A good morning to all my readers and welcome to another week of my witterings. On my own again this weekend, which I don’t mind at all. I don’t know whether Mary Elizabeth went to Chequers or her family home and I don’t really care as long as someone (preferably the Dreamies Girl) feeds me and fills up my water bowl. As I have said many times before, if I want company there are loads of people in the office who appreciate me.
A lovely story this morning about electric cars. In the last four months, the cost of charging one on a fast charge has gone up by 45%, while the cost of petrol and diesel has fallen back, with petrol down from nearly £2 a litre to £1.60p. What does all this mean? Well, the cost of running an electric car is now virtually the same as running a petrol car. Mind you a petrol car will go for two or three times the distance on a tankful as opposed to a charge. The electric car will have cost you half as much again as the cost of the equivalent petrol car. OK, at the moment you don’t pay road tax on an electric car, or pay congestion charge, but that is not going to last and petrol is heavily taxed while electricity isn’t. The only reason I can see for buying a green car is virtue signalling.
Today NASA is carrying out a test some 3,000,000 miles out in space. They want to test their defences against a big meteor crashing into the Earth by crashing a missile into a meteor in an attempt to alter its path. I always thought that a little bump by a missile was not enough and it would take a nuclear blast to make a difference. The meteor they have picked is not currently on a collision path with earth so wouldn’t it be ironic if the nudge they give it turns it in our direction?
I hear that a Boeing 737 freighter overran the runway at 3 o’clock in the morning on Saturday at Montpellier airport. It was a mighty close thing as the plane ran through reeds and the nose dipped into a lake. The wheels are stuck in the mud and the airport is closed to all traffic until it can be moved. The problem seems to be that the plane is heavy and needs to be unloaded to make it easier to move but the cargo door is out over the lake. I am watching what happens with interest.
In Liverpool, a man has been given a 12-month conditional discharge for offering to give his daughter £5,000 to help with her cost of living. The problem was he breached a restraining order that prevented him from contacting her. Following a family row last February a restraining order was imposed until 2030 barring the man from contacting his daughter and several other people. Apparently the man was concerned about his grandchildren suffering and wanted to help his family out. His daughter must really hate him as after reading the message she reported him to the police. Perhaps the problem was she wanted more money!?
The Metropolitan Police have come up with a new scheme to hit the motorists for more money by secretly changing the rules used for collecting speeding fines. They have in the past allowed motorists a margin over the speed limit of 10% + 3mph meaning a driver could do 36mph in a 30 zone. However, it has emerged that, without making a public announcement, they have moved the goalposts and changed the rules to 10% + 2 mph. The result has been an increase to 347,000 from 97,000 people being fined in the last six months, up by 259%. That’s a minimum fine of £100 a time going into the government’s coffers.
So the Italians have given a party to the right of Italian politics the biggest vote in its general election. The leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, has already agreed a coalition with two other parties in the event of being the largest party. But things are not simple in the Italian political world. Like in Britain the leader of the largest party is invited to form a government. In the U.K. it is by the monarch but in Italy it is by the president. But where Italy is different to the U.K. is that the Italian president has the right to reject suggested ministers. But what has interested me is that the left-wing supporting BBC never misses an opportunity to refer to Meloni as ‘far right’. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as the BBC considered anyone to the right of the Limp Dumps to be ‘far right’.
It’s definitely getting a bit cooler this morning, although it is quite bright and sunny. I hate these autumn mornings when there is a heavy dew and I get my paws soaking wet when I walk on the grass in the garden. It is a choice between that and walking on the gravel path neither of which I like. Still, it has to be done, as the alternative is the litter tray and that is just horrible!
I told you earlier this year that many residents of the city of Brighton and Hove were upset by the number and size of weeds growing on the city’s pavements and footpaths and that the council had offered spades to the most vociferous of complainants. The problem started a couple of years ago when the freshly elected Labour Party councillors combined with the Green Party councillors to stop the use of weed killers on the city streets. Now after two years weed growth has led to forests on the streets (well at my height it’s a forest), the council have not got a clue what to do. At a council meeting this week, after a Green councillor blamed Brexit, they voted to do the typical Labour thing, they kicked it into the long grass by getting a committee to commission a report to give them green/economic options. Now there’s an impossibility.
Mary Elizabeth was in and out a few times yesterday but as it’s conference season it is pretty quiet here in Westminster. I caught a bit of the Labour Party conference yesterday where they were full of criticism of the mini-budget before admitting that the only thing they would change is the abolition of the 45% income tax band. But I think it’s more interesting that the women delegates had to have a meeting in secret to discuss the trans issue. It seems that it voted against letting Eddie Izzard stand on an all-woman shortlist. How could anyone believe that that thing was ever a woman?
Yesterday morning the news was leading on the Pound ‘crashing’ to a new low against the Dollar. The BBC loved it, telling us how the Pound had fallen to 1.03 against the Dollar but ignoring to tell us it had almost immediately bounced back to 1.05 and that during the day had climbed back to 1.07. Of course, the BBC blamed it on the mini-budget, but what I don’t understand is how the mini-budget has affected the Euro, the Yen and various other currencies as they have also crashed against the Dollar that is actually booming. As I dictate this diary entry the pound is still going up and is now over 1.08.
In Italy, the PM-designate is for the first time a woman, Giorgia Meloni, who happens to be a single mother and to the right of politics. Her party has received around 26% of the vote, the largest percentage of any party but the BBC report says ‘millions of people didn’t vote for her’. Surely that’s not the point, in a first past the post system the party that gets the most votes usually wins! Then the EU’s unelected Ursula Von Der Lying clearly is not happy as she has just said the ‘EU has methods and tools to deal with her’. Is Ms Lying trying to drive another nation out of the EU?
The latest meeting of TfL’s Elizabeth Line Committee reveals some interesting information. Since trains started running through the ‘core’ tunnels under central London, the line is beating all the pre-Covid budgets for passengers. On average it has been carrying over 2 million passengers a week. The reliability of trains is running at about 95% but one problem that has been discovered is that passengers who get their luggage stuck in the doors have had to tug so hard to get it out that they have been ripping the rubber safety edges off the doors. Trains then must be taken out for service for repairs!
Today Sky TV has announced the launch of a stand-alone TV box called ‘Stream’ which basically takes the guts of a Sky ‘Glass’ television and allows any TV to receive the same packages of Sky Channels as Sky ‘Glass’ over the internet. ‘Stream’ is available to rent from 18th October. A similar box, called a Sky ‘Puck’ has been available to people who buy Sky ‘Glass’ for some time. The new box will cost from £29 a month on a rolling monthly contract, but this is reduced to £26 a month if you take a fixed 18-month agreement. There is a one-off start-up charge of £39.95 reducing to £20 if you are on the 18-month agreement. This makes me wonder how long Sky will continue selling satellite systems.
Another beautiful sunny morning but just like yesterday it is cold and there is a heavy dew. Yesterday I told you I got my paws wet on the grass and today was no different. But I stopped to watch the gardener filling up the bird feeder. There are four hanging things (cages?) and he was filling them up with peanuts, suet balls, sunflower seeds and little suet things with insects mixed in them. As soon as he walked away a flock of small birds arrived. I am not very good at small bird recognition, I know a crow, a magpie, a pigeon and a seagull and they are too big for me now I’m getting old, but the little birds are fair game. Unfortunately, the bird feeder is too high up for me.
I am delighted to see that the Sussex Police have had to back down over their suggestion that two people who questioned why a man, who identified as a woman and was sent to a woman’s prison, had committed an offence. A paedophile, Steven Dixion, who attacked numerous children as a male and was sentenced to 20 years in prison but claimed he was now Sally Ann Dixon and was sent to a woman’s prison. People complained on social media and Sussex Police posted defending Dixon and implying that anyone saying he was a man was committing an offence which was not true. The police have now deleted their tweet and admitted they were wrong.
So Rupa Huq has lost the Labour Party whip for calling Kwai Kwartang ‘superficially black’. Apparently, this ‘brown’ woman thinks that because Kwartang went to Eton and speaks what she thinks is posh English he is not a black man. Well, surely that is racist! Sir Beer Korma has withdrawn the Labour whip while a committee investigates. Sir Beer has called Huq’s statement racist but has refrained from calling her a racist. What are the odds she will be ordered to apologise and is quickly reinstated?
Both Nordstream gas pipelines are leaking gas into the sea. Reports say both pipelines have been damaged by explosions. I don’t know if this is right, but it is clear that both pipes are leaking. But who would deliberately damage the pipes? Would the likes of Germany, and other European nations who want the gas do it? Would the Russians damage their own pipelines? I guess the Russians might but surely why bother when they can just turn off the tap? It is all very mysterious.
This morning Virgin Airways has announced that its staff can choose to wear either the bright red skirt and jacket that has been reserved for females or the black trousers and jacket that have been reserved for men. In addition, those that want to can don a gender pronoun name. Who wants to be served their in-flight meal by a bearded man wearing a red skirt and a she/her badge?
I have been reading about a large battery farm that has just been granted planning permission in Thanet. It is the usual puff piece that is based on the company’s publicity release. The facility will be made up of 201 batteries each the size of a 40ft shipping container. The article tells me that the batteries will store a total of 249 Mw, enough to power a town of 100,000 people. Mind you, what it doesn’t say is how long the power will last, 1 minute or 1 hour, without that information who knows if the farm is any good? The other thing that amused me is that a Green councillor objected on the grounds that the batteries might produce a magnetic field that could affect wildlife!
I am delighted to see that it’s not just British airlines that have computer problems that cause huge queues at the check-in desks. Over in Ireland, Aer Lingus have been suffering from computer server problems for a while now. The cause of the problem seems to be taking a while to sort out, but in the meantime passengers are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to check in online and print out a boarding card. This means that people are forced to check in at the airport resulting in long queues and missed flights. The airline has said that traffic problems on the 9th September severed a fibre optic cable. The odd thing is that is supposed to have been fixed so why are passengers still seeing problems?
Gosh, it seems to be getting colder every morning, I woke up with cold paws. Roll on 1st October and the building’s central heating being turned on. Why do government building’s put the temperature on by the calendar and not the thermometer?
I read that there has been a huge fire at the German Tesla plant. Apparently 50 firemen were needed to put out the fire that occurred in a massive heap of waste paper, cardboard and wood. I do wonder why there was a pile of flammable material but that is an aside. It seems that the fire has worried locals and they are now demanding the plant, that was long overdue due to planning and environmental problems, shut down production until it can demonstrate that it is safe. I wonder if Musk is regretting building his first European factory in Germany and not in Britain?
An interesting film on YouTube this morning, showing Russian recruits being instructed in all the things they need to supply for themselves. Apart from their own uniforms, the sgt. was telling them they needed to supply their own sleeping bag and ground mat while the state would supply a rifle and body armour. They were then told to bring a tourniquet and the first aid kit from their car. The strangest thing was they were told to bring sanitary towels and tampons to stop bleeding and to pack bullet holes. This is supposed to be a modern developed country!
Is Working From Home coming to a slow death? I keep hearing of companies saying they want people back in the office as the latest numbers are now showing that productivity is better for office workers. Of course, working from home has never been practical for much of the workforce. Factory workers, dockers, construction workers, seamen, farmers, bus drivers, the list is endless. It is only office workers who can WFH. Now the travel numbers are out for Monday in London. The buses are back to 80% of the journey numbers immediately before lockdown two years ago and Tube journeys were back to 2.79 million or 72% of 9th March 2020, 2 weeks before lockdown was announced. Wednesday is now the busiest day of the week as it overlaps those 3 days a week in the office, workers who tend to have either Monday or Tuesday at home or Thursday and Friday. Interestingly weekend travel is now at over 100% of the pre-Covid numbers.
Two bits of cruise news reach me. Firstly the hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida is causing havoc, with the ports like Tampa and Miami suffering. Consequently at least 6 of the Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean and Disney ships are staying at sea and passengers will be having their holidays extended by a few days. Of course, this means the ship’s next cruise has to be cancelled as there is no ship for them. Secondly, Disney has announced that is dropping its vaccination requirements for passengers as of 15th of October. They are the last of the big cruise companies to do this. If you are unvaccinated you will still have to pass a witnessed PCR test and present a Fit to Fly certification bringing it in line with all the others.
So Sad Dick is dictating to Londoners again. Many people have been asking for a permanent statue of Queen Elizabeth II to be placed on the empty fourth plinth In Trafalgar Square. But Sad Dick thinks he knows better than the people of London. Without asking them he has announced that there is no room on the fourth plinth for a statue of Queen Elizabeth. The plinth is currently housing a statue of John Chilembwe, the anti-colonialist pastor who led a 1915 revolt against British rule in Nyasaland, now Malawi. This is a rather controversial statue as the revolt led to the decapitation of British settlers. I suppose this just shows Sad Dick’s priorities.
I have been reading about upcoming changes to SouthEastern services when the December timetable changes take place. The company says it plans to introduce a regular hourly service to London from many of the larger stations it serves. It will offer a fast service to Charing Cross from Maidstone taking under an hour and replacing the current service to Blackfriars. But I think the most interesting thing is that from the timetable change on 11th December is the total withdrawal of first-class tickets on SouthEastern services. The company says it is not selling enough first-class tickets to justify the offering and scrapping it will add around 60 seats to most trains. I can see a mad rush by commuters to grab one of those declassified seats!
Gosh I hate cold weather, mind I do also hate very hot weather and I hate wet weather. Perhaps I should put in for a transfer, the South of France looks nice, I wonder if there is a position for a mouser down there?
Due to the current power supply situation, I hear that EdF the owners of Hartlepool and Heysham 1 nuclear power stations is reconsidering the plan to close them both in March 2024. The two stations were originally due to close in 2014 and have both already had several life extensions. Of course, it is all about money as far as EdF are concerned. If EdF think they can make a decent return on the cost of the life extension work they will go ahead with it. The two stations produce a total of 2.2 GW, can we afford to lose that amount of power from an already stretched National Grid?
A man from Barking has just been found guilty of defrauding Transport for London by falsely claiming 800 refunds for travel delays. TfL offer a full refund of fares for delays over 30 minutes. For nearly two years the man claimed two refunds every day. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for a year, told to wear an electronic tag and made to refund the £3,045 he had stolen. But what about the uselessness of TfL? How could they not spot that the same man was making multiple claims? Do they get so many daily claims that it took nearly 2 years to spot the same man had made applications for 800 refunds? I reckon I could do a better job than that and I am a cat.
Did you read about the Ajax vs Arsenal Ladies football match where before the match Arsenal players noticed that the goals were the wrong size? The common international rules for the game say that the size of a goal should be 8 yards between the posts and 8 feet from the ground to the underside of the crossbar and this crossbar was only 7 feet 8 inches. It may not seem a lot but if you have a short goalkeeper it could make a huge difference. The goals were changed before the kick-off to properly sized ones. Apparently, they use the smaller goals in the Dutch ladies league where they are legal.
I return yet again to the two CalMac ferries being built by Ferguson Marine. A couple of weeks ago there was a flurry of reports that something odd had happened with the tender programme and corruption within the government was intimated, but that seems to have gone quiet. But it seems that yesterday it was announced that the two ships were going to be another 3 months late being delivered. This makes them only 5 years late. But it is the cost that I find amazing. Originally it was £97 million for the pair, it is now around £500 million. This is a total disaster.
Pakistan International Airways has just sent out a memo to all staff reminding them that they should dress in smart plain clothes whenever travelling on company business. This appears to have been aimed particularly at crews being ferried to operate other services and those staying in hotels. I suppose as a Muslim country national carrier female crew are fortunate not to have to wear burkas. But the strangest part of the memo is the next bit that reminds them that they should always wear underwear! I wonder what has been going on at PIA?
The oddest story I have heard today is that on 3rd October US branches of Mcdonald’s are, for a limited period, going to sell adult versions of the children’s Happy Meal. The meal will consist of either a Big Mac or 10 chicken nuggets, fries, a drink and a toy. Just in case any of you big kids fancies trying one I am sorry Mcdonald’s say they have no intention of launching the product in the U.K. You will have to hop over the Atlantic to buy one.
I love Saturdays, lovely and peaceful here, a day of rest from diary writing tomorrow and the possibility of a visit from the Dreamies Girl who will also look for Felix Chicken for me. Gosh, was it wet again yesterday afternoon and all night? No wonder the weather girl on the TV said September was above average for rain. Obviously, it’s all down to climate change!
Normally you think of shanty towns as being in Africa or South America but I have been reading of Europe’s largest which is just outside Madrid. Canada Real is only a short distance from the city centre but there is no mains electricity in the area. There are cables to the area and most of the houses are connected to the grid but the supplier in the area cut off power to the shanty two years ago tomorrow. It seems that there were a number of reasons but basically it all came down to the vast amount of electricity being stolen. The company say it wasn’t just the loss of income, it was the danger caused by people overloading the supply. Maybe one day people will learn that stealing the power doesn’t work long-term.
When P&O Ferries dismissed 800 of their employees without notice all but one of them accepted the financial settlement the company offered. The odd man out decided that he was going to take his employer to court. Yesterday he won the case when P&O Ferries admitted they had acted illegally in there having been no prior consultation and settled out of court. The amount of the settlement has not been made public, but I suspect that it was more than the other 799 got. P&O Ferries must be delighted that he was the only one who took them to court.
I have been reading about an easyJet flight from Newcastle to Malaga last Wednesday that took off leaving behind 7 passengers who had asked for special assistance. The people all arrived early for the 11 am flight. They checked in and were told to be at the gate at 10 am for disabled transport to the plane. Their transport turned up and they were taken to the plane when an ambi-lift was supposed to lift them up to the plane, but it never turned up. The first anyone knew something was wrong was when they saw their luggage being unloaded. They were returned to the terminal and watched the plane take off without them. easyJet blamed the disabled passenger contractor, offered the 7 passengers seats on a Jet2 flight departing at 6 am the next morning, a night in a hotel or a taxi home and a taxi back to the airport the next morning. I hear the ambi-lift arrived the next morning and the 7 are now in Spain. I guess that you get what you pay for with easyJet.
Formula One introduced a spending cap on teams for the 2021 season limiting race teams to $145 million each. Of course, the actual amount each team spent could only be known once the full-year accounts are submitted at the end of the season. The accounts are now in for last season and I hear that two teams are guilty of overspending. It has not been announced officially which teams it was yet but the word in the paddock is that it was Red Bull and Aston Martin. Now the intriguing thing is what the punishment could be? A points reduction or a big fine, looks to be favourite.
I really don’t know who to believe in this Ukraine war. Yesterday the Ukraine said they had very nearly completed the encirclement of the city of Lyman in Donetsk while the Russians said they were making a tactical withdrawal from the city down the one road they still held. Today the Ukrainians say they have completed the encirclement and its troops have entered the city. However, Russia is not saying anything, but I hear there were over 5,000 Russian soldiers still in the city. I wonder what is really happening. Are the Ukrainians telling the truth? Is this a big defeat for Russia? I guess only time will tell.
Electric vehicle startup company Arrival has produced its first production-specific electric van at its development factory in Bicester. The company is jointly headquartered in London and Charlotte, North Carolina. The ordinal plans were to produce an electric van, an electric bus and an electric car the R&D for which is all done at Bicester. However, the company has halted R&D on the bus and car and are concentrating on the van. Arrival says the intention is not to spend loads of money on a mega factory, but to buy a number of ready-built factory units and assemble vans from parts supplied to them on these micro factories. This first van is to be used as a development and test vehicle.
Right, that’s me done for another week. It’s sunny but very windy outside, I’m going to find somewhere in the sun, but out of the breeze for my snooze, I’m not sure where. Maybe it will have to be an armchair this afternoon, there’s a nice one in the entrance hall and I can keep my eye on who’s coming and going. I will be back with you again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2022