Good morning people and welcome to a new week. What a lovely sunny morning, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my fur as I headed down the garden. Mind you it needed to be, as it was a little cool out first thing. Right, that’s enough from me, let’s get on with today’s stories.
When a burst water main caused flooding to occur in Lewisham, it resulted in traffic chaos because it made it impossible to access some streets without violating a Traffic Neighbourhood. Lewisham Council told residents to go ahead and ignore the LTN until things were back to normal and they wouldn’t be fined. Imagine the residents’ shock when fines started to arrive. Labour-run Lewisham Council has now admitted it broke its promise and in fact issued 421 penalty charge notices (PCNs), worth £54,730, in the Lee Green LTN that day. The council tweeted out a message saying no one would be fined and fortunately a resident took a screenshot of it. When people started to get fined, she contacted the council who ignored what they had done and kept on collecting the fines. Three months later they accepted what they had said and agreed to cancel all 421 PCNs and return the £18,785 they had collected so far.
I can think of little worse than going on holiday and arriving at your destination and finding that your luggage had gone missing. Now I hear of a woman who went on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Australia and her luggage went missing. For 11 days she only had the clothes she boarded the ship with. Despite trying to find suitable smart clothes at a couple of the island port calls, it proved impossible, but Royal Caribbean did launder her clothes for free! The day the ship arrived in Australia, Royal Caribbean found the woman’s luggage, it had been on board all the time.
You cannot have read my diary in the past without knowing about the mess that is the CalMac ferries in Scottishland. Not just the two new ferries that are over five years late, or the order for more new boats that has been placed abroad, but the problem with the current boats that has led to many breakdowns. In fact, shortage of working ferries has led to some islands not having a connection to the mainland or each other. This is one of Wee Krankie’s disaster stories, that she was anxious not to see get too much publicity. I chuckled when I read an April Fool story that said the Navy was going to lend CalMac a landing ship because, in the context of the mad events in Scottishland, it just could have been true.
Now that Poland has agreed to send some or all of its 30 Mig-29s to the Ukraine, I hear they are looking for a replacement. One option is for the Poles to acquire Eurofighter Typhoons. The planes were built in batches, known as Tranches, and I hear that some of the early, Tranche 1, aircraft could make the move to Poland. Particularly suitable are 30 Tranche 1 Eurofighters operated by the RAF which are due to leave the service soon. Ex-RAF planes tend to be popular with other country’s air forces, as the RAF has a reputation for keeping its planes in tip-top condition. The U.K. currently has 137 Eurofighters but only around 100 are in active service. Alternatively, Spain also has some Tranche 1 Eurofighters as do Germany who are currently receiving Tranche 4 aircraft to replace less capable Tranche 1 planes.
Now the end of the football season is in sight a number of Premier Division clubs seem to have been reviewing their position in the league and are not happy. So far in the last few weeks, four have sacked their manager bringing the total sacked so far this season to 12 (two clubs have sacked their manager twice). A couple of weeks ago it was Crystal Palace, then last weekend Tottenham’s turn, and this weekend both Leicester and Chelsea have followed suit. When I see this happening, I always wonder how much money they have been paid off with. In the case of Chelsea, they seem to go through managers at a rate of knots, with each new one going to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m not sure I could do a job where you have a four-year contract and are out on your ear after only a year or 18 months.
I hear there is a big row going on at the Royal College of Nursing. The RCN has negotiated a pay deal to end the nurses’ pay dispute and have recommended that the members of the 14 unions that make up the RCN accept the deal. The deal includes an additional 2% on this year’s salary, a 4% of salary lump sum as a Covid recovery bonus, and a 5% salary increase from this month. Of course, there is a left-wing campaign (Vote Reject) to reject the deal. Vote Reject have organised a petition of ‘no confidence’ in the RCN leaders. The RCN have called in the police as they say many of the names on the petition are forgeries or not union members. They have also reported some members to the nursing regulator. Meanwhile, Vote Reject claim they are being bullied and harassed by union leaders. This is becoming very tasty.
Gosh, it’s a beautiful sunny morning, a little chilly first thing when there was a frost on the roof of the gardener’s shed. After my Felix I jumped up on the kitchen internal windowsill and warmed myself in the sun streaming through the window. Gosh, I got warm quickly! I saw Sir Beer Korma on the TV just now and thought how fat he was getting. His neck now is as wide as his head, and he doesn’t seem to be able to button up his jacket anymore. At the rate he is ballooning he will soon overtake Bozzie who is going the other way and losing weight.
Last week I told you that there were 66 new cruise ships on order. To expand on that a little, 10 of those orders are for MSC Cruises, the world’s number three cruise line. Six of the ships are a family of smaller 900-passenger ships for their new subsidiary company Explora Cruises. All the big cruise lines have identified exploration cruising as a fast-expanding field where they can charge higher prices and make more money. The idea is that wealthier passengers want to visit more out-of-the-way places like the Antarctic, the Falklands and the Galapagos. There are not enough of these passengers to fill a conventional cruise ship, which can carry up to 7,000 people but a 900-passenger luxury ship is more easily filled, and that size ship is more easily accommodated in those small destinations. Oh, the other four ships are for the MSC line and are conventional ships, three of which will take 5,200 passengers each.
I read that insurance companies are writing off some EVs that have suffered only minor damage over the cost of repairs. The problem seems to be two-fold, firstly batteries are often under the floor of cars and can easily be damaged by a simple bump over the curb. The cost of batteries is often 50% of the cost of a new car and add to that the cost of doing the work to remove and replace a battery pack that is integral to the chassis of the car and it is often cheaper for the insurance company to scrap the vehicle. Secondly, the manufacturers of EVs are reluctant to release construction data to third-party repairers which invariably are used by insurance companies because they are much cheaper than franchised dealers. This has pushed up the cost of repairs making many not only expensive but dangerous as the procedures for fully discharging batteries are not available to third parties. Of course, this situation has made insurance companies push up the cost of EV insurance, which was already higher than a conventional car because of the initial cost of an EV.
Yesterday I was talking about Premier Division managers being sacked. Today I hear a little more about Graham Potter the manager sacked by Chelsea. He had a five-year contract at Chelsea and had worked for them for only 6 months meaning they would have to pay him the remaining four years six months to break the contract. He is reported to have been earning around £200,000 a week at Chelsea so that means he has walked away with a multimillion-pound payoff, meaning he could afford not to bother with working for quite a while. However, I hear that he is favourite to take over as manager of relegation-threatened Leicester City, who have also just sacked their manager Brendan Rodgers who was on a reported £10 million a year. It’s nice work if you can get it.
Sometimes I wonder why people bother. I hear that boxer Amir Khan has today been banned from participating in boxing matches for two years after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Well, I don’t condone sportsmen taking drugs, but this is a total waste of time and money. Khan has already retired from boxing and relinquished his boxing license, so all the boxing authorities had to do was refuse him a new license if he ever applied again. Cheap, easy and perfectly legal.
After Sunday’s Formula One race, the winner Verstappen lodged a complaint against Hamilton who came second in his best result for ages. Verstappen alleged that Hamilton had broken the rules by dropping more than 10 car lengths behind the safety car before a restart. The race stewards ruled in Hamilton’s favour quoting a rule that said the race leader, Hamilton, was allowed to drop back more than 10 car lengths on a restart. Obviously, Hamilton and his team knew the rules and Verstappen and his team didn’t. But more interestingly why bother to complain when you have just won the race? Is it Verstappen being nasty and playing games or is it because this year’s Mercedes is looking to be a huge improvement from last year and seems to be getting better with every race?
Lockheed Martin seem to be on a run of defence contact wins. I hear that we have awarded them and BAE a £200 million maintenance contract for the RAFs F-35B jets. Next, I read that the Aussies have selected them to build and maintain a chain of satellite ground stations designed to control a series of satellites the Aussie military is going launch. This deal is said to be worth Aus$ 4 billion. Now I read they have won a $4.5 billion contract to supply missiles to the US military. This order is for air-to-ground missiles and it’s not yet clear if the order is for the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) system that reportedly provides increased lethality to rotary wing aircraft and drones or the long-range, air-to-ground precision standoff missile (JASSM). However, I understand the order also includes Hellfire precision air-to-ground anti-armour missiles which are ‘fire and forget’ missiles, the latest version of which has been developed to use from drones.
It’s just like yesterday morning all over again. A lovely sunny morning, pleasantly warm in the sun, but a bit of early frost on the gardener’s shed roof. It seems to be melting fast and the roof is steaming in the sun. I hear that Sir Beer Korma thinks that 1% of women have a penis, he is truly woke.
I saw a story on the internet about a problem on a Virgin cruise ship. The Valiant Lady sailed from Miami for a short Caribbean cruise in the late afternoon of Saturday, but late in the evening the captain announced that the ship had done a 180° turn and was returning to Miami because of ‘medical emergency’. The ship docked in the early hours of the morning and was met by a Miami Police crime investigation unit. Just after 7 am the captain announced a death on board when a passenger had fallen from a 14th-floor balcony onto the promenade deck (7). Well, most people don’t just fall off balconies unless they are very young and climbing on the screen. People tend to deliberately jump to try and land in the sea or very occasionally are thrown over. In this case, it looks like a woman committed suicide by trying to jump in the sea but hit the deck instead. The ship eventually cut out one port of call and changed another. But every passenger is getting 100% of their fare in a cruise credit.
In the United States I see they are having a problem with Canadian invaders. The Canadians had been testing a hybrid between domestic pigs and wild boar but some escaped and began breeding in the wild. The descendants of the escapees have hopped across the border into the US and are now causing havoc south of the border where they have been rooting in agricultural crops. The pigs have inherited the thick hairy coat of the wild boar and it has proved perfect for the bitter winters in the area. People are at a loss to know how to tackle the problem as the pigs can produce two litters of six piglets a year and this is faster than hunters can keep their numbers down.
A while ago I told you about the P&O Ferry’s new Chinese-built double-ended boat starting to sail on the Dover/Calais route. Today I hear that it has suffered a bit of a problem as one of its lifeboats has fallen off. I have yet to hear exactly what happen, but the RMT union has written to the regulator to complain about what it calls a ‘safety-related incident.’
The England Ladies Football team have announced that at this summer’s Women’s World Cup they will wear blue shorts instead of the traditional white ones. This follows a campaign by some of the players who say that the white shorts could be an embarrassment when they were on their period. The new blue design is said to feature a ‘leakproof lining’. I can’t say I have ever noticed a problem with the old white shorts, and I wonder just how much the ‘problem’ was physiological. If it helps them play better, then I will not be complaining.
I read that a bridge carrying the railway between Didcot and Oxford has been closed because one side has moved. Consequently, no trains can run on this line, which includes passenger services and around 40 freight trains a day which carry goods between the Midlands and Southampton docks. It seems that the freight is a particular problem as the service moves many cars to the docks for export and huge numbers of containers. Trains to the docks are having to make long diversions. I hear that train drivers have been complaining for some weeks that something was wrong with the bridge, but it has taken a long time for Network Rail engineers to inspect it. The speculation is that the masonry supporting one corner of the bridge has sunk after weeks of rain. If this is the case repairs will not be quick or easy.
The Donald appeared in court yesterday and discovered that he has been charged with 34 counts of nothing that serious, nothing that stands a real chance of him being found guilty and even if he was and was jailed or fined, it would not stop him becoming president. The American public has seen right through this for what it is, a political operation by the Democratic Party. The US opinion polls have swung hugely in his favour and the Democrats appear to have shot themselves in the foot. They seem to have ensured that if the Donald does become president again, cases against Biden and his son will become inevitable. Mind you I hear that the Donald is entitled to become a British citizen due to his mother’s place of birth, wouldn’t it be interesting to have him move into British politics?
Well that sunny period didn’t last very long did it? It has rained all night here in London and is a bit damp again this morning. Mind you I read in the Express that we are in for a warm Easter and then a heat wave with temperatures up to 30°. But that is the Express and it is famous for its scare stories. They told us we were going to be hit by two new ‘Beasts from the East’ during the winter that never happened.
I do love a good political scandal and it looks like the one involving the missing SNP money is a real beauty. The SNP have been lurching from one disaster to another recently, ferries and gender to name but two, and now the missing £600,000 and the recently resigned chief executive. Have the polis been colluding with the SNP so that he wasn’t arrested until the leadership election was over? Did they tip off Wee Krankie so that she could resign the first minister job before her husband was arrested? Did they top her off a second time so she could get out of the house before they arrived to nick him this morning? I’m sure it will all be coming out in due course.
A senior Russian security officer has claimed that PooTin is leading a paranoid lifestyle where he is shit scared of Covid and assassination and living in virtual isolation. He also talked about a secret train, rail network and identical offices in various cities. The man, who was a senior protection officer in the Russian FSB says Poo Tin is constantly moving between offices and only those who have undergone extensive security vetting get anywhere near him. Of course, I have no idea if this man is telling the truth or spinning a yarn he thinks the West want to hear. I suspect there is possibly a bit of truth, but it has been exaggerated.
Artem Uss is accused of procuring high-tech components from US companies and shipping them to Russia. He was also accused of bank fraud and smuggling oil. The Russian citizen was under house arrest in Italy, in Basiglio, near Milan awaiting extradition, but he has broken off his electronic tracking anklet and made a run for it, by walking out of his home and driving off in a car. His unlikely getaway car is reported to have been a Fiat Punto which was recovered a few kilometres away. Witnesses say four identical black SUVs were waiting for Uss to arrive in the Punto and after he transferred to one, they all sped off in different directions. Uss has subsequently surfaced in Russia where he has given an interview to a Russian news agency. This tale reads like a spy novel and makes the Italian authorities look a little silly. Now he is in Russia, Uss is quite safe as Russia never extradites its own citizens.
I hear that the Dutch military have been evaluating events in the Ukraine war and have concluded, like many others, that they need longer-range artillery. They have decided that the answer is rocket artillery and started a programme to find which systems satisfy their needs. The answer was both the American HiMARS and the Israeli PULS (Precise and Universal Launching System). Apparently in the final evaluation they have settled on the Israeli system for a number of reasons, it has a 300 km range, it has can carry more rockets per launcher, the cost of individual rockets is lower so more can be procured for the same budget and that the Israeli manufacturer will allow local production of their missile.
The Metropolitan Police are reported to have moved 90 officers from front-line duty onto a special squad investigating the behaviour of other officers. I foresee two little problems here, the Mayor of London, Sad Dick, is always moaning that the Met doesn’t have enough police, so can they really afford to move 90 officers off the front line to investigate bad officers in the force. In addition, is it right that the Met should be investigating themselves where they might be looking at officers they know, surely investigation should be by an outside force. Oh, and I do hope that this 90 have all been vetted as it would be rather awkward if some of them were found to be rotten apples.
I hear of what is being called ‘sushi terrorism’ in Japan. Two men have been arrested at a branch of the budget food chain Gyūdon (translated as Beef Bowl) for using their own chopsticks to eat the pickled ginger garnish from a bowl of seasoned beef and onions on rice. Apparently, it was a large communal bowl on a display rather like a buffet where customers serve themselves and add the food to their own bowls. To do this they are expected to use special disposable chopsticks. The men have been charged with destroying the communal bowl by contaminating it. It seems that the latest craze in Japan is to video similar acts and post them on the internet. Recent filmed incidents have included someone licking the top of a soya sauce bottle and someone else licking a cup and putting it back in a rack of clean cups. I promise to scratch anyone who licks my Felix bowl.
Back to a lovely sunny morning and it is warm through the glass in the kitchen. I had forgotten it was Good Friday and it is awfully quiet in No 10 today. No Rich Boy. I don’t know if he has gone to Chequers for the weekend. Only a skeleton staff in, I think I will treat it like a Sunday and see if it nice enough to snooze on the outside windowsill this afternoon when I have finished my patrols and dairy.
Being Maundy Thursday yesterday, King Jug Ears has been dishing out the Maundy money. York was the lucky city chosen and the service took place in York Minster. As per tradition the amount given out was based on his age. As he is 74, red and white purses were given to 74 male and 74 women pensioners over the age of 70 and associated with the church. Each purse contained specially minted silver coins with a face value of £74.
My scribe tells me that he got snarled up in an odd traffic jam yesterday, on the A27 where it passes through Worthing. A single-vehicle accident, a skip lorry, hit a set of temporary traffic lights and brought down live power lines across the carriageway. Eventually a diversion was set up and traffic came off the main road, up a slip road through a Sainsbury’s car park before going back down another slip road and back onto the A27 bypassing the cables. Of course, this was very slow, and the queues built up all over northern Worthing.
I was speculating the other day about how much money Graham Potter had been paid off with when he was sacked by Chelsea. Well, I read today that he got a mere £13 million. That’s not bad for six months work. Mind you I bet he is going to have to pay a chunk of tax on that. However, I hear that the first thing he did was to book a £20,000 holiday for himself, his wife and children and fly off to the Maldives. I think I might have done the same thing myself, not fly to the Maldives, but go on holiday.
In Gravesham, Kent, the Council, Trading Standards and HMRC and Home Office Immigration Enforcement have been raiding shops looking for illicit cigarettes and tobacco. In one shop the spaniel search dog was interested in the tiled floor. Under it the search team found a tunnel that had been dug into the basement of the shop next door where they found 140,000 cigarettes and 1,315 pouches of tobacco. In another shop the searchers became suspicious when they found a chute that appeared to come from a flat above the shop. Another spaniel indicated that there was tobacco in the flat and behind three false walls they found 58,900 cigarettes and 135 pouches of tobacco. In total they seized 242,500 cigarettes and 1,516 pouches of tobacco estimated to have a street value of £76,000. I wonder if they have ever considered sniffer cats?
A report out today says that the best-performing of all the underground lines is the Northern line while the Piccadilly line is the worst. I remember the days when the Northern line was known as the ‘misery line’ because of its abysmal service, and it ran some of the oldest trains on the network. Now it has been top for the last 11 reporting periods running with an average of over 97% reliability, while the Piccadilly has only made 57% this month. The managers of the Piccadilly line say that things should start to improve when they get their new trains, but that isn’t until August 2025!
Long Eaton Police in Derbyshire have been investigating a skeleton found dumped by a member of the public. An officer sent out to investigate reported that the bottom half of the skeleton was detached so the forensic team came out. They were quick to report that the skeleton was in fact a plastic toy. Everything pointed to it being a pirate, probably Captain Hook. There was an artificial leg, a hook for one hand, and the skeleton of a parrot on his shoulder! I suspect the officer who inspected the find has been ‘ribbed’ by his colleagues.
Another lovely sunny morning, if a little cool to start with. I had a lovely snooze on the windowsill yesterday and it was a joy to be back in one of my favourite places. I fully intend to repeat the process today, as rain is forecast for Sunday afternoon and Monday. I see that Labour are accusing the Rich Boy of not wanting to send adults who sexually assault children to prison. Is this just projecting their own attributes onto others? Who remembers Sir Beer as Director of Public Prosecutions and how he treated grooming gangs or how leading party members supported the Paedophile Information Exchange?
A few stories coming out of Airbus late yesterday, firstly they announced the creation of a second A320neo assembly line at their factory in China, then they announced a 12 x A320neo order for Azerbaijan Airlines and a 12 x A320neo order for Icelandic Airways. Then at teatime they announced an order for 150 x A320neo and 10 x A350-900 widebody aircraft from China Aviation Supplies Holding Company. I had only heard yesterday that the waiting time for new A320neos was so long that the reinstated order for 50 x A320neo aircraft for Qatar Airways was unlikely to see the first plane delivered until late 2025 or 2026 because Qatar had lost their delivery slots while the court case over the A350 finish had been going on. No wonder they need another assembly line, they already have four in Hamburg, one in China and one in Atlanta.
I understand that there were scenes of chaos at St Pancras station yesterday. The problem was down to the usual maintenance works over a bank holiday weekend and the closure of Euston Station to accommodate work on the line between there and Milton Keynes. Some trains to Milton Keynes were operating out of St Pancras in addition to the normal services. Hence loads of extra people descended on the station and people had to queue for up to three hours to get on a train.
Can you imagine the shock a Cardiff man had recently when 850 brown envelopes demanding VAT payments dropped through his flat’s front door on a single day? However worse was to come, as 11,000 Chinese companies had used his address to register for VAT. The HMRC says it looks like a scam has been going on. What astonishes me is that the HRMC do not have a system that highlights multiple companies registering at the same private address.
I have been reading about a chocolate Labrador called Coco who is a recovering alcoholic. He has just gone through a withdrawal programme at a dog rescue centre. The dog’s previous owner had been in the habit of leaving it an alcohol drink when they went to bed at night and the dog had become addicted. I can’t see how a cat would ever have been so daft as a mutt and become an alcoholic.
FBI agents in Boston broke into a hotel room, pulled the occupant from his bed, took him into the bathroom where he was handcuffed and interrogated for over an hour. The man insisted he had no idea what they were talking about, when the agents insisted he was a gang leader, and kept saying that he was a Delta airline pilot on a layover. As it was an FBI training exercise the agents assumed that the man was just particularly good at role-playing. Unfortunately, he really was an airline pilot and the agents had got the wrong hotel room. Somewhere in that hotel a man was expecting to be dragged from his bed and interrogated, but it didn’t happen. I wonder if he got a good night’s sleep?
I was in the office last night and the few people who were in were watching Beyond Paradise. I won’t tell you what happened in case you haven’t seen it, but it was a happy ending. I can share with you the news that there is going to be a second series. I hope it will have a few more episodes than the current series which seems to have been very short.
Well, I’m done for the week and the windowsill awaits me. I love making myself comfy in the sun and, with one eye open, I can see who is coming and going in Downing Street. I don’t expect there will be very many people in the street today. I should be back with you all again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2023