Morning all. So another week of Westminster fun begins. The papers that Bozzie dumped on the floor this morning all had pictures of that girl winning the tennis. She looked very happy and I am not surprised considering she had just won $2.5 million and I read in one paper that she is now on track to get lifetime earnings of £150 million. In fact, I see that in the final she was wearing Tiffany jewellery worth many thousand dollars. I wonder if these were on loan to her and how much she was being paid to display them? I say good luck to her, she is bright and intelligent, has passed A-Levels with high grades speaks intelligently and is even fluent in Mandarin. If she gets an invite to No 10 I will let her stroke me.
I hope none of my merry readers is booked to fly from Heathrow on Christmas Day or Boxing Day as both London Transport and Network Rail have announced there will be no services on those two days due to maintenance work. On top of that, if you get a friend to drive you to Heathrow they will have to pay a £5 drop off fee which is being introduced shortly. I also hear that Heathrow have put up the charge they make for taxi drivers picking up at the airport from £4 to £15 per transaction. But I have a question, why are Network Rail and the tube both carrying out work at the same time? Surely it is possible for the two organisations to coordinate dates so that both rail services are not shut on the same days.
I hear that the RAF has its eye on the replacement of the BAe Hawk T1 with the Aeralis jet trainer. Like me, you have probably never heard of Aeralis, but I understand they are a British based aircraft developer and the plane family they are developing will be “modular”. It will have a “common core fuselage” and various versions will be available from small fighter to a fast jet trainer all achieved by using different modules such as wings, engines and mission systems. Aeralis already have a development contract from the MoD and pre-production aircraft are expected within 3 years followed 2 years later by production aircraft. I hear that an announcement is likely to come towards the end of the year.
The worlds largest container ship, Evergreen Ace, docked at Felixstowe at the weekend. The huge ship carries just short of 24,000 twenty-foot containers and beat the previous largest ship by just 26 containers. The year old ship weighs in at 235,579 ton and is 400m (1,312ft) long and 61.5m (201ft) wide, about the size of four football pitches. The ship will take several days to unload and reload and is expected to sail for China on Wednesday. What those containers are full of is anyone’s guess, but due to the time of year, I bet there are a huge amount of future Christmas presents.
Just one year after the start of HS2 construction the project is supporting 20,000 jobs including 1,100 who came off the unemployment register. In addition 2,200 companies, both big and small, have received orders. So far about £11 billion has been spent and a further £12.6 billion worth of contracts have been awarded. However many, the overall estimated cost of phase one is £44.3 billion so there are a lot of contracts still to be placed.
So 11 to 15-year-olds are to be offered a single Pfizer Covid jab in the next few weeks. It seems a little odd that if a child wants the jab but the parents don’t want them to have it the child’s view will probably stand, but not the other way round. I understand there are about 3,000,000 kids in this age band and giving them the jab will considerably increase the percentage of Britains who have been jabbed. It will increase our numbers in line with the likes of Germany and France who have been jabbing kids for weeks.
Adil Khan, a 51-year-old from Rotherham, appeared before a tribunal today to appeal against being deported. He had been found guilty of raping a 13-year-old and getting her pregnant and was part of the infamous Rotherham grooming gang. He complained that he was surviving on benefits and had no rights, “the home office had even taken away his driving license”. He was appealing over being deported to Pakistan after being found guilty back in 2012 when he was sentenced to 8 years. He served four years before being released and has been fighting extradition ever since. Khan had duel British Pakistani citizenship but after leaving prison and he gave up his Pakistani citizenship voluntarily and now claims that he can’t be deported because he would be stateless. The tribunal is to decide if the Home Office acted legally in serving a deportation on him. In many countries, he wouldn’t be appealing because he would have been executed.
Oh what a horrible morning, absolutely pouring with rain. I think today’s patrols will be limited to internal only. It looks like a chair testing day. Bozzie was very sad this morning at breakfast and off his cornflakes, so it was serious. I understand that his mother died from Parkinson’s yesterday. I know how he feels, I remember how I felt when my Mother Cat died and leaving me alone with my sister. Bozzie is supposed to be announcing policy on Covid booster jabs today, I wonder if he will be up for it?
Good news on the employment numbers this morning. They were up by over 240,000 last month, that puts them over where they were before Covid struck. The doom-mongers were predicting loads of redundancies when the furlough scheme started to come to an end and it just doesn’t seem to have happened. Not only that, the number of vacancies went up to over 1,030,000 while unemployment numbers fell from 4.7% to 4.6%. All this and over 1,000,000 people still on furlough, I guess the economy must be recovering well.
This morning I hear that fresh meat is to carry what is laughingly called “animal welfare labels” that show how the animal was slaughtered. The idea is to let people know if the meat is Halal or Kosher. Many abattoirs choose to kill most meat in a Halal manner so they only have to use one process and save money. They just label meat they want to sell to Moslems as Halal and flog the rest as if it were conveniently slaughtered. I think it is about time that this practice was stopped and once the slight of hand is revealed to the general public I suspect they will demand not to have Halal meat forced on them by refusing to buy it.
I told you last week that a coal-fired electricity plant had to be called in to use when a drop occurred in output from wind farms due to little or no wind. Now I hear just how much it cost us. During last Tuesday’s evening peak the cost of electricity reached £2,700 per MWh, 2,900% above average and at one time it topped £4,000 per MWh for a short while. In fact, the whole farce cost the electricity supply organisation an extra £86 million last week just to keep the lights on and it is expected that the bills will remain high until 2023. I will give you one guess as who will be paying for this via their electricity bill.
I was intrigued to read the different takes that various newspapers had on Marks & Spencer’s threat to close all its French stores. M&S Chairman Archie Norman complained about several things and in particular, the added red tape the French apply to virtually everything. M&S sell the most sandwiches of any trader in Paris and ship most of them in from the UK. They have always relied on being able to get fresh sandwiches to Paris in a few hours but the added French red tape has been adding 24 to 48 hours to delivery times. As Norman say’s what use is a 48 hour old stale sandwich? In recent weeks M&S have had fully lorry loads of fresh and chilled food rejected because of the forms being filled in the “wrong colour ink” and a debate over the content of chocolate chip cookies. The Telegraph tells the story, The Mail blames the “bureaucratic” French and rather predictably the Guardian blames Brexit.
A new report out today says that in the coming decade overseas demand for high end services is set to double. Liz Truss wants the UK to take advantage of this opportunity as we are a global leader in this type of thing. Truss has been pretty successful in reaching international trade deals and she says she wants to concentrate on high-end services in future deals. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Did you read about the man from Liverpool who was in Holland for the Dutch F1 Grand Prix and sitting in a restaurant with his son, eating lunch, when he was pounced on by a team of armed police? He was masked, thrown in the back of a van and dragged off to a high-security prison. It seems the Dutch police were acting on a warrant issued by the Italian police who had spuriously identified the man, Mark L, as the “Capo do Tutti Capital”, the boss of bosses of the Sicilian Mafia. The man’s Dutch lawyer said that on speaking to him he immediately realised that he was exactly what he said he was as it would have taken a genius to have consistently put on such broad scouse accent. Even so, it took 3 days and both DNA and fingerprint checks before the authorities admitted they where wrong and released him. I wonder if you can sue for wrongful arrest and imprisonment in Holland.
Well it’s dull again, but I just heard Bozzie tell the Little Otter that the sun should come out mid-morning. I do hope he is right because I do like my afternoon windowsill snooze. Yesterday I found a really comfy armchair for my afternoon kip, but I do like the fresh air on the windowsill. As it Battle of Britain day are we getting a flyover today?
A little while ago the Government announced that new homes built after 2025 will not be allowed to be fitted with gas boiler, now I hear that they are also looking at completely banning the sale of gas boilers from 2030. They want people to switch to heat pumps or hydrogen boilers. At the moment heat pumps are prohibitively expensive and hydrogen boilers still aren’t available for sale and there is no hydrogen network in the country. It’s all pie in the sky.
Lots of defence news about at the moment as DESI 2021 is on at the moment. The MoD has announced that it has appointed Thales to install a laser weapon on a Type 23 Frigate to test the system. The laser will be tested for detecting, tracking, engaging and countering unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition an Army Wolfhound armoured vehicle will host a laser demonstrator that will investigate capability against UAV and other air threats. Also a radio frequency demonstrator will also be used by the British Army, hosted on a MAN SV truck to detect and track a variety of air, land and sea targets. These three systems are being funded under 3 contracts totalling £72.5 million creating 49 new jobs and supporting 249 existing jobs. Are we not a bit late into this? Are not Israel and the US well ahead of us?
Another story from DESI 2021, BAe has announced a plan for an electric-powered heavy drone capable of launching torpedoes. The company says the drone will be able to carry a 300kg torpedo over 30 km at 140 km/h. It can also be used for ship to ship transfers, mines countermeasures, surveillance, casevac and many other uses. No word on how long it likely to take to develop or how much it will cost.
Another 34 OneWeb low earth orbit satellites were launched from a cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last night taking the total to 322. OneWeb are now very nearly halfway to their target of 648 satellites. They are on their way to having full coverage of the Northern Hemisphere on target by the end of this year.
I have been reading a bit about a red tape in Surrey preventing disabled kids getting on a bus to school that currently takes just 5 pupils to school each day. The county council supplies a 52 seat bus but it is not equipped to take wheelchairs. Consequently it falls under a rule that says any vehicle that has more than 22 seats and is not equipped to take wheelchairs will have its capacity limited. But it is clearly daft to limit a 52 seater to just 5 when there is a waiting list for school transport forcing parents to drive their disabled kids to school in their own cars. Surely it would pay Surrey to buy or hire a wheelchair capable bus.
Firstly I can confirm that I am retaining my position of chief mouser in today’s reshuffle. I decided not to snooze on the windowsill this afternoon, it is far too noisy and I didn’t want those reporters shouting inane comments at me. I found a chair in reception that gave me a good view of the comings and going’s this afternoon. I can confirm that Dom Rabbit was not very happy and there was a bit of shouting going on before he accepted reality that it was Justice Secretary or the backbenches. I must admit that I was not surprised that Williamson got the boot, he was not one of my favourites as he always ignored me. Liz Truss was extra nice to me when she arrived, I bet she has got a big job!
Oh what a cracking morning, warm and sunny. It’s a definite windowsill day, but as Bozzie is still appointing underlinings and there are loads of reporters in the street. I may have to have another day chair testing. I enjoyed yesterday watching the winners coming into No 10, I even saw quite a lot of new faces that I am likely to have to get used to.
I love the story of the new Australia, UK and USA defence alliance (AUKUS). One of the first things will be for the Australians, with the help of the other two, to build a fleet of nuclear submarines. This has upset the Chinese, the French and New Zealand. The Chinese don’t like the alliance as they see it as being aimed at them. They don’t like the idea of the Aussie having a fleet of submarines that could stay underwater undetected for weeks on end. New Zealand say they are a non-nuclear state and will ban the Australian submarines from their waters (if they were able to detect them). Finally the Frogs are annoyed because it means the cancellation of a huge contract for diesel powered subs. The order went wrong long ago when the French reneged on the plan to build major parts for the boats in Australia. Mind I think the funniest bit was Sniffer Joe forgetting the Aussie Prime Minister’s name and calling him “that fella from down under”. He really is a moron.
I hear that Emma Raducanu arrived at Heathrow early this morning on the British Airways red-eye flight from New York. As I speculated last week she was in first class, whether she paid for her ticket or whether it was a freebie is not clear. But I note that the Metropolitan Police where on hand to give her a police escort to her parents home in Bromley, Kent. I hope the press leave the family alone but I rather doubt they will.
One of the consequences of the current post Covid lockdown surge in world trade is the number of container ships on order as I recently pointed out. However another consequence is a shortage of twenty-foot containers. It’s not just the huge number needed to fill the ships, it is also the number that lay around empty with shippers unwilling to pay for them to be returned to the likes of China for a new low of cheap tat. I understand that 3 Chinese companies make 80% of the worlds TEU’s and expect to make 6.2 million this year and they are going flat out 24 hour a day and just can’t produce any more.
As if the lack of wind wasn’t a big enough problem for the National Grid I hear that a fire at a facility near Ashford, Kent has cut one of the two inter-connector cables with France which can supply up to 2 Gw of French electricity. The link is going to be completely down until the end of the month and then will be at half capacity until March next year. Of course, this led to a jump of 19% in the wholesale price of electricity this morning. Once again the customer will be the one who pays and industry is already suffering and some steel producers have halted production.
So the latest Tik-Toc thing in some parts of the country is “beaning”, smearing people’s front doors, doorsteps, drives or cars with cold baked beans and filming it. What madness is this I ask? Where is the fun in doing such an insane thing? I hear that in some parts the police have asked shopkeepers not to sell cans of baked beans to children. I wonder if any particular brand of beans is preferred? Are Heinz or Crosse and Blackwell considered only for posh kids, do they use Waitrose in Hampstead, Tesco and Sainsbury’s in the Home Counties and Lidl and Aldi in the inner cities?
The word on the street is that Sky are going to finally launch their full over the internet service next week. No news on cost or exactly which channels you will be able to view, but I would expect it to be costed on a comparable basis to Sky Q and to offer a similar range of channels or there will be no point in getting it. One thing that has emerged is that it is to be called Sky over IP, or SoIP for short and will require a set top box. I wonder how long it will be before Sky license a manufacturer to build the IP box into a Smart TV?
Oh good sunny again, I might finally get in my windowsill time. It looks like the reshuffle has finally reached the point where MP’s are trooping through number 10 so I might get a bit of peace. Bozzie has been reading the reviews of the reorganisation in the dead tree press. As you can guess the right-wing papers like it and the left-wing don’t, so that makes Bozzie happy. He says if it upsets the lefties it must be good!
One of the things that has grated with some people ever since we joined the EU is the banning of imperial weights and measures (except for a few cases). Do you remember the “Metric Martyr”, the man from Sunderland who kept selling his goods on his Green Grocery market stall in pounds and ounces in defiance of the EU directive? Well, I understand that now we are out of the EU the Government is going to change the law so that people can sell in imperial weight if they wish. I’m sure that most people under 40 have no idea what pounds and ounces are, they might know miles from road distances and pints from milk or beer but will we go back to buying 1/2 lb of butter or 4oz of sherbet lemons?
One of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites re-entered earth atmosphere yesterday and at first it looked like Britain was a possibility of a landing site. However, I now read that Starlink 1855 is believed to have disintegrated into tiny pieces when it hit the atmosphere and they all burnt up. The UK Space Agency said it is very difficult for ground-based sensors to detect every re-entry, especially small ones, but they think this one broke into such tiny pieces that they all burnt up and don’t pose any risk to the UK.
Yesterday Babcock international signed a licence with the Indonesian company PT PAL Indonesia (Persero) to build two of its Arrowhead 140 (AH140) Frigates. PT PAL is the Indonesian state shipbuilder and the AH140 is being built by Babcock as the Type 31 Frigate for the Royal Navy. Apparently, the AH140 has a basic hull and propulsion design but the electronics and armaments fit-out can be customised to suit the purchaser. Babcock will provide the design and technical support to the Indonesian’s to allow them to build and customise the two ships in PT PAL’s facilities in Surabaya, Indonesia. This is the first export order for the AH 140 although I hear Babcock are in discussions with several other counties and have recently been chosen as one of the bidders selected by the Polish Government to provide a potential design solution for the Polish Navy’s Miecznik (Swordfish) frigate programme.
It’s not just frigates that Babcock has signed an agreement for. I hear that they have also signed an MoU with Hyundai Heavy Industries, the South Korean shipbuilder, to form a strategic alliance to bid for the Korean CSX domestic aircraft carrier project and for unnamed future projects. Hyundai are one of the worlds biggest shipbuilders but for tankers and container ships while Babcock have recently completed the construction of two aircraft carriers, are constructing 5 Type 31 frigates and repair and refit warships in numerous countries.
A number of the big energy companies are suing governments around the world for loss of profits due to governments changing their minds and cancelling energy projects. The cases are being heard in corporate arbitration courts operating outside of a country’s domestic legal system. Perhaps the biggest case is that of Canada based TC Energy. They are the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline before it was cancelled by Sniffer Joe’s new administration. The sum being sought by TC Energy is a mere $18 billion. The Dutch Government is being sued by RWE for $1.6 billion and by Uniper for $1.06 billion following the Dutch decision to close down coal-fired power stations. Other companies taking actions include Rockhopper and Accent Resources. This could be getting a little expensive if the companies win and, as always, it will be the taxpayer who has to pay.
The new cruise terminal was officially opened at Southampton yesterday. The Horizon Cruise Terminal is located near Dock Gate 10 and has been developed by the city council, Associated British Ports, MSC Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, NCL, and Oceania Cruises, at a cost of around £55 million. It is supposed to be Southampton’s first “green” terminal with the roof covered in solar cells and “shore power” available to docked cruise liners to stop their generators and run off the grid. The number of cruise ships visiting Southampton is set to increase considerably and this new terminal will be the firth. MSC Virtuosa was the first ship to use the terminal.
Yah! Another sunny morning, I hope it stays that way. I managed my windowsill time yesterday as most of the reporters and TV cameras had disappeared. Highlight of the morning has been Felix Chicken in my food bowl!
BAe and Rolls Royce have been awarded contracts worth £85 million each to design the next family of nuclear submarines. The 3-year contracts are for the fleet submarines that will eventually replace the Astute class of attack boats. Interestingly I read that “other partners” are to be involved in the design process and whose name is mentioned? Well of course it is Babcock International, who seem to be on a huge run of success in the warship building business.
I read that BAe, Lockheed Martin and MDNA have just got the funding to complete the integration of the SPEAR next-generation weapon onto the F-35B. The missile is a surface attack weapon designed to enhance the RAF’s ground attack ability in all weathers and at standoff distances. The money will also be used to finalise the integration of MBDA’s Meteor, beyond visual range air-to-air missile, to be completed on both the F-35A and F-35B jets for the UK and Italian armed forces. The Meteor is ideally suited to the F-35 as it can make full use of the plane’s networking capability.
The fossil of a new type of whale has been found in the Egyptian desert. The fossil is estimated to be 43 million years old. How a whale came to be in the middle of the desert beats me. But I read that it had four legs and could walk! The whale has been called phiomicetus anubis and is a key new whale species. It is said that it was a ferocious hunter and could defeat just about anything it came across. All those years ago the Western Desert is thought to have been partially sea and the walking whale could have hunted on its shoreline. Interestingly, I learn that whales were once land dwellers that returned to the sea, could anubis have been a step in that development?
The new AUKUS defence agreement is said to have been kept top secret by its three partners and for security reasons only ten people in the UK had any idea what was being discussed. Well, I can confirm that only ten people knew about it but so did one super-spy cat. But he is a great patriot and would not tell anyone what he overheard, until the news broke. Almost the best bit of the whole thing is that it has upset the French and the EU with the EU wanting to know why they were not told what was going on. If the EU had been told we might as well have invited China to take part in the discussion.
Travel companies and airlines appear to be delighted with the easing of Covid travel restrictions. They both report a surge in bookings online last night and in person this morning. Half term trips to the sun are proving popular with the likes of Turkey being heavily booked. As you might have guessed Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary is not happy, but when are Labour ever happy with anything Bozzie’s lot do?
A couple who live in Dudley in the Black County got a bit of a shock when they found a five-foot python in their bedroom. The couple closed the bedroom door and called the West Midlands police who sent three student officers. The couple didn’t know where the snake came from, they speculated that it might have been in a parcel that had been delivered the day before or that it could have come up a drain pipe. The police found the snake wrapped around a vanity mirror and used their batons to urge it into a ventilated shoe box. Vets said that the snake was a mature female, healthy and very friendly. I’m not sure how any snake could be described as friendly.
Right folks, that’s another week’s reporting done. I’m off to snooze on the windowsill and enjoy what’s left of the autumn sunshine. I am looking forward to finishing that pouch of Felix Chicken. Chat to you all on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file