided to make wearing face masks in shops compulsory they have decided to make some money out of the situation by selling face masks. They have acquired 10 factory production lines and intend to churn out 5 million masks a week. 5 of the lines in two factories are already up and running and the other five will join them next week. They is no news on how much they will cost.
Another new Government venture is NHS cannabis oil! 18 months after it being made legal for Doctors to prescribe cannabis oil, the NHS has decided that they are going to make their own. I can’t see them making much of a profit from it as not a single NHS prescription has been written in those 18 months.
The Government made yet another announcement this morning on forward purchasing coronavirus vaccine. You might remember they have already contracted to buy 100,000,000 doses from AstraZeneca, well two more contracts were announced today with two more companies. One is for 60,000,000 doses and the other for 30,000,000 doses. But why do we need 190 million doses when we only have a supposed population of 60 million. The answer appears that the AstraZeneca vaccine has shown in testing to give 97% cover with a single dose and 100% response with 2 doses. The Government is also playing it safe. Just in case the AstraZeneca vaccine fails to get a license they have also backed two other makers vaccine. The three vaccines are all based on different methods of production so the Government is trying to cover all bases. AstraZeneca published some details of their testing this morning. So far they have vaccinated over 8,000 people in several countries. Every single one has produced antibodies and T cells, although a few of the antibody responses haven’t been strong, however, in every case the T cell response has been very strong. In every case where volunteers had two doses the two responses were very strong.
The preliminary results of another test was announced this morning. This is a treatment for people who have caught the virus and are in hospital with breathing problems. Volunteers have been receiving beta interferon through a nebuliser. In 79% of cases it has stopped the virus getting any worse and having to go on a ventilator. In addition the time spent in hospital was cut by a third. It was also noted it helped everyone treated with their breathing. Beta interferon is a well known, tested and used medication and could become a fast track treatment.
Lots of people are complaining that public services are taking a long time. Of course the excuse is coronavirus. But is it really the reason? Maybe the registration of deaths was a problem when so many were dying, but the numbers are now below the norm for the time of year. Marriages are a problem of course as the ceremonies have been restricted, but Birth registration problems. The DVLA are another service that is slow, why? Most of it’s services are computerised with the garage, driver or car owner doing most of the work online. Passports are another service that is reported to be extra slow, but it alway has been the case with them. One of the most frustrating ones is probate, again a service the was computerised 18 months or so ago. When that first happened waiting times when up from a week or so to 4 months. Six months ago the service was said to be much improved but it’s gone downhill again under Covid. It seems that no matter what the public service any old excuse is good enough to work at half pace.
A case started in the High Court this morning with the Financial Conduct Authority taking on Insurance companies over them not paying firms who have Businesses Interruption Insurance who have claimed because of coronavirus virus. The FCA have had over 400 complaints and have selected 17 cases from 16 insurance companies to be test cases. Many of the insurance policies say things like they cover for loss of business if the company has to close due to a notifiable disease within a mile of their premises. The insurance companies say these policies were never intended to cover a pandemic. The FCA says it doesn’t matter what was intended, it is what the small print says that matters. The action is expected to last 8 days.It’s funny, it’s usually the insurance company that relies on the small print.
Finally for tonight, I hear that the usual subjects are complaining about the use of the term “Islamic Terrorist”. They want a new term that replaces “Islamic”, as they claim it brands a whole religion. I wonder what they would prefer? Any suggestions.
Another nice morning on two counts, I was not woken up early and the sun is out and the sky is clear. Nothing to report on the mouse front, perhaps I have scared it off.
This morning I hear that they are after another £140 million for the Elizabeth line (Crossrail to you and me). This time it’s Network Rail with the begging bowl out. They have all ready gone £700 million over their £2.6 billion budget on adapting their existing stations to accept the new line. Now they say they need the extra money to finish the job. How come nobody in the public services seems to be able to accurately estimate costs, private industry would die if they got it wrong every time.
I see that last night the opposition had another go in the House of Commons of “Parliament taking back control of Brexit”. They claimed that they cannot trust the Tories not introduce legislation to allow chlorinated chicken and hormone injected beef. The Government said this was unnecessary as appropriate legislation already existed. Of course this is just a last minute back door attempt to ruin Brexit. Do the Remainers never give up?
There was a full cabinet meeting this morning for the first time since March. I would have tried to have crept in to listen but the meeting wasn’t in the No. 10 Cabinet Room, with social distancing Bozzie concluded they couldn’t all fit. Instead they used the Locarno Suite in the Foreign Office and they all sat there spaced out, with bottled water instead of the usual jugs and glasses. They even remembered the hand sanitiser at the door.
The Security Committee report into Russian interference was published today. I thought it was supposed to be shocking and reveal Russian meddling in the election, the referendum and the Scottish independence referendum. Well despite the SNP and Labour committee members at the press conference making a meal of it the best they could do was moan about reports on Russian controlled the RT television station that virtually nobody watches. They also complained that there was no evidence of interference because the Government had not looked for it. Wee Krankie says she will not hold an inquiry into IndyRef. You can bet that if she thought that there was a political advantage in holding one she would do so in an instant.
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has been busy and has been issuing fines. Tax Returned Limited has been fined £200,000 for sending out millions of text messages. In a period of 18 months the manage to send out 14.8 million text messages for which they had no permission. Surprisingly they only had 2100 complaints. They also fined Islington Council £70,000 for failing to keep people’s information private. It seems that in October 2015 they introduced an online parking ticket viewer and that it could easily be manipulated to let people see the data on other people’s tickets. Despite complaints the problems had not been fixed so the ICO stepped in.
In a case at Isleworth Crown Court today a unnamed 17 year old pleaded not guilty to murder. He can’t be named because of his age. But the lad he is accused of stabbing twice in the chest and killing was named as Hakim Sillah, 18. The thing about this stabbing is that it happened at a knife awareness course being held by the Youth Offending Team at Hillingdon Civic Centre. All the attendees were supposed to have been risk assessed and none were thought to be carrying knives. Unfortunately the YOT got it badly wrong and both the youths were. The 17 year old admitted the killing, he could hardly do otherwise seeing where it took place and his blood was said to be on the murder weapon, but pleaded not guilty to murder. The case continues.
I understand that the police in Fulham are looking for someone who has been nicknamed the Door Step Dumper. He was caught on CCTV dropping his shorts and having a poo on the front doorstep of someone flat. The pictures of him are, unlike most CCTV pictures, very clear so identifying him should not be difficult. The police think it was a one off event and said “from the state of his effort he was pretty desperate”.
I like breakfast on Wednesday’s as Bozzie is usually busy practicing for PMQ’s. This morning he has been working out how to get in a line about Stoma having more flip-flops than Bournemouth Beach. I shall be watching to see if he get’s it in.
I see that sales of electric vehicles in France and Germany are on the up due to a combination of the carrot and stick. Macaroon and Merkin have been trying to stimulate the motor manufacturing industries of their countries that have been struggling under coronavirus. The stick is that both countries are trying to go green and are trying to phase out the internal combustion engine, so they have brought in a carrot in the form of huge subsidies for EV’s. At the moment, the price of an EV in Germany now includes a €10,000 subsidy. This is enough to make it possible to lease a Renault Zoe for the same monthly payment as a petrol version, hence sales have leapt. I wonder if Bozzie could do a similar thing in the UK. I don’t think it’s very likely, as a rush of EV sales would show just how short the country is of electrical power and how much may have to be spent on the grid to make it suitable for all the EV’s and heat pumps they want you to purchase.
So the Labour Party has decided to halt the high court case and to apologise and pay “substantial” compensation to the seven whistle blowers who told the Panama program on anti-Semitism of their experiences of the Steptoe leadership. They have also apologised and payed compensation to John Ware the presenter of the show. It was interesting to see that Steptoe wasn’t in the least apologetic and issued a statement saying that he had legal opinion that the Labour Party had a strong case. What is the saying about stopping digging when you are in a hole.
Do you remember when the English Government lifted the quarantine period on a long list of countries and were rapidly joined by Wales and Northern Island. A few days later a reluctant Scotland joined the scheme, but unlike the others ruled out people returning from Spain for what looked like the dogmatic reason of just being different from England. Wee Krankie said the reason was that Spain had a high rate of infection, but the odd thing is that Wee Krankie has lifted the restrictions on Spain just as their infection rate has tripled.
The Queen and Phil the Greek are going to leave Windsor Castle, where they have been all through lock down and travel up to Balmoral where they normally spend the summer. The exact date hasn’t been given but it will be in early August. I wonder what would have happened if Wee Krankie had set up a ban of English tourists as she was talking about at one time. Would she have dared to ban the head of state.
Could we be about to see the end of badger culling to stop the spread of bovine TB. The problem has never been the effectiveness of the BCG vaccination in cattle, it is known to work. The problem is that the existing test for bovine TB cannot differentiate between an infected cow and a vaccinated cow. A new test called ‘Diva’ is believed to be able to differentiate and a trial is about to start. The initial test program will be for about 300 cows from TB free herds who will have the Diva test to check it safety. If this is successful upto 2000 cows will be tested, only half will be vaccinated the rest will be controls. They will then Diva tested. If the test program is successful it could mean the end of the badger culls and the end of the slaughter of 40,000 cows a year.
A six month old £350,000 bio-gas powered double-deck bus took a shortcut back to the depot this morning and got stuck under a bridge. The front of the upper deck was badly damaged. The best bit was that the electronic destination board on the front of the bus was displaying the message “Stay alert, clearly the driver didn’t.”
It was Bozzie, not Wilf, who woke me up this morning clumping around the flat. He was up early getting ready for his flying visit to Scottishland. I hear he is going to visit somewhere called the Orkneys. Wee Krankie is reported as saying he is welcome to come to Scottishland, but she won’t meet him. Typical of the woman, moans that the Government don’t talk to her and then turning down an opportunity.
Grant Shatts has announced a whole load of new spending on the Northern railway infrastructure this morning. The £600 million is to mainly go on the cross Pennine route from Manchester to Huddersfield and Leeds. The most congested sections of the lines are to have their tracks doubled from two to four and sections electrified with new digital signalling. This will allow new fast electric services to run from Liverpool and Manchester to Leeds and York and even via the existing electrified lines to Newcastle. The digital signalling will allow trains to run closer together so that more services can be run and the doubling of track will allow fast passenger trains not to be held up by slower freight trains. Some bottlenecks are to be tackled, for example new signalling and a new platform in Leeds. Money was committed last month to tackle congestion in Manchester.
Another Thursday, another break up of Trade Talks with the E.U. and unsurprisingly another moaning press conference by Michel Barnier. It is always the same Barnier says “we have made no progress on three points, the ECJ, Level Playing Fields and Fishing, the UK will not change its position on them”. Why does the UK have to change its position? They are our fishing grounds, why does Barnier think we “must” let the EU have similar access to them that they have currently. The level playing field and ECJ are ridiculous, they are EU concepts, does Canada accept ECJ judgements or EU rules on manufacturing or state subsidies and support? I think we should make them accept all our rules and the first on should be that all talks and contracts should be in English and subject to English law.
On the TV this morning Naga Munchetty had a row with Piggy Blackford. He was whinging about the Government not giving enough support to Scottishland over coronavirus. Munchetty pointed out that Bozzie was in the Scottishland islands today to specifically announce an extra £100 million in support for the islands. Piggy complained it wasn’t enough despite it being about £1000 per head of Islands population. Munchetty then point out that Scottishland had had an extra £3.2 Billion in coronavirus spending but Piggy was still complaining that it wasn’t enough to which Munchetty said “but you wouldn’t get anything if you weren’t part of the Union”’.
Scientists have for the first time found a solar system similar to ours. The system is about 300 million light years away and consists of a sun orbited by two planets. The planets are thought to be gas giants like Saturn. The estimate is that the system’s sun in only young, about 17 million years old, while our sun is believed to be 4.5 billion years old and about half way through it’s life.
The Government has realised that coronavirus has reduced GDP this year so that the 0.7 of GDP commitment for oversea aid, has become a lower amount. In fact it was announced yesterday, after Parliament shut for the summer, that we would be cutting £2.9 billion off the aid budget. The Government said that they have been through the current project funding and the 40 most deserving project would be unaffected. So hopefully China and India will not be getting anything.
Did you see the report on the BBC last week about polar bears soon being extinct due to global warming. Well the foremost polar bear expert Dr Susan Crockford has just debunked it as total rubbish. It seems that the article the report was based on has now been made available for other experts to read and they have pointed out two major problems. Firstly the article claims that the sea ice the bears depend on for hunting is melting. The problem with this claim is that it is based on a ten year old report and every year since then there has been more rather than less sea ice every year. The article has based its predictions for melting ice on the discredited RCP8.5 climate scenario which was a worst possible case and just isn’t happening. The other problem is that polar bear numbers are increasing and not declining. Dr Crockford says this is “exaggerated-fear-mongering-by-proxy”.
Scientists are predicting that the tectonic plates under East Africa are moving apart and will eventually tear a big chunk off Africa. They say the Indian ocean will rush in to form a new sea.They point to a 35 mile long crack in the Ethiopian desert as proof. It seems that satellite measurement shows the Arabian plate is moving away from Africa at about an inch a year. However I don’t think we have a lot to worry about as they predict the new sea will take about 5,000,000 years to form.
Bozzie was up early again this morning. When the Little Otter asked him where he was going he muttered something about doctor’s surgery. The Little Otter looked at him strangely and asked what was wrong. He replied “Nothing, it’s a PR visit to talk about obesity.” The Little Otter nearly dropped baby Wilf she laughed so much.
The Labour Party is still in trouble with anti-Semitism. Last week they had to remove the whip from a Brighton councillor while investigating something she had written online. Then this week two more councillors resigned because of things they had said. That left them with less councillors than the Greens and under the rules the party with the large number of councillors runs the council. Mind you the The Greens and Labour in Brighton are both full of lefties. Expect more cycle lanes and bean sprouts for school dinners.
Still on Labour and anti-Semitism, another 42 people are now suing them, which could cost the a fortune after this weeks reported £370,000 payout. At least one of the newspapers points out that it could bankrupt the Labour Party. In addition it is reported that the millionaire Steptoe is being sued individually. His supporters in Momentum have raised £100,000 in 24 hours for his defence fund.
Among the people suing Labour are some who where named as plotting against Steptoe and deliberately obstructing his efforts, in the 851 page report raised for Labours defence against the EHRC investigation into Labour Party anti-Semitism and deliberately leaked to the media. An e-mail has emerged written to Steptoe by the then Labour Director of Governance and Legal warning him that the report was deliberately misleading and relied on improperly obtained correspondence. It said that many of the e-mails it quoted were taken out of context, edited or acquired without the owners permission.
Crossrail was originally scheduled to open in December 2018. First it was pushed back to to 2019, then to August 2020 and before coronavirus March 2021. Now a new date some time in 2023/24 for the full service from Shenfield and Abbey Wood across London to Heathrow and Reading is predicted. Although bits of the service are already running the full benefit won’t be felt until a fully joined up service is running. Transport for London have yet to say how much extra money they will be asking for.
I saw some interesting things about electric cars this morning. Manufacturers have around 500 new models in development around the world, that they intend to launch in the next two year, with the majority of the in a year to two years time. These are almost entirely designed from the ground up as EV’s and not converted conventional ICE models. However, EV’s are more expensive to build (mainly the battery costs) than conventional cars hence why the manufacturers are aiming for the more luxurious end of the market in the hope that as sales ramp up the production costs will reduce. What was intriguing was that many people who buy a pure EV don’t buy a second, returning to an ICE or a hybrid.
Labour made a huge fuss about Dom’s drive to Durham, now I hear that Luton’s Labour mayor Tahir Malik, and councillors Asif Masood and Waheed Akbar attended a large gathering in the town where there is a coronavirus spike. The town’s people will not be allowed to join the rest of the country in the next phase of easing lockdown to try to control the spike but these 3 don’t seem to care. Their excuse was that a lot of people unexpectedly turned up at the event. I wonder what Labour will do?
I read that in Hayward’s Heath a dispute over a parking space has escalated. A trailer was recently cemented into the ground and now an estate car has been trapped when someone has built a scaffolding cage around it. The police sound like they are a bit fed up with this row, but say they are investigating to see if an offence has been committed. False imprisonment of a car?
This morning Bozzie was doing his usual thing of listening to LBC and reading the papers while eating his Breakfast. It’s the one he calls “Ballboy” on a Saturday morning and he is not so keen on him. Anyway, as it was that horrible drizzle that soaks my fur I was hanging around in the kitchen in the hope that I could grab any food Wilf dropped before the Mutt got it, when Bozzie started moaning. It seems the David Lammy was doing a stand in for the regular ten o’clock person. Bozzie got told off for bad language again.
I read that there is going to be traffic congestion on Mars in a month or so’s time. The Chinese launched a Mars rover early this week. Then the UAE launched their first Martian rover later in the week. Now I read that the Americans are due to launch their Martian rover next week. Do they co-ordinate third landing ground. Can you imagine the international ramifications if one of these rovers was to land on top of one of the others. Or better still if two of the rovers bumped into each other, would the insurance companies insist on a police report and photos of the scene.
A number of new countries have been added to the list that if you are returning from you don’t need to quarantine for two weeks. Several of them are Caribbean islands so good news if you fancy a holiday in that part of the world. But the addition of the South Pacific islands of Fiji and Samoa are a bit odd as the only way to fly there is via the US or New Zealand and neither of them are on the exemption list so unless you are visiting by ship you are still going to have to spend two weeks in quarantine.
It seems that face masks are being blamed for a sudden increase in acne on people’s chins. The problem occurs when people wear masks for prolonged periods. It has been recognised in the Far East, where mask wearing has been common for environmental reason, for years. Supposedly the mask rubs on the chin creating micro abrasions. These breaks in the skin allow bacteria to enter and they thrive in the moist atmosphere created by breath under the mask. If you know someone with a spotty chin the suggestion is to apply a light moisturiser as it protects from the initial abrasions. In the Far East some of the make-up companies have launched special products to counter this problem but nothing specific is available here.
Those old adversaries the Greeks and the Turks are at it again. The Greeks not happy that the Turks are threatening to use their ships to take oil and gas resources the Greeks say are in their waters. The Greeks say they will defend themselves vigorously and as EU members could expect help from them if push came to shove. The Turkish military is however one of the biggest and most well armed in the World and they are not reluctant to use their forces as has been seen in Syria. The Turks would like to join the EU. I wonder how a war would effect their application?
Sad Dick, the London Mayor, has launched a new website to encourage cycling in London. Unfortunately nobody has looked closely at the websites address and it has caused a little embarrassment for Sad Dick. The address is https://cycleskillsonline.tfl.gov.uk and lot of people have been asking him how many people cycles kill. TfL say they will change the name.
That’s it, a year done, I’m off to see what’s for dinner and then to my cat basket. See you all next year, that’s Monday if you’re not sure!
©️ WorthingGooner 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file