Morning my lovely readers, gosh these Monday mornings come around too quickly for me, now I’m getting to be an old cat I think one day off a week is too little. Who do I negotiate with for better terms and conditions? Is there a union for cats to speak on my behalf? I see some lefty idiot has suggested that Bozzie house a Ukrainian refugee family in No.10. Well, it is only a small flat with Bozzie, The Little Otter, two children, the Mutt and me. If the idiot thinks I am giving up my cat basket to a refugee cat they’ve got another thing coming.
I was interested to read that EDF has changed its mind and is not going to close West Burton ‘A’ coal-fired power station in September as they had planned. Under the EU rules, made into U.K. law in this country, we are supposed to stop burning coal to generate power by October 2024. EDF had decided to close the 2000 Mw station two years early but due to the current war in Ukraine and the need to reduce oil and gas from Russia, it seems obvious that to take this 2,000 Mw out of the grid just as we are moving to winter would be madness. The sensible thing to do would be to change the law and allow the 4 x 500 Mw units to continue past 2024 and open up a mine to save us having to import the coal, but I suspect this might be a step too far for the greenies.
I read another puff piece in a left-wing paper today pushing solar and heat pumps and claiming that it could save the average household some £460 in running costs over a gas boiler. This is all very well but you have to read down the article to the very bottom to discover that this is a total load of rubbish. Firstly, it is only then that you discover that the heat pump will cost you £12,000 to install after a £5,000 grant, and the running cost is calculated by using solar energy from 2.4 kW of panels added to your roof at another £3,500. So you would have to spend £15,500 to save £460, this is the economics of the madhouse (or The Independent).
While discussing gas supplies I see that a second company, IGas, wants to frack for gas and says that if the current ban were lifted they are in a position to start drilling in Nottinghamshire almost immediately. They further say the exploratory wells would have gas flowing in 9 months and within 12 months they could be supplying 125,000 homes. This is in addition to the Cuadrilla site in Lancashire where there is believed to be enough gas to supply the whole of the U.K. for 50 years if only 10% of the reserves were to be extracted. Add this to other fields in the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the south of England we could make billions selling to Europe and employ thousands of people.
Did you read about the man who bought a VHS video recorder from Curry’s in 2002 and took out the insurance offered by them at the time? Every year since then Currys have written to him getting him to renew his insurance. When the recorder recently broke down he took it to his local Currys who laughed at him and told him they stopped supporting VHS recorders years ago and it could not be repaired. Instead, they offered a £148 voucher, what he had paid for the device in 2002, a fraction of what he had paid in premiums. After pointing out that if not illegal to continue to take payments once they had stopped repairing them it was immoral. They have now returned all the payments made since 2002.
Transport for London has announced they have set a date for the opening of the Elizabeth Line. The only problem is that they are keeping it secret, the only thing they have said is that it will be before 30th June. Perhaps I can narrow it down a bit. The mayor, Sad Dick, wants a gala opening but he could not hold that in the 5 weeks of Purdah before the 5th May local elections and as working backwards we get March 28th. I am sure that if it were going to be opened before then it would already be public knowledge. So I can happily announce the opening will be between 6th May and June 30th.
I hear that Louis Hamilton going to change his surname to include that of this mother and looks likely to race under the name of Louis Larbalestier Hamilton this season, maybe even this weekend, if the legal work is done in time. His father Anthony Hamilton and his mother Carmen Larbalestier divorced when he was a toddler. I wonder if all the extra paint needed to write that name on his car will slow him down?
Oh, it is lovely out in the garden this morning, it is pleasantly warm and sunny. I must get my patrol and diary done quickly so I can go out and enjoy the sun away from the brat. I nearly burst out laughing when Bozzie was talking about going to Saudi Arabia this evening and the Little Otter said she hoped he liked the food and to remember not to refuse the sheep’s eyeballs as they are considered a great delicacy.
I was reading about Worthing Lido, something I expect my scribe is interested in. It seems the building on the promenade needs £2,000,000 spending on its concrete structure. The Lido hasn’t been a swimming pool for many years and currently houses a kiddies funfair, tourist shops, cafe, and a stage where bands often perform. There are several ideas as to what it should be once repaired including converting it into a heated lido but the council will be looking for lottery funding. Fancy turning a lido into a lido!
Still in Sussex, I hear that volunteers have been out on the beaches from Bognor to Hastings picking up thousands of sealed empty plastic bottles. A ship lost 4 containers full of bottles in the channel on February 16th and this is the result. Apparently, thousands of oranges have also been washed up on the beach at Pevensey, whether they came from the same ship is not known.
I hear that after 30 years in charge of running the National Lottery, Camelot have apparently lost the franchise. The Gambling Commission licenses the operator for a number of years and the current license expires in 2024. Yesterday they announced the preferred bidder for the next license is Swiss company Allwyn Entertainment which is owned by a Czech billionaire, Karel Komarek. The Commission had a record number of bidders for this fourth round license and used a scorecard system to rank them. The word is that in most areas Camelot and Allwyn were neck and neck in points awarded but what swung it for Allwyn was that their financial predictions were far better. Camelot has been named reserve applicant in case final negotiations fall through.
I am delighted to report that yesterday IOG, the North Sea oil and gas company, has started to pump natural gas from its Saturn Banks project to Becton and hence into the U.K. gas grid. This gas comes from its ‘Blythe’ well, its ‘Elwood’ well is expected to start pumping gas within the next two days. A third well, ‘Southwark’, will complete Saturn Banks Phase 1. Two more wells ‘Nailsworth’ and ‘Elland’ are set to follow in Phase 2 which is currently projected for Q3 this year. IOG say there is 410 billion cubic feet of gas in these fields. That little lot should help replace the 3% of our gas consumption we get from Russia.
What a farce is developing over the Cuadrilla fracking wells in Lancashire. The Oil and Gas Authority has ordered Cuadrilla to fill the wells with cement by June 30th and work has to start this week to be sure of hitting that deadline. The government has said in parliament that this is stupid under the present circumstances with the war in Ukraine and the uncertainty over gas supplies. So Cuadrilla has been waiting for a change of instructions from the OGA. The OGA say they need a direct order from the government to change the instructions while the government say they have no power to issue such an instruction. So despite everyone recognising that cementing the wells would be stupid no one can rescind the order.
Another 370 sanctions were placed on Russian individuals and companies this morning. In addition tariffs of 35% were added to Russian exports to the U.K. for the likes of antiques, furs and vodka. I understand that the 370 had already been sanctioned by the EU, US and Canada but before the passing of the Economic Crime Act late last week it was not possible to do the same here. The items banned for export have still to be announced but are expected to include works of art and luxury cars. The ban on cars seems a little superfluous as most car makers have already imposed a voluntary export ban.
What a strange morning, very overcast but pleasantly mild. When I got back into the kitchen from my early morning constitutional I realised I was covered in dust. It seems that we are experiencing high-level wind bringing dust from the Sahara desert. I set about having a wash and it tasted horrible. I think I will forgo my window sill snooze this afternoon.
An interesting story I heard is that the companies that are currently building super yachts for Russian oligarchs are having a fire sale. The sanctions imposed by many countries has meant that they can no longer take stage payments from the oligarchs on the black list. This has left shipyards with part-built boats that are taking up space in which they could be building yachts for billionaires who could pay for them. So what can they do? Well, the answer seems to be to resell the super yachts and, of course, as many have already been partly paid for, they can be let go cheap, the new buyer only has to pay what is still owed. The only problem is if there is a quick end to the war we might see some interesting court cases.
So the Iranians have finally released Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and I hear she is on a flight out of Iran initially to Muscat and is expected to be back in the U.K. sometime today. Apparently she has been swapped for £400 million. The international court said we owed the money to the Iranians who had paid it upfront for an order of 1,500 Chieftain tanks. The order was cancelled when Iran was sanctioned and under the international sanction rules, we couldn’t transfer the money. It seems we have somehow found a way to transfer the money. I would be interested to find out how it has been done.
I have no idea if it is right or wrong, but I read reports from ‘experts’ who claim that Russia is running out of manpower and supplies in Ukraine. The report goes on to claim that at the current rate of expenditure of both they will not be able to keep the war going for more than 14 more days. I read that Russia has already thrown conscripts and cadets into the battle and has turned to Syrians to help. Will the ‘experts’ be proved right or wrong? I guess we will know in a fortnight.
French officials from its Nuclear Regulatory Authority have halted construction on France’s International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), what is said to be the world’s biggest fusion reactor. They have expressed worries over several things such as worker safety, disaster plans and in particular manufacturing problems. The Nuclear Safety Authority has stopped work while problems regarding neutron radiation emissions, distortions in the steel sections, and loads on the concrete slab holding up the reactor. It all sounds a bit worrying to me when dealing with the enormous temperatures in the reactor. I guess when parts are fabricated in India, Korea and the US you have to be extremely careful to ensure it all fits together.
Marks and Spencer is just one company that would like to close its business in Russia but can’t do so because it is run as a franchise. Turkish company FiBA holds the rights to run M&S businesses right across Eastern Europe and it is they that run the 48 M&S shops in Russia. It is not only M&S who have this franchise problem, I understand that Burger King, Marriott Hotels, IHG Hotels and Accor Hotels (Novotel and Ibis) all have the same problem and would like to get out of Russia but can’t currently do so legally.
I understand a new airline, Norse Atlantic Airways, has today announced that it has secured slots at Gatwick and they will be starting a budget service to the United States. The airline say they will acquire a fleet of Boeing 787s and intend to run services to link New York, Los Angeles and Miami with London, Paris and Oslo although what the initial services will be has still to be announced. The airline has secured enough slots to operate 2 pairs of services 6 days a week. I understand that Norse has leased 15 ex-Norwegian aircraft and the first flight from Gatwick could well be to New York, but whether this will be 2 flights a day or 1 flight to New York and 1 flight to another city is yet to become apparent.
Morning peeps, what a glorious morning, sunny and mild out in the garden. After breakfast I went off on patrol and the Dreamies Girl gave me some of those delicious Felix Crispies. Despite being full of breakfast I managed to clear the handful she gave me.
I see the Cat Kicker, together with his brother, are going to be prosecuted by the RSPCA under the Animal Welfare Act. The RSPCA are still holding his cats. I hope that conditions at the RSPCA are better than the prison cell I was in at Battersea. The Cat Kicker has already been fined the maximum allowed, two weeks wages (about £250,000), by his club West Ham, but is still playing. I doubt that any punishment will be as much as that, unless he gets sent to prison which I somehow doubt.
For the first time in over 400 years, beavers are going to be back in London. A pair of two-year-olds are to be released into a special enclosure in the grounds of Forty Hall Farm in Enfield. The idea is to eventually restore the local river habitat and reduce flood risks. I understand that beaver were once common in the U.K. before they were hunted to extinction for their fur and meat. However they have been reintroduced in several places in England where they are mostly in enclosures, but some have escaped, and in Scottishland where a number of rivers now have lodges.
In readiness for the opening of the Elizabeth Line some stations it will serve jointly with other lines have been spruced up. One of these is Whitechapel where new signage has gone up. But what is interesting is that the signs are in Bengali as a sop to the local Bangladeshi community and are being paid for by the local council. This might sound like a good idea as a way to help the huge number of Bengalis who live in Tower Hamlets but while it might help non-English readers getting on the trains, it is going to be useless helping them get off at Oxford Circus or Paddington. It would be better to spend the money on teaching people English.
I told you on Tuesday that Allwyn had become the preferred operator for the next 10 year National Lottery License. Well, I have heard a few interesting bits of associated information.
Allwyn says they are going to raise more money for charity than Camelot. They say that in the 10 year period of the license they will raise £39 billion which is a much as Camelot has raised in total so far over 28 years. Camelot paid their share holders a dividend increase of 122% between 2009-10 and 2016-17. Allwyn are talking about reducing the entry cost to £1 a line from the current £2 a line. Finally, unsurprisingly, Camelot have hired the QC Lord Pannick and are looking at a legal battle to retain their money making machine.
This morning, Manchester Airport seems to have been an absolute nightmare. Queues to get checked in and to get through security appear to have been huge. I hear that at one time the check-in queue circled the Terminal One car park 3 times. Then for some reason security was initially rejecting 60% of all baggage. Numerous passengers missed flights and tempers flared. However the reason for the delays is not apparent, could it be that the easing of Covid travel restrictions has encouraged far more people to fly?
I know that many of you don’t like football but I have heard that the Community Shied, the annual charity match between the League and the FA Cup Winners, is looking for a new home this summer. It is usually played at Wembley but this August the stadium will be being used for the Womens European Championship final. As most supporters look for a day out in London it looks like a straight fight between Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and West Ham’s London Stadium. Chelsea and Crystal Place are considered too small and Tottenham’s unnamed stadium is hosting a Lady Gaga concert that day. It is a nice little earner for whomever wins.
Something has gone wrong with the weather, two consecutive warm sunny days in March are not very common, especially as the forecast says it’s going to be the same tomorrow. Bozzie wasn’t his usual self over breakfast, he didn’t moan about getting porridge and a poached egg on toast, when he had wanted Ricicles and a bacon sandwich. The Little Otter told him the Ricicles were no longer on sale and he pointed out the brats bowl of cereal. She said they were a supermarket own brand and they weren’t ‘healthy’ and neither was a bacon sandwich. He just groaned and ate what was put in front of him. I wouldn’t want to upset him this morning.
The fuss about P&O Ferries seems to be rumbling on this morning after they sacked 800 seamen by a recorded video message yesterday. A Labour MP claimed the government knew it was going to happen and did nothing, but Grunt Shatts said that was untrue and as Transport Secretary he should be the one told. I see the Radio and TV have been a bit loose in their terminology referring to “all P&O ships being laid up”, forcing P&O Cruises to issue a number of disclaimers saying that they are a separate company, owned by the American company Carnival, and have been for over 20 years and this is nothing to do with them. iNews managed to complicate things even more by illustrating an online article with a picture of a P&O Australia cruise ship another unconnected Carnival subsidiary.
I am hearing that there are a lot of upset customers of the TSB this morning as the bank has made a whole load of double payments from people’s accounts. For some unknown reason the bank has duplicated all the payments it made from people’s accounts on 2nd March. This can be extremely awkward for some people as they often have big standing orders or direct debits going out on the first few days of the month. So far TSB haven’t said what has gone wrong, but have apologised and said they will sort it out as soon as possible. Sounds to me like someone in the data centre loaded the wrong tape.
I have been reading that more and more people are trying to make their cats and dogs into vegetarians. Personally, I found two things wrong with the story. Dogs might be owned by people as pets but cats aren’t, we only consent to living with people if they pay us with food. The second thing is that veggie food might be OK for stupid Mutts who don’t know anything better, but we felines are carnivores, we need meat in our diet. If our humans don’t give us a meaty diet we will go looking for it and heaven help all those pretty little birds you put seed out in the garden for. I am a hunter and proud of it.
Jaguar Cars have signed an agreement with Pramac to recycle used batteries from I-Pace cars. The company will use old batteries swapped out by Jaguar and those used by the Formula E team. The company say 85% of the recycled batteries will be used for ‘off grid’ power storage while the remaining 15% will be reused in cars. Isn’t this something that Tesla do already?
When Russia invaded Ukraine loads of Western companies shut down their businesses in Russia. One of them was McDonalds who closed down all 847 of their restaurants. Now I hear that a new company is aiming to become their replacement. ‘Uncle Vanya’ has eyes on take over and rather cheekily has registered a trade mark that is identical to the McDonald’s golden arches but rotated through 90°. It even has the same colour red background.
On Monday Bozzie is going to meet people involved in the nuclear industry to discuss just how quickly nuclear power can be rolled out. I understand that there will be representatives of EdF, Bechtel and Westinghouse as well as banks and pension funds. EdF are believed to be pencilled in for Sizewell ‘C’ and a consortium of Bechtel and Westinghouse have proposed an AP2000 reactor for Wylfa in Wales. The main problem is money. A new station is expected to cost around £20 billion at today’s prices. Now we have told the Chinese that their involvement is not welcome, the funding will have to be British hence the reason for the banks and pension funds. My only surprise is that Roll Royce and their SMR appear to be absent.
Yet another lovely morning, blue sky, warm and a slight breeze. The Little Otter said it would be a good day for hanging out washing in the garden. Bozzie said, “There is no way you’re hanging our ‘smalls’ out in the open, I don’t want to see my boxers and your ‘G’ string on the front cover of Private Eye.” Anyway the Mutt and Richie’s hound were chasing each other round and round. I walked past them with my nose in the air, I refuse to join in such silly dog antics.
I understand that we are looking purchasing a new “Ballistic Missile Defence Radar and Command and Battle Management and Communications” system from the Americans for a mere £533 million. The system consists of one (1) Ballistic Missile Defence Radar (BMDR); and two (2) Command and Control Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) user nodes (with network capability required to connect to the C2BMC System to support radar operations). I didn’t realise we didn’t have an anti-ballistic missile radar, but if we get one won’t we need interceptor missiles?
I had to laugh at the National Museum of Wales who have decided that steam trains have to be cancelled because they are connected to colonialism and racism. The museum had a replica of Richard Trevithick’s first steam locomotive that was used at the Pen y Darren ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, in Wales in 1804. The NMW somehow determined that the locomotive, despite Trevithick having no connection to slavery or racism, they somehow decided that invention of steam railways is “rooted in colonialism and racism” and have put a notice on the exhibit.
I know it’s not April Fools day yet but I did have to look twice at the date when I heard that the government is looking at the possibility of building a solar power station in space. The idea is assembling a huge solar array in space and sending the power to earth. The idea is that an array in space will always be in the sun so can generate 24 hours a day unaffected by nighttime or weather and recent technology allows the power to be sent to the ground as high-frequency radio waves. A 2 gigawatt set up is predicated to cost about £17 billion, the only problem is to getting the solar panels into space as the required about would weigh about 2,000 tons and have a diameter of about 1.7 kilometres.
If you buy free-range eggs then I’m sorry to tell you that from Monday British ones are no longer available. The problem is avian bird flu. Because over the winter we have had a number of outbreaks, the government has banned allowing flocks from roaming freely outdoors and demanded that they are kept indoors. The disease is believed to be spread by migrant wild birds so the idea is to separate the wild birds from the domestic flocks. So on Monday, the eggs will have to be marked that they come from barn-housed birds.
I hear that under sanctions against Russia the US of A have impounded over 100 civil aircraft owned by Russians or associated with Russians. Most of the aircraft are Boeing’s operated by Russian airlines including Aeroflot, but they include Roman Abramovich’s Gulfstream. Under US sanctions it is illegal under US law to do anything to any plane associated with Russia, that includes refuelling, servicing, maintenance, repair or provide spare parts anywhere in the world including in Russia. Breaking these sanctions is punishable by heavy fines and even prison terms.
It seems that Chelsea could land up with a points deduction next season under the Financial Fair Play rules. Apparently under FFP an owner can give his club up to £25 million a year to cover losses. But Chelsea have borrowed £1.5 billion from Roman Abramovich which is a bit of a problem. He has said that he will write off the debt when the club is sold but this vastly exceeds the £25 million rule. However, no one is going to buy the club if the cost includes an additional £1.5 billion to pay off the debt. But then we come to another problem, Abramovich can’t recover any money because all his assets are frozen and the club is a major asset. So even if someone was willing to pay off the loan it doesn’t seem to be possible! Just how the football authorities plan to get out of this mess isn’t at all clear.
That’s me done again. I have been delighted with the weather today, it is beautifully sunny and mild. I’m off for my cat nap on my favourite Downing Street windowsill out of sight and mind of the Downing Street dogs. Have a lovely Sunday and I’ll speak to you all next week.
© WorthingGooner 2022