Good morning folks, I hope you noticed that this is my 150th diary entry I am sharing with you. It’s another lovely sunny morning but it’s not quite as warm. No Bozzie at breakfast this morning so I ate with the Brat and the Little Otter. Not much intelligent conversation went on there. Anyway, Bozzie turned up a bit later looking rather sorry for himself. Apparently, he had just had a minor operation on his sinuses and as he had a full anaesthetic that idiot deputy PM had been in charge of the country for a while. God help us nothing serious happened on his watch.
I hear that Mr Squeaker has got himself a new pet cat which he has called Attlee. The cat is a four-month-old brown tabby Maine Coon and lives in Squeaker’s house during days when the house is sitting and travels back to England’s Northwest with the Squeaker when it is not sitting. I hear the Squeaker also has a dog (called Betty), a tortoise (called Maggie) and a parrot (called Boris). He seems to like calling pets after political figures.
Kent winemakers are not very happy at the moment because they have been beaten to the punch by their rival winemakers in Sussex. The Sussex winemakers have secured a special status for its sparkling white wines that put them in the same category as Champagne. DEFRA has approved the registration of “Sussex” as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for wine. This is the same as the French AOC designation. Kent winemakers initially dismissed PDO designations as a marketing ploy but are now whining that it’s unfair that it has been granted to Sussex but not them.
In the first edition of Saturday’s The Times, there was, tucked away on page 5, a story that claimed that when Bozzie was Foreign Secretary he tried to hire the then Tory Press Chief Carrie Symonds, to a Foreign Office position. The story never seems to have made it to the online edition and was not to be found in later print editions. This was well before they were married. I hear that a spokesman for the now Carrie Johnson has stated that this story is totally untrue.
The current world’s largest container ship, the Ever Ace docked in Felixstowe yesterday (a bigger one is under construction). The ship is operated by Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine and can hold 23,992 standard containers on the 400m long ship. I understand that it is off to the Far East and since Covid the price of shipping a container there from Britain now costs around $16,000. That’s a hell of a lot of money a full ship can earn.
It seems that the number of journeys on the railway has gone up considerably from last year but after reaching nearly 60% of pre-pandemic levels it has recently slipped back to 57%. Of course, this is reflected in the fares, takings being down from £11.0 billion pre-pandemic to £5.9 billion last year. When you see these numbers it makes me wonder if the RMT are in their right minds striking now.
I was interested to read today that Germany has turned 360° and is back using coal-fired power stations. The problems started when the Greens got a foothold in German government and they closed down nuclear power stations and coal. This meant that power generation had to move to the unreliable wind and solar and gas imported from Russia. With wind and solar being so intermittent, coal closures have slowed but the war between Russia and Ukraine has meant that Russian gas is seen as undesirable. Basically, this has left Germany with nowhere to go but back to indigenous coal much of which is brown coal and much worse than the black coal we used to burn and coal stations are being reopened. So much for the green revolution!
A nice morning again. Bozzie was chuckling at breakfast when he heard that that fat Labour frontbencher David Lumpy was also in trouble for not filing his expenses on time. What is it with Labour? Why can’t they get their expenses in on time? Is he in a game of follow my leader? Or is he just too lazy and can’t be bothered?
American airline JetBlue took a chance last August and took on a temporary take-off and landing slot at Heathrow when other airlines were reluctant. In the teeth of Covid they launched a service to JFK New York using an A320 LR narrow-body jet. The temporary slot was due in October but I hear that it was now been made permanent and JetBlue will be able to continue running their daily service. They also have a daily Gatwick To New York service and have secured extra slots here and will be increasing their ex-Gatwick service and will soon be running 2 flights a day from there. They have secured enough slots at Gatwick to start a flight a day to Boston in August which will expand to 2 a day in September making 5 transatlantic flights out of London daily.
Last Friday the Scottishland state-owned car ferry operated by Caledonian Macbrayne broke down leaving numerous tourists stuck on the Isle of Lewis and Harris. The passengers were left with a serious problem as very little accommodation was available and many people landed up sleeping in their cars. In addition very few sources of food were available. CalMac eventually brought in a much smaller replacement boat. An engineer to repair the bigger ferry was not available until Monday. The Scottishland Government is making an awful mess of the ferries to the islands.
I have never heard of the fitness app Strava but I hear it has been hacked by “persons unknown”. Why would anyone want to hack a fitness app you may ask? Well, it seems that a number of the Israeli military use the app and it shows where they are via a GPS link. Someone has realised this and has been hacking these positions but just how good the data is appears to be questionable. When it includes data like someone running vertically up a cliff and running at 200 mph I wonder if the Israeli Intelligence Services have been one step ahead of the hackers.
At the weekend the swimming authorities barred transgender swimmers from their female competitions as they have an unfair advantage. Instead they suggested they should have their own class of competition. Today a second sporting body has banned transgender participation. The Rugby League has today barred transgender players from female Rugby League teams. I suspect this is the thin edge of the wedge and we will be seeing more sporting bodies following this lead.
I read that Emirates Airlines say that the Airbus 350 -1000 is too small and they would like a bigger version. Emirates is flying around 8 Airbus A380s into Heathrow every day with around 555 seats in each. But Airbus no longer offers the A380 as it was not selling, customers were buying the Airbus A350 -1000 instead and that only has 480 seats. However, Boeing can’t even match that capacity in its offerings. Its biggest offering is the 777-9 which is 426 seats, however, it is talking about a 777-10X which would have 450 seats as currently proposed. Emirates say that unless a bigger A350 becomes available they will need additional flight slots at Heathrow to move the same number of passengers as they currently do.
I was intrigued to hear that Stoma had told his frontbenchers and their Parliamentary Private Secretaries not to appear on RMT picket lines today and this has been ignored by several. Kate Osborne and Paula Barker, both Parliamentary Private Secretaries to shadow ministers, tweeted that they had shown solidarity with striking railway workers this morning and shared pictures of themselves on the picket line. Then Navendu Mishra, a Labour whip, tweeted that he was standing on the picket line. It appears that Stoma is being ignored by his MPs, I wonder if he will discipline them or whether he will quietly forget he issued an order they have ignored.
Another lovely day, this is how I like it sunny, dry, warm but not hot, but I hear that it is going to get a little cooler over the next few days. Over breakfast Bozzie was wondering if Stoma would go on the rail strike, inflation or the pension triple lock. His underlings have been busy feeding him responses. Whichever way he goes I fully expected Bozzie to chide him over going missing yesterday and 31 of his crowd popping up on picket lines.
Gosh, it’s only mid-summer and I hear that producers are already saying there is going to be a shortage of turkeys next Christmas. This year they are blaming bird flu and the rising cost of living. Last year it was Covid! The year before it was Brexit. This story gets rolled out every year with some new dreamt-up reason. 10 million turkeys are sold in the U.K. every Christmas and I bet that there could be a shortage of fresh ones if you have not ordered one in advance but I am sure there will be loads of frozen ones available and on sale for knock-down prices on the day after Boxing Days.
So Gary Lineker claims he was a victim of ‘racial abuse’. He says when he was at school he was picked on because of his ‘darkish skin’ and goes on to say he is British as they come. Now isn’t that racist, he is assuming that British can’t be anything but white! If I was at school with him I would have taken the Mickey out of his giant ears. Kids always find something to call others, Dumbo, fatty, skinny, thicko, ginger. I wonder if they called him Paki?
The electric car subscription service, Elmo, has just published a survey of over 2,000 people to ask what they intend to purchase for their next car, petrol, diesel or electric. 77% said anything but electric. Has the public seen through the greenwash at last? Electric cars are not cheap, on average they were 50% more expensive to buy than the equivalent ICU-powered car before the recent withdrawal of the £1,500 subsidy. Yes, it may be cheaper to charge up an EV than to buy a tank of petrol, but you will be able to go a lot further in ICU and then be able to refuel quickly and easily, try that in an EV. I wonder how long it will be before EVs are paying road tax, tax on fuel (perhaps by a road usage charge), congestion charge and a lot more. I fully expect that 77% to be 95% when that happens.
I have been looking at the report on the evacuation of a Qantas Airbus A330-200 in December 2019 where the evacuation was particularly slow. It seems that many of the passengers ignored the rules and took their carry-on luggage with them down the escape chutes and significantly slowing things down. The report, released yesterday, was into an emergency landing of a flight that returned to Sydney after fumes and haze leaked into the passenger cabin from a hydraulic Leak. The report says that the Qantas on-board safety video was a little misleading as it didn’t clearly state that hand luggage should be left behind. Thank God the plane wasn’t on fire and it was just a hydraulic fluid leak.
Yesterday it wasn’t just the Network Rail and Train Operating Companies staff who were on strike, in Yorkshire some bus crews were on strike and in London RMT staff on the Underground were on strike. Interestingly I saw the results of a Freedom of Information request giving details of tube train diver’s salaries. 158 drivers earn between £60,000 and £69,999 per annum. The majority of drivers, 3,056, earn between £70,000 and £79,999 pa and another 32 earn between £80,000 and £99,999. But that is basic salary, they also get free travel for themselves and close family. I bet there are loads of people who would love to earn that much.
In Leicester people have been delighted at the re-wilding of a disused golf course. Grass and plants have been allowed to grow without being cut back. People have reported seeing badgers, buzzards, woodpeckers and jays and that the paths are easy to use as the grass along them has been trodden flat. But all is not what it seems, the Leicester City Council has earmarked the land for 446 houses and the only reason the grass has been left to grow is that their industrial mower has broken down! The council say they are under an obligation to keep the grass cut and the paths clear and the site has got out of hand due to the recent warm, wet weather and will resume cutting once the mower is repaired.
A bit of drizzle and rather cloudy first thing, but it seems to have dried up now. Bozzie and Carrie have disappeared again and it is lovely in the flat being fed by people who don’t know how much food to give me and give me a bit extra to be on the safe side. I hear on the radio they have gone to Rwanda, have they been put on one of the extradition flights?
This morning OFCOM have demanded that the BBC address its bias. Apparently, 39% of people who watch their programmes think they are biased as opposed to only 15% in the worst of the other broadcasters. When did you ever hear anyone on Newsnight praising Brexit? Then we have Emily Friendless and Gary Big Ears pushing their left-wing views. I could list loads of examples but my biggest surprise is that it was only 39%, I would have thought it a lot more.
I understand that Citroen put a limited edition of its Ami car on sale in France yesterday. The Ami Buggy has a canvas roof and the solid doors have been replaced by metal tube doors. Citroen are only building 50 of these cars that are manufactured in their Morocco factory and they can only be purchased on the internet. But if you fancy one you are too late, this special model sold out in 18 minutes. You can however buy a standard model in the U.K. where you can order in advance for August delivery.
Construction at Hinkley Point ‘C’ is accelerating now that Covid is not panicking the nation. The second unit is said to be about 20% complete and there are some 8,500 construction workers on site. Unit 1 is much further advanced, with the reactor building up to the 35 metres height with only one more steel ring to be added before the domed roof is craned into place. I hear they expect the cost of Unit 2 to be about 30% lower than Unit 1, having learnt a lot from its construction.
The French Army must have been watching the war in Ukraine closely. They have started the process of adding the AeroVironment Switchblade to their inventory, saying that the procurement is urgent. Apparently, they really want them in service within the next six months. With the vast number going to the Ukraine I wonder if it is possible to supply the French, or anyone else, that quickly?
I read that the new Labour leader of Worthing has been going to some official events on her bike. However, I understand that when she attended a ‘business’ meeting at the town centre Ardington Hotel on Friday last, her bike was stolen. She is not alone, as in the last six weeks 32 bikes have been reported as stolen in the town centre.
On Tuesday evening some 25 passengers were thrown off an Air Canada flight from Montreal to Heathrow by armed police without being given any reason. The flight had sat on the tarmac for several hours which you might have thought would have upset passengers but according to other passengers on board, there were no arguments and no drunks. Amongst those thrown off were a pensioner couple, a family of four, a man who had been asleep, members of the Williams Motor Racing team and the Aston Martin team doctor. Back in the terminal, they were told that because they had been “de-planed” on the order of the captain they could not fly with Air Canada for 24 hours and their tickets were invalidated. To make things worse their luggage was flown to London! In a later statement, Air Canada claimed that it only intended to de-plane drunks and unruly passengers but some others may have got accidentally mixed up in the action. Strange no one saw any drunks and unruly passengers.
I suppose it is fortunate for me that Bozzie is not in Downing Street this morning. After losing both by-elections overnight I bet he is not a very happy bunny this morning and the atmosphere at breakfast would have been unbearable. Instead I was able to eat my Felix in peace, with just Nick Ferrari for company, as the duty feeder bashed my bowl down and slopped the fresh water on the floor before rushing off.
This morning it has emerged that the push to make motorists use E10 petrol may have to be eased because some 20% of the ethanol used to make the 10% biofuel in E10 fuel is manufactured from Ukrainian wheat and maize. If we want to continue down the E10 (or even E15) route we would have to replace it with U.K. grown crops and we just can’t grow enough. We need to grow more food crops in this country anyway, as people keep telling me that we have a cost of living crisis and homegrown is cheaper. I think part of the problem is the 1,000,000 extra people in the country.
I recently told you that a London company has purchased the Crystal Serenity and the Crystal Symphony from the receivers. Now I read that the British company that bought the ships has offered the Florida court $13 million for assets that would include the Crystal Cruises brand, customer list, domain names, social media accounts and other associated assets. The London businessman has set up a Bahamas company called Crystal Cruises Ltd and intends to launch a cruise line in the image of the old one.
A bizarre case at Uxbridge Magistrates Court yesterday. A Nigerian politician and his wife were remanded in custody charged with trying to bring a child into the country for the purpose of harvesting his organs. Very little was said in court so we don’t yet know what organ or organs were to be harvested and by whom. We also don’t know who the recipient was, maybe one of the charged or maybe a child. The child was brought into the country and is now said to be in the safe protection of the Metropolitan Police.
I read that an Australian woman has finally been reunited with her mother’s ashes four days after they went missing when she flew home from London to Sydney. Because of Covid the daughter had not been able to get over to England for her mother’s funeral in 2020. But when she finally made it she collected her mother’s ashes and put the urn in her suitcase to take it back to Sydney. However, when she came to reclaim the bag, nothing arrived. Qantas blamed Heathrow and Heathrow blamed Qantas but that didn’t help to find the bag. Only after the woman’s husband took to Twitter did the bag turn up in Sydney and was couriered to the woman. But neither party are admitting to it being their fault. The owner doesn’t care, she is just happy to be reunited with her mother’s ashes
I didn’t know it but apparently the Queen isn’t just a dog lover, she also has a tabby cat who until recently has been known as Sir Buddy. However, I hear that in her recent birthday honours Sir Buddy was promoted to the 1st Earl of Budderset, a newly created earldom. In future Sir Buddy has become Lord Buddy. He also enjoys the alternative title of Count Buddy of Budderset. I wonder if the Queen will live long enough to elevate Lord Buddy to Duke Buddy? Mind, I think this just could be fake news.
I am pleased to see that the Spanish Airforce has placed an order for 20 new Eurofighters. The £2 billion order is to replace the 20 ageing F-18 that currently defend the Canary Islands and will be added to the current Spanish Eurofighter fleet of 70 aircraft. The first new aircraft should be delivered in 2026. Now Spain only has to decide what plane is going to replace the AV 8 IIs that operate from its single aircraft carrier. I guess only the F-35 fits the bill if they intend to continue operating a carrier.
Well, after last night’s rain, it’s nice to see a bit of sun this morning. Not too warm yet though. I am really enjoying this break with Bozzie away in Africa, it is so nice and peaceful in the flat without the Brat yelling, the Mutt barking, the baby crying, Bozzie blustering and the Little Otter moaning.
Every year the Protestants in Northern Ireland celebrate the Battle of the Boyne on 12 July with huge bonfires and fireworks. Last year the people of Larne’s Craigyhill built Northern Ireland’s tallest bonfire at 286 pallets high, beating the previous record of 233. This year they are aiming to beat that record and establish a new world record for a pyre by building one that is 198 feet high. They have already started construction and it is already up to 65 feet. The only problem they have is threats to ignite the pyre early from the Catholic side, consequently there are people guarding the site day and night.
OneWeb have joined forces with Hughes Network Systems to supply high-speed internet service to Thule US Airforce Base in Greenland. The base is connected to military satellites for military communications but it is outside the footprint of the normal geostationary communications satellites for the military and civilians on the base to be able to have broadband as you or I know it. Now the OneWeb satellites cover the whole of the Northern Hemisphere and more, they are able to serve Thule and allow personnel to play games and stream films. Last week over 100 people simultaneously went online one evening utilising 1 terabyte of data and the system coped.
They had the women’s football friendly between England and Holland on TV last night down in the office. I passed through and stopped to watch for a few minutes, I must admit I was a bit confused when the team in orange scored and the guys in the office all cheered. I couldn’t work out why the office was cheering on Holland. But no, it was England who had scored and for some reason they were wearing Dutch orange while the Dutch were wearing English white. It was all too much for me so I went to my cat basket and slept.
I read that the Czech Republic is the latest nation to consider buying the F-35. Their fleet of leased Saab Gripen fighters are getting a little long in the tooth with the lease expiring in 2027. The Czechs are said to be on the verge of ordering 24 F-35As, the USAF version of the plane. The other country said to be close to ordering 20 F-35As is Greece.
It seems that the British no 1 ladies player Emma Raducanu is now said to be worth £10 million. Not bad for a player that doesn’t seem to get further than the second round in tournaments at the moment. I hear she is under contract with Nike, Porsche, Tiffany and Co, British Airways, Evian, Dior, HSBC and Vodafone and has turned down a host of other companies. I also hear that last year she had such good ‘A’ level results that she was offered a place at Cambridge to read for a business degree but has deferred it to later in her career.
The Indian Government has gone to the Indian High Court in an effort to change the country registration letter of Indian civil aircraft. The current Indian national registration letters are VT and the newish Indian Government claim that it was allocated to them by the British in colonial times and say stands for ‘Viceroy Territory’ which I somehow doubt. Even if the High Court agrees they are not the ultimate authority. They would have to get the agreement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and then get a suitable letter combination which could be problematic as I has been in use by Italy for ages and B (Bharat) is used by China. Then, of course, every civil plane in India would have to change its registration, not just on the plane but for all its paperwork.
Well Puffins, that’s another week’s reporting over and it’s time for my Saturday afternoon snooze. I don’t expect to be with you for the next couple of weeks as my scribe is supposed to be off on a cruise. By the time you read this I am sure you will know if he has managed to pass all his Covid tests and make it. If he fails the test I am certain he will have been on GP moaning! Anyway, I will be back with you soon.
© WorthingGooner 2022