Morning all. I woke up to thunder and torrential rain this morning but it must have been a passing heavy shower because by the time I had a good stretch, a scratch and stuck my head out of the cat flap it had stopped raining. Mind it didn’t stay dry for long, we have been subjected to several heavy showers this morning, but as I dictate this the sun has come out. If it stays like this it’s windowsill here I come.
Today I hear the NHS is looking at buying electric ambulances. They have been working with Ford on a battery one based on the Ford Transit van and expect to have a two-person crewed one on test soon. The cost is expected to be around £100,000 per vehicle, roughly what they pay today for one of the big especially customised ambulances they use today. The Transit ambulance would be smaller but will carry a full fit of equipment. Two things I hear have made me wonder. The story I heard is that the ambulances will be available as battery, petrol and diesel and will be built in Dagenham for both domestic and export use. I understood Ford moved European Transit production to Turkey several years ago so will the ambulances actually be made in Dagenham or just fitted out based on Turkish imports? Secondly, they are said to have a range of 250 miles, that may be OK in an urban environment but is it enough for rural use or the transfer of a patient from say Manchester to London?
The Army is on standby to come to the rescue again. The Royal Logistics Corp have around 2000 fully trained HGV drivers ready to help out with deliveries of food and other essentials to supermarkets if the current driver shortage gets much worse. However, part of the HGV driver shortage has been caused by no driver tests having been available for months and thousands on the waiting list. Additionally, many drivers have been having to self isolate having been ‘pinged’ but I believe that last week the number of people pinged dropped by over 1/3rd following the app being made less sensitive.
Siemens Gamesa have announced that they are to double the size of their wind turbine blade factory in Kingston upon Hull. The factory expansion on the Alexandra Dock is to cost £186 million and will receive a Government grant, but no one is saying how much it will be for, only that it will be coming from £160 million for this type of thing. The existing factory employs around 1000 people and this should add another 200 to the total when complete in 2023.
The big news in the MSM today is the latest IPCC report. Well, I say report because that’s what the media have been calling it, but it’s not, it is actually only a summary for policy makers. The full report might be published much later this year or early next year but definitely after COP26. So what is the purpose of this report? Well, it is to scare people into signing for more restrictions at COP26. I have read the BBC report of the summary document and it really says nothing new. I am certain that if the Summary had contained anything new they would have rushed to report it. If there is nothing new in the summary then surely there will be nothing new in the full report. So what do we get, a lot of the same scare stories about ice caps melting, sea levels rising, and CO2 levels increasing which is exactly the same as they have been saying every few years since the 1980s. “10 years to save the world” has been rolled out so many times and proved to be widely wrong, that this report will be wildly inaccurate once again.
I told you last week that the Government had retired the RAF’s Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACs planes. Today I hear that rather than scrapping all the aircraft we have sold one to the USAF for $15 million. The Yanks are to use it as a training aircraft for the E-6B command and control aircraft. The E6 is supposed to be a flying control post for the launch of US nuclear missiles in the event of the US mainland being attacked. Both the E3 and E6 are versions of the old Boeing 707 and the idea is that from a pilot’s point of view there is little to choose between flying either type. As both types have been out of production for many years, making purchase of an additional plane impossible, this will save the USAF having to pull a front line E6 out of service for flight crew training.
Looking at today’s coronavirus numbers I see that after a little uptick for a few days a week or so ago the number of cases is on the way down again. But it’s not only reported cases overall, which could be put down to people turning off the NHS app, it is the numbers being admitted to hospital, the number who need ventilation and the number of deaths that are all on a downward trend. I do like it when the so-called experts get their predictions wrong.
I hear that Sky have signed up another service from the US that they are going to provide free to SkyQ subscribers next year. This time it’s Paramount+ which is currently only available in the US where it is a paid-for streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. It is to be added as an app and will initially include 10,000 hours of specially commissioned programs, American TV programs and films from Paramount. However, it looks like the films will only be free to those who subscribe to Sky Cinema, for those who don’t it seems that there will be a small charge if they want to add watching them.
Wow, a sunny morning! We haven’t had many of them in the past couple of weeks. The forecast I saw the Dreamies Girls looking at on her computer indicated a few sunny days to come, no rain and not too hot. Now that’s my kind of weather, I bet the beaches are busy this weekend.
Yesterday was International Cats Day and the BBC sent a young reporter round to interview me. Well, I was having a nice snooze in the watery sunshine under my windowsill when some bloke started calling me. So I pretended not to notice and watched him getting increasingly frustrated. Great fun. As the sun moved I pretended to wake up and jumped up onto my sunny windowsill. The cub reporter sent someone to buy some meat to try to get my attention. Well if it had been chicken I would have leapt into action but I think it was corned beef out of someone’s lunch roll. I did eventually pop over and get a bit but it was only when I was off on my afternoon patrol to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I am not that easy to bribe into an interview Mr Reporter, next time it has to be chicken or some nice crunchy cat treats.
The Federation of Master Builders says that replacing gas boilers with heat pumps will not work because they are too big, too noisy, too expensive and don’t generate enough heat. What’s more with the current level of technology they never will be able to replace gas boilers. I find it interesting that the Government want people to spend up to £35,000 installation a system that not only is not up to the task but that many of the pumps actually exceed noise limits. At the moment the Government is failing to convince homeowners that heat pumps are the way to go and are not doing much to change their view.
Several years ago Sky said they were going to launch a version of their Sky Q set-top box that would work over the internet and not need a satellite dish. Many people in flats and rented homes who could’ve put up a dish were delighted, they wanted an alternative to Virgin or BT TV. But until now Sky have been remarkably silent on the Sky broadband box. Now it appears to have arrived, but not for the UK. The Sky Q IP box has been announced for rental in Germany and will offer most of the Sky Germany services with some exceptions. One of which I hear is, it will not let you record from the menu page. It also requires a minimum broadband speed of 6Mps. No word yet of when it will be available in the UK, I suspect the German launch is a test and once any wrinkles are ironed out it will be rolled out in the UK.
Yesterday I told you that Siemens were to expand their wind turbine factory in Hull. Today I hear that the proposed GE Renewables factory for Redcar is going to be much bigger than originally thought. The factory was originally to be 650,000 sq ft but due to the expected business will now be 830,000 sq ft. GE have the order for the blades for the Haliade-X 13 MW turbine which is confirmed for the first two phases of Dogger Bank Wind Farm, off Teesside’s coast, with a record-breaking order for 190 units. GE has recently also got the order for 87 uprated Haliade-X 14 MW turbines for phase 3 of Dogger Bank. It now looks like GE will employ 470 people at Recar when the factory opens. Construction of the factory starts in October.
Covid cases down again today so what does the MSM say? LBC compares the number of cases with a year ago when it was only a few hundred. BBC just gives the number and the average over seven days but forgets to mention the number is down. Mail Online says numbers are up 7% on the week not mentioning they have been down for the past four days. Somehow I think the MSM are out to make things look as bad as they possibly can and are all looking for ways to twist the numbers. Who was it said, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.”
Our ‘world beating’ Track and Trace system have really messed it up this weekend. For some unknown reason, the traffic lights system for travellers from France changed at 4 o’clock on Sunday morning. Previous changes have been at 4 o’clock on Monday morning and Track and Trace got the day wrong. Several people who arrived in Britain on Sunday afternoon had a man from Track and Trace knocking on their front door on Monday evening checking that they were isolating at the contact address they had given T&T. Of course, T&T would not believe that the person they were visiting didn’t have to isolate and threatened to call the police to fine them £1,000. Pity they didn’t, it would have been nice to see them grovel when it became obvious they have mucked up.
Not a bad morning, no rain and a bit of sun. It will suit me nicely and I am looking forward to testing out the snoozing qualities of the windowsill once again!
The war between Boeing and Airbus for a contract for between 140 and 160 airborne refuelling aircraft is about to be resumed for round two. Back in round one Boeing and Airbus’s predecessor EDS bid for a $35 billion contract to supply 179 tanker aircraft. Initially, Boeing won, but it seems some bribery and corruption was involved and the contract was cancelled. It was rebid and awarded to Airbus, but Boeing complained that the tender evaluation was flawed and it was rebid a third and final time and awarded to Boeing. Now the next round has come up for bidding and the USAF are looking for the supply of planes from 2029 at the rate of about 12 a year. Boeing will again be offering the KC46 which is based on the Boeing 767 and is in use by the USAF, Japan and Israel. Airbus will be bidding the A330 based MRTT which has been purchased by ten airforces including the RAF. The RAF has one of the aircraft painted in a Union Jack colour scheme and it is also used for VIP transport. Do I spy a price war looming?
Hearing something I don’t think I have ever reported on before, but a British man has been arrested in Germany for spying for the Russians. David S, who worked as local staff at our Berlin embassy is believed to have passed on documents he had access to for cash payments. He was arrested by the German federal authorities following a joint German, Metropolitan Police operation. It’s a long time since we had a good old fashioned British/Russian spy case.
It’s good news and bad news for the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) this week. The good news is that Waterloo’s low-level station has been finished and handed over by the contractor to the owner/operator TfL. But the bad news is that Bond Street station is running even further behind schedule and could well not be available when the line opens next year. Major works at the station are finished it is just all the finishing touches and testing that need to be completed. I understand the opening of the line will not be put back if Bond Street is not ready, trains will just run through without stopping until it is ready.
I read that a disabled rights campaigner was left naked in the bottom of the shower tray when the disabled person shower stall seat broke off the wall! The woman who is paralysed from the waist down looked for the red emergency pull cord but it had been tied up too high to reach. A second cord was tied around a radiator in another part of the disabled room’s bathroom. The woman then dragged herself to the radiator and managed to pull the cord. The hotel then phoned the room to try to discover what was wrong and obviously didn’t get an answer as the lady was laying on the bathroom floor. It then took 3 members of staff 20 minutes to lift the naked, wet guest back onto her chair as they had not been trained in manual lifting. Looks like the Mama Shelter hotel chain have a bit of maintenance and training work to do.
The USAF has signed a $60 million agreement with Hermeus to conduct test flights of their Mach 5 autonomous aircraft ‘Quarterhorse’. The form says that the idea is at the end of the tests they will both have experience of flying Mach 5 aircraft remotely and they should be able to prove the Hermeus proprietary Turbine Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) engine. The TBCC is based on the GE J85 turbojet engine. The Hermeus Quarterhorse is the first of a number of hypersonic aircraft that are under development in the US. The company have already started cutting metal at their new factory in Atlanta and expect to have the aircraft flying in 2023. Hermeus are also being funded to develop a small Mach 5 jet for presidential transport.
Today sees the return of that posh event, The Henley Regatta, after missing last year due to Covid. But there is a big change to the rules this year. For the first time, ladies will be allowed to wear trousers in the steward’s enclosure. However, if they do don trousers they will also have to put on a blazer or jacket, so a trouser suit is acceptable but old jeans and a tee shirt aren’t.
I really can’t understand what is happening the forecast said sunny and dry, so it’s raining. Well, it would be wouldn’t it as it’s the first day of the Lord’s test match. I like watching those men chasing a ball around a field, I would have liked to have been the official Lord Mouser. I could have all that open space to patrol and watch all the cricket for free.
Today I hear that Jeff Bezos has lost his spot as the world’s richest man despite his wealth being estimated at $186 billion. He has been replaced by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. Arnault has a 47% holding in what was his family company and is worth some $196 Billion. LVMH control a load of luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Bulgari, Tag Heuer, Sephora, and Hennessy. Now I would consider myself rich if I had won the £80 million on Tuesday night’s Euromillions. Think of all the Felix Chicken that would buy.
I told you some time ago that Wendy Burgers were making a return to the British market after withdrawing some 20 years ago. I understand that their first new company-owned branch in Reading is trading well and that they are planning 5 more by the end of the year including Croydon, Oxford and Stratford (east London). They are also talking with around 30 groups who want to open franchises. But what I find interesting is that Wendy’s are planning to open 10 “Dark Kitchens” to supply the delivery companies. The Dark Kitchens will initially all be in London and would be operated by Reef in partnership with Deliveroo and Uber Eats. The first Kitchen should be up and running in the next few weeks.
I hear that workers at Pret A Manger are considering striking over their pay. Last year Pret introduced two changes to workers pay that were said to be temporary and necessary due to Covid. Firstly the company stopped paying for breaks. This amounted to half an hour’s less pay for each 8-hour shift. Secondly, the service bonus of £1 per hour was cut out in July last year. This bonus depended on the report of a “secret shopper”. The bonus was reintroduced in April, but at a reduced 50p per hour. Pret workers say all this amounts to an 11% cut in wages for workers already on the basic wage.
I had a little chuckle when I heard that PayPal had suspended a man’s account for allegedly trading with Iran. PayPal got it badly wrong on several counts. It is not illegal for anyone in the UK to trade with Iran, however in this case the item in question was a mouse mat styled as a mini Persian rug made in Leicester. But perhaps the silliest mistake was that the man was actually buying the item from Etsy and PayPal accused him of selling things made in Iran. When PayPal’s mistakes were pointed out to them they reinstated the account but said as an American company they are not allowed to trade with Iran. Idiots.
I often hear about office blocks being converted into homes, in fact I understand that you don’t even need planning permission these days. But today I have heard of something a bit different, the biopharmaceutical company, Autolus, want permission to convert a multi-storey car park into a headquarters building and laboratories. The plan, submitted to Stevenage Borough Council, is to convert the 5 storey city-centre building into 6,290 sq metres of offices and labs employing some 300 people. The £65 million project would, if allowed, be the UK and Europe Headquarters for the company.
Over 58,000 EU citizens applied for leave to stay in the UK in July the month after the EU Settlement Scheme officially closed. There are limited official reasons why a late application can be accepted but we will have to wait and see what the government decides to do with this lot, they could accept the application and process them. Over 6,000,000 applications were made by the closing date of 30th June and more than 2,800,000 have been granted settled status. Another 2,300,000 have been granted pre-settled status which means when they have been here a bit longer it will be converted into full settled status. It is possible that some of the 58,000 already have pre-settled status and were applying to upgrade to settled status.
Not as warm as I expected this morning, I guess it’s because it’s a bit windy. Anyway, I didn’t stay outside for very long before rushing back for my breakfast. Bozzie talking about holding a Cobra meeting this afternoon to discuss Afghanistan. I don’t like Cobra meetings, the security is too tight and I find it frustrating not hearing what is being planned.
I hear that Germany is under a bit of pressure from the EU over its implementation of EU regulations. The EU originally moaned that Germany had either not implemented or not fully implemented 92 EU regulations. Germany has done a bit but they are still failing on 51 regulations and the EU have opened legal action against Germany in the ECJ. Can you imagine the fuss the EU would have made if it had been us not obeying the minor detail of laws?
Still on the subject of Germany, I hear that Elon Musk has told them that he wished he had chosen the UK as the site of his £5 billion Megafactory instead of Germany. The factory is currently about six months behind schedule. Some of the delay is of Tesla’s own making as they have messed around a bit with the design, but most of the delay has been red tape, environmental legal protests and the construction company being slow. For example, Tesla must also find new homes for the site’s current residents – a species of lizard, and the kind of snake that likes to eat it! Of course Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Renault are delighted that things are running late, it gives them more time to get their rival EV’s into production.
The world’s biggest offshore wind farm operator, Orsted, have announced that they will not hit their predicted profits for the year. This is due to ‘low wind’ in June and July. The Danish company says wind speeds in the North Sea have been “extraordinarily poor”. On the UK market, RWE and Scottish Power have both complained of recent windless days and are predicting lower profits. It’s not lower profits that bothers me, it’s simply the fact that wind farms are useless when there is no wind and we still need backup generation capacity.
KFC has issued a warning to customers that many of its shops are running out of chicken. It seems that the shortage of delivery drivers has caught up with them and they are having problems getting supplies out to shops. Although it is said to be patchy with some shops running short on chicken pieces, others on chips and even some on chicken nuggets. I don’t think I have ever had KFC, but if it’s chicken I’m sure I would like it. Just so long as the Felix factory doesn’t run out of chicken.
India has decided to allow double the number of weekly flights between India and the UK from 30 to 60 split 50/50 between Indian carriers and British carriers. Since Covid restrictions were eased India/UK flights have been full and prices have leapt, in some cases by 300%! The two Indian carriers will split their 30 flights 26 to Air India and 4 to Vistara. How the British carriers BA and Virgin will split their 30 flights is not yet known, but they better make their minds up quickly as the new rules start on Monday. Whatever happens, the airports will be delighted at the extra business.
I hear that two days after the Olympic closing ceremony North Korea showed its first coverage, the woman’s football match between the UK and Chile. The game had taken place nearly 3 weeks before and was in low resolution without commentary. The North Koreans did not send any athletes to Tokyo blaming Covid precautions. However many commentators think the real reason might have been the cost, NK is notoriously short of foreign exchange. Which also explains the poor quality recording of the football match as no one admits selling it to them meaning it was probably an illegal tape.
Now that’s how I like to start a weekend, pleasantly warm, sunny and the humans in Chequers and the Mutt with them. Then to crown it the Dreamies Girl on breakfast duty. She always sorts through the store cupboard for Felix Chicken pouch so I know it will be the same for dinner tonight. All I need now is a snooze on my favourite window sill and it will be an almost perfect day.
I read this morning that HMS Severn, the river class offshore patrol boat has very nearly completed her refit and will be re-commissioned on 28th August. As a Batch One river class boat, it was announced she would be replaced by the Batch Two ships and was duly decommissioned in October 2017. However, a change was announced in 2018 and it was decided to retain the Batch One ships alongside the Batch Twos. One of the first things I saw was her new dazzle camouflage paint job instead of the standard navy grey and jolly smart it looks too. The Navy has already announced that the five Batch Two’s were to get the dazzle paint scheme and HMS Tamar has already appeared in the new scheme. I guess the Batch Ones are to get the same treatment.
It going to be a very busy weekend in Southampton with 8 cruise ships visiting. P&O Iona, Celebrity Silhouette, MSC Virtuosa, Princess Regal Princess, Marella Explorer, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, P&O Britannia and P&O Ventura will all be in port. 5 of those ships are in today and 3 tomorrow. Then there will be one on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, two on Friday, five again next Saturday and four next Sunday. Things sure are picking up in the cruise industry even if many of the ships are only doing cruises in British waters.
I don’t know if this story is true or not but it is totally dismissed as a fabrication by the US space agency NASA. The Russian state news agency, Tass, has published a story saying that US astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor had an emotional breakdown in space and deliberately damaged a Russian spacecraft in order to return to earth early. The context is the US criticism of the Russian spacecraft build quality following the incident with the International Space Station being pushed out of position that I reported some time ago. In that report, I mentioned the leak in the Russian shuttlecraft that was blamed on poor Russian workmanship. It now seems that the Russians have decided that damage was deliberately caused by the astronaut. Tass claim that Auñón-Chancellor suffered a deep vein thrombosis in space and this ‘could have upset her emotional balance’ so to get home quickly she drilled a hole in the shuttlecraft. Really rather a stupid idea as the shuttle was her escape craft. The Americans found the hole and plugged it with epoxy resin making it airtight and safe to use.
An advert has appeared looking for an “extraordinary talented electronics engineer” to “work alongside some of the best scientists and engineers within defence” they will be “delivering prototype solutions directly to the soldiers and officers of a unique and specialised military unit.” It doesn’t say what military unit the £33,000 pa job will support, but as the job is based in Hereford I wouldn’t mind betting it’s the SAS. It sounds like they are recruiting for their dirty tricks unit!
I have read that New Zealand is a great place to live if you are afraid of wild animals. No bears, wolves, dingoes, crocodiles or snakes. The worst they seem to have is a venomous spider which has a bite that is more of an irritation to most people. The last spider bite death was in 1901 and the man was allergic to the venom. However, I read that in recent months a number of venomous sea snakes has started to appear in the sea off their coast and several have been washed up on beaches. The Kiwis are so unused to poisonous snakes that they don’t recognise them as dangerous and are having to be warned by an advertising campaign. How anyone wouldn’t recognise the yellow-bellied sea snake’s yellow and black colour scheme as a warning just beats me.
I read that Gillian Sturgeon, wee Krankie’s sister, and a man have both been arrested and charged over an alleged ‘domestic incident’ that occurred last week in a house in Kilwinning, North Ayrshire. The two have been released on bail after agreeing to appear at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court at a later date yet to be confirmed. No other information has been published so I’ll not speculate, but I will be watching carefully for reports of the court proceedings.
That’s me finished for the day and the week. Nice and early and as the sun is out I off for a snooze on the windowsill via the office to see how my favourite cricketer, Joe Root, is doing. I hope there are no demonstrations in London this afternoon. When I wake up it should be time for my dinner and it should be chicken. Oh, happy days. Chat again on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file