Larry’s Diary – Week One Hundred And Seventy-Seven


Good morning everyone, and welcome to another week of my musings. I took a slow walk down to the bottom of the garden this morning as it is getting a little more pleasant in London these mornings. It’s still cool but at least it’s not freezing. As usual for a Monday my weekend feeder was still on duty. He whispered to me that he was off next weekend, and he would see me in a couple of weeks.

I read that two prison wardens at HMP Highpoint have been arrested following a corruption investigation. The two women were arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office which is a bit of a catch-all holding charge. I hear they have been questioned and released on bail. I wonder what they have done, have they been smuggling contraband into the prison and being paid for doing it?

Sniffer Joe has turned up in Kiev this morning and is said to be going to announce more sanctions on Russia and another aid package. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Sniffer made it to the Ukraine, nearly all the other Western leaders have been, The Rich Boy was there recently, as was Bozzie. The French midget has been as has the Lying woman from the EU. Even Sir Beer Korma has been. I understand Sniffer, unusually, had dinner out in a Washington restaurant on Saturday evening and then disappeared until he rocked up in Kiev on a train from Poland. I wonder if Sniffer knows where he is?

I hear that the giant American aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, is investigating the possibility of building a satellite factory in the U.K. They have been sniffing around the Northeast of England and a new factory would support some 1,500 direct jobs. The MoD is currently looking at a follow-on order for its Skynet satellite network that is currently built by Airbus. Lockheed say that the factory is not dependent on them securing the next batch of Skynet satellites, but I suspect that it will influence things.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Coming to the Northeast?
Public domain

Have you noticed the number of adverts on the radio recently for renewing your driving licence? When we had the old paper licence it lasted until you were 70, now the new photo one only lasts ten years before it needs renewal. Of course, this will cost you £17 per renewal, so I guess it’s another way for the government to raise money. The only good thing is that if you are over 70 it is free, but it only lasts three years!

I hear that the cost of gas on the world market is continuing to fall and as a result, the next iteration of the energy price cap in the spring is expected to fall. The word is that it will go down by over £800. That is good news for everyone, but what I want to know is why haven’t the energy companies reduced their prices before now?

After Friday’s penultimate episode of the current series of Death in Paradise where the DI’s girlfriend was disclosed as being a murderer who was out to get him, there has been much speculation as to if he is going to stay on the island of St Marie or resign like several lead characters before him. As always, the bookies are laying odds, and several make sense including the woman from Scotland Yard who was called in to investigate when DI Neville Parker was arrested for murder. But I can’t believe some of the leaders in the betting like Romesh Ranganathan and Jodie Whittaker, an unfunny comedian and Dr Who.


Not quite so warm this morning, but at least it is dry and not frosty. The Rich Boy was rubbing his hands together this morning because the latest financial numbers show we took in more tax in January than we spent. The fact that we had a £5.4 billion surplus totally surprised the ‘experts’. Not only that, but public borrowing for the financial year so far is £30.6 billion lower than the Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted. I wonder if this is going to affect the upcoming budget?

Elon Musk has said that Tesla is to launch a new smaller electric vehicle, the Tesla 2. According to what I read it is going to be ‘affordable’. I suppose that means what you think ‘affordable’ is. The media says this car could cost from £22,000, so make up your own mind, but it would be a lot less than most EVs. Mind you it is only likely to have a 180-mile range, be built in China and probably the basic car will only have two doors. But like many Teslas, it will come in six versions with umpteen optional extras.

In Dover, developers have applied for planning permission to build a seven-storey block of 52 flats on wasteland, but with only 10 parking spaces. Obviously, residents on the same street are amazed as they are already finding it hard to find a parking space in the street. Interestingly a previous planning application on the same site for a block of 45 flats with only 12 parking spaces was rejected. I would have thought that as an absolute bare minimum there should be a parking space for each flat, if not two per flat. The developers say that all 10 spaces will be for EVs as if that is a virtue, but that is the law for new builds.

In America a four-foot-long Alligator has been captured in the lake at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The public spotted the Alligator on Sunday, and it was quickly caught. Alligators are native to some of the southern states like Florida where it is warm most of the year and has swamps. New York is exactly the opposite, it is cold in winter and a lake in a city park is not a normal home for Alligators. As it was 9°C in New York on Sunday. The Authorities think the gator was a pet that had outgrown its home and been dumped.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Is he smiling?
Alligator. Reptile,
Bernard Spragg
Public domain

In Oxford an ‘Innovative’ building is falling to bits only after only a few years. In fact, cracks were found around the glass-reinforced concrete window frame only weeks after the West Wing building at St Cross College opened. A report found that the window frames didn’t meet the specifications for materials and were too thin and that the foundations were not strong enough for the weight of the building which has been closed. The contractors, Morgan Sindall, are now carrying out ‘remediation’ on the building, which means they are putting it right. I hear that, for example, the GRC window frames are being replaced with aluminium frames as they couldn’t be repaired. Apparently, the cost of ‘remediation’ will double its original cost of £10 million.

In a previous diary, I told you that the aircraft the Ukraine really wants is the F-16. Back in January Sniffer Joe told them ‘no’ and also said ‘no’ to European nations passing on F-16s that have withdrawn from service. Now I hear that the Ukraine and the United States are back in negotiations. I think that Sniffer will eventually supply the jets, just in the same way they eventually agreed to supply tanks.

Transport for London has announced that the Old Street gyratory system (a posh name for a big roundabout) should be finished in a year’s time. What is so special about that? Well, when work started it was going to be a two-year scheme and finished in 2020. It is now three years late and millions of pounds over budget with the projected cost now in excess of £112 million. TfL blame Covid and the complexity of the job. Shouldn’t they have realised it was complex before they started?


Oh poo, it’s wet in London this morning and I have got my fur wet going down the garden. Well, I wasn’t too damp until I was on my way back. Then I saw a pair of magpies strutting around on the grass, and I belly-crawled to try and get up close and personal. Total waste of time, when I got within pouncing distance they flew off and I was left with a wet belly!

I start with good news this morning, Shag-um Behead-um has lost her Supreme Court appeal against having her British citizenship removed on security grounds. I understand the Security Services still regarded her as a security risk. Will she now appeal to the European Court of Human Justice? If she does, will we tell the court where to go? I hear that if she were to apply to become a citizen of Bangladesh, where her parents come from, she would more than likely be sentenced to death there. Which shows me two things, she will never apply for Bangladeshi citizenship, and we are too soft on these traitors.

I read it is to be goodbye to BT Sport at the end of the current football season. The final details have not yet been announced, that is said to come later in the week, but the plan put forward by its purchaser, Warner Brothers Discovery, is to merge Eurosport and BT Sport into one organisation. The new channel(s) will have the rights next year to some Premier League, Champions League and Europa League matches, a lot of cycling races, tennis and the Olympic Games. Although the rights to show all the Olympics rests with the WBDiscovery parent, and it put out much of the last one on its Discovery pay channels, it also showed a lot on its ‘Free to Air’ Eurosport channels. For people who pay for BT Sport, either directly or via Sky or Virgin it will be interesting to see what is planned.

Are smokers prepared for a huge jump in cigarette and tobacco prices in the next budget? The price is likely to go up by inflation plus 2%. It looks like hand-rolling tobacco could go up by £2 for a 30-gram pack and 20 cigarettes by £1.15 for 20. Some of the cheaper, smaller brands are around £11 a pack and the more expensive king size are over £15 for 20. How can people afford to smoke 20 a day?

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
£15 a pack!
Cigarette packets,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

An interesting story this morning about Aldi. Apparently, they are looking at opening 60 new supermarkets in the London area where they say they are currently underrepresented. The idea is to make use of the large number of empty offices in London and convert them into supermarkets. The company says it is looking for space to open a 20,000 sq ft store with parking for at least 100 cars, on a main road and with good access. They say this plan will bring 2,500 jobs to London.

The government’s plans to encourage people to replace gas boilers with heat pumps appears to be failing badly. The plan was to give out £5,000 vouchers to people to redeem against the replacement of a gas boiler with a heat pump and £150 million was allocated for the three years. With the first year nearly past, only 7,600 vouchers have been redeemed. A further 2,250 vouchers have been issued but not yet used, so with two months of the scheme’s first year to go, there are still 20,000 vouchers available for this year. When the scheme was launched it was criticised for not offering enough vouchers to hit the government target of 600,000 heat pumps a year. Now it looks like people don’t want heat pumps.

In one of the recent armaments packages that the US agreed with the Ukraine, the US has said that it will include JDAM bomb kits. A JDAM kit turns a dumb bomb into a smart bomb that uses GPS coordinates to hit its target. The aircraft delivering it flies in low and fast and pulls up hard to toss the bomb onto the GPS target from about 3.5 miles away. Of course, this is very difficult in the battlefield as it is highly protected by ground-to-air missiles. But I now hear that the actual JDAM kits being supplied are JDAM-ER and these include pop-out wings that allow the bombs to glide to its GPS target over 50 miles away. In this way an aircraft can launch the bombs safely from well into its own territory. I wonder how much these kits cost?


Well at least it was dry when I went down the garden this morning, mind I hear that it is going to drizzle later so the windowsill will be out. I hear Sir Beer Korma is going to make another policy speech today, I wonder what will happen today to knock him out of the headlines?

I have been reading that intelligence reports say Russia has lost so many of its infantry fighting vehicles in the fighting with the Ukraine that it is pulling hundreds of BMP-1 models out of long-term storage. At the beginning of the war, Russia was using some 400 BMP-3, 2,700 BMP-2 and 600 BMP-1s. The -1, a 1960 design, was being withdrawn from service as it was considered obsolete. In its day it was manufactured in thousands and considered an excellent tool but now its armour at 1/4” is too thin to stop even modern machine guns and with its main gun’s ammunition stored in the passenger compartment it is considered dangerous. But as the Russians have lost nearly 1,300 BMPs and have no reserves of the latest BMP-3 they have been bringing hundreds of the over 7,000 BMP-1 out of storage. I hear that as well as the thin armour, the gun is an unimpressive 75mm bore and ammunition is short as the other two models have different bore guns and, for good measure, the turret has a blind spot because the gun barrel hits the body-mounted searchlight!

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Going back into service.
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I hear that U.K. Oil and Gas has confirmed a pocket of natural gas it has found in the Surrey hills at Dunsfold is large enough to be exploited. They estimate that the find is worth around £130 million and would be free-flowing under natural pressure. They now need a license to sink production wells. If they were to get immediate permission, they would start to recover the reserve in 2026. It would last about 10 years after which the field could be used for underground storage of 1 billion cubic metres of hydrogen.

I was delighted to see that Roll-Royce has returned to profitability in its latest annual report. Their civil aero engine business was badly hit by Covid in the previous year when airlines shut down, so didn’t need engines serviced or new planes. This time civil has recovered not to pre-Covid levels but to around 80% of them. They made an £850 million pretax profit and paid about £350 million in tax on it but shareholders are not getting a dividend this time around.

Some interesting numbers on used cars out today. It seems the big jump in secondhand car prices has stalled with the number for last month being virtually static. Maybe this is because 22% of drivers in the survey said they were likely to buy a new car this year. However, only 18% of those prospective buyers said they were thinking of going electric. That is an astoundingly small number given all the electric car propaganda we are being bombarded with. The main problem stopping people buying EVs is still range anxiety and the lack of charging points, especially rapid and ultra-rapid ones. One interesting fact that has emerged is that a third of Britain’s public charge points are in London, more than Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Leeds, Sheffield and Birmingham combined.

I read that the Arsenal Women footballer has a substantial wage increase last season, with the total wage bill increasing by around 30%. But this was before the England women’s team won the Euros and interest in their games leapt enormously. So, I expect to see another big jump this season. The average wage at Arsenal Women (divide the total bill of £4.3 million by 44 playing and non-playing staff) is £98,000. But it is clearly not a huge amount by Premier League standards. Arsenal Women’s England captain Leah Williamson is said to be the highest-paid woman footballer in England, earning some £200,000 a year. Not bad money but compare that to men players where £200,000 a week is not unusual.

I hear that the MoD has started rebuilding its reserves of arms and ammunition following on from what it has sent to the Ukraine. I understand that orders have been placed for ammunition both small and large bore and for guided weapons including NLAWS. Apparently the NLAWS we sent to Ukraine were the ones with the shortest “use by” dates and were going to have to be replaced anyway. Now the lines are up and running and reserves rebuilt. I also hear that finally the problems with the Ajax fighting vehicle have been fixed and production vehicles are being made. As these join our forces will we be sending the replaced ones to the Ukraine.


Morning folks, well at least it’s not raining today, but it’s bloody cold. The Rich Boy has decided to hold a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock for the dead in the Ukraine war and will make an appearance on the steps of Number 10. I will do my best to put in an appearance, even if it is only from the windowsill. However, not to be outdone, Sir Beer Korma is going to hold his own minute’s silence at 10:40. Good luck with that, I bet the supermarkets hold a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock.

The number of users of the SpaceX Starlink satellite broadband service passed a million at the end of last year. So far so good then for sales, but not for the customers as I hear that as the number of users increases the system speed goes down. In the U.K. the download speed is 19% down in a year, but still over 100 Mbps. For this decrease in service, SpaceX has just announced it is to put up the monthly cost to $120 a calendar month. Strangely this increase is only going to apply in areas where the speed is down. In those areas where the speed is still good, due to take-up having been slow, the cost will go down to $90 a month.

The EU has passed a new law that will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel engine cars by 2035, effectively forcing car buyers to turn to, what the EU claims are, ‘cheaper electric vehicles’, and a ‘victory for our planet’. However, things are not so clear cut as that, many of the EU countries are not happy with this law, particularly those with large car industries. For example, Italy, which has 270,000 people employed in car manufacturing, has called the law suicidal and pointed out that EVs are not cheaper, they are more expensive to buy and with the recent electricity price increases more expensive to operate. I shall be keeping an eye on what is happening in the EU.

A report put out by Citi Bank this week says that U.K. inflation is going to fall rapidly through the spring and summer and will be down to 2.3% in the autumn. At another financial institution, Investec, a fund manager has gone even further and predicts 1.6% inflation by December. Much of this fall comes from recent drops in the price of oil, and in particular natural gas, in fact the cost of gas is expected to be down by 80% by June. The Rich Boy has promised to halve the rate of inflation by the end of the year, and if these predictions are correct, he will meet the target with plenty of room to spare.

In Spain the International Airlines Group (IAG) has come to an agreement to buy the 80% of Air Europe that it doesn’t already own. IAG already own Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Vueling. When IAG took a 20% holding in Air Europe it caused a bit of a stink with the EU and was even investigated by our Monopolies Commission as it gave IAG a potential monopoly on London to Madrid and Barcelona routes. With the completed takeover IAG airlines will now operate 73% of all Spanish domestic flights, with the next largest operator being RyanAir on 15% and then BinterCanarias on 9%. The problem for the powers that be is that Air Europe are on the verge of collapse and only IAG have been interested in buying them. I understand that Air Europe will be merged into Iberia and that IAG want to develop a hub in Madrid to rival Amsterdam and Heathrow.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Soon to be in Iberia colours.
Air Europe Italy Boeing 767-300ER; EI-CLR@FRA;10.10.1995,
Aero Icarus
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

At London Mayor’s Questions this week, a Tory asked Sad Dick when the cameras for the ULEZ expansion were ordered. At first, he did his usual prevarication, saying he didn’t recall the exact date, but when pressed hard he admitted it had been last March/April. Now that is very interesting as the consultation didn’t finish until August and officially the decision to proceed was taken only after the consultation. This is now proved to be another one of Sad Dick’s lies and proves he had made a decision to expand the ULEZ back in the spring of last year.

Researchers in Australia have concluded that their work has proved that is a genetic link between type 2 diabetes and migraine. Their work indicates that migraines are triggered by both high and low blood sugar levels, something that had long been suspected but never before proved. The research means that new methods of treating the disabling migraines suffered by some people can be tested. Could it be as simple as giving someone suffering from migraine more or less sugar, I suspect we will be finding out soon.


Another dry morning, lovely readers, and even some sun this morning. I’ve been trying to listen at the Rich Boy’s office door to try to find out what is going on with the discussions with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, but have failed miserably. I am worried he is doing to sell us all down the river, but I haven’t really heard anything to base that on, it’s just a feeling I have.

I mentioned earlier that the Ajax Fighting Vehicle was nearly ready to go into service, now I have a few more details of what has occurred. You may remember we placed a fixed price contract for 589 of them with General Dynamics and we told them to fix them or no more money. The early version was limited to 20mph, couldn’t fire its gun while moving had terrible vibrations and was so noisy that it damaged hearing. Well, it appears they have been fixed, although some of the fixes are a bit rough and ready. They now come equipped with thick cushions and ear defenders! I hear that some 414 of the hulls have been built and 116 turrets are ready to be mated as soon as the final trials are successfully completed.

It emerged late yesterday that Boeing has once again had to suspend deliveries of its 787. The maker has found a problem with its certification paperwork for a subcontractor supplying pressure bulkheads. It is now a month since Boeing last delivered a 787 and of course customers are not happy. With summer in the Northern Hemisphere fast approaching, Airlines are anxious to secure the extra capacity on order. At the moment there is no hint as to when a fix might be announced.

I read that a duck has been left on a SouthEastern train and is being looked after at Herne Hill station while its owner is sought. I can understand a hat, gloves, or even an umbrella being left on a train, but how on earth do you leave a duck behind and not realise you have done it? Very few people take live animals, other than dogs, on trains. Although I understand my scribe recently enjoyed a trip on Thameslink with a man who had a black cat perched on his shoulder.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
How could you leave him on a train?.
Lying white duck,
Tambako the Jaguar
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

OFCOM have told telephone operators that they must close down their old 3G wireless networks now that most people are using 4G and 5G. Some of the operators are already biting the bullet and have started and many intend to hand the 3G wavelengths back by the end of this year. However, I hear that this is causing problems, not so much for phone users, but for commercial network users. One of the biggest problems is for early adopters of ‘smart’ meters which all use 3G. Apparently these meters could be upgraded but it is in fact cheaper for the power companies to replace them with 5G capable meters. Any not upgraded will resort to being a dumb meter. Another big user is local councils whose pay and display car parks often use this technology and will need to be upgraded. I bet 4G and 5G cost more.

Bristol have come up with a novel way of raising money. They plan to charge people what amounts to £7 for swimming in the sea. The plan is to allow up to 200 swimmers to use a section of the harbour that will be partitioned off. For the payment, people will be allowed to swim for an hour, but for that they will get a lifesaver on duty and the water will be tested. Test sessions will be held for two hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. As you know very well, I hate water, apart from drinking water, so I would not be interested in the slightest.

The first of 46 new trains, costing £362 million, for the Tyne and Wear Metro arrived in the U.K. a couple of days ago. It was delivered by rail from the Swiss builder Stadler travelling through the Channel tunnel at 03:30 when traffic is quiet. The 5-carriage train then travelled to the north via Peterborough where it was parked on a siding. Within days the brand-new train has been covered in graffiti. Some people just should be ashamed of themselves.

Right, I’m finished with my diary for the week. It’s a funny old day out there, first it’s sunny and then the cloud rolls in for a while. It is certainly not warm here in London today, so I am definitely not going outside this afternoon. I will do what I have done for the past few weeks and snooze in a waiting room chair until dinner time. I will be back with you all again next week.

© WorthingGooner 2023