Good morning folks, it started off sunny and warm this morning but as I dictate this it is clouding up. Bozzie is in fine fettle this morning, his spies tell him that Stoma is about to be hit with a Parliamentary enquiry into late filing of expenses, earnings and gifts. MPs get 28 days to register these things and he seems to have made a habit of exceeding this time period.
It seems that West Sussex County Council is desperately seeking to hire social workers. It is a bit of a confused situation but the council has 62 unfilled permanent social care jobs. On top of this, 46 people are on long-term sick leave. Against this, WSCC have hired 78 agency staff. This still means the council is short of 30 people and paying over the odds for the agency staff. Of course, what the council wants is to fill the 62 vacancies and has been searching as far away as Canada.
Carnival Cruises have commenced a series of cruises out of the U.K. today for the first time in 20 years. Over recent years the market for cruises starting in the U.K. has grown considerably from Cunard, P&O, Saga and Fred Olson to include Princess and Royal Caribbean. This year they have been joined by MSC, Oceana and now Carnival. Most of these cruises sail from Southampton where there are now five huge cruise terminals capable of handling the world’s largest cruise ships. But for some reason Carnival has chosen to use Dover, where they have been working hard to get some of the big boys to use their single refurbished terminal. I wonder if they have got a cheap deal?
Airlines are seeing passenger numbers increasing and are pulling planes that they have in storage back into service. For example, British Airways have got all their giant A380s back from southern Spain and the final one operated its first service at the weekend. In the US, the rush has been so hard that many of the aircraft that have been in desert storage look the worse for wear, many with the paint peeling off the top where the sun has scorched them. The queue for repainting is said to be huge. However, the strangest thing is that Qatar Airways has been using a large number of A350s. This is the very plane they are suing Airbus over claiming it is unsafe to fly. People have always said that Qatar were trying to delay taking delivery during the reduced level of services under Covid. Have they just shot themselves in the foot?
After loads of speculation it has finally been announced that Prince William, Kate and the Children are to move to Windsor over the summer holidays. At the moment they are living at Kensington Palace but intend to move into a house on the Queen’s Estate when the school term finishes. The idea is for all three children to go to a new school in Windsor come the Autumn. The family also own Amber Hall in Norfolk which, it is said, will become their permanent home when the children finish school.
The story I hear is that Winge and Ginge got short shrift from the Queen when they were over for the jubilee. The word is that the Queen granted them only a 15-minute meeting where they introduced her to Lillibet, she had already met Archie. But the Queen managed to get two snubs in, firstly the very short meeting and then the pair’s request to bring in a photographer was refused on the grounds that it was a “private” meeting.
It seems that conservationists want us moggies kept indoors at night to protect vulnerable species, in particular bats. They must be totally mad. How the hell is a moggy like me ever going to catch a bat? They can fly, and I can’t! When they roost it is always high up somewhere, I don’t think I have ever seen one on the ground. I could understand if they were trying to protect stupid mice. Anyway, I rarely go out at night, there are too many foxes about round here at night and us cats don’t do too well with them.
Gosh it is warm early today, I need to get today’s diary done as quickly as possible to get out in the garden where there is a little breeze.
A new bridge linking Russia and China opened yesterday. The 1,080-metre-long road bridge crosses the Amur river connecting the east Russian city of Blagoveshchensk with the Chinese city of Heihe. The bridge was built exactly half and half by the Russians and the Chinese who each built the 540 metres out from their own side to the middle. The bridge was reported as being complete in 2019 but has only just opened. I wonder why that was? Were they arguing about whose fault the missing 100mm in the middle was?
Princess Cruises have come up with a new way of getting people on one of their cruises, they are raffling an electric Porsche Taycan. You get an entry for each cruise you take between now and the end of November and extra entries for things like shore excursions or booking a future cruise. The only problem is you have to be an American.
Lidl are threatening to sure Tesco over what they claim is a breach of their trademark. Recently Tesco have been indicating their ‘Clubcard Prices’ by writing the words on a yellow disc on a Tesco blue background. Lidl use a similar yellow disc but with a red outer ring and the word Lidl in the middle on a brighter blue background. By Lidl logic, no one could ever use a yellow disc to advertise anything.
This morning the Department for Transport has announced the ending of the ‘Plug-in’ subsidy for electric cars. A £1,500 subsidy had been available on the purchase of any battery or hybrid car costing under £30,000. But that has been withdrawn ‘with immediate effect’. This will put up the price of all the cheaper electric cars by that same £1,500. As if they weren’t expensive enough already. Of course the motor manufacturers and dealers are not very happy they can see it affecting sales just when they were celebrating the price of petrol and diesel going up. They will moan even more when the government imposes a road tax and some sort of road usage charge in the near future.
It looks like another British company is being snapped up by overseas companies. The Newcastle-based GoAhead Group has agreed a price of £650 million with two companies, the Australian Kelsian Group and a consortium of bus firm Kinetic and Spain’s Globalvia who have both offered the same amount. GoAhead run buses in London and other places as well as Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, plus services in several other countries.
I read that punctures in your car tyres could soon be a thing of the past. At least two of the big tyre manufacturers, Goodyear and Michelin, are working on ‘airless’ tyres and could be close to launching them on an electric car. The idea is that they use spokes, somewhat like a bicycle, but much shorter and many more of them. The special plastic or fibreglass and resin spokes flex and distort to cushion the ride like an air-filled tyre, and support a thin solid tread section on the outside. The outer tread would be replaceable for wear, much like a current tyre but should be cheaper as not so much rubber is required.
Two warm and sunny mornings running this must be summer! I was a bit surprised that Bozzie didn’t seem to be disappointed that the European Court of Human Rights blocked last night’s flight to Rwanda. As he explained it to the Little Otter it was a win-win for him, he won in the U.K. courts on a topic that Tory voters overwhelmingly support, but having it knocked back by a ‘European’ body is another win for him.
I hear that the French are once again making up the rules as they go along. The agreement we have with them says that “a means of transport” can be taken into the EU without duty, provided that it is temporary and goes back into the U.K. “within a few weeks”. The mere fact that it has crossed the frontier is taken as a customs declaration and the driver has to do nothing else. This is good for cars, vans, lorries and even motorcycles provided they are ridden across the border. The problem that has recently occurred is that some French border officials have started to demand customs duty on a motorbike crossing on a trailer or in a van. Apparently, they are now interpreting a motorbike crossing those ways as not being “a means of transport”. I would suggest that if the French are awkward at the border, unload the bike, ride it across the border, then load it back on board the van or trailer.
I see that the new Australian Government has decided to continue with the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal and has agreed to pay the French with a sum of A$845 million. With that settled the Australians can now happily continue with the AUKUS project. It seems that in an interview, a new Australian defence official let a little more news slip about the project. Apparently they are currently looking at building American-designed submarines but with the proven British PWR2 reactors used in our submarines. This will be excellent news for Rolls Royce whose factory builds these reactors in Derby.
In other nuclear news, yesterday the Government took a £100 million option to take a 20% stake in the holding company that intends to build the proposed Sizewell ‘C’ nuclear power station. The company is currently a joint venture between EdF and the Chinese company, China General Nuclear Power. This looks like the first step in the process of removing the Chinese from the project and turning the project into a ‘regulated asset base model’ as commonly used in big infrastructure projects and involves taxpayers taking on risk alongside private investors. A decision on planning consent is due on 18th July.
Passengers on a British Airways A380 flight from Heathrow to Washington DC had a nasty surprise yesterday when water started gushing through the ceiling and running down the back stairs into the economy section of the plane. Fortunately, the plane was very nearly at its destination and the crew rushed around trying to mop up and stop the water, but a valve had failed and until the tank it controlled had emptied it couldn’t be stopped. Engineers at Washington replaced the valve and the plane was able to operate the return trip. As BA has only just returned its A380s to service from storage in Spain it makes you wonder how well it was maintained in storage.
Yesterday Westminster Trading Standards raided an American candy store on London’s Oxford Street and seized £100,000 worth of counterfeit ‘Wonka’ chocolate bars. This was the latest of a number of raids undertaken on Oxford Street shops in the last couple of months which has seized £475,000 of counterfeit and illegal goods. The Food Standards Agency has warned anyone who has bought one, not to eat it as it is impossible to know what is in it or the hygiene of the factory they were made in.
I have been reading about a recent Delta Airlines domestic flight in the US where, as the plane took off, a ginger cat escaped from its cat carrier and wandered down the aisle of the narrow-body aircraft. Much to everyone’s amusement it proceeded to climb onto the back of two empty seats and sat there perusing all around it in a way that amused many. However, his freedom didn’t last long as just as soon as the flight reached cruising height and the seatbelts sign was switched off his owner recaptured him and popped him back in his carrier.
The third sunny day running, but it is very hot in London this morning. Just be thankful you don’t have to wear a fur coat all day. Bozzie was chuckling about the latest resignation letter he had received from some bloke he had never heard of, doing a pointless job. He reckons that if he didn’t replace him, he wouldn’t be missed and could save £150,000 a year.
On Tuesday, police in the American state of Minnesota raided a car parked in a state rest area. It had been reported to them because it seemed to be full of cats. A mad cat lady had been evicted from her rented home and had decided to live in her car while looking for a new home. However, the lady had 47 cats and rather than turn them over to a sanctuary had decided they should live with her in the car. I can’t imagine that it was very hygienic.
I read that the Independent has had a Freedom of Information request denied by Parliament. The question they asked was what was the number of incidents of pornographic websites being visited from the Parliamentary Estate. Parliament refused to answer on the grounds of state security. I just cannot see how the number of visits to porn sites could possibly be a matter of state security.
I have never thought much about Mike Tindell, who is one of the minor royals through his marriage to the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips. But I must admit that if what he is reported to have said is correct, then he has gone up in my reckoning. He is reported to have said to someone at the reception after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee concert that Prince Ginge is a bellend. I understand that Tindell is a close friend of Prince William so that might explain his opinion.
I read that SpaceX and OneWeb have announced a cessation of disagreements and the American FCC they have come to an agreement regarding their satellite constellations. A letter to the FCC says they have agreed their systems can coexist. I also hear that the 32 OneWeb satellites that the Russians refused to launch at the last minute are still at the Russian Baikonur space launch facility, despite the Russian’s promise to return them. I also hear OneWeb has recently been testing connectivity on inflight aircraft using a Boeing 777-200LR over Texas. Apparently a download rate of 260 megabits per second was achieved and the upload rate was 80 megabits per second. This is enough to support streaming, gaming, telephone calling and messaging.
All the fuss made about the resignation of Lord Geidt last night by Labour claiming it was because of Partygate has fallen about their ears this morning with the publication this morning of his letter and Bozzie’s reply. It seems that he had been asked to give his view on whether or not we should go against the rules on steel tariffs we inherited from the EU. At first, Labour assumed that he was objecting to Tory donor companies getting benefits but it apparently has nothing to do with this either, it is more about upsetting either the EU on one hand or the WTO on the other and he just thought whichever side he came down on he would be wrong so he walked away instead.
A week ago tomorrow someone won just shy of £55 million on the EuroMillions lottery, but they are yet to claim the money. Wow, if it was me I would have been claiming it PDQ. Can you imagine how much money this lucky winner is losing in daily interest, it must be enough to keep me in Felix chicken for the rest of my life. Still, I suppose that if you win that much money, a few hundred thousand in interest is neither here nor there.
Gosh, another hot and sunny day! I am beginning to suffer, the flat is unbearable when it is empty as they don’t put the air conditioning on for a cat. I have taken to spending a lot more time in the general office where they have got air conditioning! Bozzie was up early as I understand he is off to the Ukraine again. I hope he has got his bulletproof underwear on!
I hear that the European Broadcasting Union has announced that despite Ukrainian winning the Eurovision Song Contest they won’t be holding next year’s contest in the Ukraine. They say that the war there makes it impossible to do so. At the end of the statement there is a little bit that says the EBU are in discussions with the BBC to hold the contest in the U.K. If my memory is right, I can remember it being held in the Brighton Centre and being hosted by Katie Boyle. I wonder what woke comedian the BBC would select this time, probably that unfunny Romesh Ranganathan.
I hear that things are progressing with the liquidation of the Hong Kong-based company Genting who owned Crystal Cruises and a German shipyard that was constructing two 200,000-tonne ships for Crystal. When Genting went into bankruptcy one of the ships was virtually complete and was sold on. Yesterday the Supreme Court in the Bahamas, who are liquidating the Crystal Cruise ships registered there successfully actioned off two ships. The 51,000-tonne Crystal Symphony, introduced in 1996, was sold for $25 million exceeding the appraised value of $20 the court had expected. The 68,000-tonne The Crystal Serenity, which entered service in 2003, sold for $103 million. Bids far exceeded the appraised value of $37.5 million estimated for it. The purchaser is said to be London based but hasn’t been disclosed
In 1977 Voyager 1 and 2 were launched from Cape Canaveral on a five-year journey to investigate Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and to shoot into interstellar space. The spacecraft were never expected to last this long but 44 years later they have travelled further from Earth than any other. Unfortunately the Plutonium power units are finally running down at about 4 watts a year meaning that scientific instruments are having to be turned off one by one, resulting in one spacecraft only having 4 experiments left while the other has 5. They are all expected to die by 2025, but the spacecraft will continue on the trip “to boldly go where no one has gone before”.
I read that over 90% of people receiving Graduated Pension is believed to be getting the wrong amount. The problem is the Department of Work and Pensions computer system is incapable of getting its calculations right. The problem has been known since 1980 but the amounts are so small that no one has considered it worth altering the software. In fact, 98% of the errors amount to under plus or minus 10p a year.
It appears that the 2025 Regent Seven Sea world cruise on Sea Mariner has sold out before it goes on sale. The cost of the 150-day trip to 97 ports in 25 countries starts at £69,000 per person, while the most expensive fares are the £192,000 per person Master Suite. I understand that past Regent cruisers were allowed to reserve suites before the trip officially went on sale on 15th June. The cruise starts in Miami and ends in San Francisco, but for those not satisfied you can add on an extra 18 days back through the Panama Canal to Miami. 25% of World Cruisers have taken this option.
My favourite story today is about Brighton Council. As you know it is the only Green one in the country and they have decided that they will not use weed killer on hard surfaces. Having failed to hire people to keep the weeds down they have taken to giving residents who complain about the tools like trowel and spade and telling them to do the job themselves. The problem started in 2020 when the council stopped using the weed killer but rather than admit it they say it is the fault of Brexit and not being able to hire cheap Eastern European labour. If I lived in Brighton and was expected to weed the pavement I would ask for a rebate on my Council Tax.
A nice quiet Saturday morning and it is nice and warm again, but not stinking hot because there is light cloud! Bozzie got back from the Ukraine last night and shot off to his usual weekend at Chequers so it is beautifully peaceful here for a while. I wonder who is on the feeding rota?
I hear that Babcock have signed a £60 million 10-year contract to supply dry dock maintenance facilities to the two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. The dry dock at Rosyth will be used. In addition, I hear that Babcock say they are on track for the 2025 delivery date for the Type 31 frigate and that all 5 Type 31s will be delivered by the 2028 contract date. It would make a nice change to see a major defence project delivered on time.
If you were flying from Heathrow’s Terminal 2 yesterday it was a bit of a disaster. The baggage handling system broke down and huge piles of bags built up meaning that quite a few flights took off with the passengers having no bags. In reverse, the wait at baggage reclaim hit over 2 hours. I learn that this morning the system has been fixed but there are bags still hanging around with staff working to reunite them with passengers. I wonder how many passengers will be back in the U.K. when the bags arrive at their holiday destination?
I hear a story from Cincinnati Zoo where they have a new cheetah cub. Apparently singleton cubs are not enough to stimulate mother cheetahs to produce milk, they normally arrive in twos and threes, so it is being hand-reared. Here comes another problem, hand-reared cheetah cubs can become anxious, rejecting other cheetahs, so the zoo decided to get it a companion/playmate and have adopted a puppy. I wonder how long the puppy will last before the cheetah kills and eats it?
As of today, all new houses built in the U.K. have to have an EV charger. I bet that the house builders have gone for the cheapest charger they can get away with. It will be slow and useless unless the house purchaser opts for something better which they will have to pay through the nose for as the electrical supply to the house has to be upgraded.
It seems that this year’s GCSEs and ‘A’ Levels have been a test for students in more than one way. They have not just been a subject test, but many of the exam papers have included errors not just in the way the questions have been presented but some have included topics the students were not advised they would be tested on. The other day I told you about the English paper that didn’t include four pages they were supposed to comment on. Now I hear of a geography exam that confused Gabon with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now I hear that an ‘A’ level law paper included questions the students were not told would be included. Last week a GCSE physics paper included a question on energy transfer and circuits. But circuits had not been amongst the topics the exam board had advised students to revise. The exam board has advised they will award full marks to anyone who attempted the question, but is that fair on students who choose to answer another question instead?
I learn that details of the Queen’s funeral have been leaked in Australia. The new Australian premier has just received a briefing on plans and somehow the Australian press got hold of the details. According to the press, the Australian PM will be told 1 hour before the public announcement. Australia will then join the rest of the Commonwealth in ten days of official mourning with flags flying at half-mast and the Aussie PM donning a black tie. The Queen’s coffin will be transported from her home at Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace where it will stay for 4 days. It will then lie in state at Westminster Hall for four days before the funeral at Westminster Abbey on day ten. The Aussie PM and Governor-general will fly to the U.K. for the funeral so I bet the same will apply for all Commonwealth nationals.
Righto Puffins, that’s another week’s reporting over and it’s time for my Saturday afternoon snooze. I don’t think it will be on the window sill as it is spitting great big raindrops and you know me and getting my fur wet. There is a lovely comfy armchair in reception and I think I will give that a sleep quality test. As usual, I’ll be back on diary duty on Monday morning, for what will be my last week before WG goes on holiday.
© WorthingGooner 2022