I was delighted to see that it was lovely and sunny when I popped out for my pre-breakfast constitutional this morning. It was not as warm as it looked, but it was better in that it was not raining. Bozzie had one of his good suits on, so he must be on TV later doing one of his press conferences I think. He was happy to read out to the Little Otter a bit in one of this morning’s papers that said that Wendy’s Burgers was going to return to the UK, 20 years after closing their British operation. He asked the LO if she had tried them and when she said ‘no’ he said they were better than both McDonalds and Burger King. She told him if he thought he was going to be eating them regularly then he had another thing coming.
I was reading that the contract for building the new Birmingham Curzon Street Station has today been awarded to a consortium of Mace and Dragados. What surprised me was the £570 million cost. Why is everything associated with HS2 so expensive? I read on a bit and then it hit me, the building is to comply with the ‘BREEAM Excellent’ standard. In case you don’t know BREEAM is supposed to be a standard for building sustainable buildings. In other words, they are green. This building is not just going to comply with the basic BREEAM standards of acceptable, pass, good or even very good, it is going to be excellent. Why does everything green have to cost a fortune?
So Keir ‘I will take the blame’ Stoma has put the blame for another disastrous set of election results on anyone but him. He has had a reshuffle of his cabinet and has not really achieved very much. On Friday he sacked Crayons, but by Sunday he had had second thoughts and gave her some new jobs including a made-up shadow job that there is no such Government position for. The reshuffle looks like he has been moving people around for the sake of it. I suspect he had a more radical reshuffle planned but backed down at the last minute not to annoy the two wings of his party.
I see the Covid alert level has been reduced another notch from level 4 to level 3. The Joint Biosecurity Centre recommended the change based on the falling numbers in cases, hospital admissions and deaths. On top of that, I see the latest news on the AstraZeneca vaccine says that a single dose is 80% effective in halting deaths from Covid.
Only 4 Covid deaths in the UK yesterday. What is interesting about this is that all four deaths were in Wales. So that means no one in England, Scottishland or Northern Ireland died from the virus yesterday. I understand that this is the first time this has happened since June last year. All things being equal there are going to be a lot of things that you can do from next Monday that you can’t do today. You can stay in a hotel, eat in a cafe or restaurant, meet indoors, have more people at funerals and weddings and hug people. Not many of them affect me, I guess someone might try to hug me but that’s about it.
The post office is going to experiment with using drones to deliver the post to the Scilly Isles. Not a little drone, but a quite big twin-engine one capable of carrying 100kg per trip. It will make it easier to deliver time-sensitive items like Covid test kits which it’s often difficult to handle when bad weather affects the ferries. Once on the isles, the delivery will split up to be carried to more remote parts by smaller drones. If the test proves to be successful the service may be expanded to remote areas of Scotland and the Scottish islands.
Tesco has announced that it is going to stop selling cans of beer that are held together in sixes by those plastic rings. In a nod to the green mob it intends to sell you half a dozen cans only if packed in recyclable cardboard. Some of the big brewers have already switched to cardboard and Tesco reckons they will be saving the world from 50 pieces of plastic a year by this move alone. I only hope your favourite beer is available in cardboard packaging, otherwise you will just have to go to Sainsbury’s instead!
Bozzie has another good suit on this morning. This is rather confusing. Yesterday was his press conference day and tomorrow is PMQs so what was going on? It took a while to find out what was happening but I finally discovered it was for the Queen’s Speech before a new secession Parliament. I watched the Queen on one of the office TVs. I know she’s 95 and not so steady on her feet as she once was but did Charley boy have to hold her hand up in the air like he was leading her in a Gavotte? Surely it would have been better for her to lean on his arm! Still, she looked pretty good for someone who only lost the love of their lives recently.
I am delighted to see that at last trial running has started on the Elizabeth Line (aka Crossrail) under London. This is a significant step in getting the line ready for passenger service and as from yesterday morning, 4 trains an hour have been running in each direction. Over the coming weeks, this will be slowly increased to 12 trains in each direction per hour. It will then be built up to match the final 24 trains per hour in each direction that is needed when the full service starts. The only problem is that the running trials could hold up clearing some of the 4,500 snagging items on the station, not to mention more problems on the tracks, air shafts and portals.
I have been reading that Keir Stoma’s PPS Carolyn Harris, one of his closest aides and a personal friend, has resigned. It seems that MP’s suggested that she had been stirring up trouble with Crayons over the weekend by briefing against her. The story I heard was that senior MP’s had complained that Harris had been putting out baseless tales about Crayons private life. The rumour mill says Stoma is now under pressure from the left of the party to appoint a black MP as his next PPS.
I seem to remember mentioning to you guys ages ago that part of the problem with summer water shortages was the lack of storage in the form of UK reservoirs and the reason was it was EU ‘policy’. In fact, the EU wanted us to get ready for climate change with water rationing because they reckoned that some Mediterranean countries were going to suffer droughts and that all EU countries should suffer similarly. Well, the good news is that now we are out of the EU that rule has gone and we are currently looking to build our first new reservoir in 40 years. Portsmouth Water has currently got the bidders for the £100 million Havant Thicket Reservoir in Hampshire down to the last two bidders, Balfour Beatty and a joint venture between Hochtief and Jones Bros.
I hear plans are afoot to build Britain’s first nuclear fusion power station at the old Aberthaw power station site. The local, Vale of Glamorgan, council is in favour and next week it comes before the Pembroke County Council. The government has set aside £222m to produce a design concept once a site has been identified. The hope is that a fusion power station once up and running would produce limitless free power. Isn’t that what they said about the current crop of Nuclear Power Station back in the 1950s?
Have you heard of wolf cats? Well, I haven’t either and I’m a cat! It’s a rare genetic quirk where cats moult every six months and all their fur falls out before a new coat grows. Us normal moggies lose their fur all the time, but in winter it thickens and in summer it thins. I have been reading about a woman who thought her six-month-old kitten was ill when its fur started coming out in clumps. The vet told her it was perfectly normal and it is already growing back as a summer coat. The name wolf cat comes from the hairless cat looking like a ware-wolf.
I have been reading about a new artisan spirit made from apples grown entirely within Chernobyl exclusion zone. However, I don’t think you are going to be able to try the new atomik vodka anytime soon as the first 1500 bottles made by the Chernobyl Spirit Company have been seized by the Ukrainian Secret Services while on route to the UK. No official reason for the seizure has been given but the makers think that the Ukrainians might want them to pay local duty on the Vodka although none is due as it is for export and instead would be subject to British duty. When it eventually arrives in Britain, you won’t have to worry about radioactivity as it has been found that any traces in the ingredients is removed by the distilling process.
Morning all, it’s a good suit on again for the third day running. But wait a minute there is no PMQ’s today, Bozzie is making a COVID-19 statement to the House. I don’t think I shall bother watching as it will be the same old same old.
I heard an advertisement on the radio for MyPillow pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets. But it was the little bit at the end that surprised me. They are now also selling dog beds. Mustn’t let the Mutt hear the advert or he’ll want one. I’m not sure that would go down very well with the Little Otter, what with the owner of MyPillow being a big Trump supporter. My only complaint is that he isn’t selling cat beds!
The problems with the Class 800 trains continues. I hear that the earlier news that the problem was with the link between the bogies and carriages is wrong. It is actually with the brackets that are used to lift the carriages off the bogies. The cracks are in the welds where the brackets are welded to the carriages and it is not a simple steel to steel weld, it is an aluminium to aluminium weld and requires a specialist repair. Now here is the bit I don’t understand, the brackets are not safety-critical, they are only used for maintenance, but they are being repaired before the trains are returned to service. LNER are looking at putting a number of old Class 91 locomotives back into service hauling old carriages to try to restore some services.
It’s not just the Class 800 train sets that are trouble. Northern Trains have had to withdraw from service 24 of its Class 331 and Class 195 trains. This time the problem is with faulty shock absorbers which are used to stop the carriages from swaying. These trains are made by the Spanish company CAF. The company has another 78 of these trains in its fleet and they have passed an inspection and remain in service but under regular inspection while a permanent modified is sort.
I see the left-wing press and the BBC have been making a fuss about a county court order for £535 against Bozzie. It seems the order was made as a default and Bozzie was unaware there was even a court case and wasn’t represented in court. Enforcement of the order has never been attempted. His legal people have now applied for the order to be set aside on grounds that the claim was totally without merit and it was not properly advertised.
So Boeing has been badly hit by the 737-Max 8 electrical problems last month and only managed to deliver four of the model. At the same time, Airbus has been moving in the opposite direction and deliveries have been increasing. They have just told customers and suppliers that they will be increasing production by 22% next year. Sales have mainly leapt in A320 and A200 families of jets.
It was announced this morning that Pret a Manger is to open up four test branches inside big Tesco Extra stores. Pret have been struggling a bit as its target market of office workers have been working from home. Last year Pret closed 74 of its UK stores and shed 3,000 workers. This is a test to see if they can tap a new customer base, or perhaps its original customers in a different setting? The first shop will open in Tesco’s Kensington shop next month with the remaining three opening in the summer. Pret will also be increasing its stores within Motorway Service Stations.
When the Toby Carverys reopen on Monday there will be something very different about them. You will be served your meal already plated at your table. You will still be able to choose just what you want but it will be fetched by your waiter or waitress. So gone are the days of piling up 20 roasties on your plate, you will get what you are given. I worry that much of what you are served would be the waitresses preference. Her idea of “just a little gravy on the meat” could land up with your Yorkshire pudding floating off the plate, and your peas drowning.
Horrible drizzle this morning, you know the sort of thing, it doesn’t look like it is raining much, but your fur gets soaking wet. Still, it was a Felix Chicken morning, so it can’t be that bad a day.
Florence is supposed to start work this morning and is expected to continue working 24hrs a day for over 3 years. Florence is an HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine and will be digging one bore of the 10-mile tunnel under the Chilterns and is the first of 10 TBM’s that will dig 80 miles of twin-bore tunnels. The second TBM, Cecilia, will start digging the parallel 10-mile bore next month. The numbers that go along with this are interesting, 17 men will operate the machine underground supported by over 100 above ground. Florence is expected to move at about 15 metres a day, but because it will be able to send geological data back to base, it is expected to be able to run Cecilia slightly faster and the intention is for them to finish digging at the same time. The 2,000 tonne machines are 268 metres long and will dig a 10.26 metre diameter tunnel that when lined will make 9.1 metre diameter running tunnels. The lining will need some 56,000 precast concrete sections, per bore, manufactured in an on-site factory.
Nearly all the Wetherspoon pubs are to re-open on Monday. Just six are to remain closed for a while yet. That is because they are mostly located at airports and will stay closed until air travel recovers. The pubs to remain closed are at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Doncaster and Stansted Airports and two at the NEC/Birmingham Airport complex. It’s nice to be able to report good news for a change.
For several years Chicago has had a problem with rats. A charity has come up with a solution, they have released 1000 of my brother and sister feral cats into various city neighbourhoods. The cats have all been sterilised to stop them breeding and overrunning the neighbourhood and being feral won’t live in people’s homes. However, the cats will hang around if they are fed regularly and they will catch and kill the rats but won’t eat them. But it seems that the mere presence of the cats drives the rats away, they detect pheromones from the cats and move on. I know what it is like living as a street cat, that was me as a youngster, and it can be hard. People putting out food would definitely have me hang around.
I had a little chuckle today when heard that some idiot has bought the posh paint company Farrow and Ball for £500 million. I hope the purchaser realises that they are not getting a company that makes a superior product, only a company that has managed to get its publicity right and has dreamt up flowery names for ordinary colours. This has enabled the company to sell its paint to people who think they are getting something special at over 5 times the cost of Dulux. Want a pale blue, well F&B call it ‘Borrowed Light’, an orangey-red is ‘Charlottes Lock’ and god knows what colour ‘Elephants Breath’ is. All colours come with a standard number, be it BS 4800 or RAL and F&B just put a fancy name to a standard colour and charge mugs more for it.
Dixon Carphone are going back to its roots and changing its stock market name back to Currys plc if it is agreed at the company’s AGM in September. But the move will mean a change of name for all 300 of the company’s stores. The Dixons Carphone, Carphone Warehouse, Team Knowhow and Currys PC World brand names will disappear, over the next few months, to be remanded Currys. It will also mean new uniforms for 13,000 staff and a change of livery for 300 vehicles. The first new-look shop opened in Edinburgh this morning.
I have been reading that a whole raft of Caribbean Islands could be added to the ‘green’ list of countries we can travel to without quarantine next time the list is revised. The islands include Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. I must say I am a little bit surprised that the British Virgin Islands are not already on the list because they have only had one death from Covid on the Islands since the start of the pandemic.
A bit grey this morning but mild. No Parliament today so it’s only an ordinary suit. Bozzie has been muttering about the “Indian variant”, and a big meeting this morning to discuss it. Well, I thought that it was a new rude name for Rishi NikNak, but it turns out to be another version of the coronavirus everyone is worrying about. I heard him tell the Little Otter that he may have to go on TV later, in which case I wonder if he will change his suit.
I see the Israelis pulled a fast one on the Palestinians last night. The Israelis had learnt that the Palestinians had built a load of tunnels just inside the border with the idea that if Gaza was invaded Hamas fighters would hide in the tunnels and attack the Israelis from behind. So the Israeli defence forces moved up tanks and troops to the border and announced last night that they were sending in ground troops. Loads of civilians moved away from the border and fighters took to the tunnels. Then the Israelis bombed the tunnels with the fighters in them and no civilians in the way. Artful.
I told you the other day about Rolls-Royce developing a new jet engine which it has called Ultra and has the advantage of being a brand new engine taking full advantage of new technologies. Until now there was no target aircraft but I understand that RR are now in talks with Boeing to supply the engines for a project that has been dubbed NMA (New Midsize Aircraft). Boeing has a problem in that it has a gap in the size of aircraft that it sells. Boeing stopped selling the 757 some years ago and the 767 is dated. The gap is currently filled by the Airbus 321XLR which has been selling well grabbing 450 orders and Boeing has nothing to carry the number of passengers over the 8700km range it offers. The 737-MAX has been stretched to its limits and can’t be made big enough or to fly far enough. The economics and old technology of the 767 rule it out and the 777 and the 787 are just too big, Boeing started looking at the NMA some years ago but put it on ice because of the money being spent to fix the 737. They now have a new CEO and it looks like the NMA has been moved to a front burner, but can they get the new aircraft in the air in time to compete?
This woke world is beginning to become even more stupid. A person has written to LNER to complain that the train manager (what became of the guard?) had made an announcement starting “Good morning ladies and gentlemen.” It seems that this person objected to being addressed in that way as they did not consider themselves to be male or female. LNER apologised to “it” and promised to ensure that announcements would in future be gender-neutral say something like, “Good morning everybody.” Surely people have got more important things to complain about, like late-running or the buffet selling out of bacon rolls?
I have been reading that the Hernando DeSoto Bridge taking the interstate (I40) highway over the Mississippi River has had to shut as it was in great danger of collapsing into the river. A routine inspection found that a main steel box section had snapped clean in half. It doesn’t look like a fatigue crack has caused it as there are no joints or fixings anywhere near the break. It is reported that it is much more likely to be a stress break caused by 50 years of vertical movement in the bridge. However, a few years ago additional braces were added to the bridge to make it comply with a new earthquake code and it could be due to the extra rigidity not allowing the bridge to expand and contract properly. Whatever the cause it will be a major repair and the bridge is closed indefinitely.
In these days of coronavirus, Malta’s SmartLynx Airline has made an interesting move. It has decided to take delivery of 5 pre-owned Airbus A330 aircraft it has on order to be supplied without any passenger seats. The idea is that as passengers are a rare commodity at the moment they can be used to carry cargo in the passenger compartment as well as under it. The aircraft still have toilets, overhead lockers, individual reading light, air vents, etc. all fitted, so they can be quickly converted back to passenger aircraft as soon as the circumstances are suitable.
I see the members of the London Assembly have been having a bit of a spat. Initially the four parties, Labour with 10 seats (11 if you count Sad Dick), Conservative with 9 seats, Greens with 3 and Limp Dumps with 2 agreed to organise the chairmanship of the various committees so that Labour chaired 5, Tories 4, Greens 1 and Limp Dumps 1. However, the Labour Party threw their toys out of the pram and complained about the Greens and Limps Dumps working with the Tories and refused to chair any committees. So now the Tories will chair 6, the Greens 3, and the Limp Dumps 2. Things could be interesting as Labour may be the largest party but the others can combine to frustrate them as Labour do not have a majority.
Morning all, a bit damp again this morning so it was just a quick sprint down the garden and back in time for my breakfast. It’s Saturday so it’s a later breakfast this morning and Bozzie has even sat down for his porridge wearing a pair of old trousers and a pullover. I guess he is not doing anything special this morning.
I really don’t understand what is happening in Britain at the moment. Yesterday there was a mass brawl at Luton Airport. I don’t think the participants could have been drunk because it happened at 8 am. But video shows around 30 people attacking each other, punching, kicking and swinging suitcases. No information about what caused the fight but the police say 4 were hurt, 3 went to hospital and 17 arrested. Earlier in the week a similar but smaller fight broke out in Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street where I man was stabbed and 8 arrested.
I read that the residents of Chiswick are up in arms over a new cycle lane that has been installed in Chiswick high street. What used to be a bus lane has been converted into a two-way cycle lane causing massive traffic jams in the high street as all traffic has to use a single lane in both directions. This means that buses have to stop to pick up and drop passengers in the middle of the road blocking it as they do so. To make matters worse a time-lapse video has revealed only 10 bikes used the cycle lane in a peak hour. The lane is part of Sad Dick’s ‘Cycle Super Highway’ across London.
The A35 near Puddletown in Dorset has been closed due to a massive sinkhole appearing in the middle of the carriageway. Earlier in the week a smaller hole was discovered and filled in by Highways England contractors. However, it seems to have made matters worse rather than better as the filled-in hole has collapsed making a much deeper hole. The road is expected to take some time to fix, in the meantime if you are heading that way be prepared for a 17-mile detour!
Two stories about escaped cows have come to my notice. Firstly, one escaped a field in Dorset and was seen on video walking around a petrol station. The police turned up with sirens screaming and scared the cow which started to run and nearly knocked someone over who stepped out of the shop. The police decided the cow was dangerous and drove a police car into it 3 times crippling it and it had to be put down. In Beverley in Yorkshire, seven bullocks have been seen in the town wandering the streets and grazing on front lawns. These animals faired a bit better as the farmer turned up and herded them home.
I hear that the new TV channel GB News is to start broadcasting at long last. After being postponed several times it now seems the live broadcasting start date is to be 31st May. On the 27th the aim is to start four days of broadcasting showreels of its presenters. I will be interested to see if they accurately report on events or if like the BBC they ignore things like the huge march in London today.
I have been reading that the website Company Debt has worked out exactly how much the licensed trade is in debt following coronavirus. It has then worked out how much this equates to for every adult in the country and from that if we all buy 124 pints of beer each we can save every pub and brewery from going bust. I am quite certain that many of my readers will consider it their patriotic duty to help out and will happily drink even more, to make up for all the teetotallers out there.
I’m off for my tea, I can hear the Cup Final on the TV. I predict the winning team normally plays in blue shirts. I shall be back on Monday with all the news that’s fit to report, and some that isn’t.
© WorthingGooner 2021
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