Hello everyone for favourite cat reporter here ready to bring you all the news and rumours I hear in the corridors of power. This morning I had my normal trip down to the bottom of the garden on a grey and grotty morning and it was wind assisted. Gosh was it windy and you know how I hate getting my fur all blown about almost as much as I hate getting it wet. I can tell you I didn’t hang around.
My favourite story from the weekend must be that told by Kelly Jones of the Stereophonics. Apparently one evening a neighbour knocked on his flat’s front door, to ask him to turn down the Tom Jones album he was playing as it was rather loud. Jones explained that it wasn’t an album, he didn’t own any, but Tom Jones was in his kitchen singing live. It seems they had both been appearing on the Jools Holland show and Tom had come back to the flat after the recording.
I hear that the newest version of the Airbus A320 family of planes, the A321XLR (eXtra Long Range) has a little problem. The additional range of the plane is mainly gained by adding a new central fuel tank under the floor. The European Aircraft Safety Agency has demanded some extra safety features to reduce the risk of fuel spillage and fire from the centre tank in the event of an accident. The EASA ruling has added something like 700 kilograms to the weight of the plane with a fuel tank liner and structural changes being necessary to meet the new rules. This extra weight in turn translates into a 200-mile range loss. With a preproduction aircraft currently being tested, Airbus is said to be frantically searching for ways to cut the weight back elsewhere and recover the range it has promised customers.
The Panama Canal Authority has announced that from the end of July it is reducing the number of ships that pass through the canal between the Pacific and Atlantic from 36 a day to 32 a day. This is in an attempt to save water as Panama is experiencing a drought. Some people think that the canal just goes straight across Panama, but ships pass through a series of locks up to two natural lakes joined by a canal and then down another series of locks to the sea on the other side. It is a shortage of water in the lakes that is the problem and each time a ship passes through more water is used from the lakes to operate the locks. The Authority has also introduced a temporary reduction in the maximum draught of ships using the canal to stop them from running aground in the lakes.
It seems that all but one of the councils of areas surrounding London are opposed to the expansion of the London ULEZ scheme and as such are refusing to allow Sad Dicks ULEZ signage and cameras on their land. The exception is Slough which has a short border with London. Here the council is officially not under the control of any one party with the Tories having 21 councillors, Liebore 18 and the Limp Dumps 3. This means that although the Tories run the council as the largest party, the Limp Dump Mayor has the casting vote on controversial things like ULEZ.
It is only the last day of July and several of the major supermarkets have announced their Christmas food offerings. Tesco were first, followed by Waitrose and Lidl. In addition, I hear that both Beefeater and Carter & Miller have launched their Christmas Day eat-in menus. I could understand it if we were past the autumn half-term and Fireworks Night, but we haven’t even had the August bank holiday yet. I wonder who will be the first with their Christmas advertisement on TV this year?
It looks like the British car industry is making a recovery. In the past six months they have managed to produce 450,168 cars, up 23% on the same period last year. In June alone 84,767 cars left the factories an increase of 12,000 on the previous month. Production is being helped by the fact that more semiconductors are becoming available. Car production was badly affected by the lack of semiconductors and some car specifications were adjusted to temporarily remove some items like reversing cameras and automatic dipping headlights. These parts are now making a reappearance.
Something is wrong this morning, it’s sunny and rain is not forecast until I am happily tucked up in my basket tonight. I got to see the cricket on the TV yesterday and it was lovely to see the Aussies lose a match. I was amused to see all the people wearing headbands like Stuart Broad, but did they really have to make his baby daughter wear one?
I understand that the Ministry of Defence is poised to sign a contract with BAE Systems for the development and procurement of long lead items for the next class of nuclear submarines. These will be known as SSN AUKUS Class and will be the boats that follow on from the current Astute Class in the Royal Navy and will be those used by the Royal Australian Navy. The Astute Class is widely recognised as the most advanced class submarine at sea and the new class will be based on it but with some extra enhancements including some US submarine technical features which are said to include the latest American drive system. The contract is believed to be a little unusual in that it de-risks the project entirely for BAE not only paying for the development but also for the purchase of the special steel for the hull on a cost-plus profit basis. The current thinking is that the boats for the Royal Navy and early Australian production will be made in Britain with later Australian boats made down under with major input from the U.K. and USA.
It’s one in the eye this morning for ‘Just stop Oil’. I hear that the Rich Boy has agreed to the issuing of hundreds of new gas and oil exploration licences for the North Sea. Are you ready for the incoming whinge from the Greens and the Limp Dumps? I don’t know quite what Liebore will say, they are a policy-free zone, who tend to try to do the populist thing that they think will bring them votes. Even so, one half of the party will be in favour and the other half against. Then the Liebore HQ will tell all their spokesmen what to say and you will hear them all using the same phrases.
A story reaches me from Spain where Real Madrid have instructed their player Jude Bellingham to apply for an Irish passport. Hang on I hear you say isn’t he English and pays for England? Well, yes he is, and he does. But somewhere in his family tree he has an Irish root which allows him to apply for an Irish passport which will give him dual nationality. This is of huge benefit to Real Madrid as under EU rules football teams based in the EU can have as many EU players as they can afford but have a fixed quota of non-EU players. With an Irish passport Bellingham can be registered as an EU player freeing up a place for another non-EU purchase. Not cheating, just bending the rules.
In the US one of its biggest trucking companies has shut its doors and is filing for bankruptcy. Yellow Corp which carries much of Home Depot’s freight around the country and has thousands of trucks and 30,000 employees is said to owe over a $1 billion and only have $100 million in cash. The writing was on the wall on Friday when Yellow let go 10,000 contract workers and narrowly avoided a strike by the Teamster Union over a missing $50 million payment into the pension scheme. Mind you under the American Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules I expect Yellow to be back in business soon.
So, the Rich Boy says he is on the side of the motorist. Something that is welcome, but a bit late. He says he is going to stop 20 MPH zones and review Low Traffic Neighbourhood Zones, but is this enough? Shouldn’t he also be looking at the money raising ULEZ schemes, bicycle lanes that take up half the road and all the other daft things that councils slipped in under Covid.
A report says that the abolition of the VAT reclamation scheme for foreign visitors brought in £2 billion last year, but at a huge cost. The report says that it has actually cost us something like £14 billion. This sum is arrived at by adding up all the spending that the high-spending tourists who would normally have spent in the U.K. and are instead going to Paris and Rome to spend. They would have spent the money on BA flying to London, staying in posh hotels, eating in posh restaurants and buying British goods. In turn this would need more people being employed in the hotels, restaurants and manufacturing all paying tax and National Insurance. Oh, and by the way they would be paying £2 billion in VAT so it would replace the money brought in by the abolishing of the reclaim scheme.
A very good morning to you all. Gosh that was a rough old night, I don’t know how many times I was woken up and the rain was battering on the window and the wind howling. I managed to get down the garden and back between showers this morning but the forecast for today is just awful. I understand we are having a lot of oilmen in No 10 today to discuss their development plans. I wonder if they will all have 10-gallon hats, embroidered shirts and leather boots like JR in Dallas. I certainly hope so.
I understand the Rich Boy is going on holiday with his family on Thursday. It’s a secret where they are going (for security reasons) but I can tell you they are flying so it’s probably their house in California. It will be his first proper holiday since becoming P.M. You might remember he tried to get a week away with the family last September but had only been away for 15 hours when Queen Elizabeth died, and he had to fly back. I understand that the charisma-free zone in charge of the Liebore Party is currently on holiday. However, he has gone somewhere in Britain. I wonder how he has been enjoying the weather.
A Labour front bench MP has charged a £55 parking fine to her House of Commons expenses. Ms Oppong-Asare MP overstayed parking limits outside her constituency office ‘because she was dealing with a distressed constituent’ and forgot the time. She then submitted the claim as ‘staff travel’. Apparently, she was questioned by a national paper who reminded her that parking fines had been added to the list of items MPs couldn’t claim for. She then repaid the sum and said that it was an ‘administrative error’ made by an employee. Interestingly only a few months ago Labour made an enormous fuss over three Tory and an SNP MP reclaiming fines and Labour frontbencher Thangam Debbonaire condemned the MPs, saying that, “Tory MPs flouting the rules damages public confidence in the system.” After which IPSA wrote to all MPs reminding them that parking fines were not a legitimate expense. Either Ms Oppong-Asare MP doesn’t read letters from IPSA, doesn’t think they apply to her, or doesn’t take responsibility for her own expenses despite signing them off as being correct.
I hear of another problem for American aeroengine maker Pratt & Whitney. They have announced that they need to check some 1,200 P&W PW1100G engines that power the Airbus A320neo. They have had previous problems with their family of ‘geared turbofans’. This time it is with micro-cracks in powdered metal fan rings. The rings are made internally by P&W, so they can only blame themselves. Like most cracking problems it appears to worsen with age as the cracks propagate. They have earmarked the 200 oldest rings as necessary to check by mid-September with the other 1,000 by the end of next year. The check involves taking the engines off the planes and dismantling them to get to the affected parts. The current estimate is it will cost P&W at least $500 million.
Hangzhou Zoo in China has a bit of a problem. Following the posting of pictures of its sun bears online, they have been accused of them not being real bears but men in costumes. Having seen the pictures, I must say they don’t look like the real bears. They are photographed standing upright on two legs exactly as a man would, walking like a man and there are wrinkles across the bear’s backside that look like a costume. The bears are also much smaller than sun bears are normally in the wild, more like the height of a man. However, the zoo denies that they are men in costumes. Mind you this zoo has form, a few years ago they dressed up a golden retriever in a fur ruff and pretended it was a Lion!
The Daily Fail investigation into solicitors advising boat immigrants on how to game the Home Office into granting them refugee status has claimed its first casualties. The Solicitors Registration Authority has closed down three firms of solicitors and suspended the practice certificates of one solicitor at each practice. The solicitors and firms in question are Rashid Khan, from Rashid & Rashid, which is based in Wimbledon, South London, Muhammad Ahmad, from Kingswright Solicitors in Birmingham and Muhammad Hayat at Lincoln Lawrence Solicitors in Hounslow, West London. In addition, they have told another solicitor VP Lingajothy, formerly of Duncan Ellis Solicitors, South London, that he cannot work in another solicitor firm without the SRA’s permission. I wonder what these solicitors have in common?
I can hardly believe the defence that the Just Stop Oil protesters who interrupted the Lord’s Test Match offered when they appeared before a magistrate. The solicitor representing them said that they were pleading not guilty to disrupting people taking part in the match because there was no proof that the match was legal, and they were pleading not guilty to trespassing on the field of play because there was no proof that the pitch was private property. I wondered if the protesters had instructed a solicitor from one of the practices used by illegal immigrants. They were bailed until a trial on September 28.
Well, it is wet yet again and I hear that the boss of the UN says this weather is to be called ‘global boiling.’ A phrase that Eric Morecombe used to say comes to mind, “This man’s a fool.” After a month of cold, wet weather, I really can believe that sort of rubbish.
I read that down in Devon the police have been carrying out a ‘speed limit enforcement exercise.’ Over the past two weeks they have run six x one-hour speed gun sessions on the Torbay Link Road (A380) where there is a 40 MPH limit. During those six hours they clocked 1,821 speeding drivers, that’s a load of money in fines.
Are Britain’s largest and the world’s second-largest coffee shop chain Costa Coffee, going to join the number of ‘go woke, go broke’ companies? The chain has decided to paint some of its vans with a picture of a trans man, a woman with scars where she/it has had a mastectomy. It has annoyed many people who don’t want woke ideology rammed down their throats, but it has particularly upset people who have had mastectomies due to breast cancer. Many people are on the net saying they will be boycotting Costa in future. Have they gone the same way as Budweiser? I wonder what their owner, Coca-Cola, has to say.
Does the London Borough of Greenwich have the most complicated parking system in Britain? Depending on where you park, they charge between £2 and £7 an hour but if you pay with the council’s parking app you can get up to 80% off the charge depending on the emissions level of your car. Then if you park outside your home, you need a permit, once again these will be graded by emissions with electric cars at the lowest cost and cars emitting the highest levels having the highest cost. If you have a diesel car, even one in one of the lowest emissions bands you will attract an additional £50 surcharge and if you have more than one car at an address it will cost you an extra £200 per year. That’s tough if you, your wife and two children drive diesel cars.
Residents in Canterbury in Kent are not happy with their domestic waste collections. The council has issued residents with three different coloured bins (red, black and blue) which are to separate the basic rubbish, glass and paper. In fact, the council complained last year that people were not separating waste properly and forcing them to send tonnes of contaminated waste to landfill instead of recycling it. Now video has emerged that shows bin men with supersize orange bins collecting from homes tipping the contents of all three of the coloured bins into the orange bin and then into their truck. The residents say what is the point of us separating rubbish if the council contractors mix it all up. The council say if you don’t separate it, we won’t collect it. The council is said to be investigating their contractors.
So Just Stop Oil are claiming that they are succeeding because they are influencing Labour Party policy. I find it interesting that JSO only seem to be against British oil and gas, perhaps they should be called Just Stop British Oil! It is quite obvious that even if we stopped producing oil and gas in the U.K. from both land and sea, we would still need oil and gas for many years to come so it would all have to be imported at higher cost. On the subject of North Sea oil, I see that Labour have rolled back on their plans to stop North Sea oil licences and will not cancel any. Could this be because so many jobs in Scotland are dependent on oil and they think they are in with a chance of winning parliamentary seats from the SNP?
My last story for the day is about a man called Marcus Cresswell from Brighton who drove a Transit Van into 12 cars in a queue on the A27 into Worthing back in 2021. He was apprehended by members of the public and held by them until the police arrived and arrested him. He was charged with failing to stop at a road traffic collision, driving without insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, dangerous driving, failing to provide a specimen for analysis and criminal damage (to a police cell). The court has just had a summons sent to the address he gave in Brighton returned marked “Not known at this address”. So, if you know 34-year-old Marcus Cresswell, recently of Brighton, there are a lot of angry people looking for him. He is now believed to be rough sleeping somewhere locally.
Hi everyone, not a wonderful morning today. It is still not very warm, but it is very grey and at the moment it is dry. It was a good start to the day as it was a Felix Chicken breakfast. I see that the North Yorkshire Police have come in for a lot of criticism over the Greenpeace attack on the Rich Boy’s family home. In the rest of the country ex-prime ministers get police protection and the PM gets protection wherever he goes, but his home was left unprotected by the North Yorkshire force. Greenpeace are said to have been on the house’s roof for over five hours before coming down and being arrested with the police holding the ladders for them. But why was there not a single police officer protecting the building? Why were there no alarms in the garden or cameras on the house? How did Greenpeace manage to get extending ladders, climbing equipment and rolls of black fabric on-site? Why did it take two hours for the police to arrive after Greenpeace were on the roof and another three hours to get them down? I think the North Yorkshire Police are in deep trouble.
In Scottishland, the second much-delayed ferry for Caledonian MacBrayne being built by Ferguson Marine is to be named in a public competition. The ship is currently known by its shipyard name of Hull 802, and they have thrown the name out to the public. I thought they would have learnt from the debacle when the NERC did a similar thing in England and the public got behind a campaign to call it Boaty McBoatface. Despite winning the contest by a country mile, they decided to renege on the promise and called the ship, Royal Research Ship (RRS) Sir David Attenborough. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the Scots wowed to call the ferry McBoaty McBoatface? I think I will put in my vote for that.
Last week I told you about a man on a United Airlines flight who was so upset about not getting his choice of meal that he caused so much disruption that the plane had to divert to offload him. Today I read of a woman on a flight from Houston to Los Angeles who got upset because the cabin crew removed the bottle of wine the woman brought on board and was consuming. Apparently, she needed a drink because she suffered from anxiety. A video shows a stewardess asking her to sit down and stop causing disruption or she would be handcuffed, and the plane diverted to offload her. And that is what happened, the plane was diverted to Phoenix and the police came on board and removed her.
I read of a woman teacher in New Zealand surprised to find a six-foot-high steel pole concreted into her drive. She had not ordered any work to be done and had no idea what it was for. She wondered if it could be a pole for a basketball goal that had been installed at the wrong address. Well, it seems she was partly right, a week later it was found that a tradesman had indeed installed the pole at the wrong address, it was the post for a large gate and was supposed to have been installed several streets away. Eventually, a red-faced tradesman arrived and admitted the pole was in the wrong house. It has now been removed and taken away.
Word reaches your cat reporter that American Airlines is looking to replace around 100 of its old narrow-body aircraft with new planes. It currently operates both Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A320 aircraft. I hear they are in discussion with both Airbus and Boeing about procuring either the 737 Max8 or the A321neo. So, it could be another bumper order for Boeing or Airbus, mind you I suppose they could always split the order and operate both as they do now.
I understand that last Sunday a Jubilee Line train, loaded with passengers, landed up at Charing Cross station, a station that has been shut for 25 years. The train was travelling from Green Park to Westminster when somehow the signalman sent the train down the spur to the disused platform. The branch is sometimes used as a siding and the line is kept powered up. The station is also used in television programmes and as a film set. The train was eventually backed out and continued on its way to Westminster.
Despite reports that HS2 is not viable and also that construction of its Euston terminal has been slowed right down I hear that its twin bore tunnel under London passed its first milestone this week. The two tunnel-boring machines, Sushila and Caroline, have now completed the first mile. The two bores have installed over 847 tunnel rings each, made up of 5,929 concrete segments. The finished tunnels are to be 8.4 miles long and are scheduled to be completed in 2025. All the spoil from the tunnels is being used to create a wildlife environment north of the tunnels.
Morning all, how are you all today? Well, it’s wet again and horrid outdoors. Its either the litter tray or a sprint between showers. I hear that Fergie, the Duchess of York, following her single mastectomy for breast cancer, has named her newly reconstructed left-hand breast Derek. She says it is quite perky, but I doubt I will ever know if that is true. In fact, she says Eric on the right is quite jealous. Surely if one is called Derek the other should be called Clive?
What is happening with the Indian EV market? India is currently the 3rd biggest car market in the world so is attracting interest from all the world’s main EV manufacturers. Rather like China, the world’s biggest car market, the prices appear to be much lower than Europe and the US, but the domestic equipment fit out and the build quality are not to the same standard. At the moment domestic brand Tata sells the leading EV but I doubt it could sell in the U.K. without substantial changes. The sales battle was joined by BYD, who have been importing Chinese-made models, but they have recently run into problems after recently being accused of fiddling the import tax. BYD wanted to build cars and batteries locally but have now found it almost impossible to proceed with this factory and have called a halt to discussions. However, Tesla, who do not currently sell in India, have stepped in and are in discussions to build a new ‘cheap’ model in India and I hear the talks are going very well. Tesla’s idea of what is cheap is said to be $24,000, this compares to the Tata best-selling Nexon EV for which the most expensive version costs $19,000.
I hear that last week a British Airways First Class passenger from Nigeria got stuck in his seat when the plane landed at Heathrow. The man was seated in seat 1A, which is a very popular seat and often reserved for BA Executive Club Gold Card holders. When the plane landed it was found that the man couldn’t get out of his seat, even with the help of multiple cabin crew. In the end, he was freed three hours later by the airport fire service who had to remove the door to his First Class cubicle and winch him out. I reckon he must have been very fat as BA’s First Class seats are nearly two feet wide.
I read that in Spain the low-cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair look to be about to be taken to court for breaking carriage regulations. It seems that under Spanish law they cannot remove things from the price of an airline ticket that have been traditionally included. So, to charge extra for seat reservations, carry-on baggage and refreshments is considered illegal as it allows airlines to make money by the airfare appearing to be cheaper than it actually is. And an Airline can be fined €1,000,000 or up to eight times the money the breach of regulations has earned, whichever is the greater. This could prove very expensive.
I told you ages ago that Eddie Lizzard, the ‘comedian’, had decided to try to stand for Labour at the next general election. Now where do you think the cross-dresser would be best suited to stand? You’ve got it in one, Brighton. He has announced that he wants to stand in Brighton Pavilion, the seat currently held by the Greens. Now that is going to be a fun election. While talking about Brighton it is Brighton Pride today and the council who organise it are not very happy because there are no trains to Brighton today. Because of union action Govia Thameslink have cancelled all its trains from London leaving all the gays heading to Brighton stuck without transport. Thameslink have even had a train painted in the colours of the gay flag, what a waste of money.
The latest ULEZ news is that Sad Dick has decided to enlarge the scrappage scheme and allow everyone to claim the £2,000 allowance, not just those on benefits. Although I expect this is welcome by some Londoners, it is a little late. The ULEZ scheme is due to be launched at the end of this month, so how the hell does Sad Dick think that this is going to help people in the short term? I don’t know how it works but I expect you have to scrap your car before you get the £2,000, so people are still going to have to either cough up a few thousand to find a compliant second-hand car or pay a deposit on a new car on lease or HP. But it seems second-hand ULEZ-compliant cars have leapt in price and new cars need to be ordered months in advance, so you’ll be lucky to be able to get a replacement car in time.
NASA say that after months of being out of touch with its spacecraft Voyager 2, earlier this week they managed to pick up a signal from it. It seems that it was programmed to always keep its communication antenna pointed at Earth, but someone made a mistake and sent it a command that counteracted this so that it only occasionally pointed our way. When the signal was heard they immediately sent the command to return the antenna to always face Earth, but it took 37 hours for the message to reach the spacecraft and for the reply to come back that it had obeyed the command. NASA say they are now fully in control of Voyager 2 and after checking it out it is in fully working condition and it is expected to continue on its mission into deep space until its batteries run out.
That’s it for another complete week and it is still raining and getting heavier, so it is no windowsill for me this afternoon. So, it’s a snooze on one of the reception waiting room chairs this afternoon. Football is back today, not proper stuff from the Premier League, that’s next week, today it’s the lower divisions and Scottishland, so I’ll probably not bother. I’ll be back with you all again next week, everything being OK.
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