Good morning readers and welcome to another exciting week in No 10. Well, it’s back to more rain this morning and there are puddles on the garden path and the grass is soggy, typical for a bank holiday. It’s still very quiet here in the street, but there are a few more people in the office today. My feeder was a bit grumpy having drawn the short straw of having to work today. Anyway, it’s back to normal tomorrow and my nice regular weekday girl will be back.
For my first tale of the week, I bring you the story of the MSC Seaview, a five-year-old cruise ship that has just gone into dry dock in Malta for a scheduled two-week refit. Cruise ships are supposed to have a five-yearly dry dock. However, it had been having engine problems and it was intended to fix them during the refit. Now I hear that the engine problems are much more extensive than thought and the ship won’t be sailing again until at least 7th May and seven cruises have been cancelled and refunds are being issued. I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t book a cruise on a ship immediately after a dry docking, wait a while and let things settle down.
I hear that Labour, while not publicly apologising for the attack on the rich boy that ludicrously claimed he didn’t lock up child abusers, from long before he was even in government, has decided to quietly dump the campaign. They have decided instead to promise a Labour government will stop oversea scammers who use spoof phone numbers. I just wonder how you pick out calls from scammers from abroad when they are among calls from genuine oversea call centres. I can’t see it happening though scammers will always find a way to scam people into buying their magic onions and handing over their bank details.
Another cruise story I hear is that passengers on a TUI Caribbean cruise are taking a group legal action after their 14-night cruise was cancelled after five days and passengers flown home to Britain. On the 5th night of the cruise passengers got a letter under their cabin doors telling them that the rest of the cruise was cancelled due to ‘catering issues’. No real explanation as to what the problem was has ever emerged, but it must have been serious as cruise ships don’t just have one central galley, they normally have several that serve the various restaurants and buffets. The rumour at the time was the ship had simply run out of food, but I’m not sure how that could happen. Anyway, TUI told passengers they would be refunded only for the unfulfilled portion of the cruise. This had passengers up in arms and TUI added £300 to each passenger as an afterthought. In similar circumstances other cruise lines have been known to give a 100% refund and a generous future cruise credit to compensate for loss of enjoyment. But not TUI, I hear they even flew Scottish passengers to Manchester and bussed them to Glasgow and many of those who had paid for Premium plane seats didn’t get them. I shall be keeping an eye on this one as the additional compensation being asked for by the joint legal action already comes to well over £1 million.
A recording of the Beatles made 60 years ago has emerged this weekend. Before they were famous, the ‘Fab Four’ were invented to perform at the private boarding school Stowe. The group turned up, ate chicken and chips in the school tuck shop, and performed a 24-song set in front of 500 schoolboys. A 15-year-old boy at the school had just got a reel-to-reel tape recorder and decided to record the performance. He set up his recorder in front of the stage and managed to record 22 of the 24 songs before running out of tape. The boy kept his tape for all these years, never considered it was of any importance, but rumours that a recording had been made were rife among Stowe old boys. It now looks like efforts are to be made to clean up the tape and place the original into a museum or similar.
So poor old King Jug Ears and his horse don’t much like the idea of going to his Coronation in the traditional gold state coach. The horse-drawn coach is said to be a very uncomfortable ride with no springs and little padding. Instead, they will be driven to the Cathedral in a modern horse-drawn coach with proper suspension, air conditioning and electric windows. However, he has partially conceded to tradition and will return to the palace in the state coach, but it will travel by a very short route. This is unlike the late Queen whose ride back to the palace, in the State Coach, took two hours so that she could be seen by the thousands and thousands of people who lined the route.
More VAR fun in the football match between Tottenham and Brighton at the weekend all of which went in Tottenham’s favour. A different outcome of the three penalty claims could have made a totally different result to the match. The first was a handball by a Tottenham defender and it could have gone either way as the ball hit him, but it was one of those incidents that are often not given. But the other two incidents should have been clear penalties, one where a defender stamped on the foot of an attacker and a second where a defender hauled an attacker back by the shirt. I understand Brighton have received an official apology, but is this good enough? This is not the first occasion of VAR getting it wrong or teams getting apologies. What is going to be done about it? I suspect it will be nothing.
Well, I am delighted to see the sun is back again this morning. Typical, it rains on a bank holiday and then as soon it’s a working day the sun comes out. But I do hear it is supposed to rain later.
Today I learned that there are still smugglers in the U.K., and I don’t mean people smugglers or the people bringing drugs into the country stuffed up their bums. I am talking people smuggling stuff across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. In the old days, I understand, it was sheep and condoms, but those trades have died out. Now I hear that the customs authority in the Republic is worried about sacks of coal. In the North a sack of coal attracts VAT at 5% but it the south it is taxed at 13.5%, and this difference means that a sack of smuggled domestic coal can make a profit of €6 on a 40kg sack. Solid fuel merchants in the Republic claim they are losing out on €16 million of sales a year. In the old days the IRA used to make big money out of smuggling, I wonder who is making the money today?
A policeman in Hull saw a man riding a bike towards him in the early hours of the morning. As he watched the man, he threw a yellow Kinder Egg wrapper into a garden. When the policeman stopped him as a known convicted drug dealer, he was found to have a Kinder Surprise Egg in his possession and in the egg were 27 wraps of crack cocaine worth £270 and £800 in cash. That’s some Surprise Egg. Finding him guilty he was sentenced to 20 months and had a 15-week suspended sentence activated.
The more I learn about the PULS rocket artillery system, that I told you about the Dutch buying last week, the more I understand why both they and the Danish have bought it and the Germans are on the verge of buying it. Perhaps the three main things are it costs about one-fifth of the American HiMARS system, is available for delivery this year and is available to be mounted on a country’s choice of chassis. But it also can fire a huge selection of missiles, unlike the HiMARS that is limited to the US-supplied rockets. The Israeli makers have been very clever in making it capable of launching cheap 122mm unguided rockets, the same as the Russian Grad system which many of the old Soviet Bloc nations manufacture for their old Grad systems but the PULS truck-mounted launcher can handle two 18 rocket pods with a range of 25 miles. The Israelis also supply a 122mm GPS-guided rocket version, that has a shorter 22-mile range but is accurate to five metres. The next size of missile supplied by the Israeli makers is 160mm and the system handles 2 x 13 rocket pods of these capable of 28-mile range. Next comes a 306mm GPS-guided rocket with a 93-mile range. Each truck can carry 2 x 4 pods of this size. Finally, it can launch four tactical missiles with a range of 186 miles and an accuracy of 10 metres. All this beat the HiMARS that can fire either 6 x 227mm rockets or one tactical missile. I can see why the Dutch have turned down the US offer of HiMARS.
Last year 15.5 million people flew between the U.K. and the US. This is hugely up on the 4 million in Covid effected 2020 but still well down on the record year of 2019 when 22.2 million flew. What I find fascinating is that you can fly direct to the States on 54 routes from 10 cities in the U.K. Obviously the vast majority of the direct routes are from Heathrow with 31, but you could also have flown directly from Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Belfast, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol and Doncaster (which has now closed). The busiest route was Heathrow to New York Kennedy, with nearly 3 million round trips and 2023 will see things almost back to the 2019 numbers.
I hear that Sad Dick is thinking about redefining travel in London on Fridays as low peak for fares, just like Saturdays and Sundays. Apparently, so few people are now commuting to London on a Friday that the transport usage is similar to weekends. So Sad Dick’s ‘experts’ have come up with this idea as a way of encouraging more people to travel on a Friday.
Yesterday loads of people lost their phone services. 11,000 Vodafone and 52,000 Virgin customers couldn’t make calls, but no reason has been given. In this day and age, when people rely on their phones for all sorts of things from banking to shopping surely it becomes difficult to survive when your phone is not working. I find it astonishing that no reason for the breakdowns were given. When people don’t know what has happened, they always think the worst. Has the system been hacked? Has something gone wrong with their account, and they have been cut off? Surely it is not beyond these suppliers to admit when something goes wrong at their end, like a failed software upgrade that they always seem to do over a bank holiday weekend, if that is what happened.
It’s yet another soggy morning. I really don’t understand the weather, it’s supposed to be spring but it’s not very spring-like. I hear that the Rich Boy is off much later to Belfast to greet Sniffer Joe when he lands. I do hope the senile old man doesn’t think the Rich Boy is an Irish schoolboy sent to greet him and pat him on the head and sniff him.
I hear that among last year’s boat people arriving in the U.K. were 19 recognised terrorists who had been in the likes of ISIS. But as they all asked for political asylum it is impossible to throw them out or extradite them to another country where they may be wanted. As they haven’t committed an offence in the U.K., we can’t lock them up here and if we did charge them in court, we may have to reveal how we discovered they were terrorists, which could mean revealing secret sources. Instead, we have to pay an arm and a leg to house them in hotels and keep them under surveillance 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Perhaps we should fast-track their applications and then send them to whomever wants them. But the most disturbing thing is that this is probably only the thin edge of the wedge and there are probably many more than 19 terrorists here already.
King Jug Ears the Woke is at loggerheads with leaders of the Church of England over his Coronation. He wants to show his wokeness by having leaders of ‘other’ religions giving readings and otherwise taking part. But the CoE has pointed out that the Coronation is an Anglican service and is legally necessary to make Jug Ears the leader of the CoE. But old Jug Ears wants to call himself the ‘leader of the faiths’ and with under a month to go all is still up in the air. We all know that ‘other’ religions means Muslim but surely the answer to all this is to invite the British leader of all the other faiths to the ceremony and give them seats in front of Ginge and Whinge (it they turn up).
Rolls Royce have made an offer to India to enter into a joint venture with an Indian company to develop a brand-new engine for the 5th-generation aircraft the Indians are developing. It seems the Indians are anxious to own the industrial property rights to any engine and this would allow them to do so. EuroJet have offered an upgraded version of the EJ200 engine used in the Eurofighter Typhoon but the IP for that engine is owned by EuroJet a joint venture company owned by four European engine makers including Rolls Royce. Another alternative is for India to accept the offer to join the programme for a 6th-generation aircraft being developed by Britain, Japan and India. A 5th-generation aircraft would only put India on a par with the F-35 when other nations are busy developing its successor.
Many years ago, Cornwall was famous for its tin mines, some of which were very deep and went out for miles under the ocean. To keep these workings dry famous inventors like Trevithick invented static steam engines driving huge pumps. But that was then and those mines became uneconomic and closed down. Now I hear of new Cornish mining ventures not for tin, but for lithium, the metal that is in great demand for EV batteries, and batteries for laptops and mobile phones. A company called Cornish Lithium has found what it calls significant amounts of lithium in underground springs near Redruth. The company say they will be able to produce 10,000 tonnes a year of the metal by 2030. That is 12.5% of the 80,000 tonnes a year we are projected to need in the U.K. by then. What we need now is a project to process the lithium, manufacture EV batteries and build EVs all within a few miles of the mine. But I doubt anyone has that foresight.
Has the Labour Party shot themself in the foot with the new series of attack ads on the Tories they are bringing out? I understand that a team from Labour flew to America to meet with their US equivalent, the Democrats, to get their advice from the land where such ads are common. Their first ad was an attack on the Rich Boy over what they claim was him not wanting to send paedophiles to jail. The funny thing was that Sir Beer Korma was Director of Public Prosecutions and on the Sentencing Committee when the current policy was set by them, and the Rich Boy wasn’t even in government. Now I hear that the next advert is an attack on the Rich Boy’s wife. I always understood that the wives and families of politicians were strictly off-limits for this sort of thing. Have they just opened Pandora’s Box to the Tories? Will we soon be seeing ads attacking Mrs Korma, Lord Nugee, and the partners of the lesbians and gays in the Shadow Cabinet? If so, they will only have themselves to blame.
I have just seen a video showing the various versions of the Boxer armoured fighting vehicles the Army is buying. Apparently, there are 13 different versions of the eight-wheel vehicle. They all share the same chassis, engine, and front section where the driver and commander are located but the 13 different rear sections are interchangeable, and one version can be swapped for another in 20 minutes. For example, it can be an armoured personnel carrier, an ambulance, one of three versions of fighting vehicle, one of two types of command vehicle, an armoured cargo carrier and even a remote-controlled heavy Howitzer and more. Understand the Army is buying 623 in four versions, but I don’t know which versions. They also have an option to buy an additional 900 vehicles. Of course, they could always buy some extra swap bodies and configure the fleet in a different manner just to confuse the enemy! Oh, and I understand several other versions have been designed including a bridge layer and a vehicle armed with Brimstone missiles.
When I went out for my pre-Felix constitutional it was wet and overcast, but by the time I had finished my breakfast the sun was streaming in the kitchen window, and it was very warm in the sun. The rich boy has gone off to meet with Sniffer Joe in Belfast. I won’t have gone to meet the old idiot. If he can’t be bothered to come to the Coronation of King Jug Ears, I’d let him stew in his own juice. The guys in the office were very chipper this morning, it seems that the latest opinion polls are showing that the gap between the Tories and Labour has closed considerably. I always think that one poll that shows a big change is likely to be a rogue poll but when three or four show a big swing it is more likely a trend. The poll out this morning shows the Labour lead was 14% as another did at the weekend with a third showing an 11% lead. This is very different to the 35% Labour lead last October.
I have stumbled across a couple of film trailers this morning, one I liked and would like to see and one I wouldn’t watch if you paid me. The one not to my taste is The Barbie Movie and from the trailer it looks dire. All I saw was a blonde bimbo driving around in a pink plastic car. No thanks. But I always loved Indiana Jones and the 5th movie looks to have all the ingredients of the previous films. Betrayal, car chases, Nazis, a chase on the Metro with him on a horse, the sort of fantasy I love. While talking of fantasy I read Disney is to make three new Star Wars films something else for me to look forward to.
I hear that Air France/KLM have found a new way to skim a few Euros from their customers. They have decided to charge Business Class passengers to pick their seats something that on most airlines is free for this class of passenger who have often already paid thousands for their ticket. Now they are being charged €70 to €99 to choose a seat in advance. Of course, you don’t have to pay this, if you wait until 24 hours before the flight you have the choice of what’s left for no extra charge.
If you live in or near Tipton in the Black Country, I learn that you are in for a treat at Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory. It is actually a pub with rooms and a restaurant that used to be called The Doughety Arms that now specialises in making pies for special occasions. They have invented a full English pie for St George’s, so it is ideal if you like a pie or a full English breakfast. The pie contains bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, tomato, mushrooms and scrambled egg. It is available until 23rd April, after which they will replace it with a King’s Coronation pie.
Here’s a lesson for the Labour Party and its proposed wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires from little Norway. The Norwegian Labour government decided to increase its wealth tax and it has lost them tax income. The Norwegian tax is based on an individual’s net wealth and the increase has resulted in at least 60 millionaires and billionaires leaving the country. This of course means that the country has lost not only the extra tax they were trying to raise but all the tax that those wealthy people used to pay. The trend in OECD countries has been to abandon wealth taxes because they either raise virtually nothing or cost money. In 1990 there were 11 OECD countries with a wealth tax, there are now three. France dropped theirs in 2016 when it was realised that since 2000 over 60,000 millionaires had left the country.
I hear that on Easter Sunday at about 10:30 in the morning, in the foggy channel, a French warship ordered the P&O ferry Pride of Britain to alter course away from them as they were escorting two boatloads of ‘refugees’ to a meeting with the Border Farce cutter Typhoon. Recordings show that the French ship escorted the illegal immigrants’ boats from well in French water for many miles before handing them on the cutter in mid-channel on the border between French and British water. At no time did the French attempt to return the migrants to France by taking them on board the warship or escorting them back to France when they were intercepted less than a quarter way across the channel. Fishermen in the channel say similar things happen most days. And we are paying the French £0.5 billion for them to dump these people on us.
A new type of ‘crash for cash’ is emerging. In the new scam, the scammer parks their car at the side of a road and sits in it until someone passes it closely. They then chuck something at the passing car so there is a bang. When the car stops, the parked driver jumps out and points out a broken door mirror. The scammer demands a cash payment, say £100, not to go through insurance and in most cases happily pockets the money for a pre-broken mirror. You don’t have to do that many times a day to make a good tax-free living.
Back to dry in London this morning, although I refuse to walk on the grass as it is soggy, and my poor little paws will suffer. So, the news this morning is that Ginge has condescended to come to the Coronation, but Whinge is staying in California. Wouldn’t it be delicious if he can’t get back into the States because of his past drug taking, as the prat wrote about in his book?
It seems that the preparations for King Jug Ear’s Coronation are struggling. I hear that a rehearsal overran badly, and that many of the royals have only in the last few days been told what they should wear. The guest list and order of service haven’t been finalised because Ginge and Whinge had not bothered to reply to the formal invitation by the requested date of April 3rd. Subsequently, seating in the cathedral couldn’t be finalised nor could the transport from and back to the palace which must be sorted out along with who is going to appear on the balcony to wave to the crowd. I bet Whinge just loves causing this trouble.
An Israeli businessman is suing the airline El Al for damages after he got stuck in a lie-flat Business Class seat. The man operated the lie flat mechanism and got his legs trapped under a ledge. He had to be pulled free by a steward and in doing so his leg was badly injured. According to the case register in a Manhattan District Court the businessman claims it was all the fault of El Al because they didn’t show him how to operate the seat. Strange how thousands of people fly Business Class every day and he is the only one I have ever heard of in this predicament.
The Canadian Navy wants to buy 12 new submarines and expects to pay at least C$60 billion, maybe up to C$100 billion for them. They currently have four ex-Royal Navy Upholder Class diesel/electric boats, but they have proved to be a problem. The boats were excellent servants to the RN, but the Canadians refitted them to take American torpedoes and with new electronics, since when they have had problems. When they purchased these, they really wanted nuclear-powered boats to patrol under the Artic ice, but the US was firmly against them getting nuclear-powered boats. The Canadian Navy has not said whether they are looking at nuclear or conventional this time around but if it is nuclear the US can hardly object given its participation in the AUKUS deal. Could we be looking at an expansion of the AUKUS deal?
Friends of the Earth and South Lakes Action on Climate Change have been refused permission by the High Court to appeal the decision to give planning permission to the West Cumbria coal mine that will produce coking coal. They now intend to ask the High Court to reconsider its decision claiming that the government didn’t take the effect of climate change into its decision. These groups are quite happy to see the U.K. return to the dark ages without any industry of our own, but don’t object to buying steel made in India or China with their coking coal.
The more you hear about the SNP travails the murkier it becomes. I hear today that the report last week that the party’s auditors had resigned was rather delayed. Humza Useless says the first he knew of it was at the party’s National Executive Committee meeting last week where he was told the auditors had resigned six months ago and it had been kept quiet by the SNP leaders. In fact, just like the big fall in party membership, it was not information the SNP leaders deemed necessary to give to the three candidates for leadership. I also understand that the membership has again fallen over the current predicament. Can the SNP survive?
A bit of an odd story to finish up with today. BA City Flyer, the British Airways subsidiary that operates out of London City Airport is in trouble over early departures. The problem seems to lie at its ‘out stations’, the 20 places it operates to. They appear to have been regularly dispatching planes before their scheduled departure times, meaning they have been arriving at City Airport before their allotted time slots and causing problems for air traffic control. City Flyer have had a warning letter telling them that if they do not stop this practice they will be fined. I find it odd that people are more worried about flights early than late.
Another dull morning, no rain but still super soggy on the grass. I put one paw on it before retreating and going the long way to the bottom of the garden on the path. The path was damp but at least your paws don’t sink in the mud, so it looks like you are wearing brown boots. I understand it is going to be sunny later, I really hope I can get on the windowsill when I have done all my work.
I read that the Ministry of Defence have confirmed that they intend to have a fleet of 24 frigates and destroyers by the early 2030s. This means that with 5 x Type 31s and 8 x Type 26 on order to replace existing frigates, the MoD is going to have to get a bit of a move on to order more. They are talking about 5 x Type 32s, but they have not even finished the specification of these yet and if they ordered them that would be 18 frigates meaning we would want six destroyers to bring the numbers up to the 24 discussed. The RN actually has 6 x Type 45 destroyers but the oldest of these is 14 years old so are we thinking of replacing them? Somehow, I doubt it.
So now Sad Dick is to be dragged into court for a judicial review of his expanded ULEZ, will he back down on his plan to implement the scheme in August? Somehow, I doubt it, he has already put in £200 million in cameras and other infrastructure and he must be expecting to make at least that much back in charges or he wouldn’t be bothering to go to that expense. Why should he care, the daily charge is for everyone else, he will continue to ride around London in his £400,000 armoured Land Rover regardless. At least Boris used to ride a bike.
I had to laugh when I read about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his cronies filling in what he claimed was a pothole that his Los Angeles neighbours were unhappy about. There he was with a camera crew pouring asphalt in the hole and levelling it off. The only trouble was it was actually a ‘service hole’ dug by the local gas company to give them access to a gas main under the road. The gas company has now had to dig up the work of Schwarzenegger to reinstate access to the main. The gas company say they will reinstate the whole street surface once all the gas main work is finished next month.
I hear that HSBC is considering its options for its London offices. They have had their HQ at 8, Canada Square, Canary Wharf since 2002 and their 25-year lease expires in 2027. So, they are busy looking at options. They have been reported to want to stay in London and have been looking at various new and refurbished buildings including Evargo Tower on Fleet Street, which is currently being redeveloped. It is in the same development as the old Daily Express building. They have also been looking at 175 Bishopsgate, which was previously occupied by the European Bank of Restructuring and Development; the BT Centre near St. Paul’s, and a new development, Wood Wharf which is in Canary Wharf. Of course, they could do a deal with their current landlord and stay exactly where they are. In the end it will all be down to costs over the length of a new lease.
The Aldi store at Newport on the Isle of Wight has just put up dual language notices. It might make sense if the notice had been in English and say French for tourists, but these bi-lingual notices are in English and Welsh. Customers suspect that Aldi has confused Newport, IoW with Newport, South Wales.
I hear that the in-service RAF F-35Bs have been cleared of the harmonic resonance (a posh way of saying vibration) problem that has been identified in some US F-35Bs. The problem was first found last December, in a new F-35B that was undergoing flight testing. The plane was hovering when it suddenly started bucking and spinning round and round. The test pilot ejected safely, and the problem was later found to have been caused by a rare engine problem and a decision was taken to check all F-35s for the problem. In the meantime, Pratt and Whitney, the engine makers, have developed a fix for the problem. Despite not having the fault all RAF F-35s will have the fix incorporated, as will all new aircraft in production. The idea is that all aircraft will have an identical engine so that all NATO countries with the F-35 can support each other.
Well, I’m done for the week and the sun has come out, it’s not too warm but the windowsill awaits me. I will curl up in the corner out of the wind and in the sun and I can catnap until dinner time. I hope it will be quiet in the street this afternoon then I can have a good snooze. I should be back with you all again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2023