Hello everyone and welcome to another week in Westminster. It was grey and grotty first thing outside, so I rushed back down and back and was busy tucking into my Felix before the rain started. I hear the film maker who made the video that claimed Bozzie never had Covid, didn’t nearly die and it was all a hoax has had the film pulled from YouTube. There are interviews with Gary Lineker and Labour MP Chris Bryant in the ‘documentary’. The lefty Bozzie haters leapt at the chance to slag him off. But now the video has been called out as lies both say they were duped into taking part! Funnily, they didn’t ask questions before accepting the whole premise of the video, could their politics have had anything to do with it?
The BBC seems to be intent on telling us that the world is burning up due to ‘climate change’. Their weather maps show the temperature in England are red, I’m sure this can’t be right as the central heating in the flat came on Saturday night due to the temperature falling below 12°C. I loved the BBC reporter standing outside the pharmacy telling the audience it was 46°C when the digital thermometer behind him was showing 36°C. It seems they have been giving out ground temperatures which are up to 20° higher than air temperature. Then they fly someone thousands of miles to talk about wildfires, and the flight dumps tons of CO2 in the atmosphere. Then this morning I learn that wildfires on Corfu were arson and not climate change.
I read that the aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is back afloat after its repairs in the Rosyth dry dock. The huge dry dock was flooded over the weekend meaning the ship is a step closer back to returning to sea. Apparently one of its propeller drive shafts was out of true and caused vibrations, which in turn caused the failure of the coupling between the starboard shaft and the propeller and damaged a rudder. Of course, the Navy expected the ship to be repaired under warranty and there the finger-pointing has started. Babcock who assembled the ship blocks at the Rosyth Royal Dockyard say they only assembled the bits. The whole propulsion system from engines to propellers was designed and manufactured by French company Thales and it looks like they could be up for the cost of the dry docking and repair.
Despite all the chat in the media about Ukraine wanting the F-16, the word I hear is that the plane they would love to have is the Saab Gripen. The reason is the plane is newer, easier to fly, needs less ground crew, can carry armaments from all over the world including the latest air-to-air missiles that are fire and forget from 60 miles away, and have been designed to operate from rough runways and even roads. Basically, they are a much better fit in the Ukraine Air Force than the F-16 but there are not so many about.
Today it has emerged that The Beano comic has gone woke. Since it was first published in 1938 it has had several characters and stories that have basically gone unchanged. OK, Dennis the Menace acquired a dog, Gnasher, but Minnie the Minx and the Bash Street Kids have survived. Under the latest revision Dennis’s teacher has apparently given up the slipper in favour of becoming cuddly and all inclusive. The Bash Street Kids have had a shake-up to ‘reflect modern school life’. A hijab clad girl has joined the group, as has a ginger-haired boy scientist in a wheelchair, a Pakistani boy who wants to be a Premier League footballer and a girl called Mandra Sharma has anxiety problems. Two of the original gang have been changed, ‘Fatty’ is still fat, but now called Freddy, because apparently we shouldn’t call people fat. Likewise, Spotty is still spotty but is now called Scotty. It really is a joke.
Last year Network Rail bosses spent some £10,000 on internal flights rather than travel by train. I could understand it if they were flying abroad, where it was difficult or impossible to travel by train. But why were 72 flights taken from Birmingham to Glasgow when there is an express train service which I guess is free to use for Network Rail employees? The answer they give is speed, with travelling by air claimed to be much faster. But is it always the case? If you then add in the time needed to get to and from the stations to the train time and to and from the airport for plane trips, it is only quicker for longer journeys.
Do you cross the road at a light-controlled crossing? Well, if you do, I understand that you are going to get more time. The current standard was set in the 1950s, when it was calculated that people walked at 1.2 metres a second, so the time that the little green man appeared on the crossing lights was set at 6.1 seconds. A new investigation has just shown that older people walk more slowly at 1.0 metre a second. Hence every crossing is going to be adjusted so that the little green man shows for 7.3 seconds.
Good morning folks, it’s a wet morning out there on the street. I am getting to hear the forecast quite often these days as the feeders all seem to put either the radio or TV on while they are in the flat and I am amazed at how poor they are. They often get it wrong for what is going to happen in the next few hours, let alone the next day. But then I wonder how much the forecast is coloured by what they think ‘should’ be happening to support their green views. I have got fed up hearing that this month is going to be the hottest July on record, well it bloody well isn’t in this cat’s experience. If they said the wettest on record, I might believe them, looking back on my diary for this month I have not been talking about how hot it’s been, rather how wet and chilly it has been.
I hear that keepers in Ohio Zoo have just had a bit of a shock. Arriving at work one morning they found that a gorilla had given birth overnight. Two surprises there, firstly they had no idea that the gorilla was pregnant and secondly, they thought the six-year-old was male! Well, obviously they were wrong on both counts. Apparently, it is very hard to tell when a young gorilla is pregnant due to their normal large belly. The zoo says that when the gorilla arrived four years ago, they had been assured it was male and as it had not been ill it had never been examined by a vet. Older male gorillas tend to be easy to recognise as they develop a ‘silverback’ but this generally happens only when they are over 10. Incidentally they say they are certain the baby is female. I suppose only time will tell.
I see that the latest version of Sky’s mobile app, SkyGo, has introduced a new feature. It can now work as a replacement for a Sky remote control on both on your iPhone and iPad. If you open the app, in the top left-hand corner you see there is a cog wheel. If you touch the cog, it opens a list of settings and under ‘Devices’ is ‘Remote Control’, which if you touch it opens a simulated remote on your screen. However, remember it currently only works on Apple devices, and as it works through your home Wi-Fi, the device and your Sky Box must be on the same network, but it might be handy if the batteries have gone flat in your remote.
I heard something new today, a football transfer that looked to be a done deal could collapse despite the fee being agreed and personal terms being agreed. But it looks like Fabinho’s £40m move from Liverpool to Al-Ittihad has apparently been thrown into jeopardy by rules in Saudi Arabia banning “dangerous and aggressive dogs” from the country. The player has two French bulldogs, and he refuses to be parted from them! However, I hear that Bayern Munich is watching the situation with interest as they would like to buy the player and his dogs.
After a Formula One race there is a tradition where firstly the 1st, 2nd and 3rd are awarded with trophies, and then they each get a big bottle of Champagne which they spray all over each other. After Sundays F1 race in Hungary the trophies were very fancy chinaware vases. Max Verstappen, the winner, put his trophy down on the top step of the podium while he opened the Champagne. Lando Norris, who came second, likes to shake up the Champagne by banging the base of the bottle on the ground. This time he banged the bottle on the podium and the winner’s trophy fell off and broke apparently doing €45,000 worth of damage. I think he should take it to the Repair Shop, the girl on there that fixes ceramics could make it look as good as new.
Elon Musk is changing the name of Twitter to X and the little blue bird logo seems to have been dumped. He is also changing the name of messages from tweets to ‘Xs’. God knows why, I have always believed in ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’. History is littered with companies and brands that have changed name for no apparent reason and gone broke. Others change their name to try to escape a scandal or a problem. Aunt Jemima’s Syrup has become Pearl Milling Company because it doesn’t want to be associated with an old black lady. Similarly, Uncle Ben’s Rice has become Ben’s Original. Weight Watchers has become WW to be more acceptable. The marketing men have probably sold Musk a line and been very well paid for it.
I hear that Ofwat has given water companies the right to spend £2.7 billion on green projects aimed at recovering better from Covid. Under this scheme Thames Water applied for and, in June 2021, were granted the right to spend £71.9 million rolling out 204,700 water meters in the Thames Valley by March 2025. Now it has leaked that Thames Water has not installed a single one of those 204,700 meters. The money is not a grant, but it is allowed to be recovered from water bills. I wonder how much of that £71.9 million has already been added to customers’ bills?
A pleasant morning but it’s going to rain later, if the girl on Talk TV is right. The Daily Fail has had a good investigation going on about immigration lawyers briefing illegal immigrants on how to cheat the system, by getting married, or saying they are gay or even pretending to be wanted by the security forces in their home country. The Rich Boy actually, for once, had the balls to say this was wrong, only to be called out by a legal association. He needs to hit back at them hard and fast, but I doubt he will.
So, the boss of NatWest has confirmed what everyone suspected, that she was the source of the leak of information about Nigel Farage to the BBC’s financial reporter. It had become evident that it was her when it was confirmed that she had sat next to the reporter at a dinner the night before the BBC broadcast the information. But she had not resigned for what is an illegal act of revealing private data, and it looks like she intends to bluff things out when I went to bed last night. However, Farage had already complained to the Information Commissioner, and he/she is investigating the leak. I am delighted that Dame Alison Rose resigned at 02:30 this morning. Did she think that resigning in the middle of the night it would slip under the radar!
The two Michelin Star restaurant at London’s Cafe Royal has announced that it is putting the cost of its 5-course and 7-course taster menus up by 11% on the 17th of March. The current prices are £125 and £175 respectively. I read the new prices will be £165 and £195. Someone’s maths seems to be a bit out because neither of those increases are 11%. In addition, the restaurant says that if someone wants to eat solo, they will be charged double so £390 for the 7-course taster menu. I would rather have a bit of chicken from KFC.
I see the latest catastrophic climate change warning is that the Gulf Stream is going to die in 2025 and it will be a disaster for Western Europe. If it were to happen it wouldn’t be good news, but even in my short lifetime this sort of prediction has proved to be utter rubbish. Back in the annals of history it seems that the Gulf Stream has stopped on several occasions, but it has always restarted naturally.
Yesterday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier’s younger brother, Iddo, suggested Sniffer Joe was senile. The reporter wrote this because Sniffer had been critical of his brother’s judicial reviews. I have often wondered if Sniffer was senile. I did wonder how someone who spent the whole presidential campaign locked in his basement managed to get elected. Since then, he appears to have got worse, falling over, not being able to talk coherently and never taking questions after a speech.
Back in September last year British Airways and Qatar Airways set up a joint venture company to form the world’s largest joint venture airline and serving 180 cities in more countries (60) than any other airline joint venture. Now I hear that BA’s sister company, Iberia, is to join the joint venture adding a further 20 destinations. In addition, Avios points can now be earns and used on all three JV members.
Do you remember when Sniffer Joe first moved into the White House and he brought two dogs with him, Major and Commander? Major was sent to live on Sniffer’s farm after biting several people. Commander was only a puppy and was said to be a younger, friendlier dog than Major. Now if seems that is not the case as in a five-month period ending in January this year he has bitten ten people, including one Secret Service guy who had to be treated in hospital. But this is only a short part of the two-year-old dog’s record that has been made public. No one is saying if he attacked anyone before that five-month period or between it and now, so his record could be much worse than that of Major. I understand the FBI believes that if the dog had been owned by anyone but the president it would have been destroyed by now and that the first family has destroyed paperwork related to the incidents.
Well, it is grotty this morning, grey and drizzly first thing with heavy showers forecast later. The news late last night is that Hunter Biden’s plea bargain arrangement with the prosecution over tax evasion and gun charges had been rejected by the judge as an unusual arrangement. I must admit that it did look like he had been offered a particularly good deal by the prosecutors. The judge has given them two weeks to come up with a more conventional deal than the misdemeanours Biden had agreed to plead guilty to.
Today I start with a report the Ministry of Defence has put out on the life extension programme of the Type 23 frigates. It seems that as the ships get older, they get more and more difficult and expensive to keep in service. The LIFEX programme started in November 2011 with HMS Portland and took 19 months. The programme then had two ships a year in dry dock for around 24 or more months. As the ships got older the time in dock grew longer and the ships were now taking up to 36 months by the time the last one of the fleet was complete. But that was not the end of the story, the programme gives the ship, on average an extra six years service life. This means that the earliest ships have had to go through the programme a second time and three ships have now been through that cycle. The latest to be completed back in June this year was HMS Iron Duke, which was in refit for 42 months and cost over £100 million. It would have been quicker (but not cheaper) to build a new ship.
Another tale from Brighton Council. The last Green Party council placed a big planter in the middle of Rottingdean High Street, with the idea that it will slow traffic and improve emissions, in particular nitrous oxide. The planter effectively narrowed the two-lane road to a single lane by blocking the south side of the road and forcing it over to the north side of the road. The new Labour Council has just sent a JCB to lift the planter out of the road after revealing that the planter had not made one iota of difference to nitrous oxide emissions but had created traffic chaos.
Today is a big day on the Stock Exchange with several big companies announcing half-yearly results. Centrica, the owners of British Gas, reported that their profits were up to a record of just under £1 billion. While Shell reported a drop in profits down to only £3 billion. Some people have had an excellent energy crisis.
I was interested to read that the leading rail freight operator, DB Cargo GB, has permanently withdrawn its 24 Class 90 electric locomotives because they are too expensive to run. The locomotives are available for purchase by others, for either use or scrapping. But what really made me chuckle was when I read that the Class 90s are to be replaced hauling the companies freight services by 24 Class 66 locomotives that they already own. The Class 66 is a diesel locomotive and DB Cargo have a fleet of over 150. Last year another rail freight operator, Railfreight, announced a temporary withdrawal of its 24 Class 90 locomotives on cost grounds. That temporary withdrawal is still in place.
A lovely story reaches me from Heathrow Airport. A British Airways flight to Heathrow from the Turks and Caicos suffered a problem when partway into the flight it was found that the food refrigeration system had broken down spoiling all the onboard meals. When the fight made a stop at Nassau, Bahamas, members of the cabin crew nipped out to the KFC outlet in the terminal and came back with several KFC Party Buckets. Apparently, passengers got a single piece each, I don’t know if they also got chips. I wonder what vegans got or did they have to go hungry on the 12.5-hour flight.
Prince Harry the Whinge has had his phone hacking claims thrown out of court. It seems the High Court judge has ruled the case was brought out of time so it can’t be pursued. The Ginger Whinger had claimed there was a secret agreement between the royals and the press about phone hacking that had prevented him bring the claim earlier. However, the judge heard evidence that both the royals and the press denied the Whinges’ version and chose to believe them. The part of the claim that the Sun and defunct News of the World used illegal methods to gather information about him can however proceed. I wonder if it will be withdrawn now?
Hi everyone, it’s dull again but rain is not forecast, could it be good bowling weather at the cricket? I listened to the news this morning and I couldn’t help but wonder if Sir Tony Bliar has heard a leak from the ULEZ court case. I am dictating this before today’s judgment, but Bliar says Sad Dick must think again. Bliar is a full-on greenie so that is an odd thing for him to say, unless he reckons it is losing Labour votes.
I read that halal butcher Tariq Sheikh says that ‘because of Brexit’ he is poised to export huge amounts of meat to the Middle East. The man who runs 28 outlets in Britain employing several hundred people says that without EU regulations he is going to be able to export chilled meat to the Middle East market that wants increasing amounts of quality meat that is raised on grass, without hormones, and can be traced back to the farm of origin. At the moment the market is dominated by frozen carcasses from Australia and New Zealand. Tariq Sheikh believes that his quality chilled meat can be on a shelf in the Middle East a few days after it was running around in a British field rather than months or even years old for frozen meat. Strange I always thought meat was supposed to be better for being hung.
I read that Tony Bliar says that the U.K. will rejoin the EU in the future. As someone notoriously said, ‘Well he would say that wouldn’t he.’ Blair is another one of these people who it is reported would love to have an EU job so has to support it on every occasion. He is like those people on EU pensions who dare not say anything against the EU for fear of losing it. The problem about rejoining the EU is that we would be forced to accept all its mad rules and pay a fortune for the privilege. We would not get a rebate, or an opt-out on fishing quotas, Shengan, and free movement now who is going to care for that?
In the US, Tesla is in trouble over the dashboard indicated range of their cars. The word is that the average miles shown on the dash on a full battery charge is impossible to achieve in any weather and highly implausible in cold weather. They are being accused of using an algorithm that shows a wildly over-optimistic range when the battery is fully charged but by the time the battery is half charged it becomes more accurate. Consequently, drivers have believed that something is wrong with the car and have been booking service appointments on new vehicles under warranty. However, Tesla knows they can’t improve the mileage and have set up a ‘diversion team’ whose sole job is to cancel the service bookings as each unsolvable ‘range problem’ appointment costs Tesla $1,000. One disappointed driver said his car showed a range of 375 miles on a full charge, but it was impossible to do any more than half that mileage before having to recharge. I am amazed that they can get away with such a blatant fiddle.
Interesting figures I heard regarding the change to EVs and the banning of petrol cars. The U.K. produces 1% of the world’s CO2, about 0.5 of that comes from transport of which 0.35 is from cars. So we are going to wreck our economy for 0.175% of world CO2. It’s pathetic. We financially ruin ourselves while the Chinese build 350 new coal-fired power stations a year.
Great news this morning, the government has bought several big marquees and is going to house illegal immigrants in them. The tents are to be pitched on unused military bases and the current purchase should hold 2,000. No more comfy four-star hotels with ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning. Now it will be a camp bed, under canvas, and a communal toilet and washing block. It might be just about OK if you’re put in one during summer, but how will they like it when there is snow on the ground? I guess this will save millions, perhaps we can use it to buy more and more marquees until we have them all out of hotels.
Tomorrow’s Grand Prix in Belgium is the last before the summer break. I heard yesterday that much to everyone’s surprise Mercedes have made upgrades to their car. The most obvious one is yet more alterations to the side pods. I understand there are other changes, but these are under the bonnet and hence not apparent. The other news is that Verstappen has had to use yet another gearbox, his fifth of the season. The rules say you can use four in a season, so Verstappen gets a five-place grid penalty in Sunday’s race. It looks like it could be a wet race so who knows what is going to happen. By the time you read this you will know the result.
Morning all, it’s bright and sunny at the moment so I was able to just wander down the garden this morning. I see that someone has replaced the bird feeder that the squirrel had wrecked, and it’s now been filled with bird seed, much to the delight of the goldfinches. They are pretty little birds; I rather like to watch them. They sit on the little seat at the opening to the feeder and eat and eat what I think are sunflower seeds. Not a bit like the sparrows who fly in, grab a single seed and fly off with it. Surely, they expend more energy eating like that, than they gain.
I read an impressive set of half-year results from British Airways’ parent company IAG. The group operating profit was €1,260 million for half one. Compare this to a loss of €446 million for the equivalent period last year. That’s quite a turnaround. The group is very nearly back to offering the same amount of seat miles as before Covid and has announced that BA is increasing its orders for new planes too because it’s growing so quickly. IAG has converted six of the options it held for Boeing 787-10 aircraft into firm orders for BA and placed six more options. It has also converted options for 10 x Airbus A320neo aircraft into firm orders. These 10 planes are not to expand the fleet, but rather to replace some of the 20-year-old planes still in operation.
It is not such good news from BT where hot from shedding BT Sport, it is reporting a fall of over 125,000 broadband customers in the last quarter taking the full year number to over 400,000. It is losing them to the likes of Virgin Media and City Fibre who both offer faster and cheaper services than BT on their own fibre networks. But the surprising thing is that even the likes of Sky and TalkTalk, whose fibre offerings run over BT cables can make cheaper offerings than BT. How is this possible? Could BT be overcharging?
Last Sunday a United Airlines pilot turned up to fly a plane with 267 passengers on board from Paris to Washington and was suspected of being drunk. Consequently, he took a blood test and was found to have 0.59mg/l of alcohol in his system when the limit for a pilot is 0.02mg/l. In court yesterday he told the magistrate that he had consumed two glasses of wine with his dinner the previous evening. The magistrate indicated he didn’t believe him as he was so far over the limit the next day as to be noticeably drunk. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and fined €5,000. I suspect he will get a flying ban from the US authorities when he gets home.
I hear that a consortium including National Express are considering setting up a rival train service to Eurostar. The service would make use of the ‘open access’ arrangements to tracks on both sides of the channel, while the operator of the tunnel itself confirms that it has capacity and would welcome any new operators. Eurostar has been struggling to recover from the reduction in passengers caused by Covid and has withdrawn its direct service to Paris Disneyland and is likely not to offer its direct ‘Ski Train’ service this coming winter. There is no indication where on the continent National Express would want to operate to or from where in the U.K. A few years ago direct services to Amsterdam and Frankfurt were planned but never implemented and originally through services from Manchester and Glasgow were considered. I wonder if the tracks for such a connection are available in the U.K.?
The combined U.K. and Ireland bid for the 2028 European football finals looks to now be virtually unopposed. There was originally an opposing bid from Turkey for the tournament, but Turkey had also bid for the 2032 finals as had Italy. Now it has emerged that Turkey and Italy have merged their 2032 bid as that will be unopposed. Although Turkey have not yet withdrawn their 2028 bid it is highly unlikely that they would be awarded it as to do so would mean them hosting two consecutive tournaments which just doesn’t happen.
Last week I told you about the search for a lion in Berlin. I still don’t know if it was an actual escaped lion or not as the media has gone quiet on the subject. But this week I saw video of an escaped elephant walking down the road towards a supermarket. This time it was in Italy and the elephant had escaped from a travelling circus. The elephant appeared to be quite happy and in no hurry as it strolled along. It looked like it had just decided to pop to the shops to get some food in. If the supermarket had been a Sainsbury’s, he could have bought some Eric the Elephant sweets. Oh, yes, I hear that the animal is now back with the circus.
That’s another week complete. The weather at the moment is sunny and quite warm so I think that calls for a nap on the windowsill although a short sharp shower is forecast for this afternoon. But tomorrow’s forecast is sun in the morning and rain all afternoon. I think it will have to be the morning on the windowsill and then a snooze on one of the reception waiting room chairs when the rain comes. Now that’s what I call a good weekend. I’ll be back with you all again next week, everything being OK.
© WorthingGooner 2023