Another working week and another grey day, but at least January is over and we are creeping nearer to spring and warmer weather. Bozzie was chatting away on his mobile phone over his boiled egg and soldiers and it seems he was being briefed on the progress of vaccinations in care homes. All the residents and care home workers have been vaccinated or offered appointments. However, it seems there are a few care homes where vaccinations have been put on hold due to virus outbreaks and there is also a reluctance amongst some of the workers to be vaccinated. The number of vaccinations announced shot up again yesterday, while the number of case, people in hospital and deaths fell.
I hear that the European Commission are a little bit happier now that AstraZeneca has found them another 9 million doses to be added to the spring delivery. This has brought the new promised number of doses up to 40 million, but spread across the EU27 this isn’t a huge number each. In the UK we vaccinated 2.6 million people in the last week alone.
I was delighted to see in this morning’s paper that the EU flag has been removed from new driving licenses and car number plates. As is only right, both have been replaced with a Union Flag. At the same time, for all virtue signallers can get a number plate with a green flash on the end for their electric cars.
I read that the SNP have had a reshuffle of their Westminster front bench. The big casualty looks to have been Joanna Cherry who was their shadow Justice and Home Affairs spokesman who will be returning to the backbenches, she was seen as close to Alex Salmond. Other MP considered her to be one of the most effective of the SNP shadows. However, I understand that she has upset the party leadership with her recent attempt to leave Westminster and become an MSP so that she could challenge Wee Krankie for the party leadership. The Westminster leader Ian Blackford and Wee Moanalot are seen as close allies. Another casualty was Tommy Sheppard who has been demoted to Shadow Spokesman on Constitutional Affairs.
The South African variant of the virus has somehow got into the UK and a number of cases have been found in England that aren’t connected to people who have obvious connections to South Africa. There is now a mad rush to track, trace and isolate all the contacts, with people going door to door with test kits.
We have today added another 40 million doses to our order for the Valneva vaccine taking our total order to 100 million doses, enough to vaccinate every adult in the UK If the vaccine is licensed it will not arrive until later this year with the new order coming early new year. I wonder if this is part of the planning for an annual vaccinations. 9.2 million people have now been vaccinated so far with 1 adult in 60 being vaccinated over the weekend.
A lady farmer in Lancashire has found a new way to make money from her goats during lockdown. She is hiring them out to people having Zoom meeting to add a touch of fun. She is only charging £5 a time but has already taken £50,000. Please note that Larry the Cat is available to appear in your Zoom meeting for the one-off offer price of one bowl of Felix Chicken.
The Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight has signed up for a new electricity supply from Black Dog Biogas. The company uses materials like grass and maize in bio-digesters to make gas which is burnt to generate electricity. The leftovers from the digesters are used as farm fertiliser. I must say that I would have thought Vestas could have put up a wind turbine.
Morning all, breakfast with Bozzie this morning, he was allowed an omelette while I had my normal Felix. Nothing much on the radio except about the 11 cases of South African coronavirus that people are trying close down.
A bit of news from No 10. The Little Otter has got a new job and is going back to work. Before she had baby Wilf she had been working for Oceana on combating plastic pollution. Now she is going to work for the Aspinall Foundation working with endangered animal, no not the Mutt and me. She is going to be their new Head of Communications. The charity funds and manages animal protection projects in Congo, Gabon, Java and Madagascar, as well as re-wilding animals from its two UK wildlife parks – Port Lympne Hotel and Reserve and Howletts Wild Animal Park. Bozzie must be delighted she is going to be earning some money. I understand that the Little Otter’s mum has formed a “bubble” and will be looking after Wilf.
An emergency application to the High Court by the mob who are tunnelling under Euston Gardens in an attempt stop HS2 rather blew up in their face today. They wanted the judge to stop HS2 from evicting them but he refused the application. Instead, he ordered the applicant, Dr Larch Maxey, to stop excavations, to provide a map of the tunnels and to say how many people were in them. If Maxey doesn’t now leave the tunnel or pass on the ordered information he will be guilty of contempt of court and could be fined or imprisoned or both.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that Captain Sir Tom Moore died in hospital today. As soon as it was reported that his family was at his bedside it was obvious that he was on his last legs. The hospitals don’t let coronavirus patients have visitors unless they are dying. When you are 100 and have other issues, he had skin cancer, prostate cancer and pneumonia, and catch coronavirus you are unlikely to survive. Still, he seemed to be a nice old man who raised a ridiculous amount of money for the NHS Charity.
It seems that many famous chefs have started to sell meal boxes to try to make some money while their restaurants are in Lockdown. Rick Stein the chef who specialises in fish has gone out on a limb and launched a breakfast box for two. Well, it reads very nicely, containing 6 eggs, 4 sausages, 8 rashers of bacon, 6 slices of hogs pudding, a sourdough loaf, 250 grams of butter, enough ground coffee for 12 cups and a jar of blackberry and apple jam. But I think you would pay less than its cost of £43 even if you bought it all in Waitrose.
I had a little chuckle when I read that the boss of Centrica got sent some shit in the post which seems to be associated with the pay dispute with the workers. Centrica has been trying to get workers to move on to new contracts and many have but the guys who sort out the domestic boilers have been holding out and have been on strike several times. The management have threatened to sack them all and rehire them on the new contracts if they wouldn’t sign up voluntarily. Obviously one of the technicians is a little bit annoyed. I wonder if they realise you can do DNA test on shit.
Bozzie was very happy at breakfast this morning. The news had come out that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine people have been following up on their Phase 3 test subjects and six months later all still had very good coronavirus resistance and nobody appeared to have gone into hospital with it. This has justified the delaying the second jab by unto 12 weeks after the first jab. But not only that, the results indicate that the vaccine seems to make many people unable to pass on the virus. This is very important as it will help to bring the pandemic to an end.
Bozzie then took a call where he was told that the minions had found several clips of Keir Stoma, at the dispatch box, backing staying in the EU. He was delighted and I’m sure he said he was going to “skewer the c…” at PMQs. If he was happy before he was ecstatic now.
Have GlaxoSmithKline dumped the frog company Sanofi who have been struggling with the testing of their vaccine? They have not announced it as such but GSK has signed up with the Dutch-based German pharmaceutical company CureVac to make and distribute their vaccine in Europe. The CureVac candidate is in direct competition to the Sanofi vaccine but it looks a much bet as it as already in Phase 3 testing and looking good. The EU has bet heavily on the Sanofi vaccine. I have heard that this is mainly because the French applied a lot of political pressure on the EU to buy it. It partially explains why the EU has been so upset with the UK successful vaccine rollout. Oh, and GSK have signed up with CureVac to develop a follow-up vaccine to tackle new variants with the aim of having it ready for 2022.
I told you on Monday that Joanna Cherry had been sacked as an SNP shadow front bench spokesman. Well, today war seems to have broken out between the Krankie wing of the party and the Salmond wing. She has called in Police Scottishland over an online ‘vicious threat’ to her personal safety the day after she was sacked. Ms Cherry had earlier lashed out at SNP colleague Kirsty Blackman today after the Aberdeen North MP supported her and attacked the ‘totally unacceptable’ threats. Cherry accused her of riling up her supporters with “lies and smears”. I love it when these people get involved in these slagging matches.
I hear that Bozzie was successful in annoying Kier Stoma at PMQs just as he wanted too. Stoma managed to keep a lid on his temper in the chamber, but the story on the Internet is that he lost it as he and Bozzie left the chamber. He is said to have started to shout and rant at Bozzie and had to be lead away by Labour whips. If he can’t keep his temper when goaded he would not make a very good PM.
Nice to see all the Covid number are heading in the right direction. Compared to a week ago cases are down 25%, people admitted to hospital are down 22% and deaths are down 13.4%. Due to the nature of Covid deaths tend to lag behind hospital admissions by about 2 weeks. On top of this, another 375,000 people were vaccinated yesterday taking the number of first vaccinations to over 10 million.
I read a strange story today. A man who rents a beach hut from the council on Worthing promenade found that his neighbours had got a three-month rent rebate for the three months in the spring when he couldn’t use it because of lockdown. He applied to the council for a rebate on his £1500 annual rent but it was refused because they said he was too late as he had applied outside the three-month window they said people could claim in. However, it now turns out that the council didn’t tell anyone that there was a possibility of a rebate or that there was a fixed period to apply! It seems a little unfair to have a rebate scheme that you can only apply for in a fixed period that nobody is aware of. Typical of a council who don’t want to pay out a rebate, don’t tell anyone it is available.
Bozzie was relating his encounter with Kier Stoma over breakfast, telling his audience of me, the Mutt, Wilf and Wilf’s teddy bear how brave he had been. I wish I had been there to see Stoma making an arse of himself, swearing that Bozzie was not being truthful and then having to admit he was wrong. Will he be apologising in the commons for misleading the house.
I heard on the radio that AstraZeneca and Pfizer are starting testing their vaccine from today on people who will have a first dose of one type followed by a second dose of the other. The idea is that if the test works it would allow for vaccinators to swap to a different vaccine if there was a shortage of initial vaccine. Scientists think that it might actually lead to higher protection. There will be two regimes one where the second dose is given 4 weeks after the first and one where it is given 12 weeks later. The results are not expected until the summer. In a separate event, AstraZeneca are in talks with the makers of the Russian Sputnik vaccine to see if a similar series of test can be set up with them.
Bozzie has sent Liz Truss off to India, not on her holidays, but on trade talks. I understand that she will be discussing a bumper trade deal with them worth around £100 billion a year. Truss has been working away in the background doing deal after deal and not making a big fuss like some minister and I like her because she always talks to me and strokes me, unlike so other ministers. Bozzie was supposed to go to India last month for their Republic Day but had to cancel because of coronavirus. Now he is leaving it up to Truss to sort out the deal which could open up opportunities particularly for cars and scotch.
While talking about trade deals I hear that our application to join the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership has been well received by the 11 members. However, it is likely to take a few months to sort out. Firstly a committee made up of the existing members has to agree to start negotiations. If they agree we have to make an offer to them saying what we are offering and if we would want to protect any of our home-produced items. There would then be discussions before any agreement could be struck. If we were to be successful the block would account for 16% of world trade. Mind it could get bigger because I hear that South Korea and Thailand are both about to apply to join. Of course, the USA were going to be one of the original members until The GKP decided not to join, but Sniffer Joe has long been in favour and could join up. That lot would make the EU look silly.
The coronavirus numbers published today are going well again with the deaths falling, positive tests falling and admissions to hospital falling. Numbers have been heading down for nearly two weeks now and it looks like we are over the peak. In addition, there were another 450,000 vaccinations reported today that took the total number of first vaccinations to very nearly 10,500,000, averaging over 430,000 a day.
I heard that the Formula One motor racing teams are all preparing for the new season, but the Hass team has a bit of a problem. The Hass car uses an engine supplied by Ferrari, Hass has mated the engine into this year’s car, but has yet been able to start the engine up until it is seen by engineers from Ferrari. However, Ferrari engineers are stuck in Italy if they were to fly into England they would have to quarantine for two weeks. The team boss is also stuck in another country, he is in America. The first testing this year is in Bahrain on 12-14th March and this looks like the first time they will be able to fire up the engine.
Morning all, a bit overcast at the moment but I hear it’s going to be sunny later. But it going to get colder and we might even bet some snow down here in the south at the weekend. I hope not, I hate snow.
At long last, the Government has announced the start date for the compulsory hotel quarantine of people coming in from the so-called “red countries”, where they are likely to have the new variants of coronavirus. They have put out requests to hotels near airports, ports and the Euro Tunnel terminals to make offers of interest for 26,000 hotel rooms by 5 o’clock tonight. That is probably an overestimate of the number of rooms needed but it better to have too many than too few.
Von der Liar made a speech today in which she compares Britain and the EU’s coronavirus programs. She said that Britain was like a speedboat, fast and agile, while the EU was like a supertanker, slow and difficult to manoeuvre. Isn’t she saying that Britain, free of the cumbersome EU, has been able to get ahead of the EU by being nimble and quick? While the EU were tied up with dogma more interested in negotiating a low price than trying down supplies. She said that if she negotiated a contract she then has to get the agreement of all 27 EU members before proceeding. This alone could add a week to the process
Three bits of coronavirus news this afternoon. The ONS numbers are out today and they confirm that all the relevant numbers are falling, the R number is now 1 or below everywhere and the total number in England who have been vaccinated is a fraction under 11,000,000 (a fraction under 500,000 in a day). It looks like Bozzie is going to hit his target for everyone over 70 to have been offered a first vaccination by February the 22nd. In fact, the Government now says that the aim is now to vaccinate everyone over 50 by May and they have the necessary vaccine to hit that target. That would account for 98% of people who die in hospital from Covid.
When Great Britain left the EU they decided to leave Erasmus education program and to set up our own scheme on the grounds that our own Turing scheme would cost less to run and we would not be limited to sponsoring students to go to only European universities. Well, of course, Krankie didn’t like it and made an application to join the Erasmus scheme in their own right. Today they have been told no on the simple grounds that the scheme is only open to countries and Scottishland is not a country. I bet that pisses her off.
Another day another trade deal. Today there was a joint statement from the UK and Ghana saying they have finalised £1.2 billion agreement and it will start very soon, it just needs to be signed off. If any civil servants deserve a bonus it Liz Truss’s lot. I also hear there is a race on between New Zealand and Australia to see who can be first to sign. Both are aiming at Easter.
So the postponed English and Wales local Government elections are to go ahead as planned in May. There are also supposed to be devolved Government elections in Scottishland at the same time. But these elections are run by the devolved Government so whether they are to be held or postponed again is up to the local Government. The only problem is that for coronavirus reasons you must all take your own biro.
Saturday is one of my favourite days, the office only has a few people in and those that are aren’t usually very busy. They have time to stroke me and talk to me, while the TV is on for the cricket, football and rugby. Today is even better because the Dreamies girl is working so I’m in for a treat later.
The best news this morning is that Wee Krankie suffered another set back with her independence plans. The highest court in Scottishland has ruled that her plan to hold an independence referendum without permission from Westminster is illegal. Well, that’s her current plan buggered, I wonder if she has got a plan B.
The second bit of news that made me laugh this morning was when I read that the EU is taking enforcement action against 24 of its 27 members for breaching some obscure telecommunications regulations. It seems that they are in trouble for failing to enact new rules under the European Electronic Communications Code. The idea is to bring all the countries regulations into a modernised line. Oddly if we had still been in EU our regulations would have met the new regulations. Just when the EU is being moaned at by just about all its members for its pathetic vaccine roll out it chooses to go to war on another front. Are they in deflection mode?
I am getting a bit confused in my old age. I read that Marks & Spencer has relaunched a Christmas special sandwich for Valentine’s Day. Quite what a Turkey Feast sandwich has to do with Valentine’s I really don’t know but if you pop into one of their Food Halls you will find them on the shelf. One of the guys in the office gave me a bit of turkey out of his sandwich and it was nice, but I preferred a couple of prawns out of a Best Ever Prawn sandwich!
I saw a story in one of the paper this morning about a 78 lady pensioner who had been underpaid for the last 12 years since her husband died. She had only been entitled to 80p a week for her own contributions but she should have been getting 60% of her dead husband’s pension each week. Recently she heard about her entitlement on a radio program and applied. She was awarded £80.74p a week which she says supplements he private pension nicely. But it was the £42,700 in back payments that really delighted her.
I hear there is a pending disaster in Jamaica due to a huge marijuana shortage. Last year the crops were wrecked first by hurricanes, then by drought and finally by Covid curfews stopping cultivators sneaking out to water their plants at night. In Jamaica, it is legal to grow up to 5 plants for personal consumption and some farms are licensed. You can also possess up to two ounces and only face a small fine and no criminal record if caught. However, you can count yourself very unlucky if you are fined under this law as possession of small amounts of ganja is usually ignored. There has been some unrest as the street price of ganja has started to rise.
So the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were distributed to some EU countries yesterday and a few will start using it today. The factory in Belgium has delivered nearly 500,000 doses to Belgium. I understand Italy, Germany, Spain and Ireland are also some of the first to receive it. However, poor old Portugal, who are pretty hard hit at the moment are not on the EU’s distribution list for another week or so. Worse still, as most of them won’t be using it on the oldest people, who are the most vulnerable, I sometimes wonder why they are bothering at all.
I’m off to see if my supper is in my bowl yet. I am told that there could be snow in London tomorrow, if so I may just spend all day in my basket. I shall make the effort to be with you all on Monday.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file