Good morning folks another week dawns and I am getting used to being left alone in the flat much of the time. At least I can pop down to the office if I get lonely. It’s going to feel quite odd when and if Mary Elizabeth moves in properly. Still, this is going to be a strange week just as it was a strange weekend. Mary Elizabeth was in and out for a quick change from one black dress to another or a sandwich and cuppa on several occasions, but she seems to have been very busy what with all her ceremonial duties and with all the parliamentary and governmental things she must do at the moment.
Talking about people being chucked in at the deep end, I was delighted how the new leader of the house, Penny Mordant, performed at the proclamation ceremony. I bet no one had thought to warn her about this part of her new job before the note saying “London Bridge is down” went round the Commons front benches. But she did a wonderful job on Saturday morning, she looked immaculate and didn’t put a foot wrong. Perhaps I shouldn’t say it but she did look very prime-ministerial.
To change the mood a bit this morning I hear a few cruising stories. The Costa Luminosa has done its last cruise for Costa and is off for a major refit in the US to turn the ship into something more acceptable to the American market before it joins the Carnival fleet as the Carnival Luminosa in the spring. Among other things it is to gain a steak house, a cocktail bar and an adults-only area. I wonder if they will change the funnel for one of these odd-style ones that Carnival ships have? In New Zealand I hear that passengers were waiting for transport to their $30,000 dollars extreme luxury cruise and it just didn’t turn up. Apparently, the company had been placed in receivership by the court and no one bothered to tell the passengers. Finally, I hear of a major cock up in Singapore where the Genting Dream was about to set sail on a cruise and all the passengers were at the dock boarding when it was discovered that they had sold 2,100 cabins on a ship that only had 2,000 cabins. The unlucky 100 cabin holders have been given a full refund and a free cruise that they must take before the end of April 2023, depending on cabin availability!
The Docklands Light Railway very nearly had a nasty accident at its Beckton train depot. The depot needs to be enlarged to take the 5 car trains they have on order, as opposed to the 2 and 3 car trains they currently have. Contractors started digging preparatory holes to help design the foundations but dug one 3-metre hole under the tracks. Fortunately, it was spotted before anything happened and the hole was backfilled.
New Zealand is finally catching up with the rest of the world and ending nearly all of its Covid restrictions. Masks will no longer be necessary in public spaces and the vaccine mandate is to be dropped in two weeks. However, they are retaining a 7-day mandatory isolation period for people who catch the virus. The number of cases and hospitalisations have fallen very sharply in the last few weeks, making it almost impossible for the NZ Government not to follow the rest of the world.
I heard an interesting report on the war in the Ukraine this morning. The reporter likened the attack in the east to misinformation that the allies did to hide the D-Day landings. He said the attack in the south was basically a big bluff to make the Russians move forces to the wrong area of the front. Just like we did with the fake army in East Anglia that made the Germans think the real landings were going to be at Calais. I read that the Russians had moved front-line experienced troops from the east to the south replacing them with raw recruits on the front line. Behind them were Wagner mercenaries and behind them lightly armed paratroops. When the Ukraine attacked, the raw recruits were outnumbered 8 to 1 and quickly broke and ran. They were then shot at by the mercenaries and a battle broke out between the two, that the Ukrainian armour drove straight through and routed the lightly armed paratroops who apparently had no idea what was going on. I don’t know if it’s true but it would make a good film.
Like most steam railways, the Kent and East Sussex steam railway is having trouble getting coal. It used to burn British steam coal but due to our woke green lot that is no longer available. They then turned to Russian steam coal, but this has been banned because of the war in Ukraine. Next, they turned to steam coal imported from Colombia. But it being expensive they have been looking at alternatives. At the moment they are trying ovoids, smokeless fuel pellets. I understand there are several types, but these are made from ground coke that is formed into a large pellet that is bound together with starch. I hear tests are so far going well, but it won’t be a steam engine without smoke puffing out of its chimney!
It’s quite autumnal this morning, cooler, greyer and it is definitely not getting light so early. It was the Dreamies Girl on duty for breakfast today. When she went to the cat food cupboard she searched for a moment and then said to me they appeared to have run out of Felix Chicken and did I want beef and poultry mix or lamb and chicken mix. I meowed for the latter. It wasn’t bad but I prefer chicken in Gravy
The unemployment number is down again this morning. This time a fall to 3.6%. It seems it was driven by two main things, school leavers starting work as usually happens in August and September and people becoming ‘economically inactive’. This means becoming pensioners, on the sick, or just giving up work. I wonder how those who ‘give up work’ manage to survive, are they all bank robbers?
I hear that invitations to the old Queen’s funeral have gone out to almost every country in the world, with just a few exceptions. Iran is only invited to send an ambassador and Russia, Belarus and Myanmar have not been invited. Also because of the huge number of heads of state and hangers-on coming not even ex-US presidents have not been invited. I also hear that because of a shortage of armed political protection officers all the heads of state will be transported in buses. I want to see Biden climbing the stairs on a double-decker.
Tesco have been experimenting in some of its shops that have self-service tills with an automated voice asking if people want to round up their bill to the next highest pound to be given to charity. I hear the experiment is over and the automated voice is being launched in every store with self-service tills. This can work out as very expensive if you get your bill rounded up by the maximum 99p. I suggest you are very careful.
If you intend to visit London to lay flowers in memory of the Queen, please do not bring a stuffed Paddington Bear or marmalade sandwich and unwrap the flowers before laying them. The Metropolitan Police has decided that bringing these to lay in remembrance is causing a problem. The flowers are being scooped up nightly and will be composted, apparently this is so much easier without having to sort out the un-compostable items. I know that sketch with the Queen and Paddington was memorable but the number of Paddingtons being left has got out of hand.
I don’t know if I should believe the Ukrainians or the Russians about what is going on to the east of Kharkiv. The Ukraine claim they have regained thousands of square kilometres from the Russians in the past week while the Russians say they are withdrawing to regroup. Yesterday the word was that the Ukrainians had taken the important towns of Izyum and Kupiansk and the internet was full of pictures of abandoned Russian armoured vehicles and heaps of Russian ammunition. Today the word is that the Ukrainians are over the Oskil river but this is not confirmed. Reports say the Russians have been hijacking private cars to escape.
If you are a cyclist in Norwich there is important news for you. The bicycle parking rack near the city hall has been declared out of bounds by the city council and a notice says bikes parked there will be removed. I expected the notice to say ‘because of Brexit’ or ‘because of Covid’ but it actually said ‘because of the Death of Queen Elizabeth II’. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, why should parking your bike in Norwich affect the period of mourning? Well, it seems that Norwich is to open a book of remembrance and people using the bike rack might interfere with any queue!
Gosh did it rain overnight and early this morning? After much thinking about it, I decided to use the dreaded litter tray rather than getting drenched. Although I like the idea of having a bank holiday on Monday, I find the reaction of some people and stores to the Queen’s death mad. I can understand supermarkets and shops shutting, it’s only one day and most people can get a couple of day food in, but turning off the beep on self-service tills in honour of the Queen is sheer madness. Then we have the company who deliver pre-cooked meals to pensioners closing for the day. This is daft, loads of pensioners will be going hungry. Add to that the British Bicycling Club who have told people not to ride their bikes, the holiday company who wanted to close on Monday and chuck out customers for a night (fortunately they have rethought it). The people I feel sorry for are those who have had hospital appointments and operations postponed or things like driving tests cancelled.
I read that the government of the Ukraine has formally asked the US congress to supply them with long-range MGM-140 tactical ballistic missiles. These missiles can hit targets up to 300 km away with pinpoint accuracy and are fired from the same launcher vehicles as the HiMAR rocket that has proved to be a game changer. The Americans haven’t wanted to supply the MGM-140, also known as ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System), in case the Ukrainians fired them into Russia escalating the conflict. I understand the Ukraine has asked for 29 named weapons systems including anti-ship Harpoon missiles, tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles and artillery systems.
I have been looking at the TfL quarterly health and safety report and it makes gruesome reading. For example, the man on a Piccadilly Line tube train who needed a pee, so he opened the interconnecting door between carriages and started peeing. Unfortunately, the train went around a curve and the two carriages’ ends came close together crushing his head. Perhaps more unlikely was the man who was injured when the front wheel collapsed on the Boris bike he had hired. On the Tube, 8 people fell down staircases including a woman who died at Walthamstow Central. One blind man fell out of a train onto a platform. In total TfL say there were 43 injuries and one death in the quarter which was an improvement.
I have previously told you about TUI Airways problems at Norwich where their flight are operated by Canadian airline Sunwings. It seems Sunwings have a terrible reliability problem and flights this summer have been diverted to Cardiff, Belfast, Doncaster, East Midlands and Aberdeen. On Monday morning passengers arriving for the 06:40 flight to Dalaman in Turkey discovered that due to ‘crew sickness’ their flight was now departing from Gatwick that afternoon. Coaches were arranged and refreshments provided, but I understand passengers were not best pleased.
Russian TV yesterday showed video of a military Ka-52 helicopter firing several missiles and saying they hit and brought down a bridge across the Dnieper River while Ukrainian paratroops were crossing. They then showed the remaining column standing in the river. The only problem with this is that the column was all that remained of a railway bridge built at Nikopol by the Germans forces in WW2. However, it was never completed and what was there was blown up by the retreating German army in 1944. I wonder how many people were fooled?
A zoologist from London Zoo has just had a bit of a surprise. They set up a camera trap in the London borough of Kingston upon Thames trying to record hedgehog numbers. The researcher normally has to sift through loads of pictures of foxes, cats and dogs but she has just come across a photo of a rare pine martin. Pine martins had effectively been driven out of the south of England in the 19th century although they were still established in Scottishland and Wales and have been naturally recolonising northern England. However, in an effort to get the back into southern England several pairs have been released. But the nearest release to Kingston was in the New Forest 100 kilometres away. Pine martins are omnivores and eat everything from small mammals and birds to seeds and nuts. However, they seem to live alongside red squirrels while killing grey squirrels.
A Ryanair passenger has been complaining on Twitter that he paid extra for a window seat and in fact he was put in a seat by an aircraft door. Ryanair somewhat typically pointed out that there was a 3-inch spy hole windows in the door, so he had a window even if it was about 5 feet in front of his seat. Just how do they continue to get passengers?
Good morning, when I woke up it was very cloudy with no rain, but I was rather warm. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me until I found the kitchen radiator was hot, not just warm but really hot. Then I heard a lot of fuss and someone wearing a mucky boilersuit wandered in checking the radiators. I gather it was the ‘autumn check-up’ making sure everything was working and the radiators didn’t need venting (whatever that is!) before the grand turn-on of the Number 10 system. That was enough excitement for the day, so I just had my breakfast and returned to my basket for a bit more sleep before heading off on my patrol.
I have been reading on the internet that the businesses in a small shopping centre in Dover are up in arms as its car park has gone over to being payment by app only. There used to be a pay and display machine but in this new world cash is no longer welcome. The shopping centre is on land owned by Dover Docks but the car park is operated by Dover Council, they seem to be blaming each other for the problems which have led to shoppers refusing to use the parking and shop takings dropping by 40%. Because you have to have a smartphone to download the RinGo app to park, loads of people without a smartphone are excluded. If you have to go cashless wouldn’t it make sense to have a credit or debit card touch system like all the supermarkets do?
It seems that the Ukraine is using a large man-operated device called a “cannon” to disrupt Russian drones. The device, manufactured in Isreal, apparently interferes with the frequencies that the drone uses to communicate. The interesting thing is that Isreal has a ban on exporting armaments to Ukraine (and Russia). So just how is the Ukraine obtaining this weapon? There are actually being exported to Poland and Warsaw then turns a blind eye to them immediately going over the border into Ukraine.
One of the odder results of the death of the Queen is that a whole raft of manufacturers and retailers have lost their royal warrants. The likes of Heinz, Twinings, Bollinger, Gordon’s, Fortnum and Mason and Waitrose have all lost their warrant which say ‘By appointment to her Majesty the Queen’ and will have to remove the warrant from products and premises. Over 800 food and drink companies will now have to apply to Jug Ears for his warrant. However, it’s not just food and drink companies, there are another 620 businesses that have two years to swap the warrants, these include well-known names like Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, Barbour, Burberry, Boots, Clarins, Molton Brown, Hunter and Mappin & Webb but they have to prove that they still regularly supply royal households. That might be a bit difficult if King Jug Ears prefers PG Tips tea to Twinings.
There is a big row going on in the world of chess with allegations of cheating. The world champion was surprisingly beaten by a huge underdog and has consequently quit the tournament. In a tweet he has hinted at, but not said, that his opponent cheated. But the opponent has admitted cheating on two previous occasions. However, it is the form of cheating that amused me. The chess discussion internet sites have been talking about vibrating wireless anal beads. The claim is the beads were used to vibrate a code to tell him about the next move to make. Call me stupid, but I didn’t know that such a thing existed.
Like many supermarkets, Tesco branches support local charities. Tesco give shoppers a token which can be dropped in one of three containers to indicate which charity they support. In a Tesco branch in Cardiff the recent selection were all LBGTQ+ charities. The former MP, Mark Reckless, is not impressed tweeting that in the past there has always been a selection of charity types to select from. Tesco say the charities are chosen locally from those that apply to the store for a share of their community grants fund and these were chosen because it was Cardiff Pride.
I was delighted to see that Glasgow Rangers ignored the EUFA diktat that British clubs could not play the national anthem in honour of the Queen before this week’s European competitions. A minute’s silence was allowed, a black armband was allowed but not a verse of the national anthem. Well, Rangers correctly gauged the feeling of the crowd and following the wonderfully observed minute’s silence an orchestral version of the anthem came over the Tannoy and the crowd belted out the words at the top of their voices. EUFA is waiting for the match official’s report before deciding whether a punishment is necessary.
A nice sunny morning, but a bit cooler. I suppose it’s the middle of September so I shouldn’t really be surprised. The Dreamies Girl was on duty again this morning as Mary Elizabeth has gone to Wales to join in with the King’s visit.
I hear that Camilla, the Queen Consort, is carrying on with assisting the King with his duties down in Wales today despite being in pain. Word reaches me that she has a broken toe but has decided that hobbling on next to the King is the right thing to do. She has gone up in my estimation. I wonder if she likes cats?
In answer to a recent question, the MoD has confirmed that “under five” servicemen have been paid compensation for injuries received testing the new Warrior armoured vehicles. The total amount paid out so far is £12,320 which I hope is being recovered from the American manufacturers. But it is a little odd that the MoD use the term ‘under five’. Why, if it is four, don’t they say so?
A bit more MoD news. The Army seems to have noted the huge impact the HiMARS system has had on the war in Ukraine as it has placed a £40 million order with its American makers to upgrade its M270 tracked launcher vehicles. The improved vehicle will become the M270A2 version with an improved launch system, and a new more heavily armoured cab amongst other things. I rather suspect we will see additional orders for both launchers and for the family of battlefield missiles it can fire up to 500 km.
A Ryanair fight to Gatwick was diverted to Luton on Wednesday evening, I haven’t yet heard why. After being on the ground for 2 hours the aircraft captain told the passengers, they could either disembark in Luton and get a Ryanair taxi onward or wait on board another hour and fly back to Gatwick and called for a show of hands. Getting off at Luton won the vote and the passengers disembarked the plane. However, they then had to wait two hours for their luggage and then another hour for Ryanair to supply taxis! This didn’t best please a goodly number of passengers whose cars were at Gatwick and had to ride in a taxi halfway round the M25 and down the M23 to get it back!
Lots of complaints about MPs, members of the House of Lords, media people and other so-called VIPs being allowed to jump the queue to see the Queen lying in state. So my respect goes to former England football captain David Beckham who joined the queue with the plebs and waited 14 hours to visit the coffin. He even held up the queue a few times by agreeing to selfies. Another one who has gone up in my book. However, I note his wife wasn’t with him, but that is hardly surprising!
HS2 has just decided to restart building its Chipping Warden cut and cover tunnel after halting construction because of worries over the quality of precast concrete tunnel segments. This is the first of three similar tunnels where a huge trench has been dug out and 5,020 precast segments are used to make ‘m’ shaped sections employing 5 segments to make one 43-ton section. They are then joined to create twin tunnels before they are re-covered with soil. Work was halted after the first 100 metres of the 2.5 kilometre tunnel had been built when the worries started. However subsequent testing has shown no problem with the factory-built sections and the build has now resumed.
Gosh, it’s Saturday again. Well, it is a beautiful morning not a cloud in the sky here, but it’s chilly. I feel sorry for all those people queuing up to see the Queen’s coffin, I bet it was a bit cold out by the river last night. I wonder how many people have viewed the coffin? It was originally estimated that about 400,000 would filter past, but I see there are now two lines and sometimes three on either side. Some bloke got nicked last night for approaching the coffin, I haven’t yet heard why, did he just want to get near, cause trouble or was he just a nutter?
I hear a new channel is coming to Freeview next week. But it is not a TV channel it is a multi-radio channel called U.K. Radio Portal and will give access to a number of digital internet stations that are currently only available in the U.K. if you have an internet radio. Mind you, you have to have Freeview Play available on your TV or Freeview box, as it is not available over the air only through the internet. U.K. Radio Portal starts on channel 277 on September 21st.
I see the RAFs Hawk Jet trainer has had to be withdrawn from service because of an engine fault. The engine in question is widely known as the Rolls Royce Adour, but it is actually made by a joint venture with French company Safran. Interestingly the MoD has been investigating the cause of the problem and it has been isolated to the low-pressure compressor fan which they appear to have been delighted to announce is made by the French!
Do you remember when in the first Harry Potter film Hagrid gave Harry his ticket for the Hogwarts Express? They were standing on an ornate footbridge at London’s Kings Cross station. But most Potterheads know that when the station was redeveloped the bridge was dismantled. If you want to stand on that famous footbridge today you need to visit Ropley station on the Watercress line as that is where the footbridge has been rebuilt. I hear that for Halloween, at the end of October, the station will be putting on a Harry Potter wizard week for Halloween with rides on a wizard train. I would like to go.
In the Manchester suburb of Sale, I understand there are a lot of unhappy residents. It seems that a company with the rights to supply high-speed fibre broadband in the M33 postcode has chosen to do it on the cheap by taking the overground route and not the more expensive underground option. Consequently, they have erected numerous telegraph poles all over the place. Apparently, they don’t need planning permission, to consult with householders or even give people a warning. People go out to work in the morning and when they return in the evening a whacking great pole has been erected outside their home. It is no good complaining as the company is acting quite within its rights.
Wizz Air has announced that it is taking up an option it has to add another 75 Airbus A321neo aircraft to its fleet. This follows on from an order for 100 A321s at the last Dubai airshow. Wizz Air currently has an all-Airbus fleet of about 180 aircraft but is looking to add to it with new aircraft while phasing out their oldest planes. By 2028 they aim to have increased the fleet to 380 planes with an average seat capacity up from 212 to 237.
While on the subject of aircraft I have often told you about Boeing’s problems with the 737Max. During the period when the Max was grounded Boeing slowed down production but still produced over 400 aircraft that it had to store and, once certified to fly again, many of these planes had to be reworked to meet the new approved design. The 737Max is now certified to fly just about everywhere that matters except in China who are refusing certification on what looks to be political grounds. Various Chinese airlines are responsible for around 150 Boeing orders including 120 of those in storage and Boeing has borrowed money to build these planes. But this is not Boeing’s only 737 problem, they would dearly love to increase production above the current 31 pcm but can’t because CFM cannot produce enough engines for even those 31 planes. To meet the 31 737 a month target Boeing has been taking engines off stored planes destined for China and putting them on newly produced planes. Boeing has now announced that it is going to sell the 120 Chinese aircraft in storage, to other customers, but who will want a plane without engines?
That’s me done for another week. It’s now sunny and it has warmed up nicely, so I’m off for my regular Saturday afternoon snooze. It’s going to be the windowsill again this week. I told you last week that I can keep an eye on today’s coming and goings to No.10 from there. I will be back with you again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2022