Another week begins and it’s another frosty morning, so I only nipped out into the garden very briefly before breakfast.
Today I read of the leading contenders for the leadership of the Scottishland Labour Party. Anas Sarwar is a multimillionaire Blairite and he was runner up in the last leadership election. Monica Lennon is his left-wing opponent, she was very close to the outgoing leader and is said to be way left of the SNP. I hear the surprise candidate could be Gordon Brown. The ex-PM currently says no but I hear rumours that he could be persuaded to run.
Steptoe is doing his best to stay in the public eye. This morning he was moaning about Rupert Murdoch’s proposed new right-wing TV news station that has just got a license. News TV is said to be battling with Andrew Neal’s new station GBNews to see who can get on air first. I understand that News TV is considering a partial launch, initially going out for only a few hours a day. The idea is that first to air will be the big winner.
Four British warships, HMS Brocklesby, HMS Montrose, HMS Penzance and HMS Shoreham have been conducting a “freedom of navigation” exercise in the Persian Gulf. The idea is to enforce our right to sail our ships through certain seaways when some countries try to exert control over maritime shipping routes. I can’t help wonder if some of the craft might be better enforcing our fishing rights.
As the number of people across the country who have been vaccinated is growing I hear of unrest at the performance of the Welsh NHS. Of course, DucksandDrakeford says it’s because they haven’t been getting their fair share of vaccine. But this is very doubtful, many people say it is all down to the uselessness of the Welsh NHS. DucksandDrakeford says Wales is not due to get another shipment of Pfizer vaccine until the end of the month so he is deliberately slowing the rate of vaccination. What is strange is that he doesn’t mention the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. I must say that I think it would be better to protect the elderly as soon as possible, as slowing things down could kill them.
So today the number vaccinated with the first dose has reached over 4,000,000 which is around 8% of the total population. It seems that some areas are running out of the over 80 and people in care homes to vaccinate and they are going to move on to the next cohort, the over 70s and clinically vulnerable. But this will not be everywhere. For example, London is said to have only managed 36% of their over 80s. I wonder if the percentage of over 80s is very much higher in some areas then others? I wonder how the retirement places like Eastbourne and Worthing are doing?
Please can someone explain Labour Party policy to me please? Today they have an opposition day debate on Universal Credit and their demands that the special £20 supplement that was added to it for coronavirus and is due to finish in April be extended indefinitely. I understand this would need more than 1p on income tax to fund it. However on the other hand it is Labour Party policy to abolish UC, but a lot of shadow ministers have come out recently and said that in principle UC is right.
Not too cold in Downing Street this morning but it is wet. Over breakfast the Little Otter was laughing at Bozzie’s picture in this morning’s paper with him all covered up in PPE and telling him he only needed a helmet to look like a spaceman. Then I read a bit that said Bozzie often enjoyed a 30-minute afternoon catnap. Well, I can confirm that if he gets a chance he will close his office door, tell his secretaries that he is not to be disturbed and I have heard snoring coming through the door. But that’s not a catnap, when I have a day time snooze, I stay alert, ready to pounce. You get close to a snoozing cat and you will their ears moving, tracking sounds, that’s a real catnap. Bozzie can’t catnap, he can’t move his ears through 180° like me.
Bozzie got an early call from Matt Handoncock. He said he had been pinged by the NHS app and had to quarantine. He will be working from home until Sunday. Seems a bit daft really he has already had coronavirus so there is little chance that he has caught it again. One advantage is that I don’t expect him to be doing the press conference anytime soon.
I see that Apple are looking at bringing back fingerprint ID in its next models. It seems lots of people have been complaining that face recognition is failing on it’s latest devices because they are wearing face masks. Face recognition works well with people who wear glasses, whether they are on or off, but I understand that face masks hide too many of the face points that are used to unlock the iPhones and iPads. For Apple to be even considering this they must have heard that face masks are going to be with us for the long term.
I hear that Bozzie is once again not very happy with the EU. When we signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with them just before Christmas it was agreed that it would come it operation on 1st January and would be ratified on 28th February giving both sides over two months to scrutinise it. Now the EU are sounding out a postponement to some date in April. They are claiming that it cannot be translated into all 27 EU languages before the end of February. What a load of rubbish. Firstly, there are not 27 different languages, quite a few speak French and in Ireland and Malta English is still an official language. Cyprus and Greece share Greek so that reduces the number considerably. But for it to take over 2 months just to do the translation is just plain crazy. Have they only got one man doing it? Haven’t they heard of Google Translate? Could it just be the EU is yet again playing politics?
I see a survey out today says that British people consider electric vehicles are still too expensive to buy as family cars even after the government’s £3,000 contribution. The survey says that the cost would have to drop to under £20,000 before many would even think about buying one. The cost would have to drop to £15,000 before a substantial number would consider purchasing one. At this price point, they would be roughly the same price as an equivalent ICE powered car. For example, the basic Corsa E starts at £26,600 including the Governments bonus and the basic Corsa ICE starts at £16,440. This looks an impossible drop in price but the politicians seem incapable of seeing the damage they are doing to the automobile industry.
More evidence that the cruise lines are still having problems today. Royal Caribbean is selling its luxury brand Azamara with its 3 ships to a private investment company for over $200 million. Royal Caribbean and Carnival are the two big companies in this field and both own a number of different brands that operate in luxury, mid and economy brands. Both of the big boys have been busy selling off ships through the lockdowns either to the lesser know brands or for scrap. But both of the big companies have had new ships on order that have gone into their fleets so the total fleet sizes have remained much the same size but have become younger.
Did you see the story of the man with his leg in plaster up to his knee who was struggled to take his Lurcher out for its daily walk, but he persisted and hobbled along with the faithful dog on its lead? Then the dog started to limp keeping one of its front paws off the ground. The man worried and took the dog to the vet where he spent £300 in veterinary charges and x-rays. The final report was said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the dog, it was simply limping in sympathy with its owner. You won’t catch me doing that, I don’t have an owner, I am a free cat with human slaves.
Today is a sad day, it’s the last day in office for the GKP and Sniffer Biden takes over at noon local time. I hear that the new president is coming to England in the summer. I only hope that he isn’t into sniffing cats in the way he is into sniffing children. If he is, I remind him that I have very sharp claws, I know how to use them and I’m not scared about starting a diplomatic incident.
There was a bit of fun at PMQs with the audio and or video link going down. The best bit was we never got to see that fat bloke from the SNP who asks the same question about Scottishland independence in a different way every week. I wonder if the Mogg was out the back somewhere pulling out plugs and sticking back in the wrong holes just to prove he is right that a virtual parliament is never going to work properly.
I hear that the worries that the new variant of the coronavirus found in Britain, which I found out today is officially called B.1.1.7 would beat the vaccine has been proved to be wrong. A report into testing the Pfizer vaccine against it was published this morning and it proved to be the same as against the original strain. Both Moderna and AstraZeneca say they have no reason to doubt their vaccines to be equally good against the new strain. The same goes for all three companies vaccines against the South African variants. New varieties seem to be springing up like weeds. Last week it was the Brazilian and today I hear about a new Californian version.
While on the subject of vaccines I hear that the next one likely to be approved for use in the UK is from Janssen, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine company. It has been undergoing phase three trials and some 45,000 have had the vaccine, 6000 of them in the UK. This particular jab is interesting in that it is designed to be a single-shot vaccine unlike the other three already approved that are double jab vaccines. However, I understand that in the double-blind test some people were given a single shot, others got a half-strength shot, some got two shots and others got a placebo. All those who got the vaccine developed a good protection. The Government has 30 million doses on order.
If you are not a monarchist you should be glad that you don’t live in Thailand. I read that one lady there has just been jailed for 43 years for insulting Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn. The odd thing was she didn’t actually say anything about the King only reposted a number of critical videos on Facebook and YouTube. Mind, I suppose she should be thankful for small mercies. She was originally sentenced to 87 years in prison but it was reduced to only 43 years because she pleaded guilty.
Over the weekend the number of people being vaccinated fell back a little to around 250,000 a day. Of course, the usual subjects, who love to doubt everything the Government says, came out saying it wasn’t good enough and we were never going to hit the target of vaccinating the first four cohorts by the middle of February. I saw people being interviewed and graphs all saying things like there was a shortage of vaccine and not enough doing injections. Well, more GPs came online on Monday and 10 new hubs opened. The result was a fraction under 350,000 vaccinations yesterday taking the number vaccinated to over 4.6 million and as if by magic the naysayers have disappeared.
I read that retired Colonel Ron Back has had a bit of a shock. The ex-paratrooper opened the latest edition of “Airborne News” and read his own obituary! Of course, the editor apologised, having been told of Ron’s “demise” by an old colleague who was living in France and hadn’t checked it was correct. Ron seems to have taken it in good spirit and is supposed to have said that not everyone gets to read their own obituary.
Morning folks, I got woken up by the Mutt barking this morning. A sleepy Bozzie appeared and let him out into the garden. When the much-relieved Mutt came back a few minutes later I heard Bozzie telling him that he was lucky he let him out as he was the Little Otter’s pet and she was still in bed.
I was delighted to read that we have upset the EU. They want their delegation to the UK to have ambassadorial status and we have refused on the grounds that they are an organisation, not a nation. This is undoubtedly true as they are effectively a club of countries just like the UN. Effectively this means the EU diplomats stationed in London will not be covered by the Vienna Convention and have immunity from detention, criminal jurisdiction and taxation. If the EU were a real country then all 27 members wouldn’t need ambassadors in London.
I loved the story about the nine Metropolitan Police officers who were caught in a South East London cafe sitting down eating breakfast, with no social distancing, when it was supposed to be selling only take away food. I watched a video where they were challenged by a member of the public and instead of holding up their hands and leaving gracefully they were very surly and just before the video cut out one was getting very heavy and threatening with the man taking the film. The nine have been fined £200 each.
Two bits of vaccine news this morning. Three hospitals in Birmingham are to be the first to offer coronavirus vaccinations 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This is an experiment to see if there is sufficient demand for vaccinations to justify offering the service nationally. I guess it makes sense to try 24/7 opening out in an area where there are more likely to be lots of shift workers. It was originally suggested trying it in London but the night-time economy in London has virtually disappeared due to lockdown. Next, I hear that the AstraZeneca finishing partner in Wrexham, the only one in Britain packaging their vaccines, was in danger of being flooded overnight. The cause was storm Christoph and the local fire brigade leapt into help to save the site using heavy pumps.
I read that Transport for London and their boss Sad Dick Khan lost a major legal case against London taxi drivers yesterday. The Taxi drivers alleged that the “Streetspace” scheme introduced on London streets last May was illegal. The scheme made some streets bus only, where in the past taxis had been able to use them, banned taxis from bus lanes and banned many right turns. The Mayor claimed that the move was necessary for clean air, however this came at a time when traffic in London was very low due to Covid and was introduced overnight with absolutely no prior consultation with enforcement cameras being put up at 4 am without warning. The taxi drivers said there are now many streets in London where it is impossible for them to pull into the curb to pick up disabled passengers and their rights to use bus lanes were removed illegally. The High Court judge issued a 100-page damning judgement in favour of the drivers saying Sad Dick and TfL had “taken advantage of Covid” to push “radical changes”. Also said it was no good TfL claiming they had consulted when it took place after the event and all the reports considered were written to support what had already been done. TfL immediately asked for permission to appeal but the Judge said that in their opinion they had absolutely no chance of an appeal succeeding and refused permission. TfL now say they are going to apply the Court of Appeal to ask for permission to launch an appeal. More Londoner’s money down the drain when TfL are supposed to be bust and Sad Dick is looking at a huge Council Tax increase this year.
It seems that AstraZeneca is preparing for approval of its Covid vaccine by the European Medicines Agency which could come as early as next week. As I have previously said, one of the major problems is not volume production but is putting the vaccine into vials. To this end, AstraZeneca has signed an agreement with Spanish company Insud Pharma whose facility in the town of Azuqueca de Henares, in Guadalajara. They will fill the vials for the EU order of 300 million doses and an option for 100 million more. Thirty million of these doses have been allocated to Spain which with their allocation of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now has more than enough to give the whole Spanish population two doses.
Nice and frosty again so I was very quick with my pre-breakfast constitutional this morning. Bozzie was not happy again. It appears that someone close to the Cabinet is making mischief again. As soon as anything is as much as mentioned it gets leaked to the MSM as the Government’s next move. I hear there was a discussion on trying to make it worthwhile for people to self-isolate when they have a positive coronavirus test. Someone suggested paying them £500 and Richie Nik-Nak was briefed to cost it. Next thing the MSM says the Government has decided to do it.
The good news this morning is that the virus rate seems to be coming down in most of the nation, but particularly in London and the Southeast. The R number has fallen to between 0.8 and 1.0. Whether this is a result of lockdown, mask-wearing or just happening naturally is anyone’s guess. I hear that the EU is suffering more than us with the shortages of vaccine supply caused by the Pfizer vaccine factory slowing down while it is expanded. Several EU countries have stopped vaccinations altogether, but we are still getting AstraZeneca vaccine which the EU hasn’t approved yet.
The BBC seem surprised this morning that retail sales have slumped, particularly clothing. Well, I would have thought that it was pretty obvious retail sales would fall in a period of lockdown, when “non-essential” shops are closed. They particularly mentioned clothing and shoe sales falling. The BBC must be particularly thick if even I, a street moggy, realised you can’t sell clothes and shoes when your shop is shut.
Only a few hours after Pretty Petal warned of £800 fines for people attending gatherings of more than 15 people, the Metropolitan Police were called to a wedding function in a Jewish school in Stamford Hill, North London. The police say there were over 400 people there so that is a few bob in fines, especially if they get permission to charge the organisers the maximum allowed £10,000. The school says that it was nothing to do with them! They lease out the school hall to an organisation, they then let it out for events. The school have now cancelled the lease.
I see that a new cross channel interconnector opened today. The 1GW cable connects Caen with Hampshire and is bi-directional allow us to import French nuclear power or export wind power if the French should be daft enough to want any. The piece I read said we are looking at building 10 more interconnections. So the plan is to rely on French nuclear power, we must be mad.
I told you last week that Nissan were happy with the UK/EU trade deal. Well, today they have announced a short pause in production due to Covid, but both production lines will resume next week. The good news is that Nissan is to transfer production of batteries for the Nissan Leaf from Japan to Sunderland. This is all to do with the country of origin rules in the agreement. With the batteries imported from Japan, the Leaf wouldn’t qualify but with the batteries made in Sunderland, they can be export duty-free to the EU.
I read that a woman has been found hiding in a Royal Navy officer’s wardrobe. It is understood that the woman, who was of Dutch/Chinese origin, is believed to have been there about two weeks, from when the officer returned to his RNAS Yeovilton base from leave. It is thought she was smuggled onto the base in the boot of his car. The best bit is she was only found because of the pong coming from the officers quarters. Because of the woman’s origin, there is a worry that she might have had access to classified materials.
Morning folks, chilly again and I hear on the radio that we are in for a few cold days and maybe even some snow in London. I hate snow, you won’t find me out in it very much.
The EU’s vaccination program is struggling now that Pfizer are trimming deliveries and now I hear that the NHS are also to get 20% less from them next week. However, I also hear that should the EU grant AstraZeneca a licence they will get very much less vaccine from them than originally expected. I understand that the EU hoped that by the end of March they would receive around 80 million doses, but the vaccine yield coming out of the AstraZeneca partners manufacturing plants is failing to match the output coming out of AstraZeneca’s UK plants or it’s Indian partner’s plants. Subsequently, it looks like the EU would only get 30 million doses. The UK supply is not affected.
Did you notice that Sniffer Joe and his squeeze had to wait in the cold for the White House front door to be opened for them? The left-leaning papers are blaming this on the GKP saying he sacked the White House chief usher in a petty act. However, I hear something rather different. The chief usher was appointed by Melania and had been Director of Rooms at the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC, the incoming administration considered it a political appointment and it was them who fired him.
Today’s coronavirus numbers seem to have been a small improvement. The number of new cases has been going down all week and although the number of deaths today are up a little on yesterday, but the 7 day rolling average is down again. However, I do wonder what the daily infection numbers would be if we used the number of cycles for our PCR test that the WHO recommends. Our labs do around 40 cycles and the WHO recommend 20 cycles. I have been reading about a rugby club where 19 players tested positive but a second test revealed that 18 were false positives! Another record number of vaccinations today, 478,248. That means 5.861 million people have had a first dose.
I read that the Metropolitan Police hoped to carry out another big raid on a party last night after getting six tip-offs of a huge party taking place in offices on London’s Park Lane. Passengers on the top deck of buses going down Park Lane are reported to have had a view into the offices and reported events. 10 Police turned up only to discover that a “socially distanced” party was taking place. Super rich Steve Varsano was throwing the birthday party for his girlfriend Lisa Tchengulz which had 70 guests all attending via Zoom. To make things seem a little more realistic Varsano had organised for all 70 guests to be represented by full-size cardboard cut-outs and this is what the bus passengers had seen.
The only other person present was a DJ in a separate room. The police refused to accept that there were no guests and fully searched the offices finding absolutely nothing. Being unwilling to accept they had been made to look stupid, two officers returned later in the evening to check no guests had turned up late or had been hidden!
I read that another cheap drug is about to undergo testing as a treatment for Covid. It has been hailed as major breakthrough in the developing world. Now Oxford University is to start a “principle test” on Ivermectin which has traditionally been used on livestock and to treat people with parasitic infestations. The drug has been shown to block the entry of viral protein into the nuclei of cells, which could prevent the virus from replicating. Ivermectin is currently only authorised in the UK to treat skin infection and inflammation.
I read that a man delivering curry for a takeaway in Banstead Surrey had an accident on Friday evening when a branch fell off a tree and hit him breaking his arm. The police and an ambulance arrived but the man was worried about the curry not getting through, so the police delivered it for him. I bet the customer was surprised when the old bill turned up saying “I have reason to believe this is your curry”. I wonder if they gave the old bill a tip?
It’s time for my dinner and then I off to find a nice warm spot snooze. Chat to you all on Monday if I’m not snowed in.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file