Morning everyone what a fabulous weekend, beautiful weather accompanied by peace and quiet in Downing Street. It is lovely when the family are away, the press pack doesn’t bother camping out over the road! Then they all got back about tea time and the Mutt was with them and he went potty running from room to room barking madly. I guess he was just pleased to be out of kennels and home. I did see Bozzie on the TV a few times, sploshing about in the sea, stuffing his face at a barbecue, having a socially distanced photo taken he was everywhere.
The frog boss, Macaroon, is an idiot. He doesn’t know that Northern Ireland is part of the UK! When Bozzie asked him if he thought it right if sausages made in Toulouse couldn’t be sold in Paris, he said it wasn’t the same, because Northern Ireland wasn’t part of the UK. I hope he has now been educated. It’s not as if sausage sold in Sainsbury’s in Northern Ireland are likely to be sold in the Republic, there isn’t a single Sainsbury’s store in the South.
I heard that Sir Queer Stoma on the radio this morning answering questions from the public. Well, I say answering, I don’t think he answered a single one. That Motorcar bloke on LBC really let him off the hook. Every time someone phoned up with a question he waffled on, making a speech and never answered a single question. But he was never pressed, Motorcar didn’t go back to the callers and ask them if they were satisfied with the answer because he knew they wouldn’t be.
Virtue seeking company Planet Mark drove their Chinese made Yutong battery-electric coach down to the Eden Project to coincide with the G7 reception. The coach made the 263 miles from London on one recharge but it is now stuck in the Eden Project car park needing a recharge. I hear that the charger there is not working. The bus has tried 5 different chargers from various companies and although some recognised the coach none would charge it. Whether this is a fault of the chargers or if a fault has developed on the bus or with its batteries is not clear. What irony to have an electric coach unable to get out of the Eden Project car park is delicious. The coach is due to go to Glasgow for COP26 in November, I hope they pick out a route with plenty of chargers and that COP26 can recharge it, now that would be hilarious if it broke down there.
I wonder if like me, you questioned how Sniffer Joe’s Boeing 747, Airforce One, managed to land at Newquay Airport. Well, the answer is quite simple, for a tiny regional airport it has a very long runway. RAF St Mawgan was originally built in 1943 but, when later in the war, it was used as a USAF Bomber base they extended the runway. It was handed over to Cornwall County Council in 2008 and rename Newquay Airport. Oddly the runway’s usable length depends on which direction the approach is from. The landing distance available is 2,444 metres for Runway 30, but for Runway 12 it is 2,637 metres. This is because the start of Runway 30 is displaced up the runway due to an obstacle when landing from that direction. Planes are normally supposed to be at 50 feet when crossing the start of the runway but this point has been moved down Runway 30 by nearly 200 metres.
It looks like with the completion, last weekend, of all the rearranging of the tracks into Kings Cross and the links from the East Coast Main Line into the Thameslink station at St Pancras International there is to be a long-awaited rehash of Thameslink, Great Northern, LNER and Hull Trains services. At the moment Thameslink run semi-fast services from Welwyn Garden City that terminate at Kings Cross and all stations services from Blackfriars to Sevenoaks. The new track layout will accommodate the trains that currently go into Kings Cross switching to run through the tunnel under London and to continue to Sevenoaks joining up the two fragmented services. When combined with the existing trains from Cambridge that already go under London to the likes of Gatwick Airport and Brighton a train will run every 10 minutes from Finsbury Park to Blackfriars. The vacated slots at Kings Cross will allow more services on the East Coast Main Line. For example, LNER will be running additional trains to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. These changes are due to happen when the timetable changes next May but this was a cautious date to allow for delays to the completion of the work but changes could easily be brought forward to the December 2021 timetable change.
Wow, that was a warm night! I kept waking up and each time I had a drink from my water bowl. This morning it was nearly empty and the Little Otter filled it up and said to Bozzie, “I hope we haven’t got a cat with kidney problems.” If she had been in the garden earlier she wouldn’t have been asking!
Bozzie had an Aussie over for dinner last night. They had Scotch salmon, Welsh lamb and Aussie wine. I managed to cadge a bit of the fish and the lamb, but I don’t get what you humans see in wine. The Aussie gave me a bit of the roast lamb, it was delicious. I have decided I like him. I listened in to a bit to the conversation, they were tying up the last details of a free trade agreement between the UK and Australia which is to be announced later today with a big fanfare. The fuss is because this is the first completely new FTA to be negotiated since we left the EU, all the other deals have been based on rolling over old EU deals, although some have been expanded. How long did the Remoaners say it would take to negotiate a trade deal from scratch, 5 to 7 years I seem to remember. Total rubbish.
Last night Bozzie announced that the NHS Covid vaccination booking system would open up to 23 and 24-year-olds today. I wonder if there will be another mad rush like last time the age was reduced and a million people booked in a day. Anyway, the word I hear is that all 18’s and overs will be able to book by the end of this week. How this matches with Bozzie pushing back freedom day to July I don’t know. Yesterday he was predicting having all over 18 with at least one jab by July 19. I think that if people age 18 can book by the end of the week, I can’t see them not being vaccinated with one jab by the 19th July.
It appears that many people with one and two-year-old cars are getting e-mails, text messages, letters or phone calls from the dealer who sold them the car asking if they would like to trade it in long before they would normally consider it. Why? Well, I hear that due to Covid when many car factories were shut and dealerships were closed there is a huge shortage of one and two-year-old used cars on the market. Dealers are desperate for fresh stock and one way is to buy back cars they sold and know have been maintained by them. Consequently, they are offering some really good deals. I know of someone in the office who the dealer told that they would buy back his 1-year-old car for nearly what he paid for it and then supply a brand new car of the same model for the same monthly payments by simply extending his repayments for a year. In effect, he gets a new car for nothing!
While you humans are being encouraged to buy electric vehicles, because they are green, the UN is worried about their ethics. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which supplies 50% of the world’s cobalt employs 40,000 child miners in dangerous conditions and for poverty wages. There are also worries that sulphuric acid in closed mines is contaminating water supplies. Then there is lithium where 58% of the world’s supply comes from Chile and it needs 65% of the country’s water supply for its production. In addition, miners who breathe lithium dust are suffering pulmonary oedemas. It seems EVs are killing people.
Talking of EVs, Nissan are about to start production of the 3rd generation of the Qashqai at their Sunderland plant. The first two versions of the Qashqai have sold over 3,000,000 cars across Europe. The new version of the car is going to a hybrid with a battery-powered electric motor driving the front wheels and a small ICE driving a generator that will charge the battery. Nissan have spent some £400 million readying the plant for the new model including £50 million on a new press which weighs 2,000 tonnes and can exert 5,000 tonnes of pressure.
I understand the Elizabeth line (AKA Crossrail) has taken another small step to starting up the full cross London service. For the past month or so a test service of 4 trains an hour in each direction has been running. This week the test service has doubled to 8 trains an hour. If these tests are successful then the rate will increase to 12 an hour sometime next month. The step after that would be to run a full shadow service running the full timetabled service but without passengers. The current target is to start the full passenger service in the first half of next year. That is a pretty wide target.
From what I understand, many of many faithful readers hate the Microsoft operating system Windows 10. Well, I hear that it is going to be withdrawn starting in autumn 2025. Like previous OS’s it will have updates and support withdrawn but will not stop working. No word yet on what is going to replace it or if it is going to be a free replacement like Windows 10 was. There are nearly 80 million copies of Windows 10 shipped last year alone so this is a huge move. When it was launched Microsoft said Windows 10 would be the last ever release of Window because it would be upgraded every six months so maybe the new OS will have a new name!
Another warm night and it is even hotter today. I wonder how you lot would feel if you had to wear a fur coat even on the hottest days. I think I might skip the window sill this afternoon, there is a nice shady spot in the garden under the rhododendrons and it’s near the birdbath if I fancy a drink.
Ryanair have something to celebrate today, the first of their long-delayed Boeing 737 Max 8-200 aircraft left Boeing’s plant in Seattle in the early hours of the morning local time. The plane is going to fly non-stop (well it is empty so light) all the way to Dublin where it is scheduled to land at 18:00 BST tonight. Two things to note, the plane is being delivered over two years late and Ryanair are not going to call the plane a 737 Max 8, that has two many bad connotations, the paint job calls it a 737-200, a specially made up name that will fool nobody. Ryanair has bet the farm on the Max 8 and has ordered 210 for its main name airline and its subsidiaries Malta Air and Buzz. On a revised delivery schedule Ryanair should have had 16 aircraft already this year but it now looks like by August Ryanair will get 6 and Malta Air will get another 6. I wonder how much this is costing Boeing in compensation?
If you are very rich you could soon be the proud owner of an island in the Maldives. Later this month the Maldives Government is going to auction 16 islands on 50-year leases (plus a fixed charge based on the size of the island). There is one small fly in the ointment, the winning bidders have to commit to building resorts on the islands. There are a few provisions though, it is not necessarily the highest who wins the auction the winner must also be “suitable”, the resort being developed must be “luxury” and as the islands are mostly uninhabited the winning bidder must also put in infrastructure and accommodation for workers and their families.
A mining company in Botswana has discovered a huge diamond. The company, Debswana, has displayed the 1098 carat raw stone that is the third-largest diamond ever found anywhere in the world. Can you imagine being the person chosen to cut and polish that stone? One false move and you could knock millions off its value. Not a job for me, I’m a scaredy-cat!
Following on from my story about Ryanair getting the 737 Max 8, I understand that if you turn up and find that one of the new Max 8-200’s is to operate your flight, Ryanair will let you opt to fly on the next flight operated using one of its 737NG aircraft. However, they won’t give you your money back.
I hear we have ordered 18 new 15 metre boats to protect navy bases around the UK and Gibraltar. The boats will cost £18 million and will be supplied by Liverpool-based boatbuilders Marine Specialised Technology. They will have a crew of 3 and can take 4 additional passengers. They will be propelled at a cruising speed of 30 knots by two water jets and will have a reinforced protection against incoming gunfire. Guess that’s in case the Spanish get nasty.
I always thought that the police liked their grub, I seem to recall the group of officers sat together in a cafe eating breakfast when cafes were only supposed to be open for takeaway food. Today I hear that 7 tonnes of leftover food intended for the police protecting the G7 have been given to a Cornwall food bank. The gift included 3,000 breakfasts, fruit and yoghurt. The perishables were moved on immediately to schools breakfast clubs and most of the remainder has gone into deep freeze for later use. Seven tonnes of excess food is rather a lot, will anyone be in trouble for over-ordering?
I sort of slept better last night, it wasn’t as hot but it was a bit noisy. The thunder rolling around woke me up a few times and nearly every time I could hear the rain. Anyway, when I finally woke up for breakfast it had stopped raining and was a bit dull. Still it is not so warm. I will not be going far from shelter today it looks like It’s going to rain any minute.
I read that the USAF are looking to replace their fleet of KC135 flying tanker aircraft in the coming years. They are looking to buy between 140 and 160 aircraft with deliveries starting in 2029 when some of the KC135’s will be near 70 years old. The KC135 is based on the Boeing 707 and joined the USAF in 1957. The USAF have put out a specification for what it is calling the KC-Y and want an interim aircraft, based on existing tankers to keep the price down, before they buy a completely new design which they have designated KC-Z. With the Airforce specifying an existing design for KC-Y it looks like it’s going to be a fight between Boeing who will offer the KC-46, based on the Boeing 767, which is already in service with the USAF and the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport which has been ordered by 12 nations. Get ready for a battle royal.
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos wants to build a large scale nuclear fusion plant in Culham, Oxfordshire. The plant would be 70% the size of a full-scale plant and cost $400 million, but the bit I don’t understand is he says it will be in operation by 2025. Other experimental plants are already being built and cost loads more and the first will not be ready for many years. Four years to design and build this plant is incredible when you compare it to the current cost and time being taken to build Hinckley Point C.
Avanti West Coast tried to set a new record for a train from London to Glasgow today. The 10:52 from Euston should have had an excellent chance of breaking the existing record of 3 hrs 52 minutes and 40 seconds set 36 years ago by an experimental Advanced Passenger Train which introduced the tilting mechanism now used by the Pendolino used on the West Coast Main Line today. The record should have been in reach as Network Rail were helping by making sure the train had an uninterrupted run. But I am sorry to have to tell you they missed out by 21 seconds due, they claim, to a temporary speed limit at Carstairs costing them 90 seconds!
Tesla have embarked on a sales effort to get British police forces to buy the Model 3 as a pursuit car. They have had a top of the range car decked out in police colours and are going to loan it to forces to try out. The exact specification of the car has not been revealed but the version available to the public can do 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds, has a top speed of 160 and a range of 352 miles and costs a few quid short of £60,000. I wonder how long it will be before we see them dashing up the M6.
The American regulator, the FAA, has mandated American operators of the Boeing 737 Max series of aircraft inspect the aircraft’s Automated Flight Control System after 6000 flying hours and then at regular intervals. The order affects the 72 Max aircraft in use in the US. There are another 389 of them worldwide and it is normal for other regulators, like our Civil Aviator Authority, to follow suit. I wonder how many customers regret ever clapping eyes on the 737 Max?
So gas and oil boilers are to be banned in new houses from 2025. The ban doesn’t yet apply to existing homes but it can’t be long before it does. What do the Government want us to do instead? Well, they suggest air or ground heat pumps. Ground is OK if you can drill a deep hole in your garden but it will be air pumps for the rest of use at a cost of around £10,000. But they put warm water into your radiators unlike a boiler where the water is usually at about 80°C. This probably means you will need new bigger radiators and pipework and more insulation adding around another £8,000. Have you got a spare £18,000 ready?
What is going on with the weather? I popped out for a quick one before breakfast when there was no rain. There I was at the far end of the garden and the heavens opened by the time I got back indoors I was dripping wet. The Little Otter was kind to me she found a towel and dried me off.
So a judge in Belgium has ruled in the EU v AstraZeneca case. AZ were quick off the mark claiming a legal victory. A while later the EU claimed it was actually their victory. When you read what the judge ruled I must say I think the EU is whistling in the dark. The contract between the two, committed AZ to make their “best endeavours” to deliver 300 million doses to the EU by the end of June. Months ago AZ told the EU they could only deliver 100 million in that time period. The EU sued, demanding at least 120 million by the end of June. The judge has said that AZ must deliver 15 million doses by the 26th July, a further 20 million by 23rd August and another 15 million by 27th September to add to the 30 million already delivered making a total of 80 million doses. As AZ are already set up to deliver 100 million by the end of June I declare them the winners.
The Chinese have found the remains of a giant rhino that lived some 26.5 million years ago. The animal is believed to have been 23 feet tall and to have weighed 21 tonnes. Called paraceratherium linxiaense it has been recently found in Gansu Province in northwestern China. It is believed to have been closely related to the giant rhino that lived in Pakistan around the same time.
The US Marines have requested the purchase of 96 Tomahawk missiles and launchers to test the missiles in a new mode. The missile is available in a number of versions but is basically a ship, submarine or air-launched cruise missile that was originally a land attack missile but now also has an anti-ship version. The Marines want to use the anti-ship version from land to attack ships over 1000 miles away. They would use a version of their standard truck to transport and launch up to 4 missiles. They intend to test both vertical launch, as used in ships silos and horizontal launch, as used in submarines. The idea is that the Marines could land the launchers with an expeditionary force and use them to protect themselves from an attack from the sea.
The first reactors of the same type as Hinckley Point at Taishan in Guangdong, China has a problem and the Chinese don’t want to talk about it. The same Chinese company China General Nuclear Power and the same French company EdF built the station and EdF and their parent Franatome have admitted to a leak in one of the reactors. The word is that a fuel rod casing has developed a hole and the primary cooling circuit has been contaminated, but it is contained behind several layers of protection and no radiation has leaked. The problem will of course be when the fuel rod needs to be removed for refuelling. I trust that British fuel rod manufacturing is to a higher standard than the Chinese.
It seems that Greta Thunderbird is not very happy with the leader of the free world after the G7 meeting in Cornwall. It’s not the policies they discussed like climate change which you would think would upset her. Rather it is what they ate that upset the vegan. It is reported they had turbot, local cheese, mackerel, crab, lobster scallops and steak. It all sounds very nice to me but the little spoilsport posted a series of critical tweets. What a pity she hasn’t been banned for a couple of years for hate speak.
Morning everyone, it’s a bit cooler this morning making me happier in my permanent fur coat! Just so long as it doesn’t rain today I can have a nice easy weekend.
The story I hear is that the switch to electric vehicles has thrown up a problem nobody has thought about. All new cars sold from 2030 have to be electric or hybrid and they are by their very nature all automatics. Driving schools are all gearing up for the change and have been ordering more and more automatics. Of course, if you pass your driving test in an automatic you can not legally drive a manual gearbox car. But what new driver will step directly into a £35,000 EV or hybrid, imagine what the insurance would cost. Most new drivers get a cheap old secondhand car and most of them are manuals, but they won’t be able to drive one. Furthermore, the huge numbers of veteran, vintage and classic cars out there will run out of drivers. So I hear that the driving test is likely to change, no word yet as to just what, but that something is going to happen. I will keep listening to the word on the street and let you know as soon as I hear something.
The supermarket chain Aldi has announced plans to open 450 new stores in the U.K. with 30 in Wales, 20 in Scotland and the remaining 400 in England. Of course, they haven’t yet located the exact location of these stores but Aldi has put out a wish list of the towns and cities they want to open up in. The Aldi property people are busy looking for freehold sites in town centres or on the edge of town centres of about 1.5 acres that can be developed to accommodate a 20,000 sq ft store and 100 parking spaces. They must have a lot of money in their pocket.
With the demise of the airline Stobart Air and the collapse of the Aer Lingus regional flights that Stobart operated for them, there has been a rush by other airlines to pick up the domestic routes. British Airways subsidiary City Flyer had already announced 4 routes from Belfast City airport and yesterday EasyJet announced 12 new routes. They will be flying from Belfast City to East Midland and Gatwick and Belfast International to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds/Bradford and many odd routes like Inverness to Newquay and Liverpool to Bournemouth. I only hope that air travel comes back soon.
There are regional elections in France on Sunday and the polls are looking very good for Marine Le Pen and her National Rally Party. They are tipped to top the first round of polling in seven of the regions. However, due to the odd nature of France’s two-stage voting system, they are outright favourite to win only one region. But this would be a huge breakthrough for Le Pen whose party only currently controls 12 town halls and one city. It is also a big warning for Macaroon as Le Pen will be battling with him in next year’s presidential elections.
Rumours are growing increasingly strong that the leading Chinese spycatcher, Dong Jingwei, has defected to the US. The Vice-Minister of State Security and his daughter are said to have flown from Hong Kong to the States. Neither the Chinese nor the Americans have admitted or denied the rumours but I have also heard that much of the American change of belief on the Wuhan Covid starting from a lab release has coincided with Dong Jingwei defection and the tales he has been telling his debriefers.
Now Sniffer Joe is back in the US from his visits to the G7 and NATO and his meeting with Vladimir Putrid he has some domestic worries. His “American Jobs Plan”, which called for $2.3 trillion in infrastructure spending has got bogged down in Congress where even Democrats are doubtful. In fact, 10 Senators have joined with Republicans to suggest an alternative of spending $1.2 trillion over 8 years. Then his popularity has fallen sharply in opinion polls. One huge poll has him down to 48% overall and among his own party, his rating of 83% in April has fallen to 59% now. His Voting Rights Bill has been blocked. His George Floyd Bill seems to have vanished. His proposal for a $2 trillion American Families Plan, based on education is stuck. He assigned Vice President Kamala Harris to handle the Mexico border crisis nearly three months ago. She has only made things worse with 186,000 migrants crossing the border in May, up 76% on February. Government spending is overheating the economy, with consumer prices up 5%. Even a former White House doctor has called for Sniffer to take a cognitive test. And you think that lot is bad one of his dogs has just died!
I got my nap in on the window sill this afternoon and got indoors before it rained. I am off to see which flavour Felix is in my bowl tonight. Back on Monday folks.
© Worthing Gooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file