Morning everyone and welcome to another exciting week in Westminster. Bozzie was off to Coventry this morning to talk about one of his favourite subjects, buses. The Government made an announcement about a £3 billion boost to spending on buses with new routes, more regular services, touch paying and new electric and hydrogen buses to be made in Britain. I think Bozzie was looking forward to this, he was quite chipper at breakfast time.
Mind you Bozzie wasn’t very happy with Cressida Dick and what her Metropolitan Police were up to at Clapham Common bandstand. The women who wanted to hold a vigil for the woman who was murdered while walking home last week, had asked the high court to approve it. The court refused to interfere but ordered the Met Police to meet with the women to agree parameters for the vigil. When they met the police refused to enter serious discussion and the women cancelled the vigil. But several thousand people turned up anyway. The police couldn’t let it go, they had to wade in and violently detain some women, which has come in for much criticism.
Before lockdown the Royal Mail were struggling with a drop in volume of both mail and parcels but when lockdown arrived the number of people using home shopping leapt and so did their parcel business. In fact it has gone up so much that they are to introduce Sunday parcel deliveries. They had tried them out over Christmas and found them to be a great success so they think they are on to a winner. Mind you, the letter business is in a bit of a downward spiral and they are talking about dropping Saturday deliveries.
I read that Thornton’s are to shut the last of their shops permanently. The remaining 61 shops will not reopen when non-essential shops are allowed to reopen. I have been told that their chocolate can be bought in most supermarkets but it is harder to find their toffee which was the original product. It looks like if you want to see the full range of Thornton’s products you will have to venture on-line.
I have been reading about the plans that many pubs have to re-open as soon as possible on or just after 12th April if Bozzie’s timetable works out. Although it is only pubs with outdoor space that will be able to open, that is pubs with gardens, courtyards, roof terraces and the like. Some pubs have made big investments in enlarging the outside space they can offer. For example, I was reading of one pub that would be offering seating for 700 in their garden. Drinkers seem to be desperate to get back to their pints and I understand some pubs have been taking bookings with many already sold out for the first 2 or 3 weeks. Let’s hope that April showers stay away or that the pubs have invested in some of those big umbrellas.
I see that Pippa ‘The Bottom’ Middleton gave birth to her second child early this morning. The girl is to be called Grace Elizabeth Jane weighed in at 6lbs 7oz and aunty Kate is said to be ‘delighted’.
You lucky lot are to get an extra bank holiday next year. The extra day will be tagged onto the May bank holiday which will be moved to June 2nd. This is in order to celebrate the platinum jubilee of the Queen. The Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, says that many ‘spectacular events’ are planned. Let’s hope the Queen is still alive in June 2022.
It’s a bit dull but fairly mild. The gardeners are out in the garden giving the grass it’s first cut. I would love to see Bozzie out there steering the mower but somehow I doubt I will ever see that. He gets puffed out just taking the mutt for a run, I hate to think what cutting the grass would do to him!
So the EU has shot itself in the foot again over the AstraZeneca vaccine claiming that it has been causing blood clots and completely messing up their vaccination program. I have been listening to an expert on the radio who said some very interesting things. For example, he said that you could expect about 7 people per 100,000 to suffer blood clots every year and that is about the number the EU have been experiencing. AstraZeneca say after 27 million doses there have been 37 incidents of blood clots which is actually less than people would normally expect to occur. Interestingly the numbers suffering blood clots after taking the Pfizer vaccine is almost exactly the same as the AZ one but no one is complaining about it. Something tells me that once again this is all political.
So Phil the Greek came out of hospital this morning after being in there for almost a month. I must say that in the pictures of him in the back of the car taking him home he still looked not very well. I suppose that, as he is only a few months off his 100th birthday, it is hardly surprising. I expect he will be taking it very easy, once back at Windsor Castle, for quite some time. I bet the Queen is delighted to have him home.
Your intrepid cat reporter got it right again predicting the removal of Portugal from the red travel list where people arriving from have to quarantine in a hotel. But I will admit I didn’t get it all right as I didn’t hear that Mauritius would be joining Portugal. Of course, the Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores are also off the list.
Who remembers the ITV police programme, The Bill? I can’t say I do, it finished on TV in 2010 when I was a very young cat. I understand that in its day it was very popular. Well, I hear that there is to be a virtual cast reunion to mark the programme’s 38th anniversary. Surviving cast members are to meet up on the internet and reminisce. Tickets for the show will be sold in aid of charity but if you are very wealthy you can pay £100 and actually talk to the old actors.
More fun for the Labour Party. Mike Hill the MP for Hartlepool has resigned leaving them in a bit of a pickle. Hill is awaiting an employment tribunal in which he is been sued by an ex-member of his staff over sexual harassment. Unfortunately, his actions make it look like the actions of a guilty man. But the party have a problem, Hartlepool is one of the ‘Red Wall’ seats that were falling to Bozzie’s lot at the election. In the general election Hill got 15,500 votes and the runner up from the Tories got 11,900 votes. The problem is that the Brexit Party came third and polled 10,600 votes meaning that vastly more people voted against Hill than voted for him. The Labour Party’s problem is that the Brexit Party vote has collapsed and that in the latest opinion polls the Tories have been leading Labour by between six and ten percent. The obvious thing for Labour to do would be to hold a by-election at the same time as the local elections but they are petrified of losing the seat.
On the day Piers Moron left Good Morning Britain the ITV show beat the audience numbers for it’s BBC rival for the first time and GMB were celebrating. GMB just edged ahead of the BBC by about 1.1 million viewers to just over 1 million. Since then the GMB numbers have gone into a slump while the BBC’s numbers have gone up. The latest numbers are not even close with ITV down to 0.9 million and the BBC up to over 1.5 million. ITV must be ruing the day they forced Moron to resign.
I know it’s PMQs day today and I’m sure you know how I know, Bozzie has got one of his good suits on and was given an omelette for breakfast so as not to spill yoke down himself. As far as I’m concerned it was Felix chicken for me so all in the world was good.
I read that Transport for London are short of funds again! Despite already going to the Government twice for extra funds to get them trouble they are now saying that they might not have enough money to finish the Elizabeth Line (Crossrail as was). They are looking for yet another huge bailout from the Government, this time £3.1 billion. They currently have 3 major projects underway, the Elizabeth Line, the Northern Line Extension and the Bank Station remodelling and say that they will not take on any more huge projects until they can get their finances back on an even keel. This means no Crossrail 2, no Bakerloo Line extension and no new trains for the Northern Line or the Jubilee Line. One again TfL has left it to the last moment and wants the money by the end of this month!
P&O today announced their new summer cruise program in British waters. At the moment they are only going to use their two biggest ships. The Britannia will sail from Southampton on alternate 3 and 4 day cruises along the south coast not putting into any ports. Their newest and biggest ship, Iona, will sale every Saturday from early August and head for the Scottishland Island of Iona, that the ship is named after, where it will anchor for the day before returning to Southampton. Once again it will not be putting into any port during the week. Passengers will have all the onboard facilities, including full board and entertainment. But will have to have had full vaccinations at least a week before sailing and wear a face mask. I guess this will mean that the cruises will be adults only as under 18’s are not scheduled to be vaccinated on the current time table.
The EU is planning vaccine passports to be available this summer. The current idea is that a “Digital Green Certificate” will be made available free of charge to any of the 450 million EU citizens who is fully vaccinated allowing them to travel. I don’t think that these certificates will be practical for use in Britain as the EU also intends to issue them to anyone who has had a recent negative test or have recovered from coronavirus.
Ursula Von Der Liar has been making more vaccine threats today clearly aimed at the UK. Once again she has been wittering on about banning vaccine exports to countries who do not reciprocate. She did say that the EU would continue to honour contracts but they have already broken a contract to supply 500,000 doses to Australia. The problem is that we have been using all the output from the AstraZeneca UK factory and we also take output from the Pfizer plant in Brussels under contract. Another 433,000 people in the UK got their first dose yesterday taking the numbers up to 25,273,233. This is nearly 50% of the adult population.
I hear that we have just had a bumper delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine from their Indian partner, the Serum Institute of India, this means that this week we will have 4,000,000 doses available. However, the supply is likely to be a bit more constricted next week meaning that the number of people being vaccinated will fall a bit. The Serum Institute is due to deliver another 6,000,000 doses but these are delayed.
For tonight’s last story I hear that today is the 70 Anniversary of Dennis the Menace’s first appearance in the Beano of 17th March 1951. In that first edition he was on his own, his dog Gnasher appeared much later, as did the famous Red and Black hooped pullover. He was initially drawn wearing a shirt and tie. Dennis is a true Peter Pan, he has always supposed to have been 10 years old. Almost from the start he had a catapult, but wasn’t joined by Gnasher until 1970. His pet pig, Rasher, first appeared in 1979 and his little sister Bea in 1998. But even Dennis has gone woke in recent years. His nemesis, Walter, was originally billed as ‘Walter the weakling’, but now it is not PC for Dennis to be seen to be bullying Walter so Walter has become stronger and is now the equal of Dennis. Just in case you didn’t know Dennis’s Surname is ‘Menace’.
A bit dull and grey this morning and not so warm. I understand that Saturday is the first day of meteorological spring, I wonder if it will get any warmer? Bozzie had a good suit on again this morning, it made me think, wasn’t it PMQs yesterday. Then I heard he is doing a presser on TV at 5 o’clock this evening.
The Government might want you to go green and buy an EV for your next car but this morning they have reduced the grant for new EV buyers. It has been reduced from £3,000 to £2,500 on a car costing up to £35,000. I say this doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me when the Government still want you to go green but are now cutting the incentive to do so while EV’s are still very expensive. However, it does mean that the best selling EV in the UK will no longer be eligible for a grant as it costs from £40,000 for a Model 3. In France, the grant is much more generous, €7,000, and if you were to scrap a diesel car as part of the deal you would get another €5,000, making that £10,250. Now a lot more people would think about getting an EV if we were to make a similar offer.
I see that in the US the vaccine rollout is going very well in the white population but in both the black and Hispanic population it is not going so well. Similarly in the UK, the rollout is going well with the white population but not so well in the BAME population. Although in Britain that needs to be looked at a bit more closely, as there is a bit of a split in the BAME community where for example the uptake among Sikhs is very high and Muslims very low.
So the reason that we are not going to be getting so many vaccine doses for next month is two-fold. Not only is the Serum Institute of India going to be late with 5,000,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine it is making because they are being diverted for use inside India and the SII also say they are suffering a shortage of raw materials from the USA needed for production. In addition, a batch of 1,700,000 doses already in the country is being ‘retested’ to ensure it’s stability.
So the EU have once again shot themselves in the foot. The European Medicines Agency announced this afternoon that the AstraZeneca vaccine is both safe and effective. I wonder how long it will take the likes of France and Germany to restart using it and when they do how many of their population will have been scared off from using it? I must say I am more and more convinced that all these objections are purely political and aimed at what they see as hitting out at Brexit Britain. I wonder how many people in the EU will die because of the EU playing politics and not vaccinating people.
The vaccine availability might be going to be low in the coming weeks but it certainly has not effected today’s numbers 462,246 1st doses and 119,609 second doses. That’s a total of 581,855 yesterday. Also for the first weekday in ages the number of deaths has dropped below 100. The 95 deaths yesterday are close to half the 181 reported for the same day last week.
I see that the Taiwan government has appealed to people to stop changing their name to Salmon. It seems that a sushi restaurant has been running a special offer for anyone who can present an ID card in the Chinese name ‘gui yu’ which translates to ‘salmon’ in English. The offer of a free ‘all you can eat’ sushi meal for the ID holder and five friends has proved irresistible to around 150 people who have changed their names. People have changed their names to all sorts of things like “Salmon Prince”, “Meteor Salmon King” and “Salmon Fried Rice”.
If anyone has £100 to spare that can buy me my own personal mini sofa. Next have put the mini cat and dog sofa’s on sale and I rather fancy one. They come in a variety of colours, patterns and styles so you can match your own furniture or colour scheme. I could curl up on it in the evening and watch TV with Bozzie, the Little Otter and the Mutt before retiring to my cat basket. Mind, I bet if I had one the Mutt would get jealous and have to have one as well.
What a beautiful sunny morning with a clear blue sky. I thought I would put out to the garden before breakfast as it was so nice. I was back indoors pretty quickly as it was much colder than it looked. I was getting stuck into my Felix when Bozzie arrived for his. He is getting his Covid jab this afternoon and the Little Otter was taking the Mickey, calling him an old man, I’m sure she doesn’t realise that by comparison I am much older.
It never ceases to amaze me how stupid some Americans are. A waxworks in San Antonio, Texas has had to remove an image of President Trump as idiots keep attacking it. It has stuffed deep gouges from being scratched and has suffered several punches. Mind it’s not just Trump, previous presidents have also suffered. The model of Bush had his nose punched flat and Obummer had his ears torn off six times. Oh and I nearly forgot someone tried to set the model of Melania Trump on fire!
I think today’s number for vaccinations is a new record at 660,276 made up of 528,260 1st doses and 132,016 2nd doses. To do that many of those vaccinators must have been working flat out. We must be well over 50% of the adult population vaccinated by now.
I must say that I am astounded that it has taken this long for Sniffer Joe to make a fool of himself in public by stumbling up the steps of Airforce One and falling over. It was only a few months ago that Sniffer was taking the pee out of The GKP for being a bit wobbly walking down a ramp and boasting that you didn’t see him struggling. Well, he spoke too soon. The best bit was how quickly the memes started to appear. Lots of variations on the stairlift up the aircraft steps, but the one I liked best was GKP driving a ball on a golf course and continually hitting the ball on to Sniffer’s head.
I was a bit surprised when Labour produced a one person male shortlist for the Hartlepool by-election. Not because it was only one person or because he was male, but became he is a re-joiner and Hartlepool voted very strongly to leave the EU. In the general election Labour only managed to hold the seat against the Tories by just over 3,000 votes with the Brexit party who came 3rd getting over 10,000 votes. It certainly looks like the only way Labour will win the by-election is if Richard Tice runs for the Reform Party and splits the anti-Labour vote.
So the police now think it’s OK to visit an 82-year-old lady at 9:30 at night to warn her about drinking tea in the residential homes private garden while socially distanced from another resident. Then to warn her if she did it again they would issue a fine. I think someone should ask them how it is OK to drink tea in the home’s community lounge neither masked nor socially distanced but when you move outside to what is a community garden it becomes an offence. Another case of officious policing.
Morning everyone, it’s another lovely sunny morning. Today I was ready for it to be a bit nippy when I went out but it was a little bit warmer than yesterday, perhaps spring really has sprung today. Bozzie seems to have survived his dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday, despite me reading that some people who have had Covid can have a reaction. He has been complaining that his arm is a bit sore where the needle went in and he says he has a lump under the skin but the paper they gave him says that’s normal. Of course, he didn’t read it, but I did when he dumped it on his office floor with all the other detritus for the cleaners to clear up.
I read that the French have made fools of themselves over a ‘drug’ raid. Earlier this week they claimed that they had seized MDNA with the street value of £1,000,000. Unfortunately, when the labs analysed it, it was found to be “crushed” tagada strawberry, made by Haribo, one of France’s favourite sweets. Why the sweets had been ground to a powder isn’t explained. Maybe it was going to be turned into fake “ecstasy” tablets. Mind, that’s not quite as daft as the Thais who claimed to have seized 475 sacks of ketamine, worth £1 billion, that turned out to be the cleaning product trisodium phosphate. The field test for ketamine turns purple in its presence, but so does trisodium phosphate! The more accurate lab tests showed it was the cleaning product, but they still tested 66 random sacks before admitting the mistake.
Do you remember a few months ago when the Government bought 50% of the OneWeb low earth orbit satellite company and all the “experts” said it was a waste of money? Well, OneWeb have just signed a deal to provide in-flight wi-fi to airlines. OneWeb has already got 648 LEO satellites in orbit and has plans to increase coverage to 2000, including 1280 second-generation medium earth orbit models by the end of next year which will give them complete world coverage. The next 36 LEO satellites are scheduled to be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz 2 rocket on Thursday.
A few interesting things I read about the vaccines. Thursday was our record day of injecting 660,276 people and was over 6 times the number administered in France where they managed just over 100,000. I hear that Bozzie is determined not ever let the UK have to rely on vaccine from the EU and is investing £127 million in two new vaccine research centres and the plants to manufacture 100 million doses a year of the Valneva vaccine and 60 million doses a year of the Novavax vaccine are ready to go as soon as they are approved. Finally the Belgium PM is totally against the EU slapping an export ban on the Pfizer vaccine made in his country. He says that if they were to impose a ban two things would happen, foreign companies would pull their investments and the UK would retaliate by banning the essential ingredients needed by Pfizer and production would come to a grinding halt.
I see a motorist was stopped by police near Junction 23 of the M5 for doing 122 mph. The police said that he was later arrested because a roadside test indicated that he was under the influence of drugs. Under the lockdown rules you are only supposed to be away from home for work, recreation or leisure, this driver claimed he had been to Wales to get a haircut. I wonder if he will also be charged with that!
Wow, I thought that yesterday’s record number of vaccinations (for Thursday) was pretty good. Well, today’s number for Friday was even higher with 589,675 1st doses and 121,481 2nd doses was another record-making 711,156 vaccinations. I know Bozzie said that he would like to get the daily number up to 1,000,000 a day, depending on supply being available and no one thought it possible. It is beginning to look like the only thing constraining them is the supply of vaccine as the infrastructure is in place.
The other day I was commenting on the shortages of pet food caused by all you humans getting cats and dogs to keep you company during lockdown. Now I read that the favourite name you lot have been giving cats is ‘Luna’. Now I think that is just an awful name for an elegant feline. I’m not sure where it has come from, is it because everyone has gone mad caused by the full moon or after the dopey girl witch in Harry Potter?
Right, I’m off to see if my tea is in my bowl yet. I might have to check up on Bozzie, just to ensure he hasn’t gone down with a blood clot after his vaccination. I don’t want to go through someone else moving into number 10, I might get another horrible old woman! Chat to you all again on Monday.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file