Good morning people. I was a bit lost yesterday when the Dreamies Girl turned up to give me my breakfast Felix. My internal clock told me she was an hour early and I was still curled up in my basket. It seems the clocks had gone onto summertime and no one had told me. I had the equivalent of jet lag all day!
I had a little chuckle today when I read that Hackney Council has spent nearly £20,000 looking after 4 cats in the Elmtree luxury pet hotel. I didn’t know it but when a pet owner is taken into care whether it is temporary as in a hospital stay or permanent as in being admitted to a care home the council has a responsibility of care for any pets if the owner has no one else to care for them. In this case I understand their owner became ill and was admitted to hospital. But it’s not just cats and dogs this applies to, I hear that Enfield Council spent £970 looking after a cockatoo last autumn. Last year Plymouth Council looked after 52 pets including a terrapin, while Nottingham Council looked after 4 goats. I wonder if I could get a holiday in that luxury pet hotel? It seems they have underfloor heating, a manicuring pad and even a chauffeur service for ‘guests’.
The disaster that is the two ferries being built by Ferguson Marine keeps on giving. Audit Scottishland has put out a scathing report on these ships which are already over 5 years overdue. The SNP placed the order for these ships with Ferguson despite strong warnings not to and now continue to make excuses. The latest statement by the Scottish Government says the first one is now expected to be delivered in May next year and the second in March the year after. If that time timetable is kept to, one ship will be over 6 years late and one seven. In addition, the cost has gone up by another minimum of £8 million. Much of this extra money is because the government is having to warranty installed equipment because the original warranties have expired because the ships are so long overdue.
I have been reading that the war in Ukraine has been having a huge effect on recruiting in the Polish Armed Forces. In particular in the Polish Territorial Defence Force, the equivalent of our TA, where recruits have jumped sevenfold since the conflict began. Of course this rush of recruits needs a huge increase in training needs and military spending and I hear that Poland has decided that they will have to join those NATO members who spend the recommended 2% of GDP on defence.
Gosh, I am rather disappointed to hear that Laura Kuenssberg is to take over as the permanent presenter of the BBC TV Sunday morning political show that used to be presented by Andrew Marr before he flounced off to join LBC. I must admit I was beginning to warm to Sophie Raworth who has been the ‘temporary’ presenter. She didn’t show political bias by asking lefties soft questions like her predecessor did. I know she was only doing the job as a stand-in and that next week she was handing over to another temporary stand-in. The BBC has shown its true colours with the new permanent presenter, another presenter who asks soft questions of lefties. Kuenssberg currently earns £260,000 pa in her job as political editor. Will she get an increase to the Marr level of £355,000 pa?
I read that a company hired a large Volvo six-wheel articulated dump truck from a plant hire company and used it on a site near Andover. The truck backed up to the edge of a steep slope to tip a load when the brakes failed and the truck went backwards over the edge and rolled uncontrollably backward down the slope and across busy A road before landing up on its side. The HSE found the operator had done nothing wrong but the plant hire company had been scrimping on the maintenance and were wholly to blame for not maintaining the brakes. They were fined £10,000 and £8,876.70 in costs.
I hear rumours that the soon to be launched TalkTV is to really only carry new TV programmes in the evening when it starts next month. From what I hear, the channel is to go out on Sky, Virgin, Freeview and Freesat. During the day it is going to carry the current output of Talk Radio that can currently be seen on the likes of YouTube. So the likes of Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mike Graham, Ian Collins and Jeremy Kyle will be dual cast on the TV. Then at 7 in the evening the reverse will apply when the likes of Piers Morgan takes over and the TV output goes out on the radio. Sounds to me that this is doing TV and radio on the cheap.
Well, I woke up this morning and for the first time in a fortnight it was dull and grey. At least it wasn’t cold. The Little Otter asked Bozzie if he was going to be on the lookout for the postman this morning bringing a fixed penalty fine for partygate. He let out a huge snort and said he was off to Westminster Abbey, for the Duke of Edinburgh’s memorial service. She told him to keep his distance from Randy Andy.
Last week I wrote about the combined British Isles bid for the 2028 European Football Championship Finals. Now I have been reading speculation about the stadiums that would be used in the event of a winning bid. Obviously one would be Wembley and you would expect one from each of the bidding associations, so Croke Park in Dublin, The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Hampden Park, the Scottish National Stadium, to be shoe-ins. But what about Northern Ireland? Well, their national stadium is Windsor Park and only holds 24,000 so is almost certainly not big enough to meet the EUFA limitations so we have 4 that pick themselves but we probably need 10 stadiums, so that is 6 more. Can we go for one more in each nation? The Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Celtic Stadium in Glasgow and possibly Old Trafford in Manchester stand out, but there isn’t another big modern stadium in Wales. But in truth we only have the 3 more suitable stadiums in England with several in London (Arsenal, West Ham and Tottenham), Newcastle and Manchester (City). I can’t see more than two stadiums being picked in London – Newcastle and Manchester for the last two. Hard luck Birmingham.
The Limp Dumps have passed a resolution at their spring conference to work towards rejoining the European Union. Will they ever learn? The country had a referendum where Leave won. The Limp Dumps and their Remainer colleagues wouldn’t accept that and tried their best to manipulate parliament to say in. Now we have done what the people wanted, the Limp Dumps want to reopen the battle. Didn’t only getting 11 MPs at the last election tell them anything!
The CEO of P&O Ferries is doubling down on just about everything, saying he will not resign and will not rehire the sacked crewmen. He also complained that safety inspections of their newly crewed ferries were too rigorous. He claimed that if the company rehired the sacked crewmen it would cost £350 million and the company would go bust. I expect he may be hit with more problems later this week when the government announces their next moves. I fancy a law to make any ship sailing to or from a British port having to pay British minimum wages, a court case because they broke the law by not consulting and the CEO being barred as a director. Furthermore, I hear P&O Ferries owes £148 million to the Merchant Seaman’s Pension Fund which is a bit of a problem for the company.
I hear that Germany has decided to purchase a missile defence system from Israel. The Arrow 3 is the missile used in later versions of Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ missile defence system which has the capability to intercept ICBMs, cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles. The system Germany is buying includes the mobile missile launchers, mobile radar scanner and a control unit plus other units to supply power and cooling to the Green Pine radar. I understand that Germany is initially buying 3 systems. Each mobile launcher usually contains 6 missiles and in the Israeli installation there are 3 or 4 launchers per system which can be located some way from the control unit or radar. It is said the radar is capable of handling up to 30 interceptions at one time. It’s not cheap but it seems to be effective.
The Dublin based aircraft leasing company AerCap has made a $3.5 billion claim for aircraft losses on its $5 billion insurance policy over 145 aircraft leased to Russian airlines. Many Russian airlines operated leased western aircraft, particularly modern Airbus and Boeing planes, through the company. The sanctions on Russia have made it almost impossible for the airlines to operate their leased aircraft as Boeing and Airbus are not able to supply spares or maintenance. Additionally, they can’t make lease payments due to Russian sanctions on the west and the closure of the Swift system. AerCap would like their planes back but Russians have passed a law effectively expropriating the planes. This is just one
of seventeen aircraft leasing companies with a total of some 515 aircraft in Russia. The insurance companies are in for a bashing, I can see this going through the courts.
I read an interesting little article today which I will let you Puffins make your own mind upon whether it is fully true, partly true or totally untrue. The story I hear is that the Russians have lost so many armoured vehicles, particularly tanks, in the war in the Ukraine that the General Command has decided to draw on the 13,400 tanks they have in storage. Apparently, this has given them a major headache because only one in ten could actually move under its own power. Many simply had engines missing as they had been scavenged for spare parts. But even those that could move have deeper problems with electrical and electronic parts missing, many stolen for their precious metal content. I further hear that a Russian general officer has been shot for allowing it to happen.
Grey, damp and much cooler when ventured out this morning. I thought spring had sprung but it seems I am wrong. The talk is of snow showers today, in that place known as the North. I don’t think I have never been to “The North” mind I have never been to the South, East or West either. In fact, I have never been very far at all. I remember Battersea and I regularly go to the vet but that’s about it. I am not a very well-travelled cat.
The Met Police were supposed to put out 20 fixed penalty notices yesterday, but that doesn’t tell us very much. Is that one each to 20 people or are some people getting more than one? As the Met are keeping names secret there is no way of knowing. Bozzie has said he will make it public if he gets one but there is nothing to make anyone else say if they get one. Then I heard that although the Met has done the paperwork it could be up to two weeks before all 20 get their penalty notices. Then the next question is will people choose to pay or will they contest the penalty notices? If they contest them it is up to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to go to court. If they do go to court many cases have been dismissed as the rules are far from clear and weren’t actual law only “instructions”. This could get still more interesting.
I have been reading that in Ukraine they have a new cottage industry, the repair of Russian military equipment and its return to use for the Ukrainian military. It appears that both the Ukrainians and Russians have lost a lot of equipment to heavy weapons, like tanks and armoured personnel carriers to missiles and these are only good for scrap. But the Russians in particular have been abandoning equipment for other reasons. Unlike the Ukrainians, the Russians are operating at the end of long supply routes and are suffering from simple mechanical breakdowns such as flat tyres as well as running out of fuel. Apparently, it is common for Russians to just abandon these vehicles as the theory in the Russian Army is that they will be sorted out by the rear echelons. That only works when you are advancing. I also read that the Ukraine is now believed to have more tanks than it started the war with thanks to this Russian generosity, but of course it could be propaganda.
The report out this morning on the maternity hospital in Shrewsbury is truly shocking. It seems that the hospital had a policy of denying women ‘c’ sections and making them go through natural childbirth. It wasn’t as if the women were asking for caesareans out of vanity, many of these were medically justified. The report looked at thousands of cases and found that the policy had resulted in over 200 baby deaths, 9 mother deaths and hundreds of babies suffering catastrophic injuries. I wonder if anyone will land up in court?
The EU has complained to the World Trade Organisation about our policy of asking people bidding for offshore wind turbines where they will be manufactured. They claim this puts EU manufacturing at a disadvantage. Isn’t that what being an independent country is all about, favouring your own country? Strangely this is exactly what the EU does in its own government contracts.
Strange goings-on in Canada. The last Conservative government placed an order for the Lockheed F35 to replace the Canadian Force’s CF18. However, Justine Trudeau included in his manifesto that that order should be cancelled. Consequently, Canada held a competition to find a replacement for the CF18 between the Boeing Super Hornet, the Saab Gripen and the F35. The Boeing offering was eliminated some time ago and this week the competition winner, the F35, was announced along with the intention to order 88 aircraft. This whole competition seems to have been a total waste of time and a political exercise landing up in exactly the same place as it was originally except years later!
I hear that the application for planning permission for the huge London theme park has been withdrawn. London Resorts say that the development has been affected by things beyond their control and that can’t be addressed under the current application. In particular they blame Tilbury being designated a free port, this has led to the new Lower Thames Crossing being redesigned and consequently the transport service to and around the site has been disrupted. In addition, Natural England has designated a contaminated brownfield site as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. London Resorts say they will be resubmitting the application once they have remodelled their plans to incorporate the recent changes.
I looked out of the window when I first woke up and it was beautifully sunny. Ok, I thought, spring’s back, so I headed down the garden for my constitutional. Gosh, what a drop in temperature, it was cold and windy, despite looking lovely. I didn’t stay out very long!
I heard an interesting discussion this morning on how EU Greens had responsibilities for the war in Ukraine. The argument went, the greenies had forced the closure of coal and nuclear power stations across the EU with their interminable renewable policies. This has made the likes of Germany dependent on gas. Russia spotted an advantage and started selling their natural gas to Germany at a cheap rate. Germany has become hooked on cheap Russian gas but is paying billions of Euros to Russia for it which finances the Ukraine war. I hear Poland has taken a different route, most of their electricity is generated by burning coal, 20% of which used to come from Russia. However, Poland have dumped Russian coal and will instead buy what they need from Australia and have to pay extra for it being shipped halfway around the world.
All the major Swiss watchmakers, Audemars Piguet, LVMH, Swatch Group, Richemont, Rolex, Patek Philippe and Breitling have confirmed boycotts on Russia and stopped exporting their watches or selling them. Consequently, I hear that Audemars Piguet have closed both their prestigious Moscow outlets. This has resulted in Russian secret service agents raiding the shops and seizing several million dollars worth of luxury watches. I bet all the agents are now wearing top of the range watches.
I have been reading about the Cheltenham councillor who was issued with a fine for overstaying the 90-minute stay limit in a Lidl car park. The problem was he had an electric vehicle and it was plugged into a so-called fast charger. The councillor doesn’t have a charger and there is no public one in his locality. However, after spending 2 hours shopping he returned to the car and found it was only half charged. He has paid the £90 fine for overstaying but is a little annoyed that a rapid charger is incapable of charging a car rapidly enough to be within the supermarket’s 90 min stay limit.
The EU has finally given permission for the merger of Eurostar and Thalys after a long delay due to Covid. You would have thought it not a difficult decision to make, as both are subsidiaries of SNCF the French state railway company. Eurostar operates the London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam services through the Channel Tunnel. While Thalys operate services between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Cologne and Düsseldorf. Initially this should allow the new company to integrate the timetables to make train travel from Germany to London simpler. However, it may be a while before we see through trains from Germany to London because all border checks have to be carried out before the train enters the tunnel and the required facilities would need to be constructed at the German stations.
A story in today’s papers about a British Airways CityFlyer pilot who had exaggerated his experience on his CV to get the job, appearing in court for his dishonesty. He had previously worked for Stobart Air before they collapsed and had apparently also falsified his documents for his application to them. Amongst falsifications were claims he had accrued 1,610 flying hours and that he had held a private pilot’s license since 1998. He also falsified training documents. He was found guilty and imprisoned for a year. If I was to fly somewhere I would like to think that the pilot was “totally legitimate”.
I was delighted to hear that the North Sea Transition Authority wilted under pressure from the government and told Cuadrilla that it doesn’t have to fill its two fracking wells in Lancashire with concrete. The NSTA have given Cuadrilla at least an additional year after they appealed the decision two days ago. Of course the Greens are not happy and Labour are having their normal moan. But doesn’t it make sense to develop all our indigenous resources? I think we will be fracking soon!
Another chilly morning, but quite bright. I hope the better weather hurries up. Bozzie and the Little Otter were busy eating breakfast and reading the daily papers when the LO suddenly said, “You didn’t tell me the backbenchers were pressing you to give one of the oligarch’s yachts to the Queen, couldn’t you get us one?” Bozzie spluttered toast everywhere, called her daft and told her to look at the date.
I am having to be very careful with my stories today considering that it is the 1st of April. I started reading a story about the Australian nuclear submarine that was quite believable. All about the Aussies trying to maximise the content of the boats being built in Australia. All very believable until they got to the list of proposed names all beginning with V. Vengeful and Victoria were possible, but not so much Vainglorious and Vaporous, when it got to HMAS Very and HMAS Vegemite it was clearly an April fool.
The problems keep getting worse for P&O Ferries. Today the Insolvency Service has launched criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances around the redundancies of 786 employees. Yesterday the Transport Secretary asked ports to ban ships that don’t pay crew the minimum wage. This is in advance of legislation being introduced in the next session of parliament to enforce minimum wage regulations on ships using U.K. ports.
Virgin Voyages is not off to the best of starts with its new cruise ship Valiant Lady. I hear they are currently involved in a search for a male passenger lost overboard off Portugal. The word is that foul play is not being considered and that passenger may well have jumped.
I read of plans to reopen railway lines in Sussex closed in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts. The English Regional Transport Association have announced plans to campaign for the reopening of lines from the Guildford-Horsham stretch via Cranleigh as phase one. Phase 2 would be to link Horsham to Shoreham. I am not sure how easy any of this would be as much of the old trackbed has been built on, although parts of it do still exist. In addition, the Wey and Arun Canal Trust have plans for the old canal which could clash with the railway plans but they are currently on hold due to legal problems.
I told you a few weeks ago that the Gambling Commission had picked Allwyn as the next National Lottery license holder, ousting Camelot the holder since the start of the lottery. I half expected it so I wasn’t surprised when I heard that Camelot had decided to take the Gambling Commission to court over the decision, there is just too much money involved! Camelot say the regulator, “Got the decision badly wrong.” While the commission say the competition was, “Fair and robust.” I will be interested to read about the case when it gets to High Court.
Some good news and some bad news for cruise line passengers. The Covid rules are being eased, despite having to take a test before boarding, passengers are only having to take a free lateral flow test (or similar) at the cruise terminal, expensive PCR tests have gone. Mask wearing has been reduced on most lines to just crowded places like theatres and cinemas. But conversely, I hear onboard and excursion prices are going up on some lines. I suppose they have to make up their Covid losses somehow!
Another very bright but chilly morning when I scooted down the garden and back for my constitutional. I rather like these weekends when office staff are on ‘feed Larry’ rota and it is quiet around Number 10 and I am not constantly having to look out for the Mutt and the Brat.
I read we are sending ‘armoured vehicles’ to Ukraine, I wonder how the Ukrainians will get on with a steering wheel on the right. Just so long as we are not sending them dodgy Ajax APCs, unless of course, we want to deafen the Russians! I also hear that we have sent them StarStreak air defence missiles. These are new and not yet tested in battle. I have just seen a film of one downing a Russian helicopter and a what super job it did. The warhead splits into 3 solid darts and they cut the target in half!
It is somewhat ironic that the Ukraine had previously supplied Russia with cruise missiles, helicopter engine parts and fighter jet components. It also produced the fire control systems used by Russian tanks. Of course, having your home-produced weapons used against you must be awful but it does mean that the supply of spare parts and fresh systems is somewhat limited. If this war was to end tomorrow I can’t see Ukraine supplying these items to Russia any time soon. I also read that the Russian tank factory has stopped production because it is no longer receiving microchips from the West. Which rather begs the question why was the West ever supplying them with microchips if one day we might have to fight them?
I was a little surprised to read that car manufacturers are still struggling to supply new cars to dealers due to the ongoing shortage of microchips. I hear that if, for example, you wanted to buy a new VW Golf it would currently be four or five months before it could be delivered. The problem is being blamed on chip makers slowing production to match orders when Covid struck and not being able to increase production quickly enough as Covid worries have eased. I suppose that this would not have happened in the old days when car makers ordered batches of things and held production stores. But with the Just-in-time deliveries systems used these days, there is no buffer stock to smooth delivery problems. Not everything new is good.
Talking about microchips, I hear the EU wants to spend some €43 billion beefing up its own chip manufacturing business boosting its output from 10% to 20% of the world’s production. However, the EU has a couple of problems firstly there is a shortage of chip design companies in the EU and secondly the EU is not exactly the cheapest area for manufacturing in the world. Currently most chips are made in low-cost manufacturing countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea. Why would EU carmakers want to source their chips from a high-cost maker?
It comes to something when the CEO of Centrica, the owners of British Gas, says that Britain should be fracking. He has said fracking could boost our domestic supplies and reduce costs. In addition, he said did we want to be reliant on foreign imports when we could be producing our own indigenous gas. You only have to look at the mess the EU has got themselves into relying on Russian gas. Of course, this has upset the Greens who have started trotting out all the rubbish about flames coming out of taps, earthquakes and that renewables are the cheapest methods of electricity generation. What they don’t tell you is that it is only cheap because it is highly subsidised. If it wasn’t necessary to subsidise wind there would be loads of wind turbines going up onshore in Britain where there aren’t subsidies.
I have been watching videos of my cat cousin ‘Chupie’, whose owner takes him to the pub and buys him his own burger which he really gets stuck into. The only thing is that Chupie is wearing a harness and on a lead which is a bit embarrassing. But I might put up with that just once if Bozzie took me to the Queen’s Arms and bought me a chicken burger. Mind you, fat chance of that happening. If Bozzie took me to the pub and bought a chicken burger he would scoff it himself, best I would get would be crumbs!
That’s it, I’m off to have my afternoon snooze, definitely not going outside, it’s just too cold. I’m off to see if Bozzie’s bedroom door is open, so I can snuggle under his duvet. Have a pleasant weekend merry readers and I will be back on reporting duty on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2022
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file