Another week and the weather looks like it’s going to be grotty again. Heavy showers and even thunderstorms are forecast. I must say I have never liked thunder and lightning, I find it scary, so I hope we don’t get any in London today.
I see that another of the Train Operating Companies, East Midland Railway, has announced that it is withdrawing its remaining High Speed Trains. The original HST’s or InterCity 125’s as they are also known, are getting a bit old now. They first entered service in 1975 so some of them can be over 45 years old. They were originally known as Class 253 and 254 train sets but it soon became obvious that when the front and rear locomotives were serviced they were often re-mated with a different set of carriages. Consequently, the carriages were all numbered individually as were the locomotives which became Class 43. These trains were originally a stopgap measure before all lines were electrified!
Yesterday Southampton welcomed the new P&O cruise ship, Iona, into port for the first time. Last night there was a naming ceremony for what is the biggest cruise ship ever on the British register. The ship will shortly be taking its first paying passenger on no port week-long cruises around the British Isles. ‘Because of Covid’ the first cruises will operate with a reduced number of passengers but over the summer it will build up to its full capacity of 5,200 passengers and 1,800 crew. P&O have a sister ship to Iona, Arvia, due to arrive next year.
Connected to my last story, the Port of Southampton announced over the weekend that the first of its 5 cruise terminals has been equipped with what is known as shore power. This allows a cruise ship to shut down its engines while in port and instead draw the electrical supply for all its needs from the grid. The air quality around the port can be poor when there are a lot of cruise ships docked with their engines running. A second terminal is currently having shore power installed. It is mostly newer ships that can make use of these facilities, including Iona and Arvia, but both of these ships use LNG for propulsion instead of the dirtier fuel oil used by nearly all ships.
Ryanair Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary is quoted as being “quite upset with Boeing”. The reason is a little complex. Firstly Ryanair has got 210 Boeing 737 MAX8, 197 seat aircraft on order most of which should have been delivered by now. But due to Boeing’s problems, crashes, electrical and Covid none have yet been delivered. Earlier this year they expected to have 40 by the summer, last week they were told they might get the first one at the end of this month. Secondly, Ryanair is talking to Boeing about a big order for the 737 MAX9 which has a slightly bigger capacity than the MAX8 and 100 miles more range. O’Leary is obviously trying to put pressure on Boeing for the lowest possible price so is hardly likely to say he is a happy bunny!
Rolls Royce have been using lockdown to improve and develop the design of their proposed small modular reactor power station offering. Much of its design is now complete and RR have announced that the re-engineered SMR has an increased output of 470 Mw up from 440 Mw for the same cost of £2.2 billion reducing to £1.8 billion after the first 5 have been built. RR say they intend to submit the design for a license later this year and believe that the first could be working by 2030 and ten by 2035.
People in Wantage got a shock over the weekend and this morning when mail and parcels from 2008 were delivered. People got bill’s, hospital appointments and birthday cards all 13 years old. One woman even got a cheque for £141! Many of the people were asking where has the post been all this time? It appears that the mail was found in the home of someone who used to work for the Post Office. Royal Mail has not actually devolved the facts yet, but I hear that it was found while the home of a man who once worked for Royal Mail and had recently died was being cleared out. Was he just a lazy postman who couldn’t be bothered to deliver the mail or did he take his work home with him?
Lovely and sunny this morning but still a bit chilly out of the sun. I do hope that it doesn’t turn to rain later, I want to nap on the window sill when the sun gets on it this afternoon.
The first thing I heard on the radio news this morning was that, against wide-scale expectations, the number of unemployed in the country fell last month by almost 100,000 people. Not only that the number of job vacancies is also up by 48,400 on the previous month. I find it surprising that there are nearly 660,000 job vacancies in the UK today. The number of vacancies has shot up sharply in the last few months.
A little story in the paper made me smile this morning. A Japanese company has come up with a new toilet roll that instead of being the standard 50m long is six times as long at 300m. They say that it is not six times bigger for two reasons one is that they have invented a new compression technique and two the new method doesn’t need a central cardboard tube. I can see a few problems. The softness of the tissue comes from it being fluffed up with air so are we going back to the Izal standard. Also, how can the new bigger roll be accommodated in all the millions of standard size roll holders in not just this country but every country in the world? Finally, what would that Labrador puppy do with a roll six times as long?
I understand that this summer could be a disaster for all you humans going to the seaside as there is an ‘unexpected’ shortage of chocolate flakes to go in ice cream to turn it into a 99. Cadbury appear to have taken surprise by the recent high demand and have not been making enough. The standard flake that you can buy in the supermarket is not in short supply, but is roughly double the size of the ones made for 99s, so can’t easily be substituted. I suggest Cadbury need to get their finger out and produce more.
A report in the American press states that in the UK 34 days after a single dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine 96.42% of people had developed coronavirus antibodies while 14 days after a second jab 99.08% had the antibodies. The report says that it is believed that the reason that such high levels of protection are being found is because of the longer period between the first and second doses that the UK has been employing. Other countries that have been giving the second dose after only a few weeks have not been reaching this level of protection. Strange how something that was done out of the necessity to vaccinate as many people as possible in the least possible time has proved to be such an advantage.
The International Energy Agency have come up with a real beauty this morning. They say that the sale of all new fossil fuel fired boilers in the world should be stopped by 2025. The media seem to have gone overboard on the banning of gas boilers, but the IEA is not just talking about gas boiler, it is all fossil fuel boilers so it includes wood, coal, peat and oil as well. That means that from 2025 all new homes will have to have either electric heating or heat pumps. Well, I guess it could be done in the UK, but how much will it add to the purchase price of homes and how much extra will it add to running costs? How many jobs will it cost? In some countries for cooking and heating they burn all sorts of things including cow dung and others like China will just ignore it and they will just carry as now. This is a stupid idea, aimed at developed countries and will cost us all a fortune.
I read that a 300-metre tall skyscraper in the Chinese city of Shenzhen has suddenly started vibrating. The authorities immediately evacuated the building which contains the offices of several electronics companies, but have no idea what is making the building wobble. It was suggested that it was reacting to an earthquake but scientists have confirmed that there has not been one in the region. At the moment no one had got a clue as to what is causing the building to move but moving it is. The Chinese national building code has been widely questioned as several buildings have recently collapsed when there have been low-level earthquakes. But at the moment investigations are still going on into what the problem is and what can be done about it.
Good Morning folks, I got a bit of a shock this morning while I was tucking into my breakfast Felix when I heard a report that it was the third anniversary of the wedding of Ginge and Whinge. Have we really been putting up with those two moaners for only three years, it seems so much more?
The poor old Queen doesn’t seem to be having a lot of luck at the moment. I hear that one of the two puppies she was given to keep her company has unexpectedly died. The dogs were supposed to distract her following the death of Phil the Greek. Having lost the last of her adult Dorgi’s not long before Phil died, poor old Liz doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break.
I know that airlines have been offering premium economy seats on planes for ages now, but I understand that a train operator is about to do the same thing. Avanti West Coast is going to offer a ticket somewhere between its standard class and first-class fares. Many years ago there was always 3 classes of fare on the railways with 1st, 2nd and 3rd class fares. But the hard, un-cushioned 3rd class seats were dropped on 3rd June 1956. In the 1970s someone had the bright idea of renaming 2nd Class as Standard Class. To me, it looks like this is just an attempt to bring back 3rd class by introducing a more expensive version of 2nd class.
The left-wing Independent is trying to make a fuss this morning over EU citizens losing their rights to live in the UK from 30th June. Well, that is nothing new and has been the case for years. It’s not as if they haven’t been warned, for ages before we left the EU and all through the year-long transition period, I got fed up with hearing and seeing adverts that got EU Citizens to register for the settlement scheme and literally millions did. The Indie says the date is arbitrary and should be extended so the ‘poor’ EU citizens can register. Well, I say rubbish if they haven’t applied by the end of June it is because they are either too stupid or too lazy. In either case, they will be no loss to the UK.
Another paper is making a fuss this morning, saying that 110 flights have arrived from India since it went on the ‘red list’, implying that they were all full of Indians riddled with the Indian Covid variant. What utter BS. The only people allowed to come in from a ‘red list’ country are citizens of the UK or Ireland and they are taken by Home Office transport directly to a Home Office designated hotel for 14 nights quarantine. Now I don’t doubt that there were some passengers on board those planes who were willing to cough up the nearly £2000 to be quarantined but I bet the main reason those planes operated was because they were loaded with freight. Passenger planes can carry so many pallets under the floor that they can operate economically without any passengers!
Now here is a story I like. A Japanese man has just auctioned off his pride and joy, a 1989 Toyota Supra sports car raising some £30,000. He needed the money to pay for a vet’s bill for the other love of his life his cat called Silk. The cat had contracted feline infectious peritonitis which is potentially fatal to us moggies and had accrued medical bills of £24,000. I know a cat is much more important than a car.
I thought we were heading into summer, but I guess I was wrong as it is cold and windy this morning and I think I heard that is going to rain later on. All those people who have taken a chance and gone on holiday to Portugal have got it right, as I hear that it is sunny and warm there.
So after 40 odd years, we are going to return to a single company running the railways, looking after the infrastructure, ticketing, timetables and organising operating companies who will still be operating the trains for a fee. I wonder if they will be looking after the catering. I hear that many years ago when British Railways ran the trains they were infamous for their rotten sandwiches, let’s hope they are not going to be turning the clock back.
Nice to see the BBC getting bashed for their cover-up of the famous Martin Bashir interview of Princess Diana. He sounds like a nasty piece of work fooling the Princess into giving the interview by lying and forging documents and then denying it for a year. The report out today says that the BBC’s investigation into the incident was a whitewash, clearing Bashir despite knowing what he had done. The current Director-General of the BBC has sent a written apology to both William and Harry, about time too.
The first cruise ship to sail from a British port in well over a year leaves Southampton at 19:00 hrs tonight. The MSC Virtuosa will be on a four-day cruise along the south coast putting in at Portland. There will only be 1000 people on board a ship designed 6000 so service should be good in the bars and dining room. I saw people getting on board on the TV and it was blowing a gale, I hope it’s not too rough.
So Labour haven’t learnt much from their crushing defeat at the Hartlepool by-election. They have done the same thing all over again, drawing up a one-person shortlist for their Batley and Spen candidate to be selected from. This time they think they are on to a good thing as that one person is Joke Ox’s sister. They have even bent the party rules by letting her join the list as she has only been a Labour Party member for a few weeks. At the last election, Labour won by about 3500 votes, but an independent Brexiteer got 6,000 votes and UKIP got 1500 votes so it could be close. The famous Labour thinker, the Abbotpotamus, has already declared that if Labour don’t win then Sir Keir Stoma must resign. She wants the Manchester mayor, Andy Burntham, to replace him. Fat chance.
I read that Stellantis, the new name for the car manufacturer that sells, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Jeep has given all its UK and EU dealers two years notice of termination of their dealerships. Only the Maserati brand is exempted. The company has decided to rearrange its distribution network. The idea is that the new network dealers will all be multi-dealerships selling all the company’s brands. It might be good for the huge dealerships but I can’t see the smaller ones having the space or finances for this to work.
As I was eating my dinner tonight I heard a story on the radio from Belgium. Normally everything from Belgium is boring but this I found interesting. The authorities are looking for a soldier called Jurgen Conings, who is a shooting instructor and a trained sniper. It seems that he threatened to kill a virologist and wrote some racist comments online. Now he has taken a number of weapons from his barracks. He is said to have a machine gun, several anti-tank missiles, hand grenades and is wearing a bulletproof vest. 250 armed police and 150 armed soldiers have closed off the area around a 46 sq mile forest on the border with Germany where they think he could be. It sounds like Mr Conings is leading them a merry dance for days now. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has slipped over the border into Germany and got clean away. I will have to keep listening to see what happens but not until tomorrow as I’m off to bed.
Wow, it’s windy this morning, I battled into going down the garden and nearly flew back! Then I had to spend ages sorting out my fur, getting it all in good order. Bozzie was even laughing at me, wait till he goes out and gets his hair blown all over the place, guess who will be laughing then.
According to this morning’s Guardian, 6.5 million households in the UK say they plan to buy an electric vehicle or a Hybrid by 2030. Personally, I think this number is highly unlikely given the current rate of sales. Mind when you compare this to the Government’s target of 18 million EV’s and Hybrids by then it begins to look possible. 2030 is the year the Government wants to halt sales of petrol and diesel cars so either people will be driving old cars or the roads are going to be very quiet.
Looking a bit deeper at yesterday’s story about the train network all being run by a single company, Great British Railways, I see that with the demise of the franchise system all the trains are likely to appear to be run as a single entity. Despite the trains still being run by different operating companies, GBR wants them to all look like they are all run by one company so they will all be painted in a single colour scheme. Who remembers British Rail Green Livery? I understand the idea will mean that you will now be allowed to use your ticket on any train on your chosen route and no longer have to stick to the company who sold you the ticket.
Hackney Central overground station in London is going to get a makeover. Well, that’s OK there are name stations around the country that could do with a bit of work and modernisation. But I see that the makeover is going to cost £3 million. I would have thought you could do an awful lot of work for that amount of money, so what are the people of Hackney getting? A new entrance, a few trees and a bicycle parking rack. Why does public work always seem to cost a fortune?
The Hammersmith bridge farce continues. It is now over two years since the last cars were allowed to cross it and nobody has taken responsibility. It is owned by the local council who say they can’t afford the £160 million repair costs. Transport for London say they don’t have the funds to pay for it and the Department of Transport say it is Hammersmith Council’s problem. An inspection of the bridge has said it is safe enough for pedestrians and cyclists and they are to be allowed to cross it next week, just before a pedestrian ferry service is to start. The main engineering investigation, by Mott MacDonald, has been running for two years and is expected to finish in late July. I understand that if repairs were to start today it would take around six years to complete them. I wonder if it would be cheaper and quicker to knock the bridge down and to start again?
There are plans afoot to extend the Rampion wind farm off the south coast of England. The current Rampion 1 has a maximum output of 400Mw. Rampion 2 is on a different scale, with 116 more turbines stretching for miles along the coast, Climping in the west to Newhaven in the east. The new turbines will add another 1,600 Mw of maximum output. But it is the size of the turbines that shocked me, each one will be the same height as the Eiffel Tower, 325 metres. The current turbines are huge but are only 115 metres high. Many local people are not very happy as the farm would only be 10 miles offshore and an offshore wind farm is normally reckoned to be from 25 miles offshore.
I see that following the Labour Party whinging about people coming from red list countries possibly mixing with arrivals from green list countries at London’s Heathrow Airport the airport has come up with a very simple solution. Because there are so few people travelling they have only been using one terminal. So they are going to open up another terminal just for red list arrivals. That should keep them well apart stop the whinging.
Well it’s a strange morning, it had obviously been raining overnight as the garden was very wet when I popped out, but it was not raining then. Mind I think we will see a bit later. Bozzie has gone off to Chequers for the weekend, so I have got a reserve on feeding duty, I wonder if I can get them to leave the radio on. I prefer Talk Radio at the weekend as I can’t stand listening to that stupid tennis player on LBC.
At long last I read that someone is to build a big electric vehicle charging station in Britain. Well, I say big, but it will only have a total of 38 chargers when complete. It will be constructed on the site of a big park and ride scheme on the outskirts of Oxford. However, when you look at the details it is not such a rosy picture as there will only be 10 ultra-fast charging points available when the park and ride opens later this year and they will only be of any use if you have one of the few cars that can accept the 300 Kw type of charger that could, if you are lucky, recharge your car in 20 minutes. When the P&R is complete there will be 12 x 250 Kw that are only of any use if you have a Tesla and 16 standard chargers that will service that will deliver between 7 and 22 Kw that most cars require and these can take hours to recharge an EV. The site power draw when in full use will be 10 Mw and to save the local delivery network it will get its power directly from the National Grid.
I hear that GE are to get the contract to manufacture the wind turbines for phase C of the Dogger Bank wind farm. They will supply 89 x 14Mw Turbines, the biggest turbines anywhere in the world although several other companies are offering similar output turbines. Each turbine blade is 107 metres long and when the 3 blades are bolted to the hub form a 220-metre diameter circle. These things are getting ridiculously big.
French 18-year-olds are to be given a “culture pass” by the state. The electronic pass is worth €300 and can be used to buy anything that is associated with culture but with one proviso, it must be French. So you could go to the cinema or the opera, you could buy books or a musical instrument, take dance classes or even buy video games. Just so long as they are French. It all seems a little bit odd to me.
Yesterday Bozzie went down to Portsmouth and went on board the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Then even gave him a special fleece jacket with “Prime Minister” on it. Today it was the Queen’s turn to make an official visit before the ship sails on a six-month deployment tomorrow. This was her first solo visit since Phil the Greek died, but they didn’t give her a fleece!
The Sunday Times rich list is out in tomorrow’s paper and I can confirm that once again it does not include me. As much as I can dream about being the first cat multiple billionaire, living a life of undreamed luxury, with human slaves to wait on me paw and tail, it just hasn’t happened this year. I wonder if I would ever get fed up with being fed huge bowls of Felix Chicken?
Anyway, talking of food has made my stomach rumble and I’m off for my dinner. I might have a wander and see if anyone has got a TV tuned to the Eurovision Song Contest. I enjoy the annual freak show and the humiliation we suffer from being pointless in the vote. I am looking forward to my lay in tomorrow with no Bozzie, Wilfred or the Mutt to annoy me.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file