Morning humans. What a lovely quiet weekend with Bozzie’s clan at Chequers for the weekend and the Dreamies girl feeding me. I must say she is most attentive. Always makes sure my drinking bowl is topped up with the Little Otter’s bottled water, always pets me and talks to me and puts the radio on ‘to keep me company’. Now I hear that Bozzie has been ‘pinged’ and will be isolating in Chequers so it looks like will be having an easy week without the baby and the Mutt.
I have been reading about the disaster that is Electric Buses in the US. Let’s look at a few of the tales, but with so many to chose from it’s difficult to know where to start. In summer 2019 Philadelphia bought 25 single deck buses from American manufacturer Proterra for a cool $24,000,000. Before they even went into service questions were being asked about the chassis creaking. However, when they were put into service they got lots of complaints from customers because the plastic chassis creaked loudly and they were just not able to operate without running out of battery power. Then it was discovered the plastic chassis was cracking. The buses were withdrawn from service in January 2020 and haven’t been seen since. It was a similar story in both Boston and Duluth where the same type of bus had range and recharging problems. Chinese BYD buses were taken out of service in Indianapolis over range problems and 15 BYD buses were returned to the makers in Albuquerque again for range problems. I have yet to find a happy pure electric bus operator.
While we argue about HS2 and its trans Pennines link to Leeds, I hear the Frogs are considering adding 4 new lines to its already not inconsiderable high-speed network. The four lines are a link to Paris Orly Airport, a line along the south coast from Nice to Toulon and Marseilles, a link between Montpellier and Perpignan (linking the French and Spanish TVG networks) and a line from Bordeaux to Toulouse. We mess about while the Frogs get on with it.
So Germany’s biggest company SAP is to spend £250 million on new offices for its staff in London and Manchester. The software company is moving into “The Scalpel” the 38 story skyscraper at 52 Lime Street in the city. In Manchester, later this year, staff will be moving into a new base in Bruntwood, Alderley Park in Cheshire. They will also be hiring more staff. SAP say that they want to take advantage of the UK’s rapid post-Brexit growth.
This morning the High Court cleared another group of 12 sub-postmasters who had been found guilty of fraud on the evidence of the Post Office’s bugged Horizon software system when the Post Office offered no evidence. That takes the total cleared to 57 making it the biggest miscarriage of justice in British history. However, I think we are likely to hear a lot more of these cases in the future as Horizon evidence was used to prosecute 736 people. Of course, a few of those people were probably guilty and more have died in the intervening period so we will never get to all 736 but this is going to get very, very expensive for the Post Office as more and more people sue them.
A lovely story doing the rounds this morning. Apparently, thousands of American young children are growing up speaking with a British accent due to the popularity of Peppa Pig. I can only hope that many other British words rub off on them I would love to see them using pavement instead of sidewalk, boot instead of trunk (isn’t that what elephants have?) and braces instead of suspenders (no comment). A generation of American children speaking the Queen’s English would be wonderful.
Just been reading about a man who appeared in court this morning charged with illegally organising a “rave” back during lockdown. The man in question denied being an organiser of the event, but admitted being present. However, the case collapsed when the two police witnesses didn’t turn up in court. The prosecutor told the court that the 2 officers had been told of the hearing but without them it was impossible to proceed with the case. Subsequently, the judge dismissed the case and the man walked away scot-free. I suspect he was mighty grateful those two coppers didn’t turn up as he could have been fined £10,000 if he had been found guilty.
I wonder who is on duty feeding me tonight as I understand Bozzie is still in Chequers. I heard he is going to be on TV this evening doing the “5 o’clock show” remotely from Chequers. I might watch for a good laugh.
Well, that was another very warm night, thank goodness I had a bowlful of water. The only trouble with drinking a lot is it makes me want to pee a lot and you know how I hate the litter tray. That’s how I ended up in the garden at about 3 o’clock this morning. It was still warm but not too bad, I was tempted to sleep out there, but the ground is a bit hard and my basket has a nice soft mattress. Now it would be nice if someone was good enough to take my cat basket outside when these nights are so hot.
Do you remember back in December 2018 when Gatwick Airport was closed for a few days due to a supposed drone sighting? Well, I understand that a recent ‘Freedom of Interest’ question has revealed that no one has ever admitted seeing a drone and the ‘Drone Detection System’ has never detected a drone. The whole thing is understood to started off as an anonymous message to the CAA, who appeared to have overreacted to what is increasingly looking to have been a hoax. I wonder what happened to the couple who were arrested and after few days released without charges. One day we might be allowed to know what really happened.
I hear that Emirates Airlines is pulling out all the stops for the football team Emirates sponsors in London. Early this afternoon an Airbus A380 will fly in empty from Dubai to pick up the Arsenal team and fly them to Orlando, Florida for a pre-season competition. As we Brits are currently banned from entering the US if we have been in the UK in the last two weeks only the team and officials are allowed in with special clearance. I hear that plane enthusiasts in Orlando are excited at the prospect of seeing an A380 visit their airport which I understand is something of a first. Mind I suspect those footballers will have plenty of seats to choose from on the flight.
Jeff Bezos is off on his trip into space today in his phallic space rocket. What an odd collection of people are on the trip, Bezos’s brother, a Belgium teenage boy, an 82-year-old woman called Wally and of course Bezos himself. I suppose a phallic-shaped rocket is appropriate.
The Ocado automated warehouse in Erith is currently shut following a small fire causing numerous deliveries to be cancelled. The warehouse usually handles some 120,000 deliveries a week so Ocado’s claim that only a “few” deliveries have been cancelled is clearly daft. The fire was caused by 3 of Ocado’s robot pickers colliding, something that is supposed to be impossible. The robots run on a grid over thousands of bins each containing various products from which they pick out ordered products. The computer software that controls the robots should ensure that no two robots are ever in the same space, let alone three robots. Fortunately, Ocado have learnt from the huge fire they had in one of their warehouses 18 months ago that destroyed it completely. The Erith warehouse was equipped with zoned sprinklers which rapidly controlled the fire. I bet the air was blue in the office responsible for writing the robots control software.
The US carmaker General Motors has put out a warning notice to owners of Chevrolet Bolt EV’s built in 2017 to 2019. The cars are already subject to a recall to try to fix battery problems that have been causing the cars to spontaneously burst into flames. The notice says not to park the car in a garage or to charge the car overnight unattended. The worry is that the most recent cars to spontaneously combust are ones that have been into the garage for battery repairs, so it looks like the repair must not have fixed the problem. It asks another question though, what use is an EV that you can’t charge overnight unless you stay up and babysit it?
On the Island of Cyprus, the Greeks and the Turks are having a row about an abandoned resort. The area of Famagusta known as Varosha was reckoned to be the best resort on the island before the Turks invaded and the Greeks were forced to leave. For around 50 years Varosha was fenced off and no one was allowed in to see the decaying homes and hotels. Around 16 years ago the border with the North was opened and tourists and Greek Cypriots were allowed to visit the North. But it was only a few years ago that the fence came down and they were allowed to see the ruins but only Turks and Turkish Cypriots are allowed to use the beach. In recent weeks the Turkish PM has announced that he wants to rebuild the resort upsetting the many Greek Cypriots who still own homes and hotels.
Yet another hot night, I nearly emptied my water bowl overnight! My cat sitter has just filled it up with ice-cold water and I think I have got frostbite of the tongue!
I know we all learnt during the discussions on leaving the EU that they were a deceitful lot, but the position they have taken over Gibraltar really takes the biscuit. To speed up the leaving negotiations we excluded British Overseas Territories and this included Gibraltar. Instead, we had separate negotiations with Spain and a basic agreement was made. Now the EU has come to negotiate the full agreement they have changed several of the items agreed with Spain. The EU cannot be trusted.
During the pandemic, both Boeing and Airbus continued to build new aircraft even if they did reduce the rate of manufacturing a bit. I have often mentioned Boeing’s problems and at one stage they had hundreds and hundreds of whitetail aircraft sitting on the tarmac where customers had cancelled orders. They have recently managed to shift a lot of these to satisfy new orders placed at much-reduced prices. But what of Airbus? Well, I understand that their order book stood up remarkably well with few cancellations and they have not had to reduce prices to shift whitetail planes as they had so few. In fact, I hear that in the last month the 5 that they had remaining have been purchased. Until Boeing clear all their whitetails they can’t sell new aircraft, unlike Airbus, at a profit.
I hear that Col Alexei Safonov, head of traffic police in the Russian southern Stavropol region and six other police officers have been arrested for issuing fake permits to businesses in return for bribes. Supposedly the permits allowed lorry drivers to pass unchecked through traffic police stops with illegal loads of grain or building materials. The colonel’s luxury home was raided and film on the internet shows items such as gold toilets and bidets. It appears that some 37 traffic police across the country have been arrested. Mind you looking at the picture all I can say is what an awful idea of tasteful decoration this copper had. Gold embossed kitchen cabinets, wall frescos and huge throne-like armchairs, the home is really ugly. I wouldn’t want to be a chair tester there.
Is it my imagination or has this wave of the pandemic peaked? The number of daily cases since the weekend has levelled off, as has the number of deaths. I hope it continues this way as it will make all the naysayers, like Professor Ferguson, look stupid. By the time you humans get to read this diary entry we should know which way things are going.
Airbus’s fourth Beluga XL aircraft made its maiden flight at Toulouse today. The Beluga is a specially adapted version of the Airbus A330-600 freighter and is used to transport aircraft parts from the various Airbus manufacturing sites and subcontractors to the assembly line. For example, the planes can be regularly seen flying over Britain where it picks up high tech wings which are designed and built in their UK plants.
I read that the ECJ has just come up with another one of its ridiculous rulings, despite the French undertaking every possible ruse to delay the announcement. The pronouncement says that all military in the EU are employees and as such are subject to the “Working Time Directive”. This means that they are subject to rules on night work, strict time recording, rest breaks, holidays and in particular 11 hours rest time each day. This is going to make fighting a war interesting when the French soldiers clock off in the middle of a battle for their statutory rest period.
I hate to say this but I am beginning to miss cooler days, well really cooler nights. I just hate not being able to sleep without having to get up for some water to cool me down. The weather in London is supposed to change at the weekend with possible thunderstorms. I don’t like those loud bangs so I will probably be having a moan about that as well. Still nice and peaceful here in Downing Street, it’s like the good old days pre Mutt.
My first tale is about the new Army light armoured vehicle Ajax. It is turning into a bit of a disaster. I told you some time ago about its rough ride and how noisy it is. Now I hear that the ride is so bad that the automatic gun loading system can’t operate while the vehicle is on the move. There are other worries about the gun in that there are worries that the wear on the gun barrel is excessive and that the ammunition matched to the gun and its automatic loader is only manufactured by one source making it very expensive. But they are not the only problems. Ajax is specified to have a speed of 44mph but the models so far supplied are struggling to top 20 mph. The noise problem is also causing lots of difficulties in that operators are being rendered dizzy and temporarily deaf. The MoD has to make up its mind if it is going to proceed with the order or cancel it and go with something else.
I hear that the US is pondering what to do about the F35 jet engine. It seems that engines are failing regularly, before reaching the expected 2000 hours of flying time and that a number of aircraft are grounded due to a lack of spare engines. The Department of Defence are looking at two main options, an upgraded more powerful version of the existing Pratt and Whitney engine, or a replacement engine from another manufacturer. I wonder what the DoD will decide to do?
I had a little chuckle this morning when I read about The Country Music Bar in Chesterfield. It seems that the pub sign suffered an embarrassing incident yesterday when the hot weather caused the letter ‘O’ to drop off. The Landlord has put out a statement denying that the bar had turned into a strip club. Strangely the pub has suddenly become much more popular and did about 12 times the previous days business yesterday. It’s odd what attracts some drinkers.
The Government is going to help out the Post Office by making an interim payment of up to £100,000 per sub-postmaster who has been cleared by the courts of fraud caused by the faulty Horizon software. The PO is in negotiations with these people over compensation at the moment and I suspect many will land up with far more money because of the years they spent in prison, the money they have been forced to reimburse the PO and the loss of employment and future earnings.
Labour MP Dawn Butler pushed it just a bit too far in the Commons today by accusing Bozzie of lying. Whether he did or not is not important, it is against the rules of the House to accuse anyone of telling lies. You can say that someone has “misled the house” but not of lying. I suspect she was taking a chance as today is the last sitting day before Parliament’s summer break and traditionally there is a general debate in which MPs can raise anything and a temporary deputy speaker was in the chair. But the bet failed as after 3 times refusing to rephrase her speech she was suspended for the day. Maybe she just fancied getting away early and beating the traffic.
I mentioned it yesterday but I see the number of people testing positive for Covid seemed to have peaked. Well, today it has gone down, but I bet you no one says so. I bet that when they give the numbers on tonight’s news they just say, “Another 39,906 people tested positive yesterday.” They won’t say that is down 4,000 from yesterday and down 12,000 on the week.
I know you will all be delighted to know that with it not being so hot overnight I slept very much better and with no yapping Mutt to wake me early I nearly overslept! Mind the cat sitter of the day, one of the office girls, was very nice and petted me under the chin just how I like it. The folks in the office have been chatting about the Olympics. I understand it is the opening ceremony today. These ceremonies are normally ultra boring and the few that I have seen have not really interested me. I might sneak in and watch some of the events when things get moving tomorrow.
Today is the second anniversary of Bozzie becoming PM. I must say that the time has gone very quickly. Was it really only 2 years ago that that horrible old woman got herself dumped in the leadership election after she messed up the general election and the negotiations with the EU? Bozzie can be ultra annoying at times but she was just plain awful!
The National Grid has issued a warning about possible power shortages this winter. For years we have been cutting off our nose to spite our face by closing down power stations and not properly replacing them. We have been closing coal-fired power stations for years and the only replacement has been solar and wind, both of which are intermittent. The last couple of winters have been fairly mild and we have been able to scrape through without power cuts. But over the next few months, both Hunterston B and Dungeness B nuclear stations are both due to shut due to mechanical problems so even a mild winter is likely to leave us short of power on those cold, dark winters nights.
I know that lots of my readers were only too happy when it was announced a couple of weeks ago that Jug Ears Lineker had taken a pay cut for BBC work. Mind he also does work for BT hosting their European Cup coverage so he can’t be hard up. On top of these two jobs, I now hear that he has landed a job with ITV hosting a quiz show. No word on what he is going to be paid for this show but I bet he doesn’t come cheap. The new show is called “Sitting on a Fortune” and I bet he is.
So the Post Office has decided to cut out Saturday deliveries. Will they also be cutting out Saturday collections? I suppose that many years ago people worked 6 days a week and these days offices are rarely open on a Saturday so there is very little business mail to either collect or deliver. In fact, many unions are looking at negotiating a four day week so maybe the PO will be cutting another day from their delivery schedule. Or maybe they will give us all a drop box at the local post like some places in the USA.
I finish for today on a bit of news about the 1000 lorry drivers at XPO Logistics. They are being balloted next Wednesday over strike action having turned down what they describe as a ‘paltry’ 1.4% wage increase. Why am I reporting this you ask? Well, it is because these drivers distribute some 40% of the nations lager. Among the brands they deliver is Heineken so it may not be such a loss if they do vote for industrial action. (That name has always amused me why isn’t it industrial inaction?) I hear that these drivers currently earn an average of £42,000 pa and the company is offering a signing on bonus to any new recruits.
Well, I didn’t like that, too many flashes and bangs in the night for me to sleep properly. I was originally woken up by such an enormous clap of thunder I nearly jumped out of my cat basket! For the next half hour, I was kept awake by numerous flashes of lighting and bangs of thunder. Eventually, it died down and when the thunder turned distant rumbles I managed to get back to sleep.
I read that the Chinese are looking to start up an experimental molten salt thorium reactor in the autumn. If the reactor works as designed they think they may be able to build a full size working reactor by 2030. The actual test reactor is only physically small, around 4 metres by 3 metres. Thorium reactors work by dissolving thorium in liquid fluoride salt at around 600°C. The thorium is then bombarded with high energy neutrons that cause a fission reaction in the thorium creating uranium 233. This is an isotope of uranium which can be split giving off heat, more neutrons. This is a “saver” reactor as it doesn’t produce plutonium and has a much-reduced half-life. An additional advantage is that if an accident occurs the liquid salt rapidly sets solid on contact with air, stopping the reaction and release of radiation. The next question is, “How much does it cost”?
Heathrow are to join the band of airport charging a £5 drop off charge. From October, private cars and taxis will be charged for dropping passengers outside terminal buildings. Emergency services will not be charged, nor will pick ups made in the car park, I guess they think they are making enough money from this already. The intention is to have cameras automatically read number plates and drivers pay online or over the phone. People who do not pay will receive a “parking charge notice”. Which is not the same as a “penalty notice” as drivers will not be breaking the law only airport rules and regulations.
I have just been reading about an Algerian judo player at the Olympics who has been thrown out of the competition and sent home. When the competition draw was made he was scheduled to face an Israeli, so he refused to fight him and withdrew from the competition. The Algerian said he supported the Palestinian cause so wouldn’t face an Israeli and his trainer said he was right so he was also sent home! The International Judo Federation has now suspended them both.
Have you been watching the Olympics on TV and wondering why the BBC is only showing two live sports at the same time, one on BBC1 and one on the Red Button? It seems that the rights for this Olympics have been sold to Discover and they are showing them on the Discovery+ channels. Gone are the days of the London Olympics when BBC showed every sport going using multiple channels on the Red Button. The BBC have subcontracted the rights to show two sports at the same time, because part of the Discovery contract says they have to show a certain amount on terrestrial TV. If you want to watch judo when the BBC are showing women’s football and cycling you will need a satellite subscription to Discovery+ and I understand that is the case for the next Olympics too.
I hear the Green Party in Brighton is a little upset. It seems the Tories and Labour have joined together to outvote the Green council and remove one of those terrible Covid cycle lanes. The cycle lane in the Old Shoreham Road has been controversial since it was first installed and the Tories and Labour have recognised this and joined up to restore the pre-Covid status quo. Of course, the Greens hate the idea of getting rid of a precious cycle lane that causes traffic jams and is hardly used. But that is typical of the Greens.
Well, another day and another drop in Covid cases. It’s still a high number for daily cases but today it is down to 31,795 from yesterday’s 36,389. I find this quite amusing after all the predictions that the numbers were going to go up and up, especially those of Professor Nookie who never seems to get his modelling right.
I’m finished for another week and I’m off for my dinner. I only have a few more days of peace and quiet in No 10 before Bozzie, the Brat and the Mutt are back. I shall be making the most of it and sleeping all day tomorrow! Chat again on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file