Good morning people, it’s one of those days that looks better through the window. It’s lovely and sunny but when you wander down the garden there is a chilly breeze. Bozzie and the Little Otter had a long chat over breakfast about Crayons flashing her legs at him from the shadow front bench. He was of the opinion that she was pretty desperate and LO said she was no better than an Amsterdam tart adverting themselves in a shop window.
I hear that around 300 people who are working on the HS2 project in the West Midlands have been suffering several months of problems with their wage packets being short. The problem is with the site timekeeping and attendance system being faulty. The management of the contractor in question, Balfour Beatty VINCI, are said to have known about the problem for ages but have done nothing to put it right despite promising to do so. I always thought it was an employer’s responsibility to ensure that wages were correct and on time, this is one time when I think that employees have a right to take industrial action.
P&O Ferries has finally managed to get its second ferry, European Highlander, back in service between Cairnryan and Larne. Yesterday they tweeted that a full service was being resumed immediately as the European Highlander had managed to clear the few remaining minor problems that had been thrown up when the ship had been last inspected. This is the first P&O Ferries route to resume a full service. However, I hear that another story has emerged from among the newly hired crews in that many were initially employed on one-month contracts and now that month had expired they were being offered new contracts on even lower wages. The bit that amused me was that the union that represented the 800 sacked seaman was representing these new crewmen.
A while ago the Germans said they were going to increase their military spending to the 2% of GNP recommended by NATO. Today I see the first evidence that something is happening with reports that the Germans are on the verge of ordering 60 Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for around €5 billion. They are pencilled in to replace 50-year-old CH-53G helicopters. Two things seem to have swung the competition Boeing’s way, they were slightly cheaper than the competition and many NATO members use them.
For all you chocoholics, I hear that Cadbury are test marketing a new chocolate bar called “White Confetti” in Asda supermarkets. As you might guess from its name, the bar is basically white chocolate and contains oat biscuit pieces and milk chocolate beans. As a cat, I can hardly comment on chocolate bars as your human stuff is not very good for me, but I must admit the pictures I have seen look very pretty.
It appears that Beckham weddings are like buses, they come along in pairs. No sooner have we just had Brooklyn’s marriage to a rich American heiress than I hear that his younger brother Romeo is ready to marry his girlfriend Mia Regan. I only hope that Romeo is a little sharper than his big brother who it is reported has had to get his new wife, Nicola Peltz, to write all the wedding present thank you cards, as his writing and spelling is said to be so appalling.
If any of my readers have visited London recently they can hardly fail to have noticed the number of cranes on new buildings construction sites all over London. I understand that there are currently 109 buildings over 20 stories being constructed in London. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Planning permission has already been granted or is in the process of being applied for, for some 583 tall buildings. The average height of new buildings is also creeping up. Last year the average height was 28 stories, this year the average is 31 stories. London is beginning to look more and more like New York.
Well, it’s a similar day to yesterday, sunny but not very warm. Over breakfast I heard Bozzie saying he had a pleasant conversation with “Ange”. I had to stop and think who he was talking about, then I realised it was Crayons the Flasher. I can’t remember him ever having a pleasant conversation with her before!
An interesting bit of news this morning, chemists at Imperial College have come up with a new catalyst for hydrogen engines. At the moment the catalyst is platinum and that represents over 60% of an engine’s cost. The new engine uses a cheap iron catalyst considerably reducing the cost. I like the idea of hydrogen engines where the only waste product is harmless water. Mind you, we still have to get the hydrogen from somewhere!
Not long ago there was a lot of chat when the government announced that they were going to introduce “freeports”. In total there are initially going to be eight freeports and construction of the first one started this morning. This is known as Gateway 14 and is in Stowmarket, Suffolk and is owned by the local council. Gateway 14 is part of Freeport East which will include Felixstowe and Harwich.
I see there is a call this morning for another bank holiday. This year we are to have an extra bank holiday at the beginning of June to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and the suggestion is that it should continue every year from now on. I never object to having another day off but it comes a little close to the spring bank holiday (what used to be called Whitsun). I wonder if we would be better to have the extra day in the autumn where there is a long time between August and Christmas? I would prefer Trafalgar Day on the 21st October.
I hear that Brighton has decided to get rid of the 15 bendy buses they bought from London by the end of the year. They have been used on the 25 and 25X routes to the university because of the large numbers they could carry in the morning and evening rushes. Several things have led to this decision. They are no longer manufactured and consequently spare parts are difficult to come by, they are not cheap to operate and the routes they can run on are somewhat limited. Brighton have again decided to acquire secondhand buses from London, this time it will be middle life double-deckers.
Qatar today lost the first part of their London court case against Airbus. This is the part where Airbus cancelled Qatar’s $6 billion order for 50 A321neo jets on the grounds that it was associated with the Qatar order for A350s that Qatar had refused to accept. In a preliminary hearing the court had put a temporary halt on Airbus reselling the 50 aircraft it had cancelled until a full hearing. Well, this was the result of the full-on the A321neo jets. The court ordered that Airbus were now free to resell these 50 slots in the production line. The case over the A350s continues.
Poland currently generates 73% of its power supply from coal-fired power stations. In an attempt to be more green they have asked for bidders to tender for some 8.4 GWs of nuclear power. Until today they had 2 bidders, the French company EdF and the American company Westinghouse. Today they got a 3rd bid from the Korean company Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power. KHNP have offered to manufacture and build six APR 1400 reactors. This type of reactor is already in use in South Korea and the United Arab Emirates and further examples are under construction. It makes me wonder why we have not invited the South Koreans to bid for Reactors in the U.K.?
Morning peeps, not such a nice morning, cloudy and not too warm. The heating is still on in Downing Street, but only for a couple of hours in the morning and the same in the flat in the evening, so I am a happy moggy.
I read that the Type 31 frigates being constructed at Rosyth took a jump forward yesterday with the first in the 6 ship package having its keel laid, only 7 months after the first steel was cut. As is a Royal Navy tradition, a special coin was minted and laid under the keel. The coin was especially designed by a 7-year-old boy whose mother works for Babcock who are building the Type 31s. The good news is that I hear the project is on time.
I hear that the money for the next tranche of RAF/RN F35Bs has been allocated. What is not clear is how many aircraft will be in this batch. It could be just 12 to take our fleet up to 60 or 32 to take the fleet up to 80, which would allow two full squadrons to embark on both the aircraft carriers and there to be enough aircraft for land-based training to carry on. I understand we originally intended to have a fleet of 138 F35Bs and that number is still being talked about. The number we actually order depends on the unit cost and as that is falling as more countries place orders we could eventually see the full 138 ordered.
Some good news and some bad news for P&O Ferries. Last night they operated their first service from Dover to Calais since the sacking of 800 crew. However, this was a freight-only service so it obviously helped start clearing the congestion. However, the bad news for them was that the European Causeway running between Larne and Cairnryan suffered a power failure in the middle of the Irish Sea and was adrift for around an hour. All sorts of emergency services rushed to their assistance including tugs, Lifeboats, a helicopter and even the Cunard Liner Queen Victoria. Fortunately, the ferry eventually managed to restart its engine and limped back into the port of Larne.
Recently I have been seeing lots of people complaining that even though they had a valid passport they were being denied boarding, in particular by RyanAir and EasyJet. The airlines have been interpreting the EU passport validity rules much more strongly than the EU and this has cost hundreds, if not thousands, of people their holidays. I understand that the airlines are now amending their rules to reflect the actual EU rules. The problem with this is that the airlines are leaving themselves open to being sued by people that lost their holidays.
Some months ago I told you that it looked like the USAF was going to replace its E3 Sentry AWACS aircraft with A7 Wedgetails, just as Australia and we are doing. Well, this week the USAF announced that they have chosen the Wedgetail as the only practical AWACS replacement. Boeing are to get an order for a development aircraft this year and another order for a second development aircraft next year. The idea is to then order 15 planes to replace half the fleet of E3s.
The rumours going around Parliament this morning is that the person who leaked the Crayons the Flasher story to the Mail on Sunday was actually Crayons herself. Whether it was or wasn’t her it is an interesting development. What is also interesting is that in a podcast in January, Crayons talked all about her flashing and found it funny, this story must have come as no surprise to her. Also, the editor of the Mail on Sunday has said that he will not be accepting Mr Squeaker’s invitation to come to his office to talk about it. This morning’s Mail says that 4 MPs have confirmed that Crayons was in the bar laughing and joking about her flashing.
Good morning everyone, I am not a happy cat today as I find I am suffering from a cold. I have been sneezing and coughing so I have been snoozing a lot. Strangely I have not been very hungry and hardly ate any of my Felix breakfast.
I hear that in Scottishland they are having problems getting their census done. In England, Wales and North Ireland the census was done last year on the normal 10 yearly schedule, but the Scots decided to postpone the census by one. Now it seems that while in the rest of the nation around 98% of the population have replied, in Scottishland only 73% have completed the census. Consequently, the Scots have decided that they will have to extend the deadline for returning the census. It has been suggested that the main reason for the low number of completed forms is down to the Scots going it alone and not taking advantage of the free advertising they would have got if the census had been done at the same time as the rest of the nation.
Just Stop Oil were at it again this morning smashing the pumps at Clackets Lane and Cobham services then glueing themselves to the pumps. I heard that one of the idiots stuck their hand so high up the pump that they were in trouble. Someone went and found him a chair to sit on. If I had been there I would have left him standing.
I read that more armaments are on their way to the Ukraine. The Poles have pulled T72 tanks out of storage and have begun shipping them. At the same time, the US have been loading 155 towed howitzers onto C141s in California and will be flying them out to Europe shortly. These howitzers are in common use in world armies and it seems both Australia and Canada have already shipped them. I suspect the guns will land in Poland or Germany and then make the last bit of the journey by either road or rail. I guess that is why Russia has been firing missiles at railway junctions and sidings.
I hear that BT have decided that they are going to close down the brand for domestic customers and use the brand only for its business customers. Instead, they are going to swap all domestic customers to the EE brand. EE is used all over Europe so BT have decided that that is the way to go, use a common brand in all its European markets so in the U.K. it’s bye-bye BT and hello EE.
I hear that the company that produces 80% of British ambulances has temporarily stopped production at their Goole factory. Instead they will be concentrating on converting 50 armoured vehicles into field ambulances. The armoured vehicles are a gift from the U.K. and Venari are converting the interiors. They have been working on a contract for 100 ambulances for the London Ambulance Service and this has been put on hold. As it stands, 15 have already been shipped and after the initial 50, I hear they have funding for a further 36.
I hear that when Bozzie was in India he invited them to join the U.K.’s 6th generation fighter aircraft the Tempest. At the moment the project comprises BAe, Rolls Royce, Saab, Leonardo and MBDA. The Indians are developing a 6G fighter, but on their own I doubt that it would be as effective as the Tempest. The other nations we have invited are Japan but they only seem to be interested in the Rolls Royce engine which looks to be far better than anything they could develop on their own. I wonder if India will join the project, it would be good for everyone.
Today is definitely a Larry day, beautifully warm and sunny. The only problem is the bright sunshine makes my cold worse! Bozzie was chuckling like mad as he read the Daily Mail this morning. When he threw it on the floor I got a chance to read it and discovered that Labour had been lying about Crayons being at the Stoma beer and pizza incident. For months the party has been denying Crayons was there, calling the idea ridiculous. But the Mail found her on film so the Labour Party has had to admit she was there. Mind, no apology just the admittance she was there.
I read that the US is to supply the Ukraine with Phoenix Ghost drones. Now I have never heard of the Phoenix Ghost and have no idea as to what it is, so I have been trying to discover what it is. Well it has not been easy, there is not much online about it. So I will share what I have found out. It is, like the Switchblade drone, a one-way drone and is used to attack foreign armour and heavy guns. I have no idea how it is launched, it could be a tube, like the Switchblade, but it appears to be secret. The other hints are that it has a longer range and packs a bigger punch but not much is out in the public arena.
I am sure you have all heard about the problems that British Airways have been having with staff shortages and having to cancel hundreds of flights. Well, it seems that they are going to “wet lease” six Airbus 320’s from Finnair and 2 Boeing 757’s from Titan Airways. Both types will be used to supplement the short-haul fleet. A “wet lease” means you hire the plane and its crew which means that it helps BA with its crew shortage. But I find it intriguing that BA are going to bring the 757 back into its fleet some ten years after it sold off its last plane of the type. The 2 Titan Airways planes are both over 20 years old but the 757 was a passenger favourite.
I can’t say I ever liked Boris Becker, now I hear that he has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail for trying to hide millions in assets after being declared bankrupt. He is believed to have earned £38 million from his tennis career. But he had an expensive divorce, a child he had to pay for after it was conceived following a restaurant meeting and an expensive lifestyle. It now seems that he hid his ownership of a property in Germany, two Wimbledon trophies and other things. Well, he will now have plenty of time to reflect on his expensive lifestyle from his cell.
Another bank holiday weekend approaches and as usual Network Rail will be closing miles of track for work to be done. Doing the work at weekends used to make sense as the trains were less busy then. But since lockdown and home working, travel statistics have swapped around. It is weekdays that are now less busy and weekend trains are often packed. But Network Rail are clearly living in the past. Oh, I have got some good news for you. The next bank holiday is for the Queen’s jubilee and Network Rail have decided that they will not be doing any work that affects services to London.
On the 15th June several of the approved documents that interpret the building regulations for builders and the like, are due to change. The problem is with only weeks to go before the date, according to a survey, 52% of builders say they have no idea things are changing. Of course, these changes have nothing to do with safety and fire protection but are all to do with green stuff like ventilation and insulation and domestic electric vehicle charging points.
I hear that Emirates Airlines is very unhappy with its orders for 115 x B777-9 and 30 x B787-9 aircraft. According to Emirate’s order, Boeing should have started deliveries of the 777 back in April 2020 but Boeing don’t think the aircraft will be certified until June 2025. Boeing has built the first 12 of Emirates 777’s and these are hanging around gathering dust. Emirates point out that if the certification date stays at June 2025 some of what should be brand new aircraft will actually be nearly 7 years old. The 787 problem is a little different in that Boeing has outstanding orders for 481 of the type with 115 in a rework programme trying to sort out manufacturing problems. No new planes have been delivered for 18 months. I wonder if Emirates would have been so tolerant if it hadn’t been for the massive drop in worldwide air travel caused by Covid?
When I woke up this morning the sunshine was pouring in the window so I thought I would take my constitutional before the reserve feeder arrived. It was then I discovered that last night’s feeder had closed the door and I was stuck in the kitchen. I had a choice; litter tray or to hold on. Well, I decided to hold on and was just about bursting when the feeder arrived. I nearly knocked him over in my rush to get out. Still, he had put out Felix Chicken for breakfast and stayed to chat to me for a bit. At least I didn’t have to use the dreaded litter tray.
I have been reading about the future, robotic pizza vending machines. It seems that at the minute there are only three in the country, two in Chichester and one in Worthing. You choose the basic type from a picture menu and add extra before paying by credit or debit card. Four minutes later the machine opens up and out pops your freshly cooked pizza in the traditional box along with a recyclable wooden knife in case you need to slice it up to eat on the go. I bet the university students in Chichester love it on the way home after a night on the beer.
Earlier this week I mentioned the Qatar Airways Airbus dispute and that Qatar has refused to take delivery of A350-1000s that Airbus have built and are painted and ready for Qatar to collect. Airbus have 3 x A350-1000, in Qatar colours, which they are maintaining, and regularly running up the engines of and taxiing. The question is, how long will Airbus put up with the situation before offering them for sale at a discount to all comers? I hear that Air India are interested if the price is right and that Airbus would love to add them to their family of customers. Another possible customer could be Lufthansa who have recently been adding to their A350 fleet from lease companies. The problem here is that all Lufthansa’s fleet are -900s and these are -1000s. I will be watching carefully to see what happens.
I have heard lots of people complaining about the new Highway Code being a mess when it comes to rules involving cyclists but I have just been hearing that you can now be fined for driving in “inappropriate clothes”. I wonder what inappropriate clothes are? I hoped it might be men wearing dresses, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, it seems to be things like baggy trousers that could interfere with your pedal control, or wearing sunglasses on a dull day. For this you could get an instant £100 ticket and 3 points. If you opt to go to court you could get a £5,000 fine and 9 points. So remember my warning next time you go to the beach and are tempted to drive in flip-flops and dark glasses.
I hear that yesterday Ryanair found a new way to screw extra money out of its long-suffering customers. Ryanair expects passengers to check-in for flights online, but they do offer the ability to check-in at the airport for an extra charge. Yesterday morning the RyanAir website went down making it impossible to check-in online. So what did Ryanair at Stanstead do? Well, they charged everyone €55 to check-in at the airport. Not a very passenger-friendly airline.
I understand that if you turn up to London Bridge station and want to buy a ticket to Gatwick from one of the many ticket machines you might be a little confused. If you choose Gatwick from the list of destinations the machine offers, it will then ask you to pick what route you want to travel by from a list of 5 types. 1 is any permitted, 2 is not valid on the Gatwick Express, 3 is Southern only, 4 is Thameslink only and 5 is AP (advance purchase) Southern only. This could be very confusing to anyone who is not a native English speaker and just wants a single to Gatwick. Option one would allow you to travel on a train from Victoria 2 miles away. Anyone who knows London would choose Thameslink only as they run a train every 15 minutes that gets you there in 30 minutes but the machine says, “This ticket is not available at the moment.” The same message is displayed if you pick Southern only or AP Southern only. A laminated notice stuck on the machines says, “For Gatwick Airport please select ‘not valid on the Gatwick Express’.” Well, it runs from Victoria so shouldn’t come into the equation! As all the trains from London Bridge to Gatwick are run by the same parent company why all the confusion?
I had to look twice at the date when I read that there were plans to deploy “noise cameras” against boy racers. It seems it is difficult to get evidence of cars making a lot of noise so someone has combined a camera with microphones and when a noisy car is heard it will trigger the camera and the number plate can be recorded and the owner prosecuted. Four test areas are being equipped at a cost of £300,000.
That’s it, my diary is finished for another week, so I’m off on a quick patrol around the offices and the gardens, then I’m off to have my afternoon snooze. It’s very nice in the sun but a bit cool elsewhere. The window sill is nicely in the sun so I think that’s the place for me. Have a pleasant weekend merry readers and I will be back on reporting duty on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2022