Another week and another Monday morning but this is a holiday and there are not many in the office today. Bozzie has one of his good suits on so I guess he’s doing another one of the press conferences tonight. I might try to creep into shot tonight if anyone leaves a door open. Bozzie was a bit grumpy last night, it seems that “his” university lost both the men’s and women’s boat races.
I hear that the number of young people qualified to drive has fallen to the lowest on record. To me it is hardly surprising. The coronavirus put a stop to both driving tests and driving lessons for much of last year and quite a lot of this so few new drivers will be joining the ranks. Then on top of that the cost of motoring is another reason. For young people, the cost of insurance is almost as much as a decent secondhand car. Then of course many of those who were considered young once no longer are.
The actress Thandie Newton has decided to go back to her roots and revert to the original Zimbabwean spelling of her name Thandiwe. She says that the ‘W’ was missed from the credits of her first film ‘Flirting’ in 1991 and that she has stuck with that spelling ever since. I suppose this is all part of identifying as African and finding her roots. She was born in London and raised, from the age of three in the West Country. Mother was British and her father was Zimbabwean, so why can’t she find her roots in London?
Scientists have been experimenting on extracting hydrogen from contaminated wastewater using a catalyst and sunlight. The initial catalyst was made by coating nanoscale titanium dioxide crystals with a thin layer of cobalt oxide. When the dirty water was exposed to sunlight in lab conditions it generated hydrogen but only in low levels. The scientists then added a very small amount of platinum nanoparticles to the mix (about 1% by weight) and the new catalyst suddenly produced commercial amounts of hydrogen. In addition, it had the benefit of clearing the dirty water removing antibiotics. Finally, the catalyst was tested on a contaminated Chinese river and the scientists believe that the volume of hydrogen generated was of sufficient value to more than pay for the catalyst. So are we all to be encouraged to drive hydrogen-powered cars?
Bozzie was on TV tonight and he said we are still on target to start opening the country up a bit more. So as from next Monday non-essential shops will open up, so will hairdressers and barbers. You can go to the pub and restaurant but only in gardens in the open air. Bozzie says that he will go to the pub for a pint but I think he should get his hair cut as a top priority. Oh, some rotter shut the door in my face so no guest appearance by your truly.
Last week the American airline Southwest placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 MAX 7 aircraft They did an internal evaluation of the Boeing vs the Airbus A220-300 and the Airbus won hands down on operating costs. Being a brand new design with much-improved aerodynamics that was hardly surprising. But Southwest didn’t even ask Airbus to quote. Now I know the reasoning was that it was for fleet commonality and they felt that it would mean less retraining, and there could be some truth in that. But without actually competitive cost from Airbus how did they ever hope to prove that they had done the right thing. When aircraft manufacturers make competitive bids the per-unit price is always way below the list price. So in effect Boeing could have charged whatever they wanted, making it impossible to know if they have made a correct decision. The oddest thing is that I hear they are likely to order a fleet of Airbus A220’s anyway as they need an aircraft for their short thin routes and Boeing don’t have an aircraft that can compete.
I know it’s Easter but my last story for tonight is that a man from Brixton in South London has managed to set a record by eating 50 Cadbury’s Creme Eggs in 24 minutes. He said it was easy to eat the filling quickly because it is soft and creamy and didn’t need chewing. The hard bit was eating the chocolate shells because they were hard and needed to be chewed or break them down. He said that the following day he felt quite ill, could it be because he had consumed so much sugar!
Morning, it’s cool but sunny this morning, I hear we are in for a full week of similar weather. Bozzie was happy this morning and at first I couldn’t work out why. Finally it became apparent that he had been looking at the latest opinion poll for the Hartlepool by-election which puts his lot 7 points ahead of the incumbent Labour Party. It also put him 24 points ahead of Stoma on the best to be PM.
I hear that the US Government is desperate not to have another incident similar to last weeks when Emergent Biosolutions messed up 15 million doses of J&J vaccine by contaminating it with AstraZeneca ingredients. J&J have moved a number of staff into the plant to keep a close eye on the quality of production and they have identified another 20 million doses that need to have the quality checked. Consequently, the US Government have asked AZ to move production to a different plant and have already identified at least two for them. The J&J vaccine is a one-shot vaccine and we have ordered 17 million doses. It is currently being evaluated by the MHRA and if approved, I hear that our Government are proposing giving it mostly to the under 30 as it is considered that if given a two-shot vaccine they are the least likely to return for a second dose.
While on the subject of the AZ vaccine, I hear that on top of the 400,000 doses the EU blocked from being exported to Australia last month, they have now blocked another shipment of 3.1 million doses. These made up the rest of Australia’s order of 3.5 million doses. Australia is commissioning a plant to manufacture 50 million doses of the AZ vaccine under license, but these doses were to fill the gap before the plant came online. Australia is now very upset by the EU and blaming it for their vaccination program being 83% behind.
I am told that the French police are investigating several high-end Paris restaurants for putting on posh meals for rich clientele while they were supposed to be closed due to lockdown. The €490 meals are said to included caviar and champagne. A French TV station has picked up the story and even shown a menu for a well know restaurant dated last week. There were claims that there was no social distancing or face masks and even French Government Ministers were eating there.
A little while ago I told you that Cadbury were returning the production of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk back to their Bournville, Birmingham factory. They have now announced that they are launching a Dairy Milk Orange bar. Just recently orange flavour chocolate seems to be everywhere as Cadbury has already launched Orange Twirl and Giant Orange Chocolate Buttons. I can’t help but think this might be just too much orange.
There was an on-stage fight after this weekends Mrs Sri Lanka beauty pageant. The winner, Pushpika De Silva, suffered head injuries when the 2019 winner, Caroline Jurie, ripped the crown off Mrs De Silva’s head claiming that she was divorced and not permitted to enter the contest. The organisers stated that Mrs De Silva was separated from her husband but not divorced therefore she was eligible to enter the contest.
The word from California is that Ginge and Whinge are looking at a new venture, running their own vineyard. It has been a popular investment among the glitterati with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Jon Bon Jovi have all started their own labels. It is well known that Whinge is a wine lover and even served a Californian red at their wedding. I think that is a venture that would suit her down to the ground, just so long as she doesn’t drink the profits.
Have you heard of the Facebook group where people post pictures of their meals and other people rate them. A woman named Stacy recently posted a picture of her breakfast and it was viewed by thousands who were split between those who hated it and those who loved it. On a first look it was an ordinary breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and white toast. But it was the addition of gravy poured across every thing that upset people! I understand that there is a contributor to GP who would appreciate that addition but would also have added half a bottle of tomato sauce and seeds!
When I popped out before breakfast it was frosty. I thought it was supposed to springtime and getting warmer. When I got back indoors my poor little feet were freezing so I found the spot on the floor where it is warm due to the pipes to the radiator running underneath it and soon warmed them up.
So Gavin Williamson wants to ban school children from using their mobile phones during the school day. I can see how teachers can put up with kids playing games on their phones when they are in class, but I can see that a phone might be useful in an emergency. The only thing is I thought that most schools had already banned their use during the day.
I have been hearing about a man who has been suing the gambling company Betfred for £1,722,923.54p plus interest for not paying him out for winning a Jackpot on a phone blackjack game two years ago. When he won the jackpot it was initially paid into his account but when he tried to withdraw some of it he found it had been snatched back. A director of Betfred told him that there had been a ‘software malfunction” and under their 49 pages of rules and regulations he wasn’t entitled to it. A clause said that all “pays and plays” would be void in the event of a “malfunction”. But first they offer him £30,000 if he went away and didn’t tell anyone, then they upped it to £60,000, which he refused. In court his lawyer argued that if all “pays and plays” were void how come he was the only person affected. The judge said Betfred simply didn’t have a leg to stand on and ordered them to pay out the win and the interest now believed to be totalling about £2,000,000.
Is suspended Labour MP Claudia Webbe thicker than Lammy. She has been claiming that a widely available map showing the carving up of Africa between European colonial powers had been “hidden from you all your life” even though it is used as a teaching aid in The “Scramble for Africa” that is part of AQA GCSE history syllabus. It is also specified in the National Curriculum which stipulates that students in Key Stage Three should be taught about “political power, industry and empire” in the years 1745-1901. What more can you expect from a dedicated Corbynite?
Bhutan has set a world record by getting a first dose of vaccine into 85% of its adult population since starting on 27th March. Ms Ninda Dema was the first to be vaccinated on that fateful day. Since then doctors and nurses have been working hard, but when you realise that the adult population is only 735,553 it is not really such an achievement.
Funny things happening at the Myanmar Embassy in London today. The Ambassador, who has been in office since 2014, seems to have been locked out by the Deputy Ambassador and the Military Attaché. The Ambassador’s crime seems to have been that he didn’t immediately support the new Myanmar Government following the military coup earlier in the year. Later on the Myanmar Government announced that the Ambassador has been recalled and that he had been replaced by his deputy as the new interim Ambassador. Having seen on the TV what the Government in Myanmar has been doing to its own people if I were him I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon. Instead, I think I would be applying for diplomatic asylum.
It’s still cold this morning but the sun is out. Wonder if it will be warm enough for those Dutch submariners who were pictured on the casing of their submarine off the coast of Cornwall having a barbecue to do it again today.
When the “non-essential” shops re-open on Monday they will be rejoined for a while by Debenham. The department store, which went into liquidation earlier this year, is going to open up all its shops to sell off existing stock at a vastly reduced price. They expect this to take a week to ten days, reducing the prices by as much as 70%, to get rid of everything. I bet there will be a load of rubbish left at the end!
Scottish and Southern Energy have announced initial plans for Keadby 3 power station. With the consultation for Keadby 2 now complete and a license for a 900 Mw station with carbon storage granted SSE have decided to make Keadby 3 a hydrogen-powered CCGT. The current idea is to have a twin pipeline running from Drax PS to Keadby, to the steelworks at Scunthorpe, to Immingham, across the Humber to H2H Saltend (the hydrogen plant) and to Easington on the coast. One pipeline will deliver hydrogen and the other will collect CO2 which will go from Easington to the North Sea gas field to re-inject the CO2. Keadby 3 will burn 1,800Mw of hydrogen to produce 900Mw of electricity.
So yet another cruise company is to join the mob that are going to sail around the British coast this summer. The latest to announce a summer season is Virgin Voyages. They had originally planned to make the maiden voyage of the Scarlet Lady from Miami this summer but instead its maiden voyage will be from Portsmouth on August 6th for a week. The brand new ship will normally take 2,770 passengers but will operate at limited capacity for 3 one week cruises several 4-day cruises before sailing for Miami after the August bank holiday.
I hear that despite the fact that we have been suffering from a slowdown in vaccine availability recently we have still been helping out our friends, unlike the EU. We have supplied enough vaccine to places like Ascension Island, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar for them to vaccinate their total populations. Now I hear that we have been helping out Australia with 717,000 doses. After all the moaning about the low number of vaccinations over the weekend, due to the bank holiday, yesterday’s numbers jump up again. As expected, the main increase was in second vaccinations which were over 400,000 on Wednesday taking the number fully vaccinated to over 6,000,000.
Since Ginge and Winge moved into their home in California the police have been out to the property 9 times since last July when they moved in. There seems to have been various call out reason, some good and some more iffy. An intruder on the grounds is reasonable as is “property crime”, but the four times that the alarm system just went is off more worrying. I would like to know how often you have to have a false alarm before the Santa Barbara County Sheriff stops responding.
I woke up to a nice sunny morning and it was really warm in the sun, I wonder how long it will last before it gets cloudy and cold again. Bet it won’t be long.
When I looked at the stories in the papers this I had a funny feeling I had heard it all before. The headline said the EU are investigating a vaccine because it might be causing blood clots. I read a bit more and found that this time it is the Johnson & Johnson (aka Jenssen) vaccine. Now, where have I heard this story before?
Then I read that Boeing is having trouble with its 737 MAX aircraft and many have been grounded. This time it isn’t every aircraft but only a specific batch, but it has affected a considerable number. A least 16 airlines have been told not to fly aircraft until electrical faults have been put right. It looks like the affected planes are all ones made following the grounding two years ago when the installation method for electrical power systems was changed. Meanwhile over at Airbus, they have managed to deliver 76 new planes last month which is better than the same month last year.
In an answer to a complaint on the BBC website that there are no specific programs for older viewers. The BBC say that it is because the tastes of older viewers is very diverse and it is hard to cater for them. I find this a little odd, as the BBC is in the middle of reinstating BBC 3 a channel aimed specifically at the youth audience. It looks to me that the BBC is only too happy to grab the license money off pensioners but reluctant to spend it on them. I see that a new series on BBC 3 is to be “I am Greta” a series following the actions of Greta Thunderbird. No wonder 237,000 people stopped paying for a licence in the last year.
It was sad to hear that Phil the Greek had died at 99. I guess he was my sort of person, he didn’t seem to suffer fools gladly, but he was loyal and hard working. However, I must say that the main TV channels have gone potty, clearing the schedules and broadcasting the same stories over and over. The people in the office have changed most of the TVs over to all sorts of odd channels, I have seen the likes of Dave and Yesterday being watched. One of the blokes was looking at the TV schedule and even talked about having to watch England Ladies Football on BBC 4 this evening. Mind I did have a laugh watching Bozzie rushing around to hastily organise a statement, getting a good suit on and trying to find his Black Tie.
I see that there were another 450,000 second doses of vaccine given yesterday taking the total of people fully vaccinated to over 6,500,000. Are we getting near to the so-called “herd immunity” yet?
So just as everybody hoped it looks trade with the EU is recovering following the problems immediately following the end of the transition period. French customs officials say that imports from England were 107% of pre-Covid levels last month. French exports to England were reported to be 98% of the pre-Covid level. Trade with Germany is still below the pre-Covid level but is reported to be recovering rapidly. How much of the trade problems were down to pre-Brexit stockpiling and teething problems with the new systems.
Do you remember me telling you about the coal war between China and Australia where the Chinese have effectively banned the import of Australian coal because of political problems? Well, it seems that it is proving to be very expensive for China the world’s biggest producer, user and importer of both coking and thermal coal. In the last 3 months, China has imported virtually no coal from Australia although there is no official ban. Instead, it has been importing coal from the world market where the price for coking coal has been pushing up. For example, the Free On Board ex-US East Coast port price is up by 34% since last year and is now $152.75 a tonne compared to FOB Australia price is down to $113.71 a tonne.
French winemakers are not at all happy at the moment as they have had 3 heavy frosts this week that have done considerable damage to the vines. At this time of year the vines have started sprouting and the young shoots are tender and very vulnerable to the cold. Well, the temperature has been down to -6°C this week and many of the vines have frozen. The French Government has been talking about a rescue package.
Another cold grey day, so much for global warming. I think it is more like global cooling. I hear that the megalomaniac Bill Gates wants to seed the atmosphere with chemicals to deflect sunlight and cool the world. Now that sounds like a dangerous experiment to me. Who appointed Gates God, with the power to inflict this on the world?
This morning’s papers are huge, for example 144 pages in the Daily Mail, with page after page on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. I must say the more I read about his sense of humour the more I like him, some of his one-liners were classic. But it has made it difficult for me writing today’s diary, it has not been easy digging out the best stories I usually bring you. But fear not I have found some.
Since the announcement of restrictions being put on under thirties receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, I hear that A&E departments have been flooded with people who have had the AZ jab and are suffering mild symptoms like a headache or a sore arm. I can understand people being worried about side effects but it seems to me that the population are reacting to the deliberate scare tactics that TPTB have been using from the start of the pandemic. It hasn’t been quite as bad as the AIDS scares of years ago when it was implied that anyone who had sex was going to die. But it has obviously got into many people’s heads.
Another Boeing story in today’s press. It seems that the latest Boeing plane being developed, the 777X, is having its own problems. This giant widebody was originally supposed to enter service last summer but had been put back to this coming August due to problems with the huge GE9 jet engines turbine blades. The diameter of the engine is bigger than the 737 fuselage! Now I hear that deliveries are unlikely to begin before 2025. Boeing are claiming that the new plane will be cheaper to fly than the Airbus A380, but with a list price of over $410 million for the cheaper of the two versions they certainly are not cheap. I wonder how much compensation Boeing are having to pay customers whose orders are going to be years late.
I understand that OFCOM were flooded with complaints last night over the decision of both BBC and ITV to scrap their regular programming and replace it with wall to wall coverage of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh. The BBC mostly put out the same program on BBC1, 2 & the news channel while BBC4 carried a screen advert to a women’s international football match that was being shown in the iPlayer. ITV1 also broadcast wall to wall DoE. The average BBC Friday night audience was only down 6% but the ITV audience was down 60%. Did all the ITV regulars switch to the BBC? I hate to think what it would have been like if it had been the Queen who died.
The person who won the £120 million on the Euromillions last week has had their ticket validated and have been paid out. I can confirm the lucky winner was not Larry the Cat. I suppose that I will just have to carry on as chief mouser until Bozzie or a successor decide to pension me off. I will just keep on dreaming about retiring to the country.
So the Duke’s funeral is to be next Saturday. I think Bozzie is secretly happy not to be going. The official reason is to allow an extra member of the family to attend, but I’m not so sure he was ever invited. I hope the 3 o’clock Football kickoffs are not affected I like watching those men chasing a ball, it reminds me of chasing a mouse!
Well, that’s it for today, I’m glad I have my day off tomorrow, I have had a tough day digging stories out and I don’t think tomorrow is going to be any easier. I bet the Sunday papers have even more about the DoE than today’s did. I nearly forgot to tell you Bozzie is very please with me, I have lost 3 pounds! I will be back next week and still hungry!
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file