Morning all. Another week of reporting starts for your intrepid cat reporter and I must admit that the first few days are looking good. Firstly, from a weather point of view, it should be warm and dry and then from action around No.10, with Parliament resuming this afternoon I hope to hear some juicy political stories. Bozzie, the Little Otter and the Brat were away for the weekend, I understand they visited the Queen at Balmoral and spent Saturday night there. Maybe I will have to call him McBozzie?
Mind my first tale for today is back to a story I have visited a couple of times before, the upgrade of the Isle of Wight Railway. When it was originally taken out of service for the replacement of track, signalling and the introduction of new trains back in January it was all supposed to take 3 months. Well, as I have reported before there have been numerous problems with everything from the new (I use the term loosely) trains to flooding. Well, the trains were supposed to be back in use this month but I hear today it has been delayed yet another month and is now expected to be back in service in mid-October. The latest delay is said to be for “driver training”. I can’t believe that a 3-month job will now take 10 months, what is it that is so difficult with upgrading a few miles of rural low-speed railway line?
You may remember that last week I was telling you that Ryanair were in talks with Boeing over buying the 737 MAX 10 but couldn’t agree on a price. The MAX 10 is the largest 737 capable of carrying a maximum of 230 passengers as opposed to the 197 seat MAX 8 they have on order. Today Ryanair say that talks have broken down over a possible order for 250 planes. My guess is they have had a price from Airbus for their A321neo which is much lower than Boeing is willing to go. Not only that, the A321neo is a 244 seater and those extra seats mean more profit. I wonder if Boeing could lose their biggest European 737 operator as a customer.
The annual merry-go-round of Formula One drivers started today, a little earlier than usual. The retirement, at the end of the season, of Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, has opened up a space at Alpha Romeo. A space into which Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has stepped. Now that has left a space at Mercedes and although not yet announced, it will be very surprising if George Russell, who is already a junior Mercedes driver, does not become a partner to Lewis Hamilton next season. That will of course leave Williams looking for a new 2022 driver and so the merry-go-round continues.
Enabling work started this morning on the Britishvolt Northumberland Gigafactory for EV batteries. The 2.7 million sq foot factory is expected to cost £300 million. Once the main construction work begins the main contractor ISG says 2,500 people will be needed on site. It will be good to see us building our own EV batteries but I understand that one factory, however welcome, will not be enough.
I hear that an Air India Boeing 787-8 was on the verge of takeoff from Delhi for London when a swarm of ants was found in business class. I hear that the flight was delayed for 3 hours before a second 787-8 was substituted and the plane took off for London some 5 hours late. Earlier this year a bat was found flying around the cabin of an Air India flight to Newark, New Jersey. In this case, the bat was caught and the plane took off late. Is there something special about Air India that animals like and do they have tickets?
Elon Musk has been dropping hints on an upcoming small Tesla hatchback that could be launched as the Tesla Model 2. The car would be cheaper than anything in its current range at around $25,000 and probably built by its China factory. But the car would have major differences to anything on the road today. The current plan is for the Model 2 is for it to be an autonomous vehicle without any means of driver control, with no steering wheel or pedals. At the moment it would not be legal to put such a car on the road in the UK as currently an autonomous vehicle needs there to be a human driver ready to take over in an emergency. Musk says the main purpose of the car would be as a taxi, but would they meet the London hackney carriage regulations which say headroom in the back must be enough for a man wearing a top hat to sit down.
Another lovely morning, I just might be able to get to my windowsill this afternoon. Yesterday I couldn’t make it as workmen were painting the black railings outside Number 10. It is a bit of a squeeze getting through the railings and I didn’t want to risk getting black paint on my fur. If I was a black cat I might have chanced it, but I am predominantly white and brown.
I had a little chuckle today when I heard that the good weather yesterday had led to virtually no wind, causing the wind turbines around the country to produce very little electricity. This has meant that two coal-fired power units at West Burton ‘A’ have had to be fired up to meet demand. It has also had the effect of driving up the wholesale price of electricity by four times the normal level. The fear now is that the situation will not get any better as the winter arrives and power demand goes up to cope with the cold weather. The Greens will hate this, but they have got us into this position with all their global warming / climate change rubbish.
While on the climate change thing did you read all the stuff at the weekend about how a few warm days had caused millions of tonnes of ice to melt in Greenland? Well, when you read that the amount of ice in Greenland is actually way, way above average it just goes to show how much hype there is. The same thing is going on with the IPCC executive summary of their coming report. The summary has a new hockey stick curve supposedly showing global warming taking off from a static base. On closer examination the static base is anything but, it ignores all the know warming and cooling periods and only includes data that supports the climate change argument. Unsurprisingly the curve is not included in the full report that is not officially published until after the Glasgow COP. Has someone been manipulating the summary to influence the COP delegates?
First Trains are to start a new open-access service, called Lumo, on the East Coast Mainline between London and Edinburgh. The service will operate under a similar agreement to Hull Trains and Grand Central Trains and will be allowed to run up to 10 trains a day. The idea is to run a basic very cheap service. There will be no thrills on the train, one class, no buffet car, although an on-train trolley service will be available. But the main point is really cheap fares. The idea is to be a fully electric service with single fares starting at £14.90, with 60% of the single fares costing under £30 and a guaranteed maximum single fare of £69. The brand new trains will call at Newcastle, Morpeth and Stevenage and will operate in competition with state-owned LNER.
I hear that a centuries-old Greene King pub in Shinfield, Berkshire has caved in to the Black Lives Matter movement and agreed to change the pub’s name from the Black Boy to the Shinfield Arms. Historians claim the pub’s name has nothing to do with slavery but that “The Black Boy” was a nickname of King Charles II due to his sullen complexion and black hair. He was believed to have regularly visited the village between 1642 and 1651. In a poll of 7,000 local people, the new name beat ‘The Merry Monarch’ and ‘The King’s Rest’. Mind, it might have helped if BLM had talked to local historians before trashing hundreds of years of local history.
I read an interesting article on the new Euston HS2 terminal station. It explained why the station will be built with 11 platforms when strictly it only needs 10 platforms to operate the proposed service of 19 trains an hour. The answer seems to be that platform 11 will basically be a spare that can be used for a possible late-running train without interfering with the timetable. The chances of trains running on the new dedicated HS2 tracks to the likes of Birmingham or Manchester being late should be very small, it is those long-distance trains running on to existing HS2 lines to the likes of Liverpool or Glasgow that are most likely to need platform 11. This problem is likely to increase when the HS2 branch to Leeds is built hosting trains heading onto the existing East Coast Mainline to the likes of Newcastle and Edinburgh.
Jo Bamford the son of Lord Joseph Cyril Bamford, the JCB man, not content with developing hydrogen buses at Wrightbus, is behind a new scheme to raise £1 billion towards a hydrogen economy. He points out, quite logically, that a car, lorry or bus running on hydrogen will behave much like a petrol or diesel vehicle. It can be refuelled in minutes and have a very similar range to an internal combustion engine. JCB are setting up a hydrogen plant in Kent that will take power from the Kentish Flats wind farm and use it to make hydrogen by electrolysis. By late next year, this plant is expected to be making enough “green” hydrogen to run about 300 buses at virtually the same cost as running on diesel. Now this Cat thinks that could be a better way forward than EVs.
Morning folks. I managed my windowsill snooze yesterday, the paint had dried, which I suppose was hardly surprising as it was so lovely and warm. This morning I heard a story that set me wondering. A Spanish bishop has resigned from the church after being told by the Pope to undergo an exorcism. It seems that Bishop Xavier Novell has fallen in love with a writer, Silvia Caballol. Her speciality is Satanic themed erotic novels and the church is said to believe that the bishop has been possessed by the Devil. Now I wonder if this could really be true or is it from the plot of one of Silvia’s novels. The randy Bishop who was possessed by the Devil, you could hardly make it up.
Bozzie had a good time in Parliament yesterday afternoon. He made his statement about social care and NHS funding and explained it. Then Stoma, aka Captain Hindsight, made his reply and seemed not to have listened to a word Bozzie had said. Bozzie let him have it and Stoma just sat there muttering. Then that stupid haggis basher got on his hind legs and accused Bozzie of “raiding the Scottishland workers to pay for ‘the English’ care system”. Once again, he can’t have been listening, or more likely choose not to listen because Bozzie had clearly said that Scottishland would get over £2 billion of the money raised £300 million more than they contributed. I suspect that the haggis basher had already written his speech in advance and didn’t have the wit or wisdom to alter it on the fly.
I hear that the USAF has started looking at a replacement engine for the fleet of 76 B52 bombers. It may seem a little odd to be looking for new engines for a plane that is nearly 70 years old (it first flew in 1952), but at the moment it is planned to continue flying until it is 100. It was re-engined once before but it was so long ago that the engine has been out of production for many years and parts are in very short supply. The USAF has asked GE, P&W and RR to quote for 608 new engines which indicates that they intend to keep the existing layout of four-engine pylons each with 2 engines making 8 per plane. This rather limits the available engines types as a plane of that size would today have four, or more likely just two, engines. The B52 was built in the days of design by engineers using slide rules and had a huge design margin built in because the engineers were bothered about the stresses imposed on a high flying nuclear bomber, hence its longevity.
I read that the Mayor of Crawley has resigned after a video of him brawling with a taxi driver has circulated locally on the internet. The police say one man was temporarily knocked unconscious but have not said which of the two men it was. The mayor, Labour councillor Shahzad Malik was facing a vote of the full council calling for his sacking, but he resigned shortly before the vote. Malik says that he was acting in self-defence. The police have sent a file to the CPS who will decide if anyone is to be prosecuted.
I told you earlier this week about the record high prices for power due to the lack of wind and next to nothing being generated by wind farms as well as a worldwide shortage of natural gas. Well, today I understand it has had two more results, energy suppliers PfP Energy and MoneyPlus Energy have been forced to cease trading leaving 100,000 customers without a gas supplier. On Tuesday UK gas prices reached a record high of 163.68 pence per therm and experts believe this could just be the start of a string of small gas suppliers collapsing. If your supplier ceases trading you will still get gas and/or electricity and Ofgem will find you a new supplier.
OneWeb, the low Earth orbit, broadband supplier has announced an agreement with the US telephone company AT&T. The idea is AT&T will be able to offer fast broadband in remote areas of the US. This now makes a trio of similar deals as OneWeb has already signed up with BT in the UK and Northwestel in Canada.
I hear that the weather in some parts of the UK is not as good as it has been here in London today. The forecast thunderstorms have hit many places in the West Country. Just before 10:00 am this morning the emergency services were called to a primary school in Plymouth, Devon when it was struck by lightning. The kids were all evacuated, but fortunately no one was hurt. It seems the lightning hit the side of the building, setting off the fire alarm system but not actually causing a fire. Once the building was declared safe the children were allowed back in and the school set about phoning parents and telling them the kids were OK. However, they had all got soaked in the heavy rain and parents were asked to come and collect them.
Oh dear, back to a grey sky this morning and I hear we could be getting some light rain this afternoon just when I’m thinking of snoozing. Bozzie is fairly happy this morning as he got his care plan through Parliament last night with quite a decent majority. The Stoma fell into the carefully baited trap and told Labour to vote against the plan. From now on I can see Labour being called the party that voted against more money for the NHS. That will not be easy to fight against.
This morning I read of a new consortium being set up to tackle the growing UK carbon capture, usage and storage market (CCUS). With many businesses being pressed to reduce their carbon footprints the consortium of Aker Solutions, Doosan Babcock and Siemens Energy see a lot of future work coming their way. Aker Solutions already partner with Babcock at Sellafield and with Siemens on HVDC converter stations for Scottish Power so a three-way consortia is no real surprise.
More problems with the International Space Station and it’s once again a Russian built service module that has caused it. This time a fire alarm in the accommodation module went off but all systems checked out and there was no fire. Fire on a space station is very scary as there is no escape and an oxygen-rich environment to encourage any blaze. Apparently, the module’s batteries were being charged at the time and it is believed that the problem initiated there. The old Russian technology is causing problems.
An employment tribunal has just found against British Airways in its actions to discipline an employee. The man, a former RAF serviceman with PTSD had messaged his employer to say he was on this way to A&E with this daughter who he had just had to perform CPR on. On getting to work he was told that he was to be investigated for “gross misconduct”. The serviceman’s PTSD caused him confusion, loss of memory and outbursts of anger and BA, despite having signed up to the Veteran’s Covenant, disciplined him on several occasions, once when he was off work after being hit by a car. His manager had even phoned him up demanding to know why he was not at work when he was on a booked holiday.
EasyJet has rejected an unsolicited takeover bid. They didn’t actually say who the bidder was but Bloomberg report it was rival airline Wizz. EasyJet has suffered badly during the Covid pandemic and is reported to have lost £2 billion so far. However they have refinancing plans in place, £1.2 billion from existing shareholders and £400 million in borrowing. They have also launched a £500 million cost reduction scheme which they say is beginning to bear fruit. Wizz have refused to comment, I wonder if they plan to come back with an increased offer?
Today the medical regulator, the MHRA, has approved both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid 19 booster shots. This doesn’t mean to say that they are about to be administered as they still have to be recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. Even if the JCVI recommends it there then has to be a political decision to purchase the extra vaccine and pay for the rollout. At the moment the JCVI only recommends the 3rd dose to those over 12 with a compromised immune system but that is some 500,000 people. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised that if by the time you read this the booster isn’t being rolled out for NHS and care workers and the over 70s.
Wee Krankie has decided to start preparing for another independence referendum, she says it will be held within the next two years. Well she will have to convince Bozzie to allow it first or risk breaking the law to run an illegal unauthorised one. Mind, I suspect she might be in for a bit of a fight as the latest opinion poll that I have seen puts the independence question on a knife-edge with both sides of the debate on 50%.
It’s that horrible drizzle this morning, you know, the stuff that seems like nothing but after a short while has penetrated your fur and left you soaking. I shall be testing various chairs around the building until the drizzle halts, I am after all official chair tester.
I see the RAF has put into service it’s new Protector drone and decided to base it at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, where some £94 million has been spent on preparations for it. I understand that we currently only have 16 of these 38 foot long drones on order but each will be capable of carrying 18 Brimstone missiles so will carry a considerable punch. The drones can taxi, take off, fly in British air space and fly worldwide, while under the control, via satellite, from Waddington, because it has 40 hours endurance. Belgium and Australia are also to receive the drone and over 30 other countries are evaluating it. I wonder how effective it is against dinghies in the channel?
It seems that one of the problems causing empty shelves in shops is the lack of sufficient container ships to move goods around the world. Consequently, the market for new container ships is red hot. Evergreen, the company whose ship blocked the Suez Canal, have numerous ships on order. Container ships are commonly sized in TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent units). Back in March they ordered 20 x 15,000 TEU vessels, then in June another 2 x 24,000 TEU vessels. These joined the 4 x 24,000 TEU vessels already on order and due for delivery next year. Yesterday they announced orders for another 24 container ships (11 x 3,000 TEU, 11 x 2,300 TEU and 2 x 1,800 TEU). Evergreen are only the world’s seventh biggest shipping company so you can see how busy the container shipyards are.
Only 500 electric vehicle charging points are being installed each month and the Government has concluded that this is not enough to support their plans of banning the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The estimate is that at least 700 points need to be installed each week. So they have decided to pass legislation making all new homes and offices have them. This sounds like a good idea and I can see it working for traditional houses, but how is it going to work tower blocks and offices where there are likely to be loads of cars needing charging.
I hear that British Airways yesterday retrieved one of it giant Airbus A380’s from storage in Spain, flying it back to Heathrow. Is this a sign from BA that finally the air travel market is picking up? This particular plane was regularly used on services to the West Coast of America, but this does not mean that is where it will be reintroduced. Mind it is more likely to fly to the US than to Australia and New Zealand.
Marks and Spencer are, I am told, bring back a famous label. Well, I must admit that I have never heard of the St Michael brand, but I understand that loads of you oldies will remember it, especially for underwear. Mind they are only dipping a toe in the water as initially only two lines, a rugby shirt and a sweatshirt, will carry the brand that disappeared 21 years ago. M&S felt, at the time, that the St Michael brand was old fashioned. It seems that now people are more interested in nostalgia.
Scientists have found a cheap way of converting rotten egg smelling hydrogen sulphide into clean burning hydrogen. The other name for hydrogen sulphide is sewer gas which explains where much of it comes from but it is also a by-product of papermaking, oil and gas refining and mining. With hydrogen being looked at as a replacement for natural gas for domestic heating and cooking and for cars as a better driver than batteries. All that is needed now is to prove the process works in bulk.
Another grey start to the day. Popped out into the garden when I woke up and what a racket. I thought the Mutt and the Brat made a lot of noise, but a pair of pigeons have taken up residence and are just sat there cooing at each other. With other birds it’s occasional songs but those bloody pigeons go on and on with the same song. I have a new mission to get rid of them from my garden!
A lot of fuss today about something called 9/11. It’s actually 11/9 today, but like lots of things in America they get it wrong. The rest of the world uses the day/month/year format but the septics have to use the month/day/year format. Why? Did those people who went over in the Mayflower forget the right order and words for things or do they just like being different? How did Braces become suspenders, waistcoats become vests, tyres become tires? We invented the language, they just use it and pretty badly I must say.
A couple of days ago I told you that the Hungarian airline Wizz Air had an offer to take over EasyJet rejected. Today I read that Wizz is in the late stages of negotiations with Airbus for the purchase of around 100 new jets. Wizz currently has an all Airbus fleet of 124 planes with one outstanding order. All but one of their planes are A320s and A321s, the odd one out is an A330 freighter. As the majority of the Wizz fleet is relatively young I doubt the new planes would be for replacements, well maybe a few of the oldest less fuel efficient A320s. I guess that Wizz is looking to expand its business.
By the time you read this, all things being well, SpaceX will have sent its next four civilian tourists into space. A billionaire called Jared Isaacman is sponsoring the launch called Inspiration 4. The big difference this time around is that the four tourists will actually go into orbit and stay there for three days. You may remember that Musk and Branson never went into orbit they just did a parabolic flight to the edge of space. The four, who include Isaacman, have been training for some time in a simulator and have been learning to fly just in case there is an emergency and they have to take over.
I hear that the Germany national football team had a bit of a shock on the flight home from Iceland who they had just beaten in a World Cup qualifier. Their plane was over Arbroath at 5 am when an onboard power generator failed. The plane made an emergency landing in Edinburgh and it sat on the ground, with the players on board, while a repair was attempted. The players were served copious amounts of coffee in the five hours it took to get a replacement plane to them. I bet most of the passengers can do without a cup of coffee for a few weeks.
Whatever happens in her match this evening, Emma Raducanu is going to be a very wealthy young lady. If she loses she will pick up $1.25 million in prize money and if she wins it is double that. But it will be the sponsorships that will make her really wealthy. I reckon that whatever happens they will be queueing at her door. She will never have to buy a tennis racket, tennis shoes or tennis dress ever again. But with her model figure the clothing people, jewellery makers, makeup manufacturers and anyone else you can think of will be rushing to pay her money to advertise their products. Imagine how much she could save on airfares if she was sponsored by British Airways.
This morning a Jamaican registered yacht called Kanu has been stopped 80 miles off the south coast of England with 2 tonnes of cocaine on board. That is a massive amount and is said to be worth £160 million. The 6 people on board have been arrested, 1 from the UK and 5 from Nicaragua. The luxury yacht sailed from the Caribbean and is now in a secret location in England while Border Force carry out a full rummage search to check if there is anything else hidden on board.
Right folks, that’s another week done. I have had enough work for the week, I’m going to see if it’s warm enough to snooze outside but I suspect I will be back on a chair as it’s not wonderful. I might even try and watch the tennis on TV tonight. Chat to you all on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file