Hi folks, bit dull this morning and a little drizzly. Looks like it will have to be an indoor snooze for me this afternoon. I need a bit of a sleep as I keep getting woken up early by people watching the Olympics, I hope it will be over soon.
I had to laugh when I saw some American travellers interviewed after arriving in London this morning. They were all moaning about it taking so long for “you Brits” to allow us double vaccinated Americans into the country. I was willing the interviewer to ask why it was wrong for us to delay letting them in when Sniffer Joe still bans “us Brits” whether double vaccinated or not. The yanks are such a privileged lot. I was reading, only the other day, one demanding to know why he had to obey British Law and couldn’t carry a “licenced” gun in the UK. I suggest we let them carry guns if they change to driving on the left!
A bit ago I told you about Babcock’s bid to supply Greece’s new fleet of 4 frigates. Six bidders are in the competition and some met all the Greek specifications for the new ships and some didn’t. Babcock’s Arrowhead 140 design was one that didn’t quite meet the Greek spec out of the box, but has gone forward to the next stage because the ship is designed to be simply reconfigured and that is what Babcock are doing. The contract will also be evaluated on how much of the fleet will be built in Greece and Babcock have been clever and negotiated a deal with a Greek shipyard to construct 100% of the ships to the British design. But the contract also calls for the winner to offer an interim solution of enhancing the Greeks number of frigates while awaiting the new builds. Here I learn Babcock have come to an agreement with the British Government to refit and supply HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth, two 30-year-old Type 23 vessels for this requirement. Both ships have recently been withdrawn from active service.
I found it very interesting that Network Rail has run a series of Covid swab tests on heavily used places, like escalators and door handle and push buttons, at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations and on trains running between them. In addition, they took air samples for one hour and guess what? Not one single particle of Covid 19 was detected either in the January test or the June test. The results were checked and verified by Imperial College London and corresponded to similar tests done on the London Underground.
So the trans person got nowhere with her Olympic weightlifting against the women weightlifters, failing with her first 3 lifts and getting knocked out in the first round. Mind, I must say the gold medal winner from China and the Silver medal winner from the UK were not exactly beauties. They both appeared to be enormously fat and the “girl” from the UK had half bright blue and half bright red hair.
The Scottishland Police have decided that they should change the name of the operation planned to protect Bozzie on his next trip north of the border. They claim that the names of operations are generated randomly, but as this one was going by the name “Operation Bunter” I somehow think that there had been a bit of manual intervention involved. Someone at Police Scottishland has obviously decided that calling an operation to protect the PM after “The fat owl of the Remove” might cause a diplomatic incident and changed the name. The new name of the operation has not been revealed.
The number of people reported to have tested positive for Covid 19 has continued to fall two weeks after the relaxation of the contact rules. This afternoon’s number was down to 21,952, the lowest for months and deaths were down to 24. I know these are Sunday numbers and they are always lower on a Sunday but these do seem to be heading in the right direction. The naysayers promised us the numbers would be flying up by now if we dared to relax the rules. I won’t be holding my breath while waiting to see if the prediction comes true.
Well, I was woken up early to a lot of noise from Bozzie who was watching sailing from the Olympics. It is not one of my favourite events, it’s like swimming or diving it’s the water, I just don’t like water, except for dinking! I was more interested in the cycling and the cheating bloke who steered into the back of our man. I enjoy a good crash!
It seems you humans have returned to Greggs the Bakers en masse. This morning they have announced profits of £55.5 million for the first six months of the year. I reckon that’s pretty good considering we were in lockdown for much of that period. They also say that growth has been much higher than they expected and as a consequence they are aiming to open another 100 shops, adding 500 jobs, by the end of this year. I wonder where they are going to get the employees from, all I see is companies hiring at the moment.
It’s only four months late but the Ever Given, the ship that will always be remembered for blocking the Suez Canal arrived in Felixstowe at five o’clock this morning and is expected to dock at about nine o’clock to unload its containers full of Chinese tat. I only hope that most of the load is still sellable and is not out of date fashions or consumables.
Work started this morning to lay the 20-mile long submarine cable that will link the Scottishland islands of Lewis and Harris back to the National Grid and it is hoped the cable will be in use by the end of this month. The existing cable developed a fault about seven miles off Harris last October and the water is too deep for a repair. The branch of the grid used to run overland from Fort Augusta to Skye, then the subsea cable ran between Skye and Harris and finally another overground section from Harris ran through Lewis to Stornaway. Because there is an old diesel generating station on Stornaway the islands either side of the break have been able to maintain their power supply but the many wind turbines on the islands have been idle for 9 months as they are designed to export to the grid.
I told you last week that the Boeing CTS Starliner’s initial flight had been postponed because of an incident on the International Space Station. It was supposed to go up this morning but has been postponed again. I might be putting two and two together and making five, but today it has come out that the incident was much worse than originally reported. The ISS was more than nudged out of position as reported, but was actually spun through 540 degrees and left upside down and facing the wrong way by a computer program failure causing the Russian Nauka module manoeuvring jets not to stop firing. The ISS has carefully flipped back to the right attitude but is still being checked for damage.
I am delighted that Rolls Royce and its consortium has secured £210 million in funding towards submitting a design for its small modular reactor. The Government has promised to match the funding if the consortium reached its £210 million target. The total funding will allow RR to start creating its production line. RR is planning to build a fleet of 16 450Mw SMR’s in the UK by 2050 creating 40,000 skilled jobs. At the moment RR believe it will cost then about £2 Billion to get to the stage where they are ready to build the first SMR, then the first 5 would cost £2 Billion each. After that, the unit cost should come down to £1.8 billion. So according to RR the first 7 SMR’s will cost a total of £15.6 Billion and output 3.15 Gw. This is almost the output of Hinckley Point ‘C’ for about £8 billion less. The next 7 would cost even less.
It’s one of those stories that you couldn’t make up. A ten-year-old Skylar was visiting an adventure park while on holiday with her parents and decided to have a go on the zip wire. As she came down she crashed into a steel health and safety notice. Her leg was cut so badly that she was rushed to hospital where she needed 12 stitches to close the wound. I wonder if the siting of health and safety notices are subject to a health and safety notice!?
Another sailing gold this morning so the office were making a lot of noise again. I saw the two girls on the TV and one seemed to be twice as tall as the other. Was one girl short and the other one tall or was one standing on a box and the other in a hole? Then we had a 13-year-old girl getting a skateboarding medal. I hate skateboards, I have nearly been hit by one on several occasions.
The United States is having a few problems with testing its new hypersonic standoff missile the AGM-183A. The Lockheed Martin missile is designed to be flown to height in or under a big bomber before being dropped clear. Once clear of the aircraft the rocket is fired boosting the missile to Mach 5 the edge of space, where the cone separates and protects the warhead. Eventually the cone splits open and the warhead steers at hypersonic speed onto a target. In the previous test, the missile failed to separate from the under the wing of the B52 launch vehicle. In the latest test the missile dropped OK and the umbilical updating the missile from the plane’s computer worked perfectly. However, the rocket motor failed to ignite and the missile fell into the Pacific Ocean. The B52 can carry 31 of these missiles both internally and externally, while I hear that the B1 will also be able to carry it.
Bozzie is off on a two day trip to Scottishland, I wonder if he will bring back some haggis. I would like to try it. Mind, I expect he it is more likely be will bring back some 12-year-old malt whisky for himself and some shortbread for the Little Otter. I see Wee Krankie is moaning that Bozzie has turned down her invitation to go to Edinburgh for talks with her. Well considering that she will only want to talk about “independence” I don’t blame him for saying no.
This being woken up early by excited people yelling at the TV is getting to be a bit regular. This morning it was firstly over that 13-year-old girl skateboarder but later on it was two girls in a boat coming fifth in their race but winning a gold medal, I’m not sure how that works! Anyway, I heard the French had put in an objection, which I heard a commentator say was them winging it. I heard they claimed that the British boat had been in collision with them but it was quickly thrown out as it just never happened. Typical of the French, making something up, I get the idea they are a nation of bad losers.
The Independent Medicines Agency this afternoon recommended that healthy 16 and 17-year-olds should be offered the Covid 19 vaccination. They also said that the vaccine was safe for 12 to 16-year-olds but they are not recommending they be given the vaccine yet. Only “vulnerable” teens in those groups currently are eligible for the vaccine. Over 16’s can legally make up their own minds as to being vaccinated and do not need parental permission. Is this why it is only 16 and 17-year-olds? Anyway, the governments of the home nations quickly accepted the recommendation and all said that the first vaccinations for this 1.5 million cohort will start within weeks.
People on Boscombe Beach were ordered not to go into the water his afternoon after a large shark was seen swimming close to the shore. The RNLI lifeguards put up red flags and announcements were made warning of “a large marine animal”. Lifeguards went into the water on jet skis but found nothing and after an hour they allowed people back into the water under caution. Were the RNLI hoaxed, or is there a big shark out there? It is quite possible it was a harmless basking shark which are common in British waters in the summer.
I was surprised to read that Keely Hodgkinson who won TeamGB a silver medal in the 800 metres gets no funding from British Athletics. When they turned her down the millionaire Barrie Wells stepped in and paid her £15,000 a year, the same as she would have got from British Athletes/National Lottery funding. 81-year-old Mr Wells is a bit of a philanthropist, he has or is funding over 20 British athletes including Jessica Ennis-Hill, gymnast Beth Tweddle and Katrina Johnson-Thompson and says he would rather spend his money helping athletes than lose it in tax when he dies. At the moment he is looking to borrow an Aston Martin as Hodgkinson told him it is her dream to drive one and he wants to give her a reward. Bet she gets funding in the next round!
I really am not sure what is happening with the weather these days. When I was a kitten and young cat I remember summers as long, sunny, warm days. Now I never know, it is either too hot, or dull and grey or worst of all pouring with rain. I blame global warming but of course I might just have a selective memory.
I have been reading an extended article on the trials and tribulations of the Russian space program. You will probably remember I told you all about how the Russian module Nauka nearly wrecked the International Space Station, well I now read that the Russians lost control of the boosters on the Nauka module and it was only by firing other manoeuvring jets on the main space station and an attached supply module that control was recovered. The engines on the Nauka continued to fire until they ran out of fuel. This is one of a series of Russian problems with the air leak in the ISS being down to a Russian technician making a mistake. At almost the same time, a launch of a Soyuz rocket failing didn’t get much publicity, but it had to be abandoned when one of the external booster rockets failed to fire, it had been wrongly mated to the main rocket. It seems that Russian space technicians are so badly paid and the program so underfunded that they are making these dangerous mistakes.
If you are over 21, able to pass a medical, not colour blind or deaf and looking for a well-paid sit-down job, I understand GWR are looking for trainee train drivers based out of Paddington. I don’t know what the pay is during training but in the first year as a qualified driver you earn £54,111 plus overtime and there is a pension scheme. You also get free travel on GWR for your immediate family and a family health insurance scheme. After a year, the basic pay goes up to £60,124 pa and rises to over £81,000 on the current pay scale. It just beats me how many jobs there are about at the moment.
Avanti West Coast have just started a £117 million upgrade on the fleet of 56 Class 390 Pendolino trains they took over from Virgin Trains when they won the West Coast franchise. The first train is currently in Alstom’s Widnes depot where a team of over 100 has already started work. Among the changes being made are the replacement of all seats, installation of free drinking water refill taps and the installation of a cafe/bar on each train. The conversion of the first train is scheduled to take 16 weeks, but this will include class testing. Once testing has been completed the aim is to convert one nine-car train per week and have them all back in service by February 2024.
The upgrade of the Isle of Wight’s Island Line is turning into an unmitigated disaster with the reopening date being missed once again and it being put back to the autumn at the earliest. This time, just before the latest opening date, heavy rain has flooded the depot and washed away track ballast in more than 20 places. The long-awaited refurbished underground trains have finally arrived and before the rain, driver familiarisation had started. But until the ballast is reinstated the line is unusable. I hear that 200 tonnes of ballast have had to be ordered from the mainland but building materials are in short supply.
After 30 years of service, the Boeing E-3D Sentry AWACs aircraft has been retired from service RAF service. Its last operational mission was flown from Cyprus on the 30th July and was over Iraq. The last plane, which was based on the Boeing 707, arrived back at RAF Waddington yesterday. It is due to be replaced by the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail, which is base on the Boeing 737-700 ER, but until it is Britain will have to rely on aircraft operated by NATO and the US. The aircraft is already in use by the Royal Australian Air Force, Turkey and South Korea. The RAF has a firm order for 3 aircraft, which are to be known as Wedgetail AEW Mk1, with the likelihood of two more to follow. The first aircraft is expected to arrive in 2023.
It seems that there is a porcupine on the loose in the Cambridgeshire village of Harston. Firemen on a call to a nighttime house fire spotted it and took a photo of it scuttling away under a gate. No one has any idea where it came from, but the local wildlife centre reports all its residents are accounted for. There are many species of Porcupine but none are natives of Britain, although there are several native to Southern Europe so it is almost certainly an escapee from a zoo or an escaped pet. Mind, who would want to keep one of those pets beats me. Hedgehogs are prickly enough for me.
I hope all those music acts and performers will quit moaning now that we have got an agreement with the majority of EU nations to allow Britons to tour and perform. Before we left the EU, freedom of movement meant that UK acts could tour at will, but when we left this was lost and the moaning started because EU countries started requiring visas. Now we have signed agreements with 19 of the 27 EU members to mutually allow performers and their backup staff to tour and perform for up to 3 months visa free. We are still in discussion with most of the other 8 to sign agreements on the same basis.
When I retired to my cat basket last night I had just seen a man on the TV saying that it should be dry in London today. You can imagine how surprised I was to find it was very wet when I woke up. I had my breakfast and did a patrol around the offices, number 10 and 11 flats and even the Cabinet Room before I stuck my nose out again and it had stopped, but the ground was still wet, it was another hour before I ventured out! Now the sun is trying to come out but it’s, that’s better.
The US Navy has basically admitted that its littoral combat ships are rubbish! Littoral is a fancy way of saying the ship is designed to fight in shallow or coastal waters. They built four of this class of warship, but it seems that they are too expensive to operate so the first of the class, 11-year-old USS Independence, has been withdrawn from active service and will be joining the reserve fleet in Bremerton, Washington. There it will await a possible recall to emergency service or be sent for scrap. The LCS is a small not very well armed ship said to cost around $70 million a year to operate. By comparison, a much larger and more capable Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer costs $80 million a year to operate. There are several other types LCS ship in the US Navy, they originally planned to buy 55 but it is heavily outgunned by its Chinese direct equivalent, so the order was first cut to 39 and then to 29, which with 4 more now being retired early comes to 25. The idea is to spend the money on buying buy an additional 20 Constellation-class guided-missile frigates which are more capable than the Chinese navy ships.
I hate to report this but Boeing have another 737 problem. This time the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a warning for 737 NG and MAX planes over fire suppression equipment. It seems that there have been a number of failures of the air conditioning pack, flow controls that regulate air vented into the cargo hold from other parts of the aircraft. Operators of planes with this problem are banned from operating with this condition unless they can verify items are nonflammable and noncombustible.
I was amazed to see that censors have decided to put a warning on episodes of ‘Allo ‘Allo warning of ‘offensiveness’. They don’t like the way the series takes the mickey out of the French, German and Italian languages. Obviously, I wasn’t around 40 years ago when it started but when I have seen repeats on satellite channels I have always had a little chuckle. I especially love Officer Crabtree with mangled French. I can’t believe how the woke seem to be taking over the country.
I wandered into the office this morning and they had the Olympics on. The Dreamies Girl said hello to me and asked if I had come to watch the cycling. Pity she couldn’t understand me when I meowed I had come to see if anyone had any cat treats. Still, I watched something called the ‘Maddison’. It was very exciting, with girls whizzing round and round on bikes and occasionally crashing. I didn’t have a clue what was going on but the humans enjoyed it and I understand we won a gold medal. I suppose that is good!
Word comes to be that the maiden cruise of the Virgin ship the Scarlet Lady has been delayed by three hours this early evening. The problem was the need for passengers to all have a Covid 19 lateral flow test before sailing. As I hear it the company doing the tests just struggled with the large numbers turning up and huge queues built up as the testing facility was overwhelmed. Of course, the delay was ultimately the fault of the Bearded Ones, Virgin Voyages and there was no question of the ship sailing without all its passengers. That would have been an even worse publicity disaster. Consequently, the only thing to do was delay until the testing was completed.
It seems that hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear of RAF jet fighters being launched to intercept a Russian plane trying to fly in our controlled air space over the North Sea. Today it has been Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth that were scrambled to intercept what turned out to be two Russian TU-142 “Bear-F” maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft that NATO had been tracking. It is all a big game, the Russians probe, we intercept, the pilots wave to each other, take photos and the Russians turn and go home.
How much longer are these Olympic things going on? I am getting fed up being woken up early by the noise being made by people watching the TV. This morning it was a British boxer and he hit some Asian so hard he knocked him off his feet. They let him get up and carry on fighting but our bloke won and got a gold. Apparently, we are doing pretty well in the medal table which I suppose is good.
A man driving an electric car has made the news because he has appealed a parking ticket he got for not parking his car fully in a bay while charging it. He says that it is impossible to charge his Nissan Leaf while fully in the bay. The charging point is on the front of the car and if you back in the lead is not long enough to reach the charger. If you go in nose first you have to park a bit back so that there is room between the wall and the car to get the plug in. So he was about 6” out of the back of the bay and the ticket said he was not parked in a bay. So far he is not hopeful of his appeal being accepted as the adjudicator seem to think it was possible to get in the bay and charge a car and had photos that showed it was possible. But the photos showed a car with a charging port on its side!
A bit more Olympic news. The Chinese women who won the cycling team sprint have got a warning for making a political gesture. They pinned small red and gold Mao pin badges onto their cycling suits when being presented with their gold medals. They violated rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which bans “political, religious or racial propaganda” at games venues. The IOC say the Chinese have said they will not do it again. I reckon they know they have got away with it. I wonder what tricks the Chinese will pull at next February’s Beijing Winter Olympics.
Delighted to see that Wee Krankie has a bit of an independence problem. She has said that if the Scottishland people vote for independence she will rejoin the EU as soon as possible. However, the EU has stated that if Scotland were to join they would have to join the Euro. Well in a survey published this morning 60% didn’t want to give up the pound and if they were forced to they wouldn’t vote for independence. Krankie know that Scottishland couldn’t survive as an independent nation, they have to be part of a group, meaning either staying in the UK or joining the EU. Krankie seems to have such a hatred of England that she would leave the UK and then join the EU and the Euro against the wishes of the Scots.
P&O’s latest ship Iona departs Southampton tonight at about 9 o’clock on it’s maiden cruise. It is taking passengers on a cruise down the channel and then up the West Coast to the the Scottishland island of its namesake Iona where it will anchor for a firework display. It will then embark on a scenic cruise of Scottishland before heading back to Southampton next Saturday. The liquid natural gas powered ship is leaving Southampton later in the evening than is normal for P&O ships, they normally sail between 5 and 7. I wonder if they are leaving it until it’s nearly dark so that a light show or fireworks can be seen.
Could an extension of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway be on the cards? The volunteer-run railway currently runs a 14-mile tourist service between Cheltenham Racecourse Station and the village of Broadway. The 4 1/2 miles of track bed from Broadway to Honeybourne Station still exists and when work was done at Honeybourne some year ago, Network Rail made provision for heritage trains to connect with the network. The fly in the ointment was that the Department for Transport had gifted the track bed to Railway Paths Limited who turn track beds into walking routes and cycle paths. RPL has now decided that the trackbed doesn’t meet its criteria and has offered it to GWSR subject to DfT approval. But DfT policy is not to let heritage railways reinstate trackbeds as they don’t believe they could afford to maintain bridges. However, Network Rail (or whatever they are called today) are looking at reopening the track from Honeybourne north to Stratford upon Avon. To re-link this line so it would run all the way from Stratford to Cheltenham would be amazing.
As you know I have caught a bit of the Olympics coverage on TV and I must say my favourite presenter has been the newcomer Sam Quek. Perhaps it’s because she is not a trained presenter but an ex Team GB medal-winning hockey player, but she has been a breath of fresh air on the Breakfast Show compared to the other presenters. She has been natural, bright, speaks well and is attractive. I hope we see more of her in future and if she pops round to Downing Street she can stroke me any day.
That’s me finished for the week. I hear that tomorrow is the last day of the Olympics and I may get a chance to lie in on Monday morning. I’m off to see what’s for my dinner. Chat again on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file