Larry’s Diary, Week One Hundred and Thirty Nine


Good morning people. Another rotten morning, cold and wet, not at all to my liking. I was down the garden and back so fast I surprised myself! Bozzie still hasn’t had a letter from the police, are they on a go-slow at Scotland Yard or are they having a rethink now that Cressida Dick only has a week to go?

I read an article this morning that was saying that running an electric vehicle now costs £720 a year more than a petrol car. This is interesting as I can only see the cost of running an EV going up and up. Firstly the cost of electricity has leapt this year, then I doubt the government will allow them on the road tax-free for much longer, they just can’t stand the tax losses. But the biggest loss is fuel tax, how long before a road usage charge comes along? That little lot will make £720 more look like peanuts.

The government’s energy plan is due out on Thursday. Rumours are rife around Number Ten that Bozzie wants more nuclear power rather than more onshore wind. From what I have heard over the kitchen table, the Little Otter wants more wind and solar but Bozzie says it’s just not practical and he wanted more gas. The nuclear option is a compromise. I hear we are going to have a new body called Great British Nuclear, to develop nuclear, and it will find seven sites, cut through red tape and find private companies to build and run these stations. These stations would be about the same size as Hinckley Point (3,200 Mw) so that’s 8 stations x 3.2 Mw or 25.6 Mw. But we actually need double that nuclear power by 2050.

It seems that Camelot, the National Lottery operator, is being taken to court over a £1,000,000 win it refused to pay out. I could understand it if the woman who “won” on an online scratch card had cheated but that is not the case at all. The woman had to phone Camelot to make her claim and when she did so the operator told her there had been a “technical glitch” in the system and she had in fact only won £10. That was 7 years ago and the woman and Camelot have been arguing ever since. Interestingly, Camelot were recently fined £3.15 million for bugs in its online betting system so they obviously have programming problems.

There must be something wrong at the BBC given the number of presenters who have left or are leaving. The latest is Dan Walker who has been presenting BBC Breakfast and is joining Channel 5 News where he will be lead presenter. At the BBC his latest salary is said to be c£295,000 per annum. You can bet he is going to earn more. He follows several well know BBC presenters who have left recently, including Andrew Marr, Jon Sopal, Emily Maitlis and Louis Minchin. Is it just for more money, or is something else going on?

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Gone for more Money?
Emily Maitlis,
U.S. Embassy London
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

A petition on has just reached 10,000 signatures meaning that it will have to have a response from the government. The petition demands an increase in the weekly state pension to £380 or £19,760 per year. That is a huge increase in the current state pension of £141.85p (from next Monday) but is equivalent to someone aged over 23 working 40 hours a week on the national wage. There are currently 12.4 million people drawing the state pension so this would equate to an awful lot of money for the government to find so I don’t really think it’s going to happen.

I had a little chuckle this morning when I heard someone talking about the suggestion that Millwall Football Club should invite Muslims to the ground to watch their matches. The person was saying the supporters were readying their chants. I liked the one that went “You’re Shiite and you know it” and the one for those Burka clad ladies “Get your face out for the lads”.


Yippee, it is warmer this morning and there is weak sunshine, I quite enjoyed my walk down the garden. I hope it stays like this long enough to get my window sill snooze this afternoon.

I read that shipping lines are playing musical chairs with their ferries to help with worries over food supplies to Northern Ireland. With the P&O short route from Cairnryan to Larne suspended, pressure has fallen on the Stena longer route from Cairnryan to Belfast with a build-up of trucks carrying food for the Northern Irish supermarkets. Stena would normally have a spare ship available for emergencies, but it is currently being used on the Dover to Calais route, where a ship is undergoing maintenance. Instead, they have moved the ship that has been operating its Fishguard to Dublin route to Cairnryan where it will operate to Larne. Irish Ferries have agreed to take up the slack and carry passengers and freight booked on the Fishguard route on its Pembroke to Dublin services.

Over the last few days, the TV has become full of pictures and stories of passengers being held up at airports and flights being cancelled. They say the problem is staff shortages due to Covid. But what is odd is that it is only some airlines and some airports. In fact, at some airports, it is limited to some terminals. But what seems odd to me is that the problems have arrived at the same time as the start of the Easter rush and there is always a crush at Easter. Also, why are British Airways and EasyJet struggling and RyanAir, Wizz Air and Jet 2 not? Could it be something to do with the way they are managed?

The Dutch city of Rotterdam has announced an agreement with the Holland America Cruise Line to hire the cruise ship Volendam for 3 months. The ship will be moored in the port of Rotterdam and used to house 1,500 Ukrainian refugees. The ship has been out of service during the Covid epidemic and a return to service had been announced. This lease will mean the cancellation of 3 cruises. Holland America are one of the more upmarket cruise lines so the accommodation should be pretty good, decent cabins, all with private facilities and most with balconies. In addition, I am sure they will be in for decent food even if it is only from the self-service restaurant. I wonder how many of the other facilities will be available? I guess the pools and maybe the cinema but I doubt the theatre and posh restaurants will be, I can’t see the refugees getting dressed up in their dinner suits.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Hired to accommodate Ukrainian refugees.
MS Volendam,
Ya, saya inBaliTimur
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

It seems that the USAF have excellent reasons to be looking at a different replacement for its ageing air refuelling tankers/transport the KC-135 and the KC-10. The KC-46 is the problematic plane in question that is being purchased to replace them. But it has numerous problems including the viewing system on the refuelling boom which doesn’t work in stormy weather, the onboard toilets that leak shit in a climb or a dive and the latest problem with the overwing emergency exit. It seems the trim stops them from being opened in an emergency so the crews have replaced the trim with Velcro while awaiting a proper fix from Boeing. Other critical problems included cargo pallets detaching from the aircraft floor during multiple flight tests; improperly-welded drain masts (which allow the aeroplane to drain hydraulic fluids or fuel); leaky fuel systems; and a refuelling boom that’s too stiff for lighter aircraft like A-10 attack planes or F-16 fighter jets to use. The USAF has a fleet of 57 KC-46s, but needs more tankers to complete its replacement programme. It has gone out to tender for a second batch and Boeing is again bidding the KC-46, while Airbus and Lockheed are jointly bidding the A330-300 MRTT which is in use with 12 nations including the U.K.

I hear that the Czech Republic has decided to be the first country to supply armoured vehicles to the Ukraine. The Czech Defence Minister has tweeted that the country is sending “essential military equipment” to Ukraine and illustrated it with pictures of several dozen T72 tanks and BMP-1 armoured fighting vehicles being loaded onto a flatbed railway train. These vehicles are all from the Czech Army Active Reserve. In addition I hear that Germany has lifted its objections to a Czech arms dealer exporting 56 ex-East German BMP-1s to Ukraine.

There was a disaster in Sandiacre, Derbyshire at tea time yesterday when an articulated lorry lost loads of boxes of packets of biscuits all over the road. There were packets of shortbread, bourbons and ginger nuts all over the road many of which were crushed by passing traffic. Police said they were ‘digesting’ the situation.


Morning friends. That nice day yesterday didn’t last to today, early morning drizzle made me run down the garden and back. Fortunately, I only got damp so I will dry off quickly in the warm flat. Bozzie only had an old suit on this morning, which I thought strange, as Wednesday is PMQ’s. Then I realised that parliament is on another of its long break so he didn’t need to wear a decent suit for the TV.

I understand that Tim Martin is not very happy with Westminster Council. For some unknown reason, they restrict pubs in their area to closing at 11 o’clock at night even though the law was altered years ago to allow for up to 24-hour opening to be allowed. Martin points out that his small pub in Leicester Square pays £20,000 a week in rent and rates, one of the highest in the area. He says that in addition to that the business is hit unfairly by VAT on food adding around £1 to the cost of a pint. He says he would like to open the “Moon under Water” 24 hours a day to make money and to save it from adding to the 199 others that have closed in Westminster since 2000.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
The Moon Under Water is not very big.
Moon Under Water, Leicester Square, WC2,
Ewan Munro
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I read that the cruise industry is bouncing back from its almost total shutdown during Covid. Last week I told you about P&O Cruises that have all their ships back in service, now I read that their parent company Carnival have just had their best ever week for bookings. Perhaps it will encourage them to return their 23rd and final ship back to service. One thing it has encouraged Carnival to do is follow MSC and put up its tipping rates. Many cruise lines, like P&O and Saga, include tips in the fare but Carnival don’t, they add a fixed daily rate to your cabin bill at the end of the cruise. This money is supposed to go directly to the staff who serve you such as cabin stewards and dining room staff. I only hope the increase will go directly to them rather than the operator’s coffers.

So we are going to have an investigation into whether or not we should drop the ban on fracking. I worry that the same old green lot that got it banned before with their daft tales of disastrous earthquakes will get their way again. However, I hear that the seismic intensity levels set for this industry are far lower than other industries such as mining and geothermal power. Fortunately, I hear that this will form part of the enquiry.

This morning I hear that we are to donate surplus ambulances to the Ukraine. I don’t object to us helping injured people but I do ask the question of how come we have surplus ambulances when we don’t seem to be able to get to people who need one for hours? Anyway, I decided to dig a bit and found that the NHS replaces its ambulances every 5 years, whether they need it or not! The replaced vehicles are then kept as “strategic” reserves. It is 20 of these reserves that are being sent. If we can afford to take them out of reserve why are they there in the first place?

I just told you about the cruise ship business recovering and I have now heard that London is due to have a lot of visits by cruise ships this year bringing thousands and thousands of tourists spending their Euros and Dollars. Depending on their size, there are three different calling points. The biggest ships call at the Tilbury Cruise Port where over 50 ships will call before the year-end. The medium-sized ships will call at Greenwich, with 14 booked in between now and September. Finally, there are small ships which can actually make it under Tower Bridge into the Pool of London and they tend to tie up alongside HMS Belfast. There will be 10 of these between now and the beginning of October. This is all good stuff for London tourism.

The town council of St Blaise in Cornwall recently went on a health and safety course as a result they have cut down all the daffodils in the council area. It seems that on the course they learned daffodils could be poisonous if eaten especially by children and causes diarrhoea and vomiting. The council has also decided not to plant daffodils anymore. When you see a host of daffodils in gardens and parks all over the country you have to think that this council is clearly mad.


Well, it’s a bit better in London this morning, it’s not raining and the wind has dropped, but everything is pretty soggy from all that heavy rain yesterday. Bozzie was up early again yesterday as he is off to the Hinckley power station site to talk about his energy policy. As it’s supposed to be the biggest building site in Europe I hope he has got his welly boots with him.

The war of words between Airbus and Qatar Airways over the A350 and Airbus cancelling the Qatar order for A321s moves to the London High Court this morning. Basically, Qatar refused to take or pay for any more of the A350s they had on order because of a problem with the finish. Qatar say this is a safety problem and have grounded the type, while Airbus point out that hundreds of the planes are in use worldwide every day and no one else sees it as a safety issue. Airbus say the relationship between the two companies has completely broken down and they have consequently cancelled a Qatar order for 50 A321neo aircraft. Qatar got a temporary injunction on Airbus stopping them from selling the production slots for the A321s before there was a full court hearing. That is what we have today, I will keep you up to date with events.

I have been reading about the queues of trucks at Dover due to the P&O Ferries mess. But today I hear that relief might be on its way. Irish Ferries already operates two boats on the Dover to Calais route but I hear they have acquired a third boat for the route and it has been having a makeover in a shipyard in Denmark. It is rather an old boat having been through several reincarnations the last of which was between Spain’s Mediterranean islands. It was supposed to relieve one of the two current boats for planned maintenance and was due to leave the shipyard today. I hear it is pretty basic onboard but it is only going to operate on a short crossing. However, I also read that P&O Ferries claim they are going to be back in operation on the Dover Calais route next week, we shall see.

The clip on the TV of Obama being greeted at the White House while everyone ignores Sniffer Joe is very telling. Even his own vice president ignored him! It probably reflects this president’s popularity rating. The last time I heard he was at only 39%, which is incredibly low, and riding for a fall in the midterms. However, I am amazed that any president could be so bad they made Obama look good.

I was a little misled by the radio this morning when they told me that £250,000 worth of diesel had been stolen from Devonport dockyards. The story was the fuel was intended for generators on HMS Bulwark. The problem was it was only half the story. The theft actually occurred in September last year and the fuel was in a road tanker being delivered to the dockyard where HMS Bulwark was in storage. The fuel was to go into a tank on the dockside to power a generator that was supplying power to the mothballed ship. But the main thing missing from the radio report was that the full tanker had been recovered almost immediately. Not only that but the theft was not from the Navy but the contractor looking after the ship.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Who pinched its diesel?
HMS Bulwark with French Ship Mistral,
Defence Imagery
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

With all the fuss about the Cuadrilla fracking wells in Lancashire and the Greens saying that if they were to receive permission to produce gas it would be many years before they could produce significant amounts, I was intrigued to read the IGas annual report. It was written before the government’s energy report that was published today so wasn’t influenced by it. The company says they have acquired leases to very nearly 300,000 acres of land for gas extraction and surveys say there is 93 trillion cubic feet of gas under it. They say that they would like to operate from 5 sites each with 16 wells and within 12 to 18 months could be producing enough gas to supply 3 million homes. But it’s not just them, Eldon Resources say they have leases to 150,000 acres and believe they have access to 38 trillion cubic feet of gas. Why are they messing around, why can’t we just get on with it?

I heard a lovely silly story this morning. As you probably know it is the Grand National this weekend and this is the race day all bookmakers make pot loads of money. It is also the day when offices throughout the country run sweepstakes. But apparently if you are working from home and take part by purchasing a ticket you could be breaking the law. There is a clause in the Gambling Act that specifically caters for office sweepstakes and it makes them legal only if the tickets are sold in person. So if you buy one from home you are breaking the law!


A dry morning and not too cold! As it’s Friday I hope the gang is going away for the weekend as usual and leaving me in peace. I do like my weekends.

Thinking of going to Cornwall for a holiday? Well, I understand that Great Western Railways are soon going to be able to run longer 9-car trains on its service from Paddington to Penzance. The current sidings are incapable of stabling that length of train, but 3 new longer ones are going to be built in Penzance which will allow the longer trains to run. GWR say this will allow them to offer an additional 2000 seats a day.

As an experiment, 6,800 houses in South Yorkshire are having high-speed fibre-optic broadband installed via their water pipes. The idea is that the cables will be much cheaper to install as they don’t need disruptive work. Mind I do wonder how the cable gets out of the pipe once in your house, does it pop out into the cold water tank or come out of your kitchen tap? Yorkshire Water also say that sensors in the cables will report leaks and thus have the added advantage of saving water.

Today the weekly Covid infection numbers are out and for the first time in ages they have fallen very slightly, by about 25,000. Maybe the fall is not huge but the numbers have certainly plateaued. Is this just to soon to hope that the current wave of infection has peaked, surely there can’t be that many people left to be infected!

A day after Bozzie made his announcement of 8 new nuclear power stations EdF has said that it thinks that the operating life of Sizewell B can be extended. At the moment it is due to be taken out of commission in 2035 but they think that with some work it can be extended by another 20 years. EdF say they will make a decision by 2024 but at a spend of only £500 million I would say it is a no brainer, 20 years extra generation for £500 million is cheap.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister was down on Salisbury Plain yesterday having a demonstration of various British weapons systems which we could possibly supply them with. Apparently he was most interested in missiles and armoured vehicles. I understand we offered to supply “defensive missile systems and protected mobility vehicles”. The vehicle on offer is understood to be the Mastiff which was especially developed for Afghanistan where it became obvious that our troops needed a transport that offered better protection against IEDs than the traditional Land Rovers. The missiles would also include more NLAW and StarStreak missiles but we could also send AS90 mobile heavy artillery.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Heading to Ukraine?
British Army Mastiff Armoured Vehicle,
Defence Imagery
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I hear that the front runner to win the takeover of Chelsea is the Ricketts family who are the owners of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. They are said to be supported by American billionaire Ken Griffin who is to be worth 4 times more than Chelsea’s current owner Roman Abramovich. Griffin has flown into London to hold talks with the Chelsea receivers and to present their plan for the future of the football club. All the remaining bidders have until 12th April to present their plans. If the Ricketts bid succeeds it is understood that Griffin, who Forbes Magazine says is worth £21 billion, will be the major shareholder.


Morning folks. Just as I prayed for another nice quiet day here in the flat. It’s so nice when the Mutt and the Brat are missing. I can put up with the Little Otter, as she feeds me, and Bozzie is OK, at least he strokes me and talks to me. Mind my favourite people are the Dreamies Girl, the old policeman on the front door and the one photographer who always asks me if he can take my picture, I even pose for him sometimes. Did you see me on TV last night? I was on Have I Got News For You for about 5 seconds!

I see the USAF is considering building over 100 B21 stealth bombers. It seems they will be retiring the B1 and B2 pretty soon leaving them with only the very old B52 which is being re-engined by Rolls Royce. But it will leave them short of bomber capacity. The B21 would be the first new US bomber in 30 years! At the moment 6 pre-production planes are being manufactured with some destined for ground testing while the first one is due to fly later this year. Mind it’s definitely not a cheap program with the USAF intending to spend $5.2 billion on it next year.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Leaving the USAF.
B1 bomber,
Samuel Johnson
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I hear that both Vodafone and Sky are sniffing around TalkTalk with the intention of making an offer to acquire them. In 2020 TalkTalk was taken private by a £1.1 billion purchase by hedge fund Toscafund. It is believed that when the debt was taken into account the actual purchase price worked out at £1.8 billion. Apparently Toscafund have asked brokers Lazard to test the water for a sale priced at greater than £3.0 billion.

It seems that Brighton has managed to squeeze some £27.9 million from the Department for Transport for its bus service improvement programme. It seems that the programme includes trialling improved frequencies on less well-used routes, possible new bus lanes on the A23 and A259, moving to all-electric fleets, more limited stop services, simplified fares and better bus shelters. The idea is to encourage more people onto public transport and away from cars and subsequently reduce emissions. I can’t be surprised as this is a Green council.

Gosh, it has been a bit mad here this morning just when I thought I was going to have a quiet day. The moving men have been in taking a load of stuff out of Richie’s flat. I understand that he and his wife are moving to the newly refurbished flat in Kensington. The idea is that they want to be near to their eldest daughter’s school. Richie is going to continue working from the No 11 office and will stay in the flat whenever it is necessary. That’s good news for me as their dog is going to the flat, but I bet the Mutt will miss his best buddy.

Interesting to read that the FIA have decided to enforce the ban, that is already in the regulations, of the tactics used by Max Verstappen when there is a race restart from behind a safety car. He drives as close as possible alongside the car in front, without actually overtaking, in the last moments before the safety car turns off into the pit. The FIA has now clarified that is illegal and the following car must stay behind the car in front of it. Verstappen employed this tactic in the last race and also in the final race of last season where he also overtook Hamilton for a second or two. If he does it again he will get a penalty. If the rules had been properly enforced last season Verstappen wouldn’t have been champion.

It seems a businessman was on his way home to Coventry when his electric car was running a bit low on battery power so he pulled into McDonald’s in Hinckley for his lunch. While eating he put his car on charge, but he needed additional time to get his battery charged enough to get him home, however he was disgusted that the charge cost him £35, far more that if he had charged it almost anywhere else. But he was in for an even bigger shot a few days later when he got a £100 parking ticket. It seems that McDonald’s let parking enforcement to one company and EV charging to another and never the two do meet. All 3 have policies but you can’t stay long enough to charge your car and none of the three cares. There is an EV charging point and that is the woke point, no one seems to care that it is effectively unusable!

That’s it, I’m off to have my afternoon snooze, it’s been a pleasant day here in London and very nice in the sun, I hear a window sill calling me. Have a pleasant weekend merry readers and I will be back on reporting duty on Monday.

© WorthingGooner 2022