Morning people, it’s another week and I have to buckle down and sort out a few tales for you all. Bozzie is expecting two visitors to No 10 today, the Dutch PM who is quite nice, I might let him stroke me, and the little runt who is Canadian PM. It’s claws out for him, but I bet they don’t let me anywhere near him.
I have been reading that a man who at the time of the incident was a Slovakian who had lived in the U.K. for 18 years and had settled status has received almost £6,000 compensation when Home Office border officials locked him up for 10 hours. He was returning to the U.K., following a visit to his mother, when Border Farce pounced, accusing him of using a false name, trying to smuggle someone into the country and that he had not disclosed a motoring offence over 18 years ago. After holding him in a cell and refusing for eight hours to tell him why or what was going on, he was questioned and found that the problem was that Border Farce had misspelled his name!
There is a story in this morning’s newspapers about a woman going on holiday to the Dominican Republic who said she nearly fainted from hunger on the 9 hour British Airways flight because they didn’t have a gluten-free meal for her. The woman claimed the BA website was ‘misleading’, but having read it myself I think she was stupid as she didn’t preorder the meal as suggested. The crew did their best to find things she could eat and she was given carrot sticks, celery sticks, a tangerine, chocolate, popcorn, a bag of cashews & almonds and crisps. Not bad considering they even raided their own food. I bet she booked a meal on the flight home.
Stellantis, the motor group that owns among other companies Vauxhall and Opal has decided to produce a hydrogen fuel cell-powered version of its Vivaro van. The first left-hand drive vans, badged Opal, are due to be on the market later this year, but a right-hand-drive version is not expected in the U.K. until 2023. The Vauxhall electric and diesel versions are made in Luton and are already on sale here. The hydrogen van will have a similar range to the electric one but will be able to 100% refuel in just 3 minutes which is what operators have told them they want. I wonder if they will be cheaper than the electric version?
I was intrigued to see that the mighty Amazon has had to do a bit of retrenchment recently. Its plan to dominate the world of retail, both on the internet and on the high street has taken a bit of a knock in the US where it is closing around 68 high street shops. It seems that their internet model didn’t translate across to the high street stores as they expected. However, they are maintaining the Whole Foods chain they bought a few years back but is going to close all its bookshops, 4 Star shops (which only sell items with an online 4-star rating) and some pop-up shops. It is leaving its cashless shops open at the moment along with its Amazon Fresh shops, I wonder how long they will last?
Peter Dutton, the Australian Defence Minister, has given an interview to Australian TV where he has said that the Australians will be in a position to announce details about their nuclear submarine purchase in the next month or so. This is far faster than the original 18 months to get to that point. The Aussie also said that he expected the first nuclear boats to be in service by much the same time as the cancelled French diesel boats would have been available. I guess this means that they will be buying off the shelf boats rather than a custom design to replace the old Collins family of boats.
Two bits of news regarding the Queen today. After her recent brush with Covid, she seems to be on the mend and met with the midget PM from Canada this morning in Windsor Castle’s Oak room. This was her first person to person meeting since suffering Covid although she had carried out several online meetings other the last few days. That flows nicely into the second piece of news. A spokesman for the Queen has announced that she has decided to move out of Buckingham Palace and live full-time in Windsor Castle. I hear that the palace is currently a building site and just about every one of its 775 rooms requires work doing, some very much more than others. Although most of the public rooms have been kept usable for banquets and the likes, hundreds of private rooms are in a horrific state and need repairs, redecorating and a full rewire. I can’t blame the Queen preferring Windsor, that is in much better condition following the refurbishment after the massive fire a few years ago.
Good day my lovely readers, I thought oh what a smashing morning when I looked out of the window this morning. But I was only half right. It is beautiful and sunny, but it’s not as warm as it looks. If you are going out, stay in the sun. More visitors due at No 10 today, four more PMs. Just so long as that Canadian creep isn’t coming back.
I heard on the radio this morning that overnight Ukraine commandos had raided the Kherson Airforce Base in the south of the country. The Russians took the base a couple of days ago and have moved in their attack helicopters. Well, I don’t know if it is true, but it is reported from multiple sources, that 30 Russian helicopters were destroyed on the ground. If this is true then that is interesting as those helicopters are pretty effective at attacking troops on the ground and would give a certain amount of relief to Ukraine troops.
I was delighted to hear that Bercow, the last Speaker, has been found guilty of 21 counts of serial bullying of his staff and lying, by a parliamentary committee. He says he is going to be banned from the parliamentary estate for life. Well, bang goes any chance of him ever getting the one thing in the world he wants most, a peerage and showing what a waste of time it was him sucking up to the Labour Party and the EU. He is one of those people I couldn’t bare touching me.
I just heard that 50 zookeepers at Kiev have taken up residence in the city zoo to look after the animals. They say that without them the animals will starve as no one will feed them. Apparently, a keeper is sleeping in the same cage as Horace their only elephant as he has been traumatised by the explosions and can only be calmed by his keeper feeding him his favourite, an apple. Will Bozzie feed me Felix Chicken if I act traumatised?
It seems that we are going to dispose of a whole load of PPE that was bought during the worst of Covid. It seems that his is all substandard stuff and will be burnt. I hope they have a giant bonfire in the middle of Parliament Square, that would be fun. Maybe we could also have fireworks and burnt images of a few despised people like Sad Dick who banned the normal New Year celebrations.
The Rolls Royce small modular reactor programme got a bit of a boost today. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, asked government regulators to assess its designs. Whether this is a natural progression of the programme or because he has been pushed into the referral because of the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine. I somehow think it is probably the second, but I worry about how long it will take the Office for Nuclear Regulation, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales to license the design.
National Rail has started work on reinstating the Scottishland branch line from Thornton Junction to Levenmouth. Despite the 8 km line being closed for over 50 years much of the track bed remains in place, as does a considerable amount of track and old signalling. The first task is to remove the old track and signalling and to prepare the trackbed to take a double track. Two new stations will be built at Leven and Cameron Bridge and the 8 km is budgeted to cost some £116 million. The plan is to link Leven to the network allowing rail access to the likes of Fife and Edinburgh, initially on diesel trains but the plan is to electrify the line.
Well, it seems to be getting a little bit warmer and sunnier as the week progresses. I must say I am happier when it’s not cold and wet. Another thing is the amount of daylight each day is getting more and more, I do like that.
Last night it looked like the Poles had worked out a way for them to supply 30 odd MIG 29 jet fighters they have leftover from when they were a Russian satellite state to the Ukraine whose air force pilots are trained to fly. The plan was that the US who have a load of F16 fighters in storage would supply the 30 to the Poles to replace the MIGs. The Poles also operate F16s so their pilots are ready to use them. The Poles proposed their pilots deliver the MIGs to the US base at Rammstein in Germany where they would be repainted in Ukrainian colours and collected by Ukrainian pilots. I understand that overnight Sniffer Joe stamped his little foot and said he didn’t want to be involved so the whole scheme collapsed.
I was interested to see that despite claiming to be green, Scottishland ministers have refused planning permission for a 39 turbine on-shore wind farm. The Glenshero project is near to an existing wind farm in the Monadhliath mountains, but has been objected to by several parties mainly on claims of the visual impact. The plans were opposed by groups including Mountaineering Scotland, John Muir Trust and RSPB Scotland as well as Cairngorm National Park Authority. Next time that fat leader of the Westminster SNP witters on about how green Scottishland is I hope the Tories give him a lot of stick.
I see the ice breaker looking for the wreck of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship the Endurance, has found it at the bottom of the Weddell Sea. Shackleton and his crew were forced to abandon the Endurance after it became trapped in sea ice 107 years ago. Pictures of the wooden ship are amazing as it seems the very cold water has preserved it. It has not rotted and there is very little growth on the ship. Things like the ship’s wheel look almost brand new and there are even dinner plates on the table where they were abandoned by the crew.
Airbus will be celebrating today. The third biggest South American airline Avianca has today confirmed the 88 options they held for A320neo aircraft and placed additional options for a further 50 aircraft. With aircraft already on order, Avianca will receive 138 A320s between 2025 and 2031. In total Airbus has 386 firm orders for new aircraft across South America and the Caribbean while Boeing has only 184 in the same area.
I have been amazed to read that one footballer doesn’t have all his brains in his feet, since retiring a few years ago he has been working hard on his business investments and is now recognised as a billionaire. Ex-Arsenal player Mathieu Flamini had quite a successful carer as a midfielder but started several businesses while still playing. But since retiring as a player in 2019 he has worked hard on his investments, unlike many players who only dream about opening a pub or becoming a TV pundit. Mind some pundits make an excellent living. He was a founding partner in GF Biochemicals the first worldwide company to be able to produce oil-substitute levulinic acid at a mass scale and earning him millions. The company is now valued at well over £20 billion and Flamini is estimated to be worth at least £10 billion. He has now gone into a second business with yet another ex-Arsenal player Mesut Ozil to launch Unity and The Unity Performance academy, which will advise players on and supply supplements.
I hear that the European Union plans to build a 6th generation fight plane are in trouble over work allocation and leadership. A consortium of 3 companies French Dassault, German Airbus and a Spanish junior partner. The work has been divided into a number of packages and all but one has been allocated. The final package includes the design leadership and both Airbus and Dassault want it. At the moment they have been deadlocked for several months and all research and development has ground to a halt. This is much to several other consortiums delight, including the one for the Tempest which is being developed by BAE Systems; Rolls-Royce; Leonardo S.p.A.; MBDA and Saab.
Good morning, a bit grey today but dry and not as chilly as yesterday. After my breakfast bowl of Felix I trotted down to the office to say hello to the Dreamies Girl. She said hello to me and said she had something new for me to try. From her desk drawer she pulled out a packet of cat treats, but these weren’t the usual Dreamies, they were Felix Crispies. These were tiny, much smaller than Dreamies, and the shapes were all-stars and crescents. They were delicious, beef and chicken flavours, and lovely and crunchy. I shall be back for more.
This morning I read about the United States Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyer that is stuck in port because its captain won’t have a Covid jab. The US Navy says that all its sailors have to be vaccinated and looked to remove the ship’s captain. However, a federal judge has told the Navy it cannot replace or sack the captain. Consequently, the ship can’t go to sea and is stuck in the Norfolk Naval Base. This is another one of Sniffer Joe’s ideas that has blown up in his face.
My scribe has been chuckling this morning over Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich being sanctioned and his assets being frozen. This means Chelsea FC, being one of his major assets, is in trouble as it can no longer be sold, unless the proceeds are not remitted to Abramovich. It seems that the club will not be able to sell any more tickets or open the club shop, but people who already have tickets, like season ticket holders can still use them. They are also banned from making transfers but this is pointless as the transfer window is closed until the summer break. However, they will be allowed to play matches, pay the wages of players and staff and pay for travel to away games. I wonder if the bars in the ground will be able to sell drinks and pies? Imagine no half time Bovril and Steak Pie!
An interesting development on fracking today. The government has withdrawn the instruction to block up the two experimental wells that were drilled in Lancashire. I hope it is the first step in letting the full-scale development go ahead. Apparently, if we were only to extract 10% of the gas in the rocks under the U.K. we would be totally self-sufficient for over 50 years. I hear people on the radio saying that if we do this we will have earthquakes and flames coming out of taps. This was the propaganda put out by the anti-fracking groups and who was it that gave these groups financial support? Well, it was the Russians of course and this is the same Russians that sell the west oil and gas. No wonder they don’t want us to be energy independent.
The commissioners called in to run Slough’s Labour council have sacked the council’s CEO Mrs Josie Wragg for gross misconduct. She has been off work since last September and claims to have been “sick” since November. The commissioners say she has failed to address the serious problems the council faces, like debts of £760 million. She did set up a scheme aimed at saving £5.2 million but due to a series of mistakes it only saved £2.5 million. The dismissal is instant and the only money she will be paid will be in compensation for accrued holidays not taken.
I see that a government minister has just said that the Passenger Location Form will be “gone as soon as possible”. From what I hear the government would get rid of it tomorrow got the Scottishland Government is opposed to its removal. The minister didn’t give an actual date but I did see a tweet from a well-known industry commentator that said it will go on March 18th. If that is true I suspect hundreds of thousands of travellers going away over Easter will jump for joy.
Today Russia has hit back at a list of 48 countries with a list of banned exports and of course, we are on the list. From now it will not be possible to buy Russian cars, railway carriages, containers and turbines. I doubt many Britons will be madly bothered as I don’t see a lot of Russian cars driving on British roads or think we buy their railway carriages. I suppose it is possible we buy some containers but I thought most were manufactured in China. I somehow suspect that little lot is going to worry Bozzie very much.
Grey and a bit damp this morning, as you know I don’t like getting my fur wet so I nipped out and back in quick. I heard Bozzie on the phone to Pretty Petal and I think he is blaming the Civil Serpents in the Home Office for the problems Pretty has found herself in. I get the impression that there is an almighty shake up coming in that ministry.
Bozzie was reasonably happy this morning when it was announced that GDP was back above pre-Covid levels. It still means that we have had very little growth over the last 2 years but at least we can now say the economy is growing again. The latest figures issued for January showed GDP up 0.8% and is now also up 0.8% on the previous year. All areas of the economy advanced with the construction sector doing particularly well at up 1.1%. Mind, I am not surprised as the construction industry mostly closes down between Christmas and the New Year so a return to work in January was always going to grow in that month.
The National Audit Office has published a scathing report on the Ajax armoured fighting vehicle. It says the £5.5 billion project was flawed from the start and that the vibrations that trouble the vehicle may never be fixed properly. Ajax was supposed to be in service in 2017 but so far the Army has received 26 of the 589 on order. Not only that we have apparently paid out more than £3 million. Not only that it is so noisy that dozens of soldiers have suffered hearing problems testing it. The NAO say that payments to the manufacturer have been halted but they continue to manufacture the vehicle. The new in-service date is April 2025 but they doubt it will ever meet the full design specification.
I read that because of the war in Ukraine, Stolichnaya vodka is to rename the brand Stoli. The brand is made in Latvia and exported to most of Europe and the USA. The company owner was originally a Russian but he says that he has been exiled since 2000 because of his vehement opposition to Putin. However, things could get a bit complicated as a separate company in Russia also makes a brand that it markets as Stolichnaya vodka so both brands could be available in some markets.
Transport for London has today released it master plan for speeding up London’s buses. Among its bright ideas are banning cars and taxis from certain streets and running express buses that don’t call at every stop. The plan calls for a ban on cars and taxis similar to that on London’s Oxford Street where only buses and bicycles can use it during the working week. The first express bus route would be along the Old Kent Road where buses would stop at only every 3rd or 4th stop. In addition, they want to create another 25km of bus lanes. Another idea is that they want to speed up the conversation of their 9000 buses to electricity. The rub is for this little lot they want another £500 million from the government.
Russia’s latest problem is what to do with the over 500 western aircraft its airlines are operating on leases from western countries. They have two problems, the makers have are no longer supplying Russian airlines with spare parts or support and now that Russian airlines are banned from many western countries they have a lot less use for them. Consequently, they are considering if they can afford to keep operating them or should they return them to the leasing companies. The amount of money involved amounts to around £10.5 billion. Hanging on to the planes would be difficult as finding the money to pay would seem to be unlikely but the Russian Government seems to be encouraging them to default and hang on to the planes. If they did they would never be able to buy parts.
I know the price of gas has leapt up but a man in Bolton has just received his latest monthly bill from British Gas for £1,950. They helpfully added a note on the bill to say that they would be adjusting the monthly direct debit to 11 payments of the same amount coming to £21,494 for the year. Helpful British Gas say it looks like the bill could be an error.
Wow, it was lovely first thing this morning, sunny and quite pleasantly warm. Not so warm that I couldn’t lie out in it, so I am going to rush around on my patrol and get out in the air before it clouds up and rains as the forecast predicts.
I see that Ed Millipede lived up to his green credentials today, by saying that the government must not back down on its moratorium on fracking. While the government says they will review everything as a result of the price hikes caused by the war in Ukraine, Millipede is being his dogmatic green self and demanding that they only consider what he calls a “clean green sprint”. He has no thought of poor people struggling to pay their gas and electric bills, he wants us to only consider expensive, intermittent, wind and solar power. Thank God Labour aren’t in charge and Millipede in charge of energy policy we would only have electricity on sunny days and during daylight hours.
I hear that Air Serbia is making use of the closing of European air space to Russian aircraft by doubling the number of weekly direct flights from Belgrade to Moscow. Serbia is not a member of the EU who have invoked a ban and have refused to invoke a ban of their own while it aircraft are free to cross EU airspace. Of course, Russian airlines can’t increase flights to Belgrade as they can’t cross EU airspace to get there. I also hear that Air Serbia flights are very full and are considering further increasing the number of flights.
Yesterday the government-sanctioned another 386 Russians, but these are not oligarch billionaires. They are 386 members of the 450 member Duma the lower house of the Russian parliament. These are the ones who voted in favour of the motion to recognise Luhansk and Donetsk as independent and gave Russia the excuse to invade Ukraine. I don’t know if any of them have any assets in the U.K. or if they intend to travel here so I doubt the effectiveness of this move.
Progress continues to be made on the massive Rolls Royce UltraFan jet engine with the delivery of the first new power gearbox for installation on the test engine. In testing of the engine, the gearbox has handled 87,000 hp and will soon be tested on the engine. Rolls say the new engine will use 25% less fuel than the most economic of the currently available engines while running on sustainable engine fuel. Rolls say that the power gearbox delivers enough power to supply the electric needs of a city the size of Bath.
The USA is getting ready to move its new moon rocket out onto the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Centre next week. The Space Launch System (SLC) rocket and the Orion Spacecraft have been put together in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and the work platforms are being moved away. The assembled system is due to be moved on a crawler to launchpad 39 late next week (last week when you read this) where it will undergo testing. In a few weeks time, the SLS will be filled with fuel and a test ‘wet launch’ carried out with the countdown stopping just before engine ignition. The crawler will then take it all back to the VAB where it will be serviced and any repairs done. This should take around another month before it is ready for a test unmanned launch with the Orion being recovered in the Ocean. No date has been fixed for the launch but is suggested it could be the end of May.
I read that a student has just made a very expensive mistake. He bought and consumed his first every Cadbury’s Creme Egg before realising it was one of 145 special edition eggs that were worth £10,000 each if returned to Cadbury uneaten. The prize-winning eggs are half milk and half white chocolate and as the student had never had one before he had no idea it was anything special. Better luck next time.
That’s me done again. I have been delighted that the weatherman got his predictions completely wrong today and it has been beautifully sunny and mild for my cat nap. Have a lovely Sunday and I’ll speak to you all next week.
© WorthingGooner 2022