Morning all, these Monday mornings seem to come round quicker and quicker, I guess that it is something to do with getting older. When I was a kitten, warm sunny summer days seemed to go on forever, now summer seems to whizz past. At breakfast, Bozzie said he was off to the east and I wondered if he was going to China or Japan, but no it was only East London and he was coming back for a Cobra meeting on the bomb that went off in a taxi at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. I hear that it was a “man of Middle East origin” that blew himself up. I wonder if he came in across the channel on a rubber boat. When are we going to stop messing around and say he was a Muslim terrorist?
I read that France seems to have got their knickers in a twist over the blue colour used on the French tricolour. Macaroon has announced a return to the darker blue colour of the original flag used during the French Revolution. But this is really nothing new, the French Navy and many other French institutions have never used the brighter shade of blue introduced by President Giscard d’Estaing in 1976. But why did d’Estaing try to change the colour of the flag? Well, he was sucking up to the EU and changing the shade of blue to match that of the EU flag. I understand that Macaroon is stuck between a rock and a hard place with many of the French wanting to go back to the old colour and many wanting to stick with the new one. Well, with a presidential election on the horizon he had to jump one way or another and now he seems to have made his mind up.
I hear that the FIA were very quick yesterday to rule out the need for an investigation into what many people thought was Verstappen attempting to run Hamilton off the road. The FIA made every effort to prove that Hamilton’s car had broken regulations with a gap in its rear wing that was 0.2mm out over a tiny percentage of its width. However, they couldn’t move quickly enough to dismiss any possible action against Verstappen without even viewing the onboard video from his car which would show definitively if the incident with Hamilton had been deliberate. It does seem to me that the stewards were a tad biased.
I read that Royal Dutch Shell is planning to move its headquarters to the UK for taxation purposes. It currently has two classes of shares, one in pounds in Britain and the other in Euros in Holland, but it has decided that this is too complicated and expensive so they want to have a shareholder vote on moving the HQ to London and changing to a single class of share. However, such a move will entail dropping Royal Dutch from their name and becoming plain Shell.
Last week I told you about all the trams on West Midlands Metro being taken out of service for weeks while cracks in the chassis are repaired. Today I hear that similar trams in Sydney Australia have also been withdrawn from service for repairs to cracks. The trams are both the same Urbos made by Spanish company CAF. The Aussies are not so confident as the West Midlands and are expecting the network to be disrupted for about 18 months!
Airbus have had a profitable first couple of days at the Dubai air show. Yesterday they announced an order for 255 new Airbus A320neo family of planes from Indigo Partners. You have probably never heard of Indigo but they own 4 airlines, the most well know of whom is Europe’s WizzAir, but they also own US-based Frontier Airlines, Chile’s JetSmart and Mexico’s Volaris. The planes will be spread out between the 4 airlines and are a mix of A321neo and A321XLR with the bulk of the order, 102 planes going to WizzAir. Today Airbus has announced an order from Air Lease Corporation for 111 new aircraft. They are an assortment of types made up of 25 x A220-300s, 55 x A321neo, 20 x A321XLRs, four A330neos and includes seven A350Fs (which are freighters).
I understand that on Saturday morning a double-deck bus got stuck under a low bridge near Brighton station. The London bus was on hire as a rail replacement bus service and took a wrong turning on the approach to the station. The bus company say there will be an urgent investigation but the driver was a stranger to the area and there were no “low bridge” signs. Stranger or not, the driver appears to have gone past No Entry signs both on poles and painted on the road and gone the wrong way down a one-way street which might explain why there were no Low Bridge signs on the side he entered from.
What a surprise this morning, it’s bright and sunny! I popped out into the garden and it was pleasantly warm in the sun. The big question is what is it going to be like this afternoon. Will the sun still be out and will it be warm enough for me to sleep on the window sill? I suppose I will just have to wait and see.
Yesterday the Russians caused a bit of a fuss on the International Space Station. Without any warning, they carried out a test of an anti-satellite missile and launched it against one of their own satellites scattering debris widely. The United States said they were tracking some 1500 large pieces of space junk and had no idea how many smaller pieces there were. On the Space Station the occupants, including two Russians, abandoned their research and moved into the shuttlecraft capsules just in case they flew into the debris and had to abandon the place. This is so Russian, absolutely no thought of anything other than their own objectives, even willing to risk the lives of two of their own astronauts.
The Hornsea 2 wind farm is to supply electricity to ITM power who will use it to operate electrolysers that they make in their factory in Sheffield. What is an electrolyser I hear you ask? It is a bit of kit that uses electricity to produce hydrogen from water. The resulting Hydrogen will be used to replace carbon-based fuel at the Phillips 66 Humber refinery. Interestingly the Humber refinery is the only European source for graphite coke which I understand is essential for the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries. I wonder how much all this will add to the price of an EV?
Airbus really are on a roll for orders at the Dubai Air Show. Perhaps today’s announcements are not on the scale of the last two days but I am sure Boeing would love to be able to have announced a similar number of orders. Firstly, I hear that Nigerian Domestic Airline Ibom Air ordered 10 A220, then Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways has placed an MOU with Airbus for 28 new A320neo. Apparently, Boeing has been receiving a trickle of orders and claimed an order for new 767 freighters however these are not actually new planes they are really just converting old passenger airframes.
Sky TV has launched the NBC owned streaming service Peacock on Sky Q, Sky Glass and NOW TV today. Peacock has been streaming in the US for some time and offers a mix of US TV shows and films somewhat like Netflix and Amazon. However, I hear that it is by no means as broad a service as those two services but unlike them, it is available free to Sky subscribers. I understand that this is just the beginning for Peacock who will, at some time in the future, be launching Peacock+ for subscribers to Sky Cinema. Peacock+ will carry new original films made by NBCUniversal which will be included in Sky Cinema subscriptions. Sky and NBC are both owned by the American company Comcast.
I read that a room has recently been excavated in a villa on the outskirts of Pompeii and the archaeologists think it was the room that housed the house slaves. The room was very plain and simply furnished with two adult and a single child bed, a chamber pot and a single very small window high up a wall. The thought is was the home of a male and female slave and their child. From its size and position on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean, the Villa was obviously owned by a wealthy man. Earlier in the excavation, the skeletons of two men were uncovered one is believed to be the homeowner and the other the slave.
Interesting to see that today the number of people employed has leapt to a higher number than before the pandemic. The worry was that when the furlough scheme ended companies would not re-employ the furloughed workers. This just has not happened, in fact the number of job vacancies has also increased to higher than before the pandemic. I also hear that the number of children off school in England with Covid has fallen. Before the half-term holiday, 3.2% were off with Covid. Last week this had halved to 1.6%. The numbers seem to be moving in the right direction.
Gosh, two nice days running. Unfortunately by the time I had finished all my duties as chief mouser yesterday the sun had disappeared. So I didn’t get the chance for my snooze on the window sill. Instead, I exploited my second job as official chair tester and found a comfy one to nap on.
I was astonished to hear that Sad Dick is offering £12 million in bonuses to senior staff at TfL. This is the same TfL that has been bailed out with £5 billion of government money and still needs another £2 billion to break even. This is pure madness paying a bonus for failure.
Delighted to see that nine Insult Britain activists have been sent to prison for ignoring an injunction not to block the M25. Eight of them got four months but one, Ben Taylor, got six months for telling the judge he would block the motorway again. One of the women says she is going on hunger strike, is that in protest or because prison food is awful? I hope they have a lovely time and enjoy Christmas in prison and come out and commit the same offence again, then they can enjoy an even longer sentence.
I read that the French sports retailer Decathlon is to stop the sale of canoes and kayaks in its stores in Northern France. This comes after a number of illegals have attempted to cross the channel in such craft. 3 canoeists were reported to be missing earlier this week. I guess it is cheaper to buy a canoe than to pay people smugglers £3,000 to £4,000 each for a crossing on an inflatable boat. Given the huge number of Inflatables held in Dover, I would have thought it better to stop the sale of them in France.
What is going on with the Spanish and the F35? First, there are persistent rumours that Spain is seriously looking at placing an order. Then Spain denies that that is a possibility and the rumour mill moves on to claim that they are actually looking at buying Typhoons instead. Now today I hear that Lockheed say they are in negotiations with Spain over selling them both F35A and F35B jets. Someone is telling porkies. While on the subject of F35Bs, I see the RAF lost one on its way back to HMS Queen Elizabeth this morning. It sounds like there was some sort of a mechanical failure causing the pilot to eject and the plane to crash into the Mediterranean. We can hardly afford to lose the plane considering we only have 24 at the moment. Well, 23 now!
One of the 358 OneWeb broadband satellites has failed in its operating orbit of 1,200 kilometres. OneWeb say they will de-orbit the bird in compliance with British and French debris rules and at some point it will be replaced by one of the spares. Apparently, the satellite is one of its older ones and the problem has been discovered to be a software failure. A software patch has been applied to all the other satellites and they think that the problem has been permanently fixed.
I could hardly believe it when I read that researchers have created a new way for dogs to communicate with their absent owners. They have produced a soft ball that when moved launches a signal on a laptop and starts a video call. So effectively if the dog is lonely it can pick up the ball and hear its owner. Mind you if it was the stupid mutt that lives here it would always be kicking the ball around and driving the Little Otter potty. Now if someone was to change the ball for a squeaky mouse I would give it a go for a chat with Bozzie in the middle of PMQs.
Well, those few warm days didn’t last very long, it’s a lot cooler this morning making me glad the central heating is on. I guess I will have to snooze in a comfy chair again today, life is so tough.
I hear that Costa Coffee and Marks and Spencer have signed a deal for M&S to supply all sorts of consumables to 2,500 Costa Coffee shops. M&S will be contracted to supply over 30 items, including sandwiches, salad bowls, hot meal boxes and children meals to Coca Cola owned Costa. This is a big deal for M&S expanding their sales to local shops where they have no presence. I also find it interesting that many Tesco Extra stores include a Costa Coffee shop, will they be selling M&S products in competition to Tesco products?
Bozzie has finally confirmed what has been obvious for ages, the extension of HS2 to Leeds is not going to be built, it is just too expensive. The new plan is to build the new track as far as East Midlands Parkway and then to upgrade the line from there to Leeds. The trains that were going to run over this section of the line were always going to be capable of running on overhead electric power and diesel-electric power on the un-electrified sections to the North East so there is no change there. However, there seems to be a mixture of happy and unhappy people. A lot of people are very pleased particularly those whose homes will no longer be purchased and those who thought it a massive waste of money. Then there seems to be an equal number who wanted to see it built. Bozzie still seems to be spending an awful lot of money on the revised scheme.
Following yesterday’s jailing of 9 Insult Britain protestors I hear that another 23 have been summoned to appear in court. Like the jailed 9, this group have all ignored court orders not to obstruct roads. I understand that at the moment 174 people have been arrested a total of at least 860 times between them. If I was one of those 23 I would be making arrangements for spending Christmas in HMP Pentonville with their colleagues.
So Ginge and Whinge have decided not to come to Britain over the Christmas holidays. I find this completely normal for them but quite disappointing. Ginge’s Grandmother, the Queen, is 95 and has been quite ill recently. You would have thought that he would at least have wanted to introduce his new daughter to her great-grandmother, there might not another opportunity. But no, he makes the excuse that his daughter is only six months old. All the more reason to bring her over to meet the Queen. Somehow I suspect that the decision not to come over for Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with Ginge, I would bet it was Whinge’s doing.
I told you the other day that there was a fight going on for the English Premier League TV broadcasting rights. The bidding got a bit rich for CBS and they withdrew leaving NBC and ESPN to fight it out. This afternoon the Premier League announced that NBC had won an extension to their existing contract for another six years for a payment of £1.9 billion. This is quite a bit more than the expected £1.5 billion for the rights. No wonder CBS dropped out.
I read that Royal staff are going to get their regular Christmas present from her Majesty the Queen again this year. Last year the ceremony where the Queen presents her staff with this gift had to be cancelled due to Covid, but this year the ceremony has been reinstated. What is this generous present I hear you ask? Well, I can reveal that every single one of the Queen’s staff receive an £8 Christmas pudding from Tesco! In the past the puddings have come from Harrods or Fortnum & Mason but it seems that as 1,500 people get a pudding, a surprise present and a Christmas card, but this has apparently become a little too expensive so it’s been downgraded to Tesco.
It was drizzling when I went down the garden before breakfast, not raining a lot, but enough for me to hurry back indoors. I don’t know where Bozzie is going today but he only had a 2nd best suit on, so it can’t be that important!
The latest news I hear on the failed West Midland trams is that the original 4 weeks to repair them and get them back into service is looking very optimistic. The latest word is that the system is unlikely to be back up and running before January at the earliest. It has led to several rows in council meetings with councillors demanding to know why nothing was done back in June when the first cracked chassis was detected and why tram orders were not split between different manufacturers. It sounds like Captain Hindsight has been briefing counsellors. Why would you ever split an order like that, it would push up the per-unit price and double the testing and approval programs.
My God things are a little scary today. I hear that Sniffer Joe is to undergo a colonoscopy and will be handing over his presidential powers to Camel Harris while he is having the procedure. I think of Sniffer as being an incompetent old fool, but I can imagine no one worse to take his place, she is downright dangerous. Strangely, I heard a rumour yesterday that Democratic senators were looking into the legal ways to replace a vice president. I can’t imagine who they would replace her with.
The Indian airline SpiceJet has come to a secret settlement with Boeing over compensation for the grounding of its 13 Boeing 737MAX aircraft. SpiceJet have been struggling on for 32 months using old smaller capacity 737s that have cost it money in lost revenue and extra fuel. In addition, they have not been able to take delivery of any more of the aircraft being produced for them. Although neither side has announced the value of the settlement I suspect that it will have cost Boeing millions of dollars.
I have been reading a report that says the Norwegian company Equinor who are building the worlds biggest wind farm on Dogger Bank in the North Sea are going to lose money on the project. The report says that the 3.6 GW installed capacity will not generate enough money to cover the build and installation costs. Wind farms really are useless.
Have the French actually had a change of heart or are they trying to fool us into thinking they have? The French Government has offered to pay fishermen who have not been granted licenses £50 million. Whether this will help to solve the situation is a bit questionable. In addition, I see a French warship intercepted an inflatable carrying 30 illegal immigrants from Iran and Iraq 2 miles off the French coast and instead of doing the usual thing of pushing them into British waters they actually took them back to Dunkirk. I think the French are up to something and will have to be watched carefully.
The US think they have caught and disrupted the Chinese in surreptitiously building a naval base in the UAE. US satellites have spotted a major construction going on within a commercial port operated by the Chinese shipping company Cosco. Massive deep foundations were being dug and attempts were being made on hiding them. This is just what the Chinese did when they constructed their first overseas naval base in Djibouti within a Chinese commercially operated port. I hear that talks took place between Sniffer Joe and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince and it is reported that the prince said that they were unaware of what the Chinese were doing and had not given them permission or even had talks with them. At least the construction work has now stopped dead.
I quite like Saturdays. It’s because Bozzie, the Little Otter, the Brat and the Mutt are rarely here having decamped for the country seat. Strange I never get an invite, but then I am a townie. I suppose I am not considered part of the family, just another civil servant!
I read that Andy Burnham is not happy with the government plans to build a new station for HS2 next to Manchester’s Piccadilly station. A new station is necessary because the HS2 trains are too long and too frequent for the existing station to handle them. In addition, the government’s plan is for the new track to run on viaducts across Manchester. Burnham wants a new station below the existing Piccadilly station and for trains from Yorkshire to run through the station while the new plan calls for an in/out station where trains can terminate or continue on the Northern Power rail track to Yorkshire by a driver swapping ends of the train. I hear that building an underground station is estimated to cost £4 to £5 billion more and take 7 years extra to construct.
I hear that the new Lumo train service from London to Edinburgh is gearing up to add additional daily return services. They will be adding three extra services over the next couple of months as they bring all 5 of their new electric train sets into use. I also hear that ticket sales are higher than they budgeted for and are often completely sold out on weekend services. These trains are all one class and they only sell as many tickets as they have seats.
Apparently, Boeing have yet another problem with the 787 Dreamliner and have opted to slow down its production line at its factory in Charleston, South Carolina until it is fixed. I hear the problem is associated with passenger and cargo doors. No details are yet leaking, but Boeing seems to have opted to have halted finishing new aircraft until the latest problem is fixed. According to Boeing, this problem doesn’t affect any aircraft currently flying. Sounds to me like they have changed something in the production process and it has been a failure.
I hear that on Thursday night the Metropolitan Police raided a number of gift, toy and food shops on London’s Oxford Street. Operation Jade grabbed over 17,000 items which are claimed to be illegal. These items include unsafe toys, counterfeit clothing, and incorrectly-labelled nicotine products. The food business also had 4,000 items removed. Two bags of food with higher than the legal limit of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, were also confiscated. At the same time, trading standards officers seized 11,000 goods and about 2,500 souvenirs from unregistered businesses and illegal street traders. Sounds like Oxford Street was busy on Thursday evening.
Your cat reporter has been doing a bit more digging and it appears that the problem with the Boeing 787 passenger and cargo doors relates to small gaps in the structure surrounding them which is built by Leonardo in Italy. This is not the first time similar gaps have been found in the 787 structure. The FAA seem to believe that the problem comes from the robots used to build the structure causing tiny waves in them. These small imperfections are found in metal aero but are made up with metal shims. These aeroplanes are composite structures. Boeing is having to remake the affected areas and don’t expect to be able to resume delivery before next March at the earliest.
I had a little chuckle when I read that customers of ChargePlace Scottishland had indeed been charged. The company blames ‘a glitch’ after users got clearly ludicrous bills. For example, one EV driver got a bill for £3,016.22p for a 16-minute charge which appears to claim he used an impossible 14,363 KWh. Teams are now going through bills by hand looking for erroneous data. At least if your petrol pump said you had filled up with 1000 gallons of four-star you could get the man in the kiosk to come and see your car could only has an 8-gallon tank.
That’s me done for another week. It’s a bit chilly for a kip on the window sill so I’m off to see if I can get on Bozzie’s bed for three weeks running. It’s my day off tomorrow so I will be back reporting on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021