I’m back! While my scribe has been on the high seas, I have been having a lazy old time with a lot of snoozing in the warm weather. Well, all apart from one day when we had the most incredible downpour. Lots have things have happened in the last two weeks, but I will probably not revisit them, only where they are continuing today. OK let’s get on with my first story.
I have been following the Wagner mutiny in Russia with interest and thought it all over but this morning I read in Aviation Week a few things that our own MSM have not reported. Firstly, the Wagner column was only 8,000 strong and not the 25,000 originally reported. Secondly the column got within two hours of reaching Moscow with virtually no resistance from the regular army, before negotiations turned them back. But I also was told by the NSM, that there had been not any bloodshed. But was this true? I saw video of what the Russians said was a helicopter attacking the column with rockets and blowing something up. I don’t know if this was true, but I’m inclined to think it was. But now I read that Wagner shot down several Mil Mil-8/17 transport helicopters, including a specialised electronic warfare version, a Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopter and a Mil Mi-35 attack helicopter. But the real prize was a Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-22M airborne command post which according to Telegram was downed and all 10 crew were killed. I wonder how long Prigozhin will last in Belarus before he is served polonium doctored tea?
I hear that we are to introduce an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) by the end of 2024. It will be like the ESTA in the US and the scheme about to be introduced in the EU. It is really an online visa and will initially be launched in November next year for passengers arriving from Dubai before being expanded to all arrivals except for British and Irish travellers. From what I read anyone arriving without an ETA or a full visa will not be admitted to the country. Will this apply to cross-channel boat people?
Last week was the Paris Air Show and the number of aircraft orders signed at the show was enormous with both Boeing and Airbus adding hundreds of planes to their order books. In fact, well over 1,000 planes were added to the order books with Airbus picking up a single 500 plane order for its A320 family. But I wonder just how long it will be before these planes are delivered. Both Boeing and Airbus have huge order backlogs and can’t produce planes quickly enough for several reasons. Apparently, a plane ordered today may be delivered in 6 years time! This is no good for someone trying to set up a new airline and they often have to resort to leasing planes as the leasing companies have placed numerous orders just to get places in the queue. Of course, the manufacturers would love to increase production, but the subcontractors they rely on are struggling to increase production.
Marcus Decker is a German citizen with permission to stay in the U.K. When he comes out of prison after serving a two-year seven-month sentence for climbing up the QE2 bridge and stopping traffic in a ‘Just Stop Oil’ protest, he is due to be deported. But Just Stop Oil are not happy about this and organised a march on the Home Office on Saturday. This man is a criminal and under the law needs to be deported, just like Boris Becker. Germany is a safe place so just because Just Stop Oil don’t like it is no reason not to deport him.
The annual Glastonbury extravaganza ended last night without the normal mud fest. For a change the weather was good, and the crowds appeared to enjoy themselves. The final night ended with an appearance by 84-year-old gay rocker Sir Elephant John, but the vast audience seemed to love it. I only saw the last couple of minutes when the old queen’s performance was over and he was waving to the crowd. Then he waddled off the stage hardly able to walk, it looked like he needed a Zimmer frame. In an interview afterwards he said that this would likely be his last live concert. From the state of him I am not surprised.
Back in 2017 France and the U.K. signed an agreement to replace their current cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles with a new missile called Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Missile (FC/ASM) from MBDA in France and Britain. The project has been progressing and like all these things is moving very slowly with an in-service date of 2028 for the ASM version and 2030 for the FC version. The good news is that the Italians have just signed a Letter of Intent to join the project and will be contributing a new seeker head to the project. The intention is for the new missile(s) to replace the current long-range strike missiles Storm Shadow/Scalp, Harpoon and Exocet.
Good morning readers and it’s another lovely sunny one here in Westminster. The forecast for the next few days is not quite so warm here in the Southeast and possibly wet further north, but I have just seen the long-term forecast for July and it looks like I’ll be enjoying plenty of windowsill time as the Met Office is predicting a warm spell. I think I can live with that.
The French really are an officious lot. I read that a rare German WW2 tank was on its way to the U.K. to appear at the annual Tankfest at Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset when French officials stopped it from boarding a ferry to the U.K. from Dunkirk. It was claimed the paperwork was out of order. Well, anywhere else the paperwork would have been sorted out very quickly. But not in France. There the shippers were told that getting the paperwork right would take three weeks. Consequently, the Dutch restoration group who rebuilt the tank have given up and shipped it back to Holland.
I have been reading that the European Club Association has been holding a summit meeting in London and has announced that women need a new design of football boot. It seems that women footballers have in general been wearing smaller sizes of men’s boots and that 82% say they suffer foot pain. Women’s feet as well as being generally smaller than men also have a higher instep and a different shape heel. The ECA has questioned whether the wrong footwear is responsible for the fact that women are 29 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than 20 years ago.
It sounds to me that flying on Air India should be avoided. Back in November a man was arrested after urinating on the floor of one of their flights from New York to India. More recently a man was arrested after urinating on the blanket of a sleeping woman on an Air India flight. Now I hear that only a couple of days ago another man, named as Ram Singh, has been arrested for pissing and shitting on the floor of an Air India flight to Delhi. I wonder why this keeps happening on Air India planes, do they have fewer toilets than other airlines or is it that the passengers are not used to using modern toilets?
For the second time in three months a worker on the ramp at San Antonio Airport has been ingested into an aircraft’s jet engine and killed. The first case was a woman carrying a safety cone who was sucked off her feet by an E175 plane operated by an American Airlines subsidiary airline Envoy. Yesterday a man got too close to a taxiing Delta Airlines A319 and was also ingested. After the first incident, ramp workers have been briefed on several occasions not to go near aircraft until the engines have been shut down as indicated by the aircraft’s warning beacons being turned off. Something the latest worker seems to have ignored as the plane was still moving with one engine shut down.
At the weekend two more F-35B Lighting flew into the U.K. to slightly increase our fleet. We have currently a total of 48 on order and the planes in twos and threes are very slowly being added to the RAF inventory. We do have a requirement for 136 F-35Bs but we have yet to increase our order even to replace the one lost when taking off from HMS Queen Elizabeth with inlet covers still in place. The word I hear is that we are likely to order 24 more planes sometime soon. This is enough to equip a further two Squadrons. An RAF fighter squadron usually has 12 aircraft so we would then be able to muster six operational squadrons.
Are pensioners in for another big increase next year? As you probably know the state pension is currently subject of a triple lock, going up by whichever of inflation, average earnings, growth or 2.5% is the largest in September each year. Last September inflation was at 10.1% so that is what pensions went up by on the increase day in April. Since then inflation has been falling, but only very slowly and I understand that at the moment the predictions say that it will be at 7% in September generating another big state pension hike in April 2024. Of course, predictions are that the rate of inflation will have dropped considerably by then but under the rules it’s still a 7% increase. Mind you if we have a Sir Beer Korma in charge then I bet the triple lock gets dropped.
It’s a bit overcast this morning, but it is still pretty warm. I hear that we might even get a drop of rain tomorrow, then it back to hot and sunny. A lovely story out this morning is that progress towards ‘Net Zero’ is not happening. The climate change committee says that next to no progress is being made towards ‘Net Zero’ by the government. Of course, The Guardian thinks this is awful, which in my view means it is good news. All this crap about green jobs is total rubbish. It discounts that the plan actually cuts well-paid jobs in the oil and gas industries and replaces them with lower-paid ‘Green’ jobs. Why do you think the unions are opposed to Labour’s ‘Green’ plans?
I hear that in Brighton, the Labour Party who took over the Council from the Greens at the May local election, are very unhappy. It seems they have discovered a big hole in the council finances. They are probably as much as £3 million short in the budget. Labour says the shortfall is largely down to the Green’s anti-car policy. The Greens had been pumping up parking charges and had planned a 300% increase in some areas, but this is to be reviewed by the new administration because every time the parking charges go up income goes down. The Greens had also implemented many bus lanes, bus gates, cycle lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods. All this has led to a huge drop in tourist numbers and subsequently money spent in the town. But haven’t the Greens only been doing what Labour have proposed for the whole country?
So, the nurse’s strike is over, not because they voted to accept the pay deal but because they are fed up with going on strike and losing money. Most of the unions have already accepted the government’s pay offer but the RCN didn’t accept the offer. However, their strike mandate has expired and to carry on industrial action they needed the membership to vote again for more action. This is where the plan fell down, the majority of the membership couldn’t be bothered to vote, so the minimum turnout wasn’t reached and that means the end of industrial action. It matters not that the majority of those who did vote voted in favour, these I guess they were the militants who would have never voted any other way. I wonder if the nurses won more money in the pay increase, they got than they lost when on strike?
I hear the government is preparing a contingency plan in case Thames Water collapses. It seems that despite plans for a huge increase in their water and sewage costs this year they are £14 billion in debt. How could such a thing happen to what is Britain’s biggest water company? Well, it seems that for many years they have been paying first their Australian owners and now their Chinese owners huge dividends instead of repairing massive leaks and Victorian Sewage systems. Over the years they have been fined many millions of pounds, but it is cheaper to pay the fines rather than fix problems. Now things seem to be coming to a head and the boss of Thames Water has quit with £4 million in her pocket. Meanwhile Southeast Water have put a hosepipe ban in place, not because there is a drought, but because they have failed to install the infrastructure to treat the plentiful supply of raw water they have. Could we be about to see water companies being taken back into government control like failing railway companies?
Are we about to see a new record deal for a football transfer in Britain? There are two different numbers and either or both could be broken by Arsenal’s attempts to buy Declan Rice from West Ham. Having already had two bids rejected, last night Arsenal put in a bid of £100 million plus £5 million in add-ons, beating a rejected offer of £80 million plus £10 million from Manchester City. The current record fee of £100 million for a British player was paid by Manchester City but Chelsea paid £106 million for a foreign player. It would only take a tiny movement to beat both records.
I hear that Germany has placed a $6 billion order for 38 upgraded Eurofighter Typhoons, 30 single-seat and eight two-seat aircraft. They are to replace 38 old models that are currently in service. My first thought was ‘Hello, are the old planes off to the Ukraine?’ But it would seem that is not the case, as deliveries are not to begin for ages and will not be complete until 2030! I suspect the war will be over by then, one way or the other.
Overnight Boots have announced that they are to close some 300 shops over the next year. This comes after they made record profits, but they say that much of their additional profit came from their website. Three hundred might sound like a lot of shops but Boots have 2,200 currently, down by 200 on last year. So, what we are seeing is only a slight increase in shop closures from the previous year. Of course, Boots have not yet released a list of shops to close yet, but I suspect that it will be the smallest branches and those whose leases are about to expire and the landlord is asking a daft amount to renew. The chances of the huge branch on your high street closing is not very likely, it will probably be that small branch in a secondary or tertiary shopping area that disappears.
Wow, a damp morning and it seems to have been quite wet overnight. There is even a pool in the middle of the Rich Boy’s sun lounger that he left out overnight. I only hope the pool is rainwater.
I hear that SouthWestern Railway’s fleet of new Class 701 trains is still not in service some four years after they were supposed to enter service. The £1 billion fleet of 90 trains arrived from the manufacturer in Derby with up to 90 faults each! SWR has only accepted 46 trains so far and has started to train its 50 depot drivers on how to drive them but only on simulators. The main line drivers who will be putting them into full service have still to get their hands on even the simulators. The silly thing is that these trains were bought to replace year-old units bought by the previous franchise holder.
Yesterday Just Stop Oil got a little more than they bargained for when they tried to interfere with the Lord’s Ashes Test Match. At the start of the second over on the first day Just Stop Oil protestors ran on the pitch with their bags of orange powder. One had just started casting the powder into the wind when he was grabbed by England wicket keeper, Johnny Bairstow, who wrapped his arms around the protestor, picked him up and carried over to waiting security men. They then handed them over to the police who marched them off with a chorus of boos ringing around the ground. Bairstow is only a small man, but he quickly neutralised the protester who was unable to free his arms and continue with his protest.
In Italy the government and Italian football authorities have signed an agreement to ban the use of the number 88 on football shirts. I had no idea, but apparently to extreme right-wing Italian Football Supporters it is antisemitic. Well H is the eighth letter of the alphabet so 88 is HH which the right sees as short for Heil Hitler. I have never seen the like in Britain, so I doubt we will be seeing a similar ban here. Anyway, I don’t know of many teams who have 88 registered players.
This winter there will only be one coal-fired power station available to the National Grid in the event of an emergency. Drax have been in negotiations with National Grid’s – Electricity Supply Organisation, about restarting its last two coal-fired units that it shut down at the end of the winter generation season. However, Drax has decided that for several reasons including staffing, maintenance and technical, it was not possible to make them available for the coming winter season. The ESO had also had talks with EDF about making its West Burton A coal-fired plant available but closed the units in April and seemingly won’t consider restarting them. That leaves the Ratcliffe Power Station, owned by German company Uniper, as the last coal-fired station in Britain. One thing I don’t know is how many of the stations 4 x 500 Mw units are still in working order, but the ESO says they have a 4.8 Gw generating ‘buffer’ available for next winter. I’m not sure where that ‘buffer’ comes from.
The word on the street tonight is that West Ham and Arsenal have reached a verbal agreement on the £105 million transfer of Declan Rice. The deal is not yet finalised as the payment structure is still open to debate, but from what I hear Rice, whose contract with the Hammers enters its final year on the 1st of July, has been given permission to have a medical and talk wages and contract conditions with the Gunners. I wonder if this deal has finally been done? There was a famous saying that a verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it is written on.
Only 18 days after Manchester City won the 22/23 Champions League the 23/24 version got underway with its qualifying matches for its preliminary rounds. Of course, these very early rounds are inconsequential as the teams taking part are never going to win the competition, but they are the champions of tiny nations who are only too happy to get through a few rounds for the money they win. Last night Montenegrin champions Buducnost and Iceland’s Breidablik won through a preliminary round and will play each other for a place in the Qualifying Round. In previous years these early matches have taken place in July but this year the circus has started in June, why?
Hi everyone, another overcast morning but no rain at the moment. A strange political story this morning after the privileges committee threw their toys out of the pram over the MP’s having the audacity of being to criticise them. The committee chair Harriet Harpoon, who tweeted that she would do anything to get rid of Bozzie led the moans, and was joined by a Tory MP, who is a Remoaner and Bozzie hater, and also attended a lockdown birthday party where it is said they drank alcohol and ate cake. But the poor sensitive little committee can’t be criticised and anyone who dares must be gagged. Now one of the critics, Lord Goldsack, has resigned from the government and says it is because the government is not green enough. What a load of rubbish!
Yesterday, a procurement minister was telling a conference how the Royal Navy’s ‘new’ Type 83 destroyer was the best air defence ship in the world. This is pretty clever as the type is not even specified yet, let alone designed or even being manufactured. It is not predicted to be in service before the mid-2030s. He talked about how these anti-aircraft ships, which until now had been talked about as carrying the latest type of anti-aircraft missiles, would be made more powerful by being networked with other ships to take advantage of their radar and missiles. But one interesting thing he did say was that the Type 83 would be equipped with laser weapons. This would be something new for the Navy and means that the ship’s specifications do exist somewhere even if the shipbuilders have no idea what they are and haven’t yet been asked to quote for them!
On Wednesday something went wrong with Google Maps, and it suddenly moved London’s Heathrow Airport into the sea off the Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower! This made it a little difficult for anyone using Google Maps to get there. People who rely on Apple Car Play as a Sat Nav found themselves being directed miles away from their true destination. I didn’t know this, but Uber uses Google Maps to give customers fare estimates. One man living in Gosport became a bit suspicious when he asked for the fare to Heathrow and was told £7.20, it should have been nearer £120. Google sorted out the problem with the location on Thursday. I wonder if they could now move the people’s socialist republic of Islington to China?
I hear that scammers have a new trick. With the growth of councils using parking apps, they have started building fake payment websites that appear at the top of a Google search page because they are paid for adverts. One that has been so hacked is RingGo, and anyone using the fake site to pay for their parking is hit by a triple whammy, their money goes to a scammer, their card details are stolen, and they are likely to get a parking ticket fine for not having paid to park!
I told you a few weeks back of the new start-up airline Global and its plans to fly from Britain to America offering cheap fares. The idea is to use the huge A380 double-deck widebody plane, to move large volumes of passengers initially between London and New York. This is bucking the current trend of airlines such as Aer Lingus and TAP Air Portugal who have recently introduced the new long-range version of the much smaller single aisle narrow body A320 on routes to America. Global, who have yet to announce a start-up date, or the exact airports they will use, made the news when they announced that they had bought an A380, now appears to be getting much nearer starting a service by announcing they have secured three more A380s bringing their fleet to four and making daily return flights to several US airport more possible.
Hard luck if you booked a trip on the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship in summer ‘24. Celebrity Cruises has cancelled five months of the ship’s cruises in the Mediterranean and are to reposition the ship to Florida and undertake cruises to the Caribbean instead. Celebrity will be taking delivery of a new ship next year and it will be sailing in the Med instead, but on different dates and itineraries. So what compensation are Celebrity offering passengers? Well, it seems that basically nothing, you can have your deposit back and that’s it. However, if you chose to transfer a booking to the new ship you will get a $100 cabin credit. Apparently, Celebrity has a very high level of bookings for next summer and feel that they can get away with a minimal offer. I wonder what the litigious Yanks think of that?
Another sort of cruise story, but not really. An American woman on a cruise got off the ship in the Port of Huston and all hell was let loose. As soon as she scanned out, she was surrounded by port officials and police officers and arrested. She was fingerprinted, given an orange prison uniform and carted off to jail. When her husband and adult soldier son asked what she was being arrested for, they were told it was an outstanding warrant for child endangerment. They pointed out that she only had one child and he was the adult standing there, but the state police insisted that the picture on the warrant matched the woman, and they had the same name. When the lawyers looked at the warrant it emerged that the woman, they were looking for was 26, the one arrested was 49, she was a different height and had different colour eyes. However, the killer was fingerprints were different, but the police kept insisting the photo matched. After three days in prison a judge ordered her release as the police had clearly attached the wrong photo to the Warrant. I suspect it’s another compensation case for the lawyers.
Morning all, it’s grey again but not raining when I wandered down the garden. And the temperature has gone down. I was glad of my fur yesterday when it got breezy yesterday afternoon.
I read that the infamous new CalMac ferry is not going to be ready until the end of the year and is going to cost yet another £20 million. This really is ridiculous, and a disgrace. The Scottishland government are wriggling and squirming over this and don’t want to admit it is a scandal the way they have handled the whole affair. Will there be a proper independent inquiry into the affair? Somehow, I doubt it, the SNP can’t afford any more bad publicity!
The latest energy price cap has come into force this morning, with the cap on gas and electricity prices falling. Good news for most people but as we usually don’t use so much energy in the summer months the next quarter’s bill isn’t going to change much. However, the daily standing charge hasn’t gone down and if your home has both a gas and electricity supply you will still be paying about £300 a year before consuming any energy!
Yesterday IAG, the owners of British Airways and Iberia, announced it has just converted 10 options for Airbus A320neo aircraft into full orders. It has not said which of its airlines are to get the planes and exactly what mix of models from the A320neo family it is taking but it brings the outstanding IAG orders for A320 family of aircraft to 51. However, IAG has a total of over 100 Airbus models on order if you include widebody orders. It shows the advantages of holding options, which are effectively paying for a position in the queue for planes. These planes shouldn’t be delivered in four years while new orders are on six or seven years delivery!
I really can’t understand what is going on in government sometimes. It is commonly accepted that now we have dumped coal-fired power stations we desperately need nuclear power. But yesterday the government announced that it will not be deciding on the small modular nuclear reactor competition until 2024. We are falling behind the rest of the world with SMRs. Other countries have made a choice and ordered trial units. Not us, we must look at every design in the world and put our own Rolls-Royce design at a disadvantage. Why, we have left the EU and their rules (which the French and Germans ignore anyway) so we could place an order with RR tomorrow. Why can’t we just get on with it?
With Gary Neville due to be a guest panellist on Dragons Den I wondered how wealthy he was, and how does he compare to the regular team of investors on the show? The answer is not very well! He is supposed to be worth about £20 million, not a lot when you compare it to the other regulars. The wealthiest is an obvious Peter Jones who is said to be worth £450 million and the next on £200 million is the obnoxious Tuka Sullymen while no one else in the current team is worth more than £67 million. I sometimes wonder if they turn down investments not on the strength of the pitch but on how much spare cash they have at the time.
According to the London Fire Brigade so far this year they have been called to 70 e-bike fires, 14 e-scooter fires and 35 other lithium-battery fires in London. The problem seems to be that many of the bikes and scooters are cheap imports, poorly made and suffer short circuits and if a lithium battery gets damaged it is inclined to burn. When a lithium battery combusts, it does so very quickly and very vigorously. Fires are also a problem in London where lots of bikes and scooters are stolen so people keep them indoors. An e-bike battery stored in the hall of a high-rise flat can set the hallway alight in 10 seconds. I wonder if the Rich Boy is thinking about buying an e-bike?
That’s me done for the first week back and I have enjoyed finding you some strange stories. It’s still not wonderful weather in London and I think the windowsill is out this afternoon. Instead, I might have a snooze but there is some interesting sport on TV this afternoon and I might see what they are watching in the office. The Aussies bashing us at cricket or the F1 sprint race, and I might watch. Anyway, I should be back with you all again next week, everything being normal.
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