Good morning people, I am delighted the weather is much improved this morning. It’s sunny and warmer, what I call window sill weather. Bozzie has been busy this weekend, taking a trip to Ukraine. I heard on the radio that he is being criticised by some people for going, with them suggesting that it was only a distraction from Partygate. Strangely the same people were calling him frit only a few days before for not going when other European leaders had already been to the Ukraine, but to not Kiev. He had a bit of a moan over breakfast this morning because Ukrainian Railways didn’t have bacon rolls on sale.
So Bozzie has offered to supply anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, but I don’t know what he intends to send them. My understanding is that this is a missile type the nation is somewhat lacking in. We do have a stock of helicopter launched missiles for ground attack but these are much too lightweight to attack a Frigate with. Brimstone might be proven against a tank or even a landing craft but its warhead would only dent a capital ship. The only heavy missile we have in our inventory is Harpoon and this is very old with many missiles date expired. Back in January Babcock got a contract to refurbish many of these missiles to extend their operating life as the explosives and propellant degrade over time and would be dangerous to use. Unless they have had a crash refurbishment programme, which I somehow doubt, the only operational missiles are already at sea on naval ships. Are we going to buy in missiles to supply the Ukraine?
Just Stop Oil protesters were out again at the weekend blocking oil refineries and bridges across the Thames. So what do we get on the radio, an interview with a 15-year-old supporter who keeps repeating the same two stupid points, we are all going to die if we don’t stop using oil immediately and buying oil from Russia is fuelling the war in Ukraine. Where does a 15-year-old boy hear we are all going to die if we don’t stop oil right now? Could it be school!? I wonder how this type of protest ignores all logic. We produce one percent of world emissions, it’s hardly us that are “killing the world”. Then he wants to close down all future North Sea oil and gas developments which would stop us having to buy oil and gas overseas.
Another interesting development in the great fracking debate today. The Sir Jim Ratcliffe company Ineos has approached the government offering to drill a test well to prove that gas can be safely extracted by a competent operator without causing problems. The company says such a move would “reduce the cost of energy” and ensure “long-term energy independence”. The current “Pause” on development was instituted after a 1.9 on the Richter scale earth tremor, which is so small it would not be felt by anyone. This size of tremors occurred naturally every hour in the U.K. and we only know it because of highly sensitive instruments. Is the tide turning on fracking?
No sooner has the P&O Cruises ship Arcadia gone back into service than I hear its program is being pulled until late June “due to Covid”. It seems that it is not due to an outbreak on the ship, in fact far from it. Its crew are to be used as a labour pool for the rest of the fleet. It seems that P&O are getting short of crew not because they have loads of Covid on their ships, but because they mainly employ crew from Goa and the Philippines because they speak English. Apparently, the problem is ensuring that they have been vaccinated and that they can fly them out to the ships, both of which I proving difficult. If I was booked on an Arcadia cruise I would not be happy.
I hear that a decision is due to be made on the new Whitehaven coal mine by 7th June. If it goes ahead the mine, on the site of the old Marchon Chemical Works, would be the first new British deep coal mine for 30 years. The mine would exploit a seam of coking coal that runs under the Irish Sea and it would be used in the manufacturing of British steel. I understand that we currently import coking coal from Australia, the United States and Russia. We have already stated that we are to stop importing coal from Russia and that accounts for some 40% of the imports. So not only would a new mine employ British people, it would help meet sanctions, it would cut imports, it would cut transport emissions and it would make us self reliant. In my little cat mind it is obviously the thing to do so we probably won’t!
My final story for today is that the Government is going to bring in regulations to stop councils charging fees for disposing of domestic rubbish at the council dump. Some councils, not all, charge residents for disposing of some items, particularly DIY waste. I have heard of councils that charge £25 to dispose of a WC pan and £10 for a sheet of plasterboard. The problem is this leads to someone doing up their bathroom fly-tipping the rubbish. Councils argue that if they didn’t charge, commercial people would dump their waste for free. This is clearly ridiculous, anyone can distinguish between a white van that regularly turns up to dump builder’s waste and some with a single WC and hand basin in the boot of their Vauxhall Astra.
I can’t make out the weather at the moment, today is a bit cloudy, but mild again and the man on the radio says it might rain. However, they say it’s going to be lovely over the Easter weekend. I wonder if Bozzie will organise an egg hunt for the Brat. The Little Otter has just read in the morning paper that Bozzie was fed a goat’s cheese salad, chicken soup, roast beef and cherry dumplings for dessert when he was in Kiev. I am waiting for the row later when she confronts him for saying he was starved on his trip.
I read that for the first time in 20 years Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard has won a competitive tender for the dry docking of a cruise ship. In fact they have actually won two contracts, both are for Carnival subsidies P&O and Cunard. P&O Aurora and Cunard Queen Victoria will both be dry-docked later this year. What I find interesting is that these jobs will have been won in competition with worldwide shipyards. Of course, as the ships are U.K. based European yards have a competitive advantage in the distance a ship would have to travel to a Far Eastern yard and the additional time out of service needed to get it there and back. For all the years I have been alive “British” cruise ships have had their annual dry-docking in a continental yard, France, Germany, Spain and Italy have all had a financial advantage over U.K. yards. What has happened to turn this around, could it be a Brexit bonus?
The Canary Wharf Estate has announced plans to turn the old docks it is built around into “leisure facilities”. Apparently, the idea is that they will replace the current barriers around the docks with walls and steps down to a wooden decking at the water’s edge. The steps will be broad so that they can be used as seats for local employees enjoying their sandwiches in the sun. Canary Wharf have been working with the Eden Project to “green” the estate and this is one of their ideas.
This weekend the two FA Cup semi-finals are taking place at Wembley Stadium to the west of London. Probably the most used method of getting to Wembley is by underground train to Wembley Park Station on the Metropolitan Line. But Transport dot London have just announced that a fault has been found on some Metropolitan Line train wheels, which will mean that they all have to be inspected. The Saturday game between Manchester City and Liverpool was already in trouble because there is scheduled work on the East Coast Main Line next weekend (it being Easter) and there will be no Avanti trains between either Manchester or Liverpool and London. The FA has been forced to run coaches for the clubs so the shortage of Tube Trains will probably not cause too much hassle on Saturday. But Sunday’s match is between two London clubs Crystal Palace and Chelsea and I suspect one Metropolitan Line train every 15 minutes instead of every minute or two is going to be a disaster.
P&O Ferries have managed to resume a service of sorts between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in Scottishland. However I have heard that they have only got one boat, instead of the normal two in service and are subsequently only running 3 return trips a day. Its competition, Stena Seaways, have increased their sailings on the slightly longer route from Cairnryan to Belfast to 18 round trips a day and with such a regular service are unsurprisingly pinching all the traffic. I hear from my spies in Larne that the P&O European Causeway is carrying a splattering of trucks and hardly any foot passengers. In fact, I hear one service carried one passenger and another three!
NASA and Nissan have teamed up to develop a new type of electric vehicle battery. They say the new solid-state battery can hold a higher charge than the current lithium-ion batteries used in EVs and subsequently is about half its size. The other good thing is that it can be fully recharged in 15 minutes. Not as good as filling up your car in 5 minutes but much better than the 2 or more hours need currently to get an 80% charge. I hear that this is a solid-state sulphur-selenium battery, is cool to the touch and doesn’t catch fire. Nissan say they will pilot launch the battery in 2024 but it won’t be in full production until 2028.
A report out today says that the Government’s aim to replace all domestic gas boilers with heat pumps will cost a mere £115 billion. At the moment the Government has a boiler upgrade scheme to help replace a gas boiler but it is only funded to £450 million and will help only 90,000 people. The scheme gives up to £5,000 towards a £10,000 heat pump and its installation. However, you will probably have to double that to £20,000 as you will almost certainly need to rip out and replace all the central heating pipework and radiators with new ones about double the size. Even then the temperature in your house and of your hot water will probably be lower. Compare this to a new gas boiler at around £2,000 all in and a nice warm house.
Well, it’s still warm and there is some weak sunshine, it’s a lot better than rain. Bozzie was a very grumpy old Hector this morning, he is blaming the Little Otter for him getting a fine. He says he was happily chairing a meeting when she burst in with a cake in a Tupperware box, four cans of beer and a jumbo pack of Cheesy Wotsits. According to the Met that constituted a party! When she left 9 minutes later the cake was still in the box untouched, the beer un-drunk and the Wotsits unnibbled. He was complaining that £50 for a slice of cake would be expensive, but he didn’t even get a slice of cake or a can of beer!
The XR and Just Stop Oil mob are out causing trouble again this morning. Isn’t strange how they always seem to cause the most trouble during the school holidays. I have been puzzled over this until I read that the protesters seem to include loads of school teachers, university lecturers and school kids. I suggest someone point out to them that in 2020, the last year data has been published for, China burnt more coal than the U.K. has burnt in total since 1978!
Do you remember seeing news pictures of loads of PPE being flown in from China in brown boxes under cargo nets on passenger aircraft seats? Well, it is not normally something that is allowed, but because of the desperate needs and the fact that passenger flights were banned, it was OK’ed. Well, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will put a stop to cargo-in-the-cabin flights beyond July 31. Of course, cargo-in-the-cabin is not a common occurrence in Europe right now, but would it not have been a bit more sensible to do what the Chinese did at the start of the year and say only Covid related cargo could be carried in the cabin? Thank goodness we are out of the EU and make set own rules.
I hear that 35 of the 53 big developers have signed up to the Government scheme to replace the cladding in their buildings that led to the Grenfell Tower fire. They have also agreed to pay into the fund that will refurbish so-called orphan buildings, these are the ones where the developers have gone bust or disappeared. Orphan buildings have been a sticking point for some developers stopping them from joining the scheme. However, I hear that the Government has been twisting arms, saying developers won’t get future planning permission if they don’t sign up. It seems several of the 18 who haven’t signed up are having second thoughts.
I hear that later this year Sky TV are going to make their Sky Stream Puck available without first having to buy a Sky Glass TV internet TV. Currently if you want a Sky Glass TV you can either purchase it outright and subscribe monthly for the programmes or buy it in instalments that include the monthly programme subscription. Sky recognised that some people want Sky programmes on more than one TV in their home and so also made available a Puck, a small device that plugged into any TV in the house and picked up the Sky internet programmes over your WiFi and allowed them to be seen. These cost a one-off £50 each and then £10 a month but were only available if you bought a Sky Glass TV. A lot of people wanted to add Sky internet TV to a very high quality set with a puck but didn’t need a Sky Glass TV. Now Sky seem to be going to offer the chance of getting a Puck without having to buy a Sky Glass TV. I wonder how they will charge for it?
I have mentioned the problems with air travel before, particularly the queues at some airports to check-in and get through the security checks. Now I hear that as so many people are expected to travel this Easter the airline TUI has made a suggestion that some of the customers flying with them should drop off their bags the night before they are due to travel. Apparently the worst congestion occurs with morning flights so TUI say that if you are flying before midday you can check your luggage in between 14:00 and 21:00 the day before you travel. That’s all very well if you live reasonably close to one of the airports in the scheme or if you are staying at an airport hotel the night before you travel, but it’s pretty useless if you live a long way away and intend to park at the airport on travel day.
If you are going to India on your holidays you might like to think about flying internally on the airline SpiceJet. The Indian Civil Aviation authority DGCA has just banned 90 of their pilots from flying the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737 Max until they have been retrained. Apparently they have discovered a number of faults in their simulator training. I wonder if this is another general Boeing 737 Max problem or if it is a SpiceJet only problem?
Very misty this morning but mild again. I do hope the sun comes out as forecast. Bozzie is off to “somewhere in Kent” this morning to announce his plan for shipping the boat people to Rwanda for processing. It seems that of the 50,000 who crossed the channel in rubber boats last year over 90% were men aged between 18 and 40. My understanding is that it is these men who will be shipped out and not women and children. Mind you he has sent Pretty Petal to Rwanda to sign the paperwork, you won’t catch him going to “The White Man’s Grave”!
So British Airways are getting pretty desperate for cabin crew as proven by the fact that they are offering a bonus of £1,000 to anyone who signs up to start before July. Because it can take months to get a security pass BA stipulate that applicants must be trained and already have a security pass for Heathrow or Stanstead. This stipulation seems to imply that BA are trying to poach crew from other airlines. The £1,000 will be paid in two instalments, £500 after 3 months and another £500 after 6 months. I wonder if they will pay the bounty to some of those thousands of cabin crew they made redundant during the pandemic?
I have a question for the anti-fracking crowd. How come the Indians are fracking for gas in an offshore field and we are letting billions of cubic feet of gas just sit under the ground where it is easier to recover than under the ocean? I don’t hear stupid arguments from the Greens that it is not worth it, as most of the gas will be exported. I am certain that it is not beyond the wit of man to set the frackers a minimum percentage they must sell in the U.K. All I can say is get fracking ASAP.
This morning the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced that another Covid 19 vaccine has been approved for use in the U.K. for people aged 18 to 50. This time around it is the Valneva vaccine and it becomes the sixth vaccine approved for use in the U.K. What I find very strange is that last autumn the Government cancelled a £1.2 billion order for 190 million doses on the grounds that this vaccine was never going to get approval! So a couple of interesting things here, firstly we have approved a vaccine we don’t have any doses of and secondly this is a traditional vaccine made from inactivated virus. The second part is interesting as it seems it might be a mutation proof vaccine and not have a lot of the side effects that the likes of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines appear to produce.
What has happened to the Russian guided-missile cruiser Moscow? Firstly the Ukrainians claim to have hit it with two missiles which the Russians deny. Then at 1:00 Kiev time, the Russian Defence Ministry puts out a message about a fire on board. Then they say the fire has reached an ammunition store and there have been explosions. Next the International Maritime Forum say that the ship has put out an SOS at 1.05. Then 9 minutes later the ship is reported to have rolled over on its port side. At 2:47 the Turks report the ship has sunk and they have picked up 55 seamen from the ocean. The Russians claim to have safely evacuated all members of the crew. Then the Russians say the fire is under control and the ship is still afloat. Someone is putting out propaganda. I suppose that if the ship is on the bottom of the Black Sea it is going to be difficult to decide whom. Even if we see satellite photos I can hear the cries of ‘fake news’.
The number of people with Covid has fallen again this week. Last week it was down a little bit but not enough to know whether the peak infection of this wave had been reached. But this week the number infected has fallen by 500,000, so there is no doubt that the peak has been passed. The other thing is that the number being admitted to hospital has also fallen. The number of deaths hasn’t started falling yet, but that is what they call a lagging indicator and should start falling in line with hospital admissions soon.
P&O Ferries is still in trouble at Dover. They had announced that they were hoping to resume the service on Good Friday but that plan has collapsed with both its ferries failing second safety checks. The earliest P&O Ferries say they could resume sailing to Calais is Tuesday. In the meantime, they say they are offering a 25% discount to anyone who rebooks on any other of their services to the continent such as Hull to Rotterdam or on rival Brittany Ferries service from Portsmouth to Caen. The third P&O Ferries ship on the Dover to Calais route, the Pride of Canterbury, is yet to even have its first inspection, no wonder there are huge freight queues at Dover.
Another lovely sunny warm morning. These are the days I like, not too hot, not too cold, no rain and no wind. I had my snooze on the window sill just as I enjoy yesterday and with any luck I will be able to get another snooze in today. Mind you that early morning mist yesterday had me worried for a bit, but by mid-morning it cleared and turned into a cracking day. Looks like I’m in for a nice long peaceful weekend with the family away, bliss.
BritishVolt, who are building a Gigafactory for electric vehicle batteries in Northumberland, pulled off a bit of a coup yesterday. They have signed a deal with an Indonesian nickel manufacturer called VKTR to supply all their battery needs. Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of nickel and their supplies are under pressure because of sanctions on Russia, who in the past have been Europe’s main supplier.
I was very sad to read that this week Vauxhall is moving one more step towards its planned all-electric fleet by 2028. It has announced it is stopping selling the diesel version of its Vauxhall Corsa. You will still be able to purchase the petrol version and of course you can buy the Corsa E the electric one. But to buy the ‘E’ you must be very rich and stupid. Not only is it around 150% more expensive than the ICE version but a recent report said that it would take a person driving a Corsa E 11,500 miles a year over 11 years to break even on the cost of buying and running the car! Does anyone buy a new car and keep it for over 11 years?
Back in 2020 Redline Assured Security Limited, who supplied security services at Heathrow airport and at the Heathrow Express Station, carried out a routine test of the staff and their systems by placing a fake bomb at the station. The fake bomb included a box of wires and batteries in a plastic bag. Clearly visible in the bag was a piece of paper with the message “Allahu Akbar” in Arabic. As part of the round-up after the test Mr Anis Ali, a Muslim, was sent a copy of the report. He objected to the use of “Allahu Akbar” and took it to a tribunal claiming direct discrimination against him and harassment of him by both Redline and Heathrow Express. Unsurprisingly he lost. This week he appealed on the grounds that the phrase was commonly used daily by many non-terrorist Muslims. Once again he lost on the ground that the phrase had become commonly used in terrorist attacks. What an idiot.
It’s not just in Britain that there has been mad Easter scenes at airports. I understand that they have been having problems in Australia. In fact so many passengers were separated from their luggage when travelling from Melbourne to Sydney that Qantas has been forced to make a special baggage flight. The airline sent a Boeing 787 Dreamliner to Sydney with its underfloor freight area packed with passenger baggage. Apparently, a large number of flights to Sydney have departed without luggage in recent days forcing Qantas to draft in over 200 head office staff in an attempt to catch up.
I read that Ofgem have launched a number of investigations into energy suppliers following a string of complaints about direct debits being put up by vastly inflated amounts. The complainants say that the DD increases will net the suppliers far more money than they could possibly spend between now and the next price review in the autumn. The suggestion is that the suppliers are trying to build up a cash buffer to cover themselves against future losses. I always understood that if a company put up your direct debit you could demand it was reduced, you just have to pay for the power consumed at the end of the billing period.
It seems that an Algerian man illegally in Belgium has won €250,000 on a scratch card but is having problems making his claim. The rules say that such a large sum must be paid into a bank account, but because of his status, the man doesn’t have any paperwork and can’t open a bank account. The man crossed to Spain by boat and says he crossed Spain and France on foot before landing up in Belgium. He says he wanted to come to Britain but if he can find a way to access the money he will stay in Belgium. Please can we help him get his money?
Morning, lovely and sunny in London again this morning. I had a leisurely excursion down the garden and spent a bit of time investigating a few interesting smells. I think there just might be a family of mice in the greenhouse but the door was shut and I couldn’t get it. I shall have to investigate later.
The Dreamies Girl was on duty this morning and as usual she put the radio on. There was as a story about cats recognising their names and some other cats names and people being surprised at that. The Japanese, (why is it always Japanese?) have been carrying out experiments, showing cats photos and saying the names of the cat in the photo. Apparently, they stared longer at photos where the wrong name was given. What a stupid experiment, just like you I see cats regularly whom I know but have no idea of their name. Just think of all those neighbours who you see regularly but don’t know the name of. Of course I know my name and the names of people in the house who I regularly interact with, but there are 300 people working in Number 10, you can’t expect me to know all their names.
British Airways has directed baggage handlers at various airports not to load bags on short-haul flights to London. Similarly, baggage handlers have been told to concentrate on long-haul flights out of London. The airline has had to cancel flights because planes have sat with their belly holds full of the luggage of incoming passengers causing outgoing flights to be cancelled. BA have taken the decision to fly the people and let the luggage catch up later. Will they have to fly special baggage only flights like Qantas, who I told you about yesterday, will we see a fleet of lorries heading up the motorway?
The Ministry of Defence is going out to tender for fresh supplies of camouflage cream for the armed forces. It seems that they expect to spend around £1 million. I always remember those old war films with Commandos blackening their faces with burnt cork. But it seems things moved on from there and the MoD provided tubes of cream. However, this was famous for causing horrific spots and many soldiers preferred to buy their own online. In recent years I hear the quality of the free issue stuff has improved no end and that they now issue a little pack of four different colours that don’t cause spots and even includes a little mirror. Sounds a bit poofy to me.
As it’s Easter I have been reading about that annual favourite, the Cadbury’s Cream Egg. I have never eaten one myself and all that gunk in the middle really puts me off from trying one. But I appear to be alone. Cadbury sell something like 333 million Cream Eggs each year and Brits eat on average over 13 each a year. While Cadbury manufacturers them all year they are only supposed to be on sale between Christmas and Easter, although you will probably still be able to buy them until stock runs out. I bet Cadbury are delighted that Easter is late this year giving them a longer selling season.
I heard a lefty on the radio this morning calling Bozzie a Nazi for daring to try to have a plan to stop the boat people coming across the channel and saying that in an opinion poll published today only 25% of people supported the scheme. I was a little surprised as I had just seen the opinion poll he said he was quoting. It said 25.4% of people strongly supported the plan and another 21.6% supported the plan so actually 47% were actually in support. On the other hand, 14.6% strongly opposed and 11.1% opposed making a total of 25.7% against. Of the rest of those polled 18.5% neither supported or opposed the idea and 8.7% were don’t knows. It just goes to show you can’t believe a word a lefty says.
Cruise lines are always looking for a new edge over their rivals. It used to be bigger and better theatres, then specialist restaurants, then came things like ice rinks, climbing walls and surfing machines. I have recently heard about huge water shoots and roller coasters, but it could only be the British who have an onboard gin distillery. It seems to have proved to be highly popular on the P&O ship Iona, so its soon to be commissioned sister ship Arvia is to have an onboard rum distillery. Why rum I hear you ask? Well, it seems the ship is expected to spend much of its time in the Caribbean, so is supposed to make something like 8 different types of rum on board. Will the other ships in the fleet be equipped with other distilleries? whisky, brandy, vodka, you could choose your cruise ship by your favourite tipple.
That’s it, I’ve finished my diary very early today so I’m off on a quick patrol, I might even see if the gardener has opened the greenhouse, then I’m off to have my afternoon snooze. It’s such a nice day here in London and super nice in the sun, I can hear the window sill calling me. Have a pleasant weekend merry readers and I will be back on reporting duty on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2022