What a beautiful morning, at long last it is beginning to look like summer is here. I reckon Bozzie has the luck of the Devil. It has been a rotten month and the day he gets married and holds a “Music Festival” themed reception in the garden the weather changes. Well, my worst fears came to light on Saturday evening, they nearly forgot about feeding the Mutt and me. It was only when I ventured out of the cat flap, into the garden, found them sitting on a hay bail and worried Bozzie, that he fell in. I was really hungry and the crumbs of wedding cake he tried to feed me were not enough. He eventually dispatched a girl from the office to feed us and not a moment too soon.
Did you see the photos of the Little Otters wedding dress? Well, I think I can trust you with a secret that I heard. It is not her dress, she didn’t buy it. She hired it specially for the day from a company she has hired things from before. I suppose it much cheaper to hire a dress for £45 than to pay thousands for your own, especially when younger have a lot of wallpaper to pay for.
Did you hear the story of the 14-year-old Spanish boy who had a petty row with his parents when they wouldn’t let him go into the village wearing a tracksuit? He got mad, grabbed a pickaxe owned by his grandfather and attacked the back garden. Now six years later he has excavated a “Man Cave”, 10 feet below ground, that consists of a living room and a bedroom which he has mostly dug by hand. He has installed a heating system, but says that far underground the temperature stays pretty constant, and wi-fi. He says the only problem is that sometimes it floods when there is heavy rain.
I hear that Ministers are in discussions with the French, Germans and Italians over bilateral security and foreign policy cooperation. This is after we rejected an agreement with the EU. I hear that we do not want to get involved with the EU foreign policy but those 3 nations approached us and particularly want to cooperate on defence projects. Defence projects can be hugely expensive and cooperative designs for the likes of warplanes and warships can save a country a lot of money.
I have been reading about a couple of men in Aberdeen who were clearing out one of their flats. It was all going well until they came to the big sofa. It was too big to easily go down the stairs so what to do about it? The pair decided the quickest thing to do was drop it to the ground by pushing it out of a window. That is where the plan when wrong as the sofa landed on a passer-by knocking her unconscious. Despite claiming in court that they had checked it was clear first, they were found guilty and fined a total of £15,000. I have to wonder if drink was involved?
Twickenham rugby stadium hosted a special event today. Not a rugby match but a Covid vaccination event. They had 15,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine available to the over 30’s with no appointment necessary. Initially, enormous queues built up which are said to have moved very quickly and by mid-afternoon they opened the doors open to anyone age over 18. Subsequently, they ran out of doses and closed down early.
I hear of strange goings-on in the top Women Football League this year. The Welsh Women’s FA has decided to reduce their Premier League from nine teams to eight teams next year. The teams that finished in positions eight and nine have been relegated to tier 2 of the structure and replaced by a promoted team. That would make sense if it stopped there but for some unexplained reason a second team, The New Saints Ladies, has also been promoted and to make space for them the team that finished fourth in the League has also been relegated. Not the team that finished seventh, as would make more sense, but the team that finished fourth which makes no sense. But it doesn’t stop there because TNS Ladies have never played a match, they are a brand new team who are currently advertising for players. There seems to be something very odd about this decision.
Another lovely sunny morning, this is so much better than all that rain. I got a super snooze in yesterday and I will be trying for the same today. Bozzie has been fairly happy this last few days, I thought it might be marital bliss, but I’m not sure, I think it could be because he is still riding high in the opinion polls. He is well above Kier Stoma and his party is well above the Socialists.
A few interesting stories this morning. I read that the first child in Britain has been treated with a new gene therapy drug. The drug is used to treat a severe form of spinal muscular atrophy which effects only around 40 children in the world each year. The list price of the drug is nearly £1.8 million, but I hear that the NHS has done a deal to get it for considerably less but they aren’t telling us how much they are paying. The drug inserts a missing gene into the body and it can create a missing chemical. The only problem is that if the child is not diagnosed with the problem at birth every week that passes they deteriorate and can never recover, the drug can only stop it getting worse. An untreated child rarely lives past their third birthday.
I forgot to tell you yesterday that Bozzie and the Little Otter had disappeared for a couple of days. They weren’t around on Sunday and Monday and I just thought they had gone to the Chequers and taken the Mutt. But it seems not the word is they went on a secret 2-day honeymoon. I have been trying to find out where they went but no one is talking. If Bozzie and the Little Otter were in the same Blackpool seafront bed and breakfast as you please let me know.
So the World Health Organisation has decided that we must no longer use the geographic description of where a version of Covid was first diagnosed. Instead, they want us to use the Greek alphabet so the Kent variant becomes Alpha and the Indian variant becomes Delta. What a load of rubbish, the disease started in China and then we had the Kent version. Surely it is important to know that a traveller has come from China or India, they haven’t flown in from Gamma or Delta.
So TfL has got another £1 billion grant from the Government. I have given up counting how much money central government has had to put into its begging bowl. As far as I can see it is all the fault of Sad Dick who refused to put up fares so TfL loses money. Of course, there have also been other silly things that TfL has done that have wasted money, like installing low traffic neighbourhoods and cycle lanes that have had to be removed. The man’s a fool.
I read we’re getting some famous products back in production in the UK. The owners of Heinz moved production of several products to the continent and have now decided to move them back to Wigan. 20 years ago Kraft Foods, the owners of Heinz moved production of Heinz Tomato Sauce, Mayonnaise and Salad Cream to the Netherlands. Now following the investment of £140 million in new machinery they are to come home and bring some 50 new jobs with them.
Well, I’m off to see what version of Felix is in my bowl for tonight, you all know what I”m hoping for, but before I wander off, I have just seen that for the first time since March last year there has been a day without any reported coronavirus deaths in the UK. I know yesterday was a bank holiday and some deaths might not have been reported yet, but it is still a good thing. We have had days recently when one or even two of the four nations have reported no deaths but this is the first time all four have.
Oh, I do like waking up to a lovely sunny morning it makes me feel better all day. Just so long as they have remembered to top up my water bowl the last night so that the chlorine taste has disappeared.
I see that an Irani Naval ship has caught fire and sunk in the Gulf of Oman off the port of Jask. The Kharg is either the biggest or second-biggest ship in the Irani Navy depending on which paper you read and is the equivalent of one of our replenishment ships but could also operate helicopters. The Iranians are being pretty cagey about what happened and have stuck to the basic facts that a fire broke out on board last night, firefighters tackled it but could not put it out and the ship was abandoned. All the 200 odd on board were rescued but 20 were injured. Now the question I want answered is what caused the fire? The Iranians have been accused of sticking limpet mines on civilian shipping so could it be a nation getting their own back? Could it be the Israelis who often come to blows with the Iranians and have not been very happy recently with Iran supplying the Palestinians with rockets? Or maybe the Yanks, Sniffer Joe is just daft enough to want to fight Iran. Of course, it could just be a 40-year-old ship that has been poorly maintained by a load of Arabs.
I read that China is still making mugs of the West by pretending to be green and telling the world about how many windmills they are building, promising to cut emissions and having the green idiots lap it up. Of course, what they don’t publicise is that at the same time they are building more and more coal-fired power stations. In 2020 the building of 20GW of coal-fired plant were approved and in 2019 13GW of coal-fired plants were approved. Added together that is 33GW enough to supply the whole of the UK’s requirements today. The biggest power station boilers these days are 1,000 Mw so that’s 33 that would be needed to churn out that amount of power. In the UK we are down to three plants that flat out could produce 4.52GW!
Did you see the disaster of a pit stop the Bottas had in the Monaco Grand Prix? The Mercedes car is normally stationary for just over 2 seconds while all 4 wheels are changed. The wheels are held on by a single big wheel nut and a reversible air gun is used first to undo the nut and then, when a switch is flipped and a new wheel in place, the gun screws the nut back on. When Bottas stopped the nut was jammed on the thread and instead of undoing the nut the gun stripped the shoulders off the nut. They tried another gun from another wheel and it only made it worse. Even Red Bull in the next pit tried to help but it was all to no avail. Bottas was out of the race. What made me laugh was that it took 43 hours to get the nut off. Was this the longest F1 pit stop in history?
Some time ago the UK applied to join the 11 member Trans Pacific Partnership the trade group that represents a 500 million person free trade group. The members have been in loose discussion and, having agreed to open accession talks, have now set up a working group to discuss tariffs and rules. The TPP is what the EU started out to be, a free trade group. Somehow the EU decided it wanted to be a political group with control over all its members. I think the TPP should be a better thing to be a member of than the EU.
I read that if you live in France a lot of things changed from the start of this month and some seem a bit strange. For example, the price of gas supplied by Engie went up by 4.6% if you use it for heating but only 1.2% if you use it for cooking. How that works if you use it for cooking and heating I don’t know. If you drive an old diesel vehicle it is banned, but only if you drive it in Paris. The spring sales in shops started at the same time summertime started and French implementation of an EU rule means that everything you buy online will need double authentication. Our version of the rule means that sometimes you will need to authenticate a purchase with a new company on your phone.
I understand that startup company British Volt has secured the necessary £2.6 billion and is on the verge of giving the go-ahead to build a Gigafactory for manufacturing EV batteries. The proposed factory will be in Blyth, County Durham and the aim is to produce 30GWh of Lithium-Ion batteries a year, enough for 300,000 EVs. Site surveys have already occurred and a number of test bores have been sunk to establish what is needed for foundations.
Sunny again, this is becoming a habit. Bozzie was telling the Little Otter that we are in for two weeks of good weather, I really hope so. It is so much nicer when we can go out into the garden in sunshine.
I read that billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have teamed up together to build the worlds first Natrium nuclear reactor project on the site of a defunct coal-fired power station. The demonstration plant should be rated at 345 Mw but they intend to use the molten salt power storage to boost the output of the sodium-cooled fast reactor to 500 Mw for peak output. At the moment they believe the plant will cost $1 billion. Experts are bothered that advanced reactors such as this can produce an enriched fuel that can be used to produce a dirty nuclear weapon, however they produce less radioactive waste.
Here’s an interesting little story I heard today. You will have seen the buskers on the London Underground. In many of the stations there are special places for them to perform. Marked off squares on the ground with notices on the wall. But not just anyone can perform in one of these spots, buskers must book a slot and must be registered with TfL. How do you get to be registered? Well, you have to pass an audition. Hundreds of hopefuls audition every year and rather than hold them in a busy station the auditions held on a platform in the disused Charing Cross station. So if your train is going through the disused station and you hear music you are not going mad, it’s just another audition.
I see that Malaysia has launched a flight of Hawk aircraft to intercept 16 aircraft from the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Air Force that entered their airspace. The British built Hawks are considered to be jet trainers in the UK but Malaysia uses them as light attack aircraft and subsequently arms them with missiles. I hate to think how those old Hawks would perform against modern Chinese jets.
Did you see the ospreys on Spring Watch? I didn’t see them live, but it has been replayed many times on the local news today. It seems that ospreys have been missing from England for many years and there has been a major effort to reintroduce them and 60 fledglings were released. The area around Poole Harbour was chosen as there are loads of grey mullet in the area and they are one of the osprey’s favourites. Last year they had a webcam on the nest of a female called CV17 but she waited in vain all season for a male to appear. This year she has returned to the same nest and without a male, the 5 eggs she has laid have all been infertile. As they were telling the story on Spring Watch, CV17 was sitting in her nest looking miserable. Then out of nowhere a male appeared and started screwing her! Cut back to embarrassed presenters.
Today I read of two different groups trying to make coal-fired power stations more acceptable in Japan. The idea is to co-fire coal and ammonia on an 80:20 basis. As ammonia doesn’t produce any CO2 when it burns it obviously makes it greener. While in the states, a British company called AEG want to do a similar thing with a fuel substitute called ‘CoalSwitch’. It is pellets made from bio-waste and is used to replace 20% of coal and again reduces not only CO2, but also dust and ash. Now to me, it sounds like two interesting products but I suspect they are too late to market.
It seems that the MoD are having second thoughts about the Ajax fighting vehicle of which they have 589 on order for £5.5 billion. A report has said that it has a number of faults have been found, they have found it noisy and riddled with vibrations making the 12 test vehicles impossible to use for any length of time on health and safety grounds. What use is a fighting vehicle that can’t be used for more than 90 minutes before the crew has to abandon the vehicle or go deaf? Oh, in addition it has been found that it cannot be driven at more than 20 mph and that in reverse it can’t ride over a 20cm obstruction. It sounds like a huge amount of development is needed.
What a change in the weather, it has gone back to grey and wet. Mind you Bozzie is bright and sunny this morning. For a while, I was puzzled as to why, then I eavesdropped on a conversation and found there was a new opinion poll out. It puts his mob 16% ahead of Stoma’s mob. It seems that if that actually happened at a general election it converts into about a 120 seat majority. The Little Otter wanted to know if it was a “Wedding” bounce. Bozzie said if it was then he better get married every week. The Little Otter hit him with a cushion.
We have signed more trade agreements today. This time with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein who are all EFTA countries and are not in the EU. EFTA does the bulk of the agreement when negotiating on behalf of its members and leaves it to individual countries to individually finalise the details. While not the biggest of deal I understand these 3 agreements will boost the current level from £21.6 billion annually and go further than being simple rollovers of the old EU agreements.
If you want to read Whinge’s latest scribblings I understand that Waterstones have pulled the publication. They have had a row with the book’s publisher, I know not what it is about. But after hearing the book is reported to have similarities to another book I can’t say I am surprised. Although I read that Waterstones are upset that the publishers PenguinRandomHouse have cut Waterstone’s credit terms meaning the number of PRH titles they hold in stock will be more limited.
I have been reading about the company that produces nearly all the orchids on sale in the British supermarkets and garden centres. Before lockdown they were selling some 30,000 plants a week. But with lockdown, first garden centres were closed and then supermarkets chose to reduce the space given over to houseplants in favour of food. Sales dropped dramatically. It takes the company several months to grow the plants into the flower-laden items you see in stores and they worried that they were going to have to turn thousands of plants into compost and lay off staff, consequently losing a fortune. Instead, they set up their own website and mail-order business and are now selling 40,000 plants a week and have had to take on extra staff. It’s an ill wind. I hear that the trick to encouraging orchids to grow flower spikes is to cool them for a short period and then make sure they have plenty of light.
Babcock International have announced that they are in discussion with the Greek Government for the sale of 4 of their Arrowhead 140 design Frigates. This is the ship that the Royal Navy have chosen for the Type 31 Frigate. This is, of course, excellent news for not just Babcock, but for the country as a whole. Getting into the competitive warship building business is good news for employment and subcontractors. I wonder if it could lead to further export sales? Like all things that get mass-produced the more you build the cheaper they become as development costs have been written off. This could be good news for a follow on RN order for more vessels.
Golden Balls Beckham has bought into a company that converts classic cars from petrol to electric power. He is now the 10% owner of startup company Lunaz. If you have a classic car like an old Rolls Royce or a Bentley and a spare £250,000 you can wander along and Lunaz will install an electric motor, batteries and all the bits necessary to change batteries.
I read that the fire brigade have been called in to “rescue” Homer, Marge and Lisa Simpson from a balcony in Worthing. Apparently the large figurines were stolen from Eastbourne a week ago. Fire “persons” had to use an extension ladder to get up to them. A West Sussex Fire Service spokesman said they were just d’ohing our job.
When I woke up this morning and stuck my head out of the cat flap it was horribly misty. I decided to go back to sleep and I dozed for a bit before the call of nature got me up again. When I put my head out of the cat flap it was bright and sunny, the mist had gone and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. Did I dream that mist?
I see that new car sales last month, the first full month of car salesrooms being open since lockdown, sales were well up on a year ago but are not yet back to pre Covid numbers. But what is interesting is that Electric Vehicle sales are still struggling. Total sales were back to the levels seen in May 2010 and 2011 while battery EV sales are struggling and are currently taking less than 8.5% of sales. It’s hardly surprising as they are very expensive and still don’t have the range or charging speed people are looking for. I do wonder if the hydrogen fuel cell is going to catch on with its 600+ miles range in a Toyota Mirai. Mind it is still very expensive and there are very few places to refuel it.
One lucky human won £111 million on the Euromillions lottery last night. Wonder what they will do with all that money. A big house, fancy holidays, a flashy car. Well, I have made my mind up what I would do. I would buy the Felix cat food factory and live on Felix Chicken. With the leftover cash, it would buy Dreamies cat treats to eat every afternoon and pay a personal human slave to stroke me whenever I wanted it.
I always thought that Premier League footballers were overpaid but I was delighted to read that when Sergio Aguero left Manchester City at the end of the season he put a large sum of money into the kitty that the club collects every year to buy Christmas presents for staff, he bought 60 backroom staff an engraved Tag Heuer watch and he put them all into a free raffle for his nearly new Range Rover, which was won by the kit man. Well done that man.
After years of trying Southampton Airport has finally got permission to extend its runway by 164 Metres and work is expected to start in the early autumn. It was taken a while but earlier this year the planning committee recommended permission should be granted, the council agreed but gave the Department of the Environment time to call the decision in. When they didn’t, final approval was granted yesterday. The extra length may not sound much but it is just enough to enable bigger, heavier planes to use the airport. That changes the airport’s economics and makes it possible to operate holiday jets to the Mediterranean. Until now they have only been able to fly turboprops to the likes of the Channel Islands, Manchester and Belfast.
North Korea is facing a major famine with reports saying they are short of 1.2 million tons of grain this year. It is reported that Korea needs to produce 5.2 million tons of grain a year but in the last farming year only managed 4 million tons. Consequently, the domestic price of food has shot up and many people are having to sell possessions to buy food. Part of the problem is that they have been spending money on nuclear weapons development and rockets instead of agricultural machinery and fertiliser. I know one thing, the fat boy in charge of the country won’t be going hungry.
I hear Bozzie has had a bit of a boost for the Batley and Spen by-election. The guy who stood as an independent candidate at the general election and took over 12% of the vote effectively stopping the Tories from winning the seat has announced that he is not going to stand. He says that the Batley voters clearly voted last time around for anti-Labour candidates and that if he stood, there would be a danger of him splitting the vote and letting them in a second time. Well done that man.
Right, I’m off for my dinner I wonder what flavour Felix it is this week. Night, night, back we all the odd news next week.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file