Morning all, a clear and frosty morning. Bozzie is a little happier this morning, his team have dug up a picture of Stoma necking a bottle of beer with a crowd during lockdown and the Barry Gardiner Chinese money is still rumbling. I saw one of the office blokes reading my diary on GP yesterday and sniggering. I wonder if he will be reading about WG’s holiday today, if so perhaps he will get Bozzie to look at easing travel conditions.
I heard an interesting story yesterday. I always thought that smart meters were an absolute joke but now I learn that nearly every single one of them is soon to be rendered totally pointless. So far the rollout of smart meters has cost some £11 billion and there is no way that they have saved consumers that much in power consumption. Research indicates that most people with one don’t reckon it saves them a penny. However the new problem is that nearly every smart meter works by reporting its user’s power consumption via 2G or 3G and the mobile telephone operators are getting ready to turn those signals off in favour of 4G and 5G. There are a few meters that use long-range radio communications in remote areas of Scotland and Northern England but around 24 million meters will become dumb as the 2G and 3G signal is cut off. So what is the answer? Send someone out to replace a module in 24 million meters or replace every meter. It looks like the cost of the new module and fitting it is more expensive than installing a replacement meter. So it’s going to cost bill payers another £11 billion to replace the dumb ones. Crazy.
Another waste of money I have been reading about is the £40 million “bat tunnel” being built in Buckinghamshire to prevent rare bats, that nest in Sheephouse Wood, from being in collision with the HS2 trains that are expected to be around 225 mph as they pass the wood. The ‘tunnel’ is not a real tunnel but an 850-metre long mesh structure to protect the bats. The extra £40 million is the result of the BBC’s Chris Packham campaigning to protect the woods Bechstein bats which are said to be one of Britain’s dearest.
You might think Bozzie has problems but his troubles are like nothing compared to Sniffer Joe’s difficulties. Inflation in the US is at its highest for four decades, he can stop the flood of illegal immigrants coming over the border from Mexico, Covid is at record rates, his enormously expensive “build back better” legislation is stuck in congress and his approval rating continues to fall to record lows. Just when you think things can’t get much worse Supreme Court rejects his Vaccine Mandate, the legislation by which he wanted to force large employers to employ only vaccinated people. Rather than accepting the ruling Joe has been complaining that the court was blocking “common-sense life-saving requirements”. The Democrats are already looking to see who they could run instead of him in the next presidential election and I hear that the suggestion is Killary, they really must be desperate!
More news on Crossrail this morning. I hear that they are preparing to start ‘passenger’ tests at the beginning of February. This will not be fare-paying passengers but volunteers from among its employees. They will test stations flow, train boarding and alighting and train emergency evacuation. This will be train to station, train to train and even up the emergency stairs installed in a ventilation shaft between Custom House and Canary Wharf. I also hear that the on-train software has just been upgraded to fix a number of bugs that testing had turned up.
So Unilever has offered £50 billion for the Glaxo Smith Kline consumer division. Unilever has already had a number of offers rejected. They feel that the toothpaste to headache pills division will revitalise their consumer products business which has been struggling of late. The word I hear is that GSK is looking for £60 billion and is reluctant to sell for less. I see a compromise coming on as GSK’s price seems to be a bit rich for other bidders.
I hear that scientists think they may have found a way to make antibiotic-resistant bugs lose their resistance. It seems they have been researching a molecule called PBT2. The molecule has been under investigation in relation to potential treatment for disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. Now it appears that the addition of PBT2 to some antibiotics have made them effective against some resistant bugs. PBT2 is a zinc ionophore, is safe in humans and only one of several ionophores now being investigated. If it leads to a return of cheap, effective, antibiotics I hope prescribers will be more careful with them this time around.
I see all the highly paid BBC presenters were out in force yesterday defending the licence fee. They all seemed to have been briefed to reply to everyone that it “only costs 43p a day”. Well, that might be OK if you could choose to pay for only those days you wanted to watch or listen to something on one of their channels. But you can’t. It is a licence to receive over the air TV channels. Any channels, not just the BBC but any channel from ITV to Sky and Netflix, all of whom have their own funding model, be it advertising, subscription or a mixture of both. So if you don’t pay the BBC’s ransom you are not allowed to watch live over the air TV even if you subscribe to the channel. The likes of Gary Lineker and Dan Walker just don’t get it. They sit there earning more than Bozzie and laugh at us while the BBC send out threatening letters.
Yet another frosty morning. I hate winter; cold, wet, dark days with a muddy garden. I much prefer summer when the opposite applies and I can snooze on the window sill. It looks like Bozzie had it right from the beginning, Dom is behind all the ‘Partygate’ stuff. He said he would have his revenge. I do think he is going to have to tread very carefully now though.
I could hardly believe the rumour I heard yesterday. It seems that some Number 10 advisers are suggesting that the government should make it illegal to sell a home that doesn’t have an energy rating of at least C. This is plain barmy. The vast majority of homes in the UK are D and E. If this law was to come in it would effectively bar most houses and many flats from being sold, so people will be stuck in their houses forever, unless they can upgrade their insulation, windows, heating etc. There are a number of silly things here. What if you live in a listed building where you can’t upgrade the windows or add insulation. What if you live in a house with solid walls and the only way to insulate it is external insulation, we all saw the result of that at Grenfell Tower! To get a house from D to C is likely to cost around £10,000!
Just a bit more about energy certificates. They are issued on the basis of the energy efficiency of a home, basically how much it costs to get its internal temperature up to a standard. I recently learnt of a house that actually had a load of insulation, triple glazing and a C rating. The owner wanted to improve it further and replaced the gas boiler with an air source heat pump. The energy rating was reassessed and fell to D. When the assessor was asked why, he explained that the heat pump was inefficient and expensive to run as it had to be on 24 hours a day to make the house warm. He advised the owner to rip out the heat pump and replace it with a gas boiler to make it a C!
‘Despite Covid’ the UK economy continues to grow apace. Over the weekend it emerged that economic activity was back to pre-Covid levels and still growing quickly. This morning the latest employment numbers were released and shows there are another 180,000 full-time employees in the UK. This is not just in England but in all four nations. I haven’t seen the unemployment numbers yet but I don’t see how they could fail to have fallen.
Sad Dick, the London mayor, is at it again with his bash the motorist plans. His latest suggestion is to charge all but the very cleanest vehicles £2 a day to drive in London to help London to meet its climate change obligations. This would be on top of the congestion charge that is supposed to reduce traffic in London. However, this is only the start of it. He also wants to bring in road pricing, charging by the mile driven. He argues that as the take from fuel tax falls, he needs to recover the revenue. I’m not sure this is a very good argument as fuel tax, and the VAT on it, goes to the government and is not a local tax. Why do London‘s population continue to vote for this man?
American Airlines have been warned of a possible problem with aircraft navigation systems caused by the switch to 5G telephone signals. Many plane types have been cleared as safe from the 5G signal but the Boeing 777 has not. Consequently, many US Airlines are worried and have proposed that US mobile phone companies should not turn on the 5G signal within 2 miles of a runway. It’s strange but I have never heard of this being a problem in the UK, it seems we use different wavebands.
A man who worked in a pet shop being diagnosed with the Delta variant of Covid has caused chaos in the Hong Kong pet trade. The authorities then tested the stock and found that 11 hamsters were also infected, leading them to cull 2,000 hamsters and other small mammals in 34 pet shops. Despite only hamsters testing positive, rabbits, chinchillas and other small mammals are being put down. But it doesn’t stop there, anyone who has bought a hamster since 22nd December must return it to be euthanised and over 200 customers of the shop have been forced into a Covid quarantine hotel. I suppose they can count themselves lucky not to have been culled.
Not quite as cold this morning, no frost, mind I hear it’s going to be frosty for the next week or so. Bozzie had a good suit on this morning for PMQs, then he going to make a statement on the plan B rules being relaxed. Consequently, he was only allowed a bowl of cereal in case he dripped egg yolk or bacon fat down himself.
I hear that Wills, Kate and the kids could move into Fort Belvedere, which was built between 1750 and 1755 for Prince William Augustus and is located in Windsor Great Park. It is a vast property, built in the Gothic Revival architectural style. It was once used by Edward VIII and it was here that he wrote his abdication letter. It is currently leased out by the Crown Estate. It has been reported that Wills and Kate want to move to Windsor and this could be the house for them.
I was interested to read that the EU has backed down for the second time on allowing its financial institutions to continue clearing trades through the London market. They first backed down in November in extending clearing rights to June 2022 and have now gone further than that and extended the right to June 2025. The problem for the EU that the market in London is massive, some £563 trillion annually, while the market in the EU is tiny. The EU has been trying to build up its banking facilities but has not yet managed to build it up against the London giant.
Which have done a survey of high street supermarkets to identify the cheapest. I wasn’t really surprised that the two newcomers were the cheapest with Aldi coming out lower than Lidl. But the problem here is that they are hardly comparing like with like. The brands sold in Aldi and Lidl are complete unknowns. If you want Heinz Beans or Kellogg’s Cornflakes you better go to Tesco or Sainsbury’s because you aren’t going to get them in Aldi or Lidl.
The Russians are continuing their build-up for a possible invasion of Ukraine by sending landing ships from their Baltic and Northern Fleets to the Black Sea. Baltic Fleet vessels the Korolev, Minsk and Kaliningrad sailed through the English Channel today, followed by Northern Fleet vessel warships Olenegorsky Gornyak, Pyotr Morgunov and Georgii Pobedonosets. The vessels are all said to be able to carry up to 25 armoured personnel carriers. If these warships really are heading to the Black Sea, they have to cross the Bay of Biscay, a bit of the North Atlantic, past Gibraltar, travel the full length of the Med and through the Bosphorus into the Black Sea. A journey that will take at least 4 or 5 days.
It seems that Brew Dog, the woke Scottishland Brewer, has apparently been shipping beer to the United States that is illegal there. The story is that they have knowingly sent large volumes of some of their beers to the States that contain ingredients that are illegal there. The word is they have lied to US officials on a number of occasions about some of the extracts in their beers. Employees of the company claim they have been forced to ship the beer, even though they objected because they knew it was illegal. I wonder if they will be allowed to carry on with their trade with the US?
In the US the latest Gallop poll has Sniffer Joe’s approval rating at 40% and his disapproval rating at 56%. This is the worst it has been for the first year of his presidency where it is now well below the 48.9% approval it has averaged. This low rating is bad but it looks worse when the actual numbers are studied more deeply. His support among the voters who are not registered with one of the two main parties has fallen from 60% at the election to 33% now and it is these voters that he needed the support of when he was elected. The problem seems to be that he is seen as doing a poor job over Covid with high infection rates, the pullout from Afghanistan is seen as a disaster and inflation in the US is rampant. Finally, his ‘Build back Better Bill’ is going nowhere. On average the party of the president loses 30 seats in the House in the midterm elections and Joe’s popularity is so low that the current predictions are that the Democrats could lose as many as 40 seats making it almost impossible for Sniffer to pass any legislation. The elections in the autumn could be great fun for the Trump Republicans.
These cold clear mornings lead to some beautiful sunrises. I woke up today, and thank goodness it is getting light a bit earlier, then I took my constitutional down the garden and the red glow in the sky was really pretty. Bozzie was a bit happier at breakfast this morning. He even managed to have two bacon sandwiches. The Little Otter said that she thought he was being greedy and that was one too many. He said if it proved too much for him, the Mutt would help him out. I like bacon so I decided to remind him I was around by rubbing around his legs and meowing loudly. I was rewarded with a nice bit of bacon.
I think Bozzie was happier for a number of reasons but chiefly because he enjoyed a much better PMQ’s when he came out fighting. He has been a bit down because the baby had Covid, but now she is better his mood has improved and he has perked up. Then that Wokeford bloke crossed over to Labour and that really annoyed him. He called him an ungrateful bastard and promised to throw everything at defeating him at the next election. The other thing that went well for him was that the cabinet agreed that Covid restrictions could be eased and he was able to announce a return to plan A to the house. Captain Hindsight again gave it lukewarm support, if he had been PM we would still be in lockdown.
I read that someone managed to breach the Elizabeth Line security and hop on one of the test trains running under London. They boarded at the Abbey Wood terminal and managed to travel all the way to Paddington, a 30-minute journey, before they were discovered and ejected by security staff. The incident happened last November and has only just been reported. TfL claim that this ‘high-risk security incident’ could not happen again as the security has been upgraded. Now that sounds like a challenge to someone.
Lance Corporal David Thomas, 28, has been dismissed from the Army for causing £1,600 worth of damage and arson. Thomas was at Tidworth Garrison in Wiltshire when he tried to get high by sniffing boot polish that he was burning. I understand that layering polish onto army boots and burning it with a lighter is a long-established method for soldiers to get a high polish on their parade boots. Somehow he managed to set a sofa and a carpet alight. He claimed he became disoriented by the fumes. The fire alarm went off and fellow soldiers tackled the fire with extinguishers.
Yesterday, directly following PMQ’s, Bozzie announced the immediate end to the ‘work from home’ instruction. The response seems to have been immediate with the number of people using the tube this morning up by 8% at 10 am and bus passengers up by 3%. Because of London’s electronic fares system, using Oyster, debit and credit cards to pay the fares, the computers know exactly how many people are using the system at any time. Of course, the day after the announcement is a little early for most companies to have talked to employees about returning to the office, but the numbers will probably increase all this week. Before the recent period of working from home, TfL passengers had got back to 80% of the pre-Covid level. It will be interesting to see how quickly it gets back to this level, especially with the Northern Line City Branch being closed for 17 weeks.
The British cauliflower market had a major problem at Christmas when growing conditions had been poor and most weren’t ready, forcing the British supermarkets to import their Christmas stock from Spain and France. Now one Lincolnshire producer has agreed a sale of 500,000 to Tesco at a cut-rate. Consequently, look out for British cauliflowers on sale at reduced prices. Tesco predict that they will be able to sell them for 49p each, reduced from the current 79p. Pity I don’t like cauliflower!
Next season’s changes to the Formula One regulations were expected to reduce the horsepower output of engines. This is mainly due to the introduction of E10 fuel that includes the addition of 10% methanol. However, first reports say that some of the teams have already recovered the expected 20 HP drop the E10 has brought about. Both Ferrari and Mercedes are said to have found ways to recover this loss. The Mercedes W13 is due to make its debut on 18th February and will boast a new design of turbocharger which should recover the lost 20 HP all on its own. It is yet to be discovered if they have made other HP gains.
Another bright but cold morning. Bozzie was reasonably happy over breakfast, most of the morning papers seemed to be concentrating on Covid and the return to work relaxation rather than Partygate. I always know when he is in a better mood, he drops the papers rather than throwing them around.
I have been reading that the Army has now taken delivery of its first 14 Apache AH64E attack helicopters. These are the first of the replacements for the Apache AH Mark 1 which are due to go out of service in 2024. By then the whole of the order for 40 AH64E’s are scheduled to be delivered. The new helicopters are an upgrade of the current model and can now process up to 256 potential targets at the same time and prioritise them. They are to be maintained and supported by Boeing Defence UK.
I told you some time ago that BritishVolt were planning an EV Giga battery factory in the North of England. This morning came the announcement that BritishVolt has got all the necessary funding and the project is going ahead. The last of the £1.7 billion of private funding and £100 million of public money is now in place. The factory, on the site of the old Blyth power station, is due to be running by 2024 employing some 3000 people in the 4th largest building in Britain. But that is only part of the story. The whole site will be surrounded by a manufacturing park occupied by supplier companies and employing at least another 5,000. 8,000 new jobs for Northumberland is pretty good for ‘levelling up’.
Another bit of news for British manufacturing. The food maker Higgidy have received a £10 million investment and will be expanding its factory, equipment and offices in Shoreham. It makes a lot of pastry-based items such as quiche and sausage rolls. It sees a lot of future in the trend of flexitarian and vegan products such as vegan quiche, vegan no-pork pies and veg-packed pastry quiches. Isn’t it nice to see British companies doing well?
The war of words between Airbus and Qatar Airways has ignited into a bit of a battle. Qatar are not happy with the surface finish on its A350’s and according to Airbus their agitation with the local aviation authorities has led to the grounding of 21 A350’s in the Gulf. It escalated further today with Airbus exercising its rights to cancel a Qatar order for 50 A321neo aircraft. Airbus claim that they have worked hard to satisfy Qatar but in recent weeks it has become apparent that Qatar is not currently interested in a solution. They say it is in Qatar’s interest to keep the planes grounded while Covid affects their load factors. Who will suffer most from the cancellation? The A321neo is a best seller and early delivery slots are sure to be grabbed quickly. While Qatar will probably turn to the Boeing 737 Max. But Boeing have them over a barrel on costs and delivery dates as they know Qatar have nowhere else to go.
After a couple of days where the number of Covid cases went up a little, today’s numbers were heading back down again with just under 96,000. That is 250,000 less cases in the last 7 days than the week before. The number of cases in hospital was also down by almost 10%. The hospital numbers are important as they are a lagging indicator, meaning that they tend to fall a couple of weeks after the number of cases starts falling. Both falling is good news.
The Scottishland Limp Dumps have reported Wee Krankie to the UK Statistics Authority for the numbers she used in the Scottishland Parliament yesterday. She is reported to have said, during First Ministers Questions, that Covid rates in England were 20% worse than in Scottishland. The ONS numbers show that 5.47% of English had Covid while 4.49% of Scots were infected. One number is 21% larger than the other but doesn’t mean 20% more English had Covid as that should be the difference between the 2 numbers or .98%. The Limp Dumps claim that this is deliberate misuse of statistics to mislead the public. This isn’t the first time the Scottishland Government have been reported for fiddling Statistics but as there seems to be no punishment, other than a rebuke, for being found guilty, it looks like it won’t be the last.
Today I woke to gloomy grey skies. Bozzie is hanging around as supposedly he is meeting some of his detractors in No 10 today. Should I claw them or rub myself around them? From a personal point of view, I get on with him better than that old witch that preceded him. He talks to me, pets me and I get plenty of my favourite Felix. He might not be quite as nice as that Dave bloke but he is OK, despite the Mutt. If he were to go I might get a cat hater who retires me. Now that might be OK but it would depend where I was retired to. If it was the Dreamies Girl that would be OK, but I don’t want to go back to Battersea and land up in a prison cage. It’s a bit of a dilemma.
I hear that breaking down in a Ford Mech E could be very expensive. In the US, a driver whose car broke down called the Ford breakdown service. The tow truck they sent out to recover the car to a dealer hitched the car up by its battery rail ruining the battery and causing it to have to be replaced for $25,000. The towing company was contracted by Ford and claim they had not been told of the correct way to tow a Mech E. Ford claim it was the fault of the towing company and the car insurance are refusing to pay out. At the moment the car owner is $25,000 out of pocket.
Shane McInerney, 29, from Galway, was alleged to have caused the disturbance on a Delta Airlines flight from Dublin to New York. He is firstly said to have refused to wear a face mask, then he threw a drinks can at another passenger hitting him on the head and finally he dropped his trousers and pants and mooned at a flight attendant and other passengers. On landing, he was arrested and has been charged with “intentionally assaulting and intimidating a member of a flight crew”. He has been released on $20,000 bail and will stand trial. If found guilty he could be sentenced to up to 21 years in prison.
I wonder who is leaking all the anti Prince Andrew stories at the moment? First, we had the tale of his 72 strong teddy bear collection which had to be arranged in size order on his bed and that it took a day’s training for new staff to get the order correct. Then came the story of how, when sitting next to a window, he refused to get up and pull the curtains. Instead, he called for a servant to run up 4 flights of stairs to do the job. Then came today’s story, that on holiday at Sandringham he put his washing and shaving gear in a bathroom allocated to Prince Charles and refused to remove them when Charles told him to. Eventually, the Queen had to tell him to move them to the bathroom he had been allocated. I think these tales are being leaked to make him look an immature, spoiled brat.
It seems that you have all been storing your tins in your larders the wrong way up. I read that if you want the tins to empty themselves of every scrap of its contents you should store them upside down and let gravity do the job for you. All you need to do is store your tins of beans, fruit, rice pudding, soups upside down in your cupboard. Then when you come to need to use them for your meals, simply turn the right way up, peel open or use a tin opener. Turn the opened tin upside down again to empty it and see as it empties itself completely. Just what you always wanted, cooking hints from a cat!
First Group are looking for train makers willing to quote them for up to 30 bimodal locomotives for their TransPennine Express franchise and another 5 for their Great Western’s sleeper service. The locomotives have to be capable of hauling up to 7 coaches at 100 mph for TransPennine and 9 sleeping cars for Great Western. The TransPennine trains would work services between Liverpool, Warrington, Manchester, Sheffield and Cleethorpes, what they call their ‘southern’ route. They would also be used on their ‘northern’ route between Liverpool, Newton-le-Willows, Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds, Hull or York and then onto Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Redcar, Saltburn or Newcastle. TransPennine’s problem is that only parts of these routes have been electrified, hence the need for bimodal locomotives which could be electric and battery or electric and diesel.
Years ago British Airways decided to cut out hot food on its shuttle services from Heathrow to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They said that the mainly business travellers would prefer a service where they put on an extra flight if more people turned up to fly than could be accommodated on the flight. They were shocked when people on the first flights of the day flocked to the rival services to and from Gatwick, so they surveyed passengers and discovered that the hot breakfast on the Gatwick flight was the big draw. Hence they revamped the service and brought back the cooked breakfast. The same thing has just happened on the railways. Both Avanti West Coast and LNER have reintroduced a full cooked breakfast, served at the seat of First Class or Business travellers on the West Coast and East Coast mainlines. Mind, I hear from my scribe that on his recent trip from Birmingham to London the hot breakfast was off “due to Covid” and no boiling water meant no tea or coffee either. First Class passengers could pick up a complimentary bottle of water from the buffet car as compensation!
That’s it, another week done. I am getting back into the swing after my enforced Christmas break but it looks like I might be getting a summer break as well as a Christmas break this year. I understand my scribe is off on a Mediterranean cruise at the end of June and then off again at Christmas. It’s alright for some! Anyway it’s time for my afternoon snooze, I think I can curl up on the rug by the big radiator in the entrance hall and the policeman on the door today is my friend. Chat to you all again on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2022