Good morning everyone. Did you get thunder and lightning last night, it was pretty nasty here, but it didn’t start until I had retired to my cat basket. There was thunder rolling for ages and loads of lightning, then it poured with rain. When I woke this morning there was a little bit of sunshine so I thought I could get down the garden in the dry. But I was wrong. At the furthest distance from the house, down came the rain again and despite running as fast as my old legs could manage, I got soaked.
So, Sir Beer Korma has announced his next big idea, votes for 16-year-olds. How can this work, Sir Beer says at 16 you can join the Army or go out to work, but what he doesn’t say is there are restrictions on both. You have to have parental permission to enlist in the Army and you can’t fight until you are 18. As for work, you have to be in full-time education or work until you are 18, but if you are working there is a limit of 40 hours a week and you don’t get full employment rights until you are 18. The best though is that the age for marriage just went up to 18 as under that you aren’t considered mature enough and that was with cross-party support. So, what is different about votes at sixteen, well the Labour Party see votes in it as the young tend to support them.
News reaches me from the North that TransPennine Express is to “temporarily’ withdraw all its Nova 3 trains from service. TPE had a lot of problems with its services with loads of cancellations, but since being taken into public ownership it has improved a bit. But these are new trains and were introduced amid a hail of publicity that claimed they were ‘state-of-the-art’, ‘futuristic’ and ‘ultramodern’. So, what has gone wrong? Apparently, the drivers need more intense training than any other of the other four train types they use, and lots of cracking has been found in their bogies. With thousands of hours of driver training still necessary, TPE seem to have bitten the bullet and are withdrawing these trains until the problems are fixed. I wonder what effect the missing trains with have on timetables.
An American EV website says that its calculations show that over 2,000,000 Tesla CyberTrucks have been ordered, or ‘reserved’ as orders are known as in the US. The pickup truck is very angular and its looks split potential customers. Some love it and others hate it. Personally, I think it is ugly, but ‘hey ho’ obviously millions of Yanks disagree. The site breaks down orders between the available options. The single motor version has, they claim, 8% of orders and the quad motor version has about 10%, while the rest are pretty evenly split between the dual and triple motor versions.
I have been reading a report that sings the praises of the Spanish resort of Sitges, which is about 30 minutes south of Barcelona. The article raves about the old town and its huge beach and palm tree-lined promenade. It says the resort is hardly known by foreign tourists and is mainly used by the Spanish themselves. But is this true? It is my understanding that it is quite well known among some British tourists, namely the gay community, where it is widely known and used. Perhaps that’s why so few Brits go there these days.
After successful testing on several Carnival Cruise ships, I hear that Elon Musks Starlink Satellite WiFi is to be made available across the fleets of both Carnival subsidiaries Cunard and P&O. The test showed a huge increase in WiFi speed and quality. The Cunard ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth will be updated to Starlink by the end of this year and the new ship, Queen Anne will come with Starlink already installed when it joins the fleet next spring. The P&O cruise ships Britannia and Azura have already introduced Starlink to public spaces and cabins, and again their remaining ships, Arvia, Iona, Ventura, Arcadia and Aurora will follow suit by the end of this year. Maybe my scribe will be able to report on how good it is or isn’t as he is on Arvia over Christmas and the New Year and has previously moaned about the onboard WiFi.
Today the Welsh Labour Government introduced its 20-mph speed limit in all urban areas and at first sight it seems to have been a disaster. Traffic has been creeping along at 19 mph, even in areas where it is legal to go faster, because drivers are unsure where 20 mph zones start and end. In addition, truck drivers say they will drive everywhere at 19 mph as a protest. In other places the new 20mph signs have been spray painted over. Welsh Labour has gone ahead with this crazy scheme despite an opinion poll indicating 61% are against it.
It’s not nice today, with rain and wind, still it’s not heavy rain but I got a bit wet and dishevelled on my constitutional. I am already getting fed up with all this Russell Brand stuff. Everyone knew he was screwing around, so now we are waiting to hear from the people accusing him of something many years ago that is going to be difficult to prove.
Transport for London seems to always be thinking up new ways to annoy people. They have announced that for London Fashion Week they are going to rename Bond Street station to Burberry Street. What a wonderful way to confuse people. All those tourists who want to get off at Bond Street and the train pulls into Burberry Street. Are they going to alter all the station and train signage, what will the on-board announcements say? Will they be selling tickets to Burberry Street?
I see pictures are emerging of the damage done to the Russian warships hit by Stormshadow drones in dry dock in Crimea. The landing craft is a burnt-out wreck but the interesting one is the submarine. It was earlier reported to have been hit by a missile that had gone down into the forward pressure hull from above, hitting about where the torpedo room is located. Well, the photos show this, but also show a second big hole in the side just to the rear of the conning tower. Heaven knows how much damage the drones did when they exploded inside the boat. I wonder if it will be possible to repair it.
As a carnivore I have just seen with disgust that Carnival is going to introduce an alternative vegan menu on all its ships. I can just about understandably someone being a vegetarian and not eating meat but not to eat eggs or dairy as well I can’t understand. But Carnival is pandering to them with meals that include such delicious items as plant-based cheese, plant-based salmon and grilled tofu steaks. The new menu is already on two ships and is being rolled out to its full 25-ship fleet.
So, the Government is going to offer all those sub-postmasters who were caught up in the Post Office ‘Horizon’ accounting software scandal £600,000 compensation. It initially sounds a lot of money, but when you look at what it has cost those sub-postmasters it is peanuts. All lost their Jobs and incomes, many lost a house, a business, went to prison and because of the loss of trust, found getting any other employment impossible and have suffered for up to 20 years. Many people are claiming very much more but if they accept this £600,000 that is it, no further claims with be accepted. If you were claiming say £700,000, you might be tempted to accept the offer, but many have claims for millions so will turn down this take it or leave it offer. Why don’t the government just give everyone this money and say if in the future you have a bigger claim accepted or awarded by a court it is simply reduced by the £600,000 already paid?
A new survey says only 2% of motorists would voluntarily buy an EV. The reasons given were that they cost at least £10,000 more than the equivalent petrol car, that insurance costs 50% to 60% more and of course range anxiety. Oh, and I nearly forgot EVs lose their exemption to paying road tax in 2025. I read that the insurance is so costly because of the cost of batteries. They make up a third of the cost of an EV and because they are usually under the whole of the car are easily damaged in an accident, not just a collision with another car, but a bump over a kerb is enough. Last month sales of EVs were 24% of all car sales, down from 36% in the equivalent month the year before. I hear mutterings that the Rich Boy is not happy about the way progress to an ICE-less future is going.
Avanti West Coast has been awarded a new three-year minimum contract (nine-year maximum) to operate the West Coast services from 15th October. They have been on probation over their poor services and for the last year have been operating under two six-month contracts while trying to improve performance. I hear that cancellations (not strike-related) have been reduced from 13% to 1%, 100 new drivers have been trained and their 11-car Pendolino fleet has been refurbished. The 9-car Pendolino fleet has started to be refurbished. The contract can be ended by the Department of Transport after three years (with three months’ notice) if the improvements don’t last, but it is basically for nine years, which should allow Avanti to proceed with the introduction of the new Hitachi fleet it has on order.
Another wet morning when I woke up and I became a soggy moggy going on my constitutional. Has the Rich Boy finally woken up to the ‘green con’ and is going to water down some of the stupid policies, like banning the sale of petrol cars in 2035 instead of 2030? A 2035 ban would bring us in line with the rest of the world. I think he might have been listening to what the people want, unlike the Liebore lot who I have just heard saying a Liebore government would return to a 2030 ban if it was changed. Well, a vote for Liebore is a vote for bankruptcy.
So Sad Dick has come up with a plan to save the world from global warming. He wants us all to stop eating meat and dairy and to limit ourselves to three outfits a year. From now I intend to start counting his suits. Anyway, this plan is no good for me as without meat I will die but I do only have one outfit, admittedly it does change a bit between winter and summer but it is a bit like you putting on your coat during the winter and then putting it in the wardrobe during the summer. Tell me folks do you like your toast with no butter, your tea with no milk and dry cereal for breakfast because that is what Sad Dick is suggesting.
Dutch artist Jens Haaning has been ordered by a court to repay the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, 532,549 Dutch krone. The museum had given Haaning the money as a loan to create a ‘work of art’ consisting of two canvases each representing the average earnings of a Dane and an Austrian. The money was supposed to be attached to the canvases to show how much someone in the EU earns as opposed to someone outside the EU. The artwork was called ‘Take the money and run’, which is just what Haaning did, as the museum received two large blank canvases. What is that old saying ‘a fool and his money are soon parted’.
British Airways are calling for applicants to join a new pilot training scheme. The scheme is looking for 60 trainees who will have the £100,000 cost of the course paid for by BA. But what are the earning prospects for those who gain their wings? Well, as a junior first officer you would start on £28,000 at BA and a little less at smaller airlines. But of course, you are now on the route to becoming a more senior pilot. The average pay for a senior first officer is reckoned to be £43,668 but at BA this is £58,205. Then of course it is every pilot’s aim to be a captain and those at BA earn approximately £130,757. Of course, you will probably have worked for years to get there and need a decent education (good A levels) and pass a stringent medical. But like medicine the wages are pretty good once you have been working for a few years.
I hear Ford has criticised the suggestion that the U.K. push the ban on the sale of petrol cars back to 2035 like the rest of the world. That would be the Ford Motor Company that doesn’t make a single car in the U.K. Ford used to make cars at Dagenham and Halewood and Transit Vans in Southampton but moved all production abroad by 2002. OK they make transmissions in Halewood and engines in South Wales and Dagenham, but I think they lost all rights to complain when they moved Transit production to Turkey.
I hear that some of the Army’s Wolfhound armoured patrol vehicles are to gain the Army’s first high-energy laser weapons. The Wolfhound is a six-wheel version of the Mastiff and saw action in Afghanistan. The makers of the weapon, Raytheon U.K., are quoted as saying the weapon has been delivered to the Army and will be integrated into the Wolfhound next month. The 15Kw laser is already in service with the US Army. It is designed to protect against drones and can fire an unlimited number of shots with a precision unmatched by conventional weapons.
A lovely story to end the day. A policeman who had been attending an ‘incident’ forgot he had put a stinger on the roof of his car and drove off. Well, I have heard of people driving off with all sorts put on the roof of a car ranging from the filler cap, to their dry cleaning and a Coke Cola, but they don’t have the potential to do much damage to other road traffic. Well of course the inevitable happened and the stinger fell off in the middle of the A11. The result was four cars with shredded tyres and the A11 closed for three hours. It is fortunate that no one was seriously hurt, but it’s going to cost the police a lot of money for repairs.
It is getting a bit regular waking up to rain, when are we going to get a nice sunny day? The media is, it seems, not too happy with the Rich Boy’s slowing down of the roll out of the green crap. Well, I suspect that the Rich Boy won’t care if the public like it, which I think they will. I wonder if we will now see a change in the opinion polls.
The problems with aero engines at Pratt & Whitney seems to have spread to General Electric where they initially announced problems with sintered metal disks in some of it smaller engines powering Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s. Today I hear that the problem has spread to the GE90, the giant engine powering many models of the Boeing 777. A draft US airworthiness directive says that four specific GE90 models must be inspected before the plane flies again. The problem is related to iron inclusion in certain disks which can lead to fatigue cracking and uncontained failure of the engine, not a good thing.
Something very odd reaches me from the US. On Sunday evening a Marine Corps F-35 stealth jet disappeared while on a flight. I hear that late on Monday what is described as a debris field was found, but the authorities have no idea what happened to the plane. However, the Marines have ordered that all their F-35s anywhere in the world will be stood down for two days this week. The idea apparently is that the two days should be used to discuss the systems used to maintain the plane. This sounds very strange to me.
Back last year the Spanish government decided that as tourists in Spain must pay Spanish VAT, the same should apply on cruise ships departing from Spanish ports or while sailing in Spanish waters. Well, this kicked in last spring and cruise ships have implemented the charge to add the 10% VAT on anything bought onboard while in Spanish waters. But I hear a row has erupted on NCL ships where people who have bought their ‘Free at Sea’ package are being charged the 10% on drinks that are free! The ‘Free at Sea’ package, which is normally purchased in advance, gives a passenger free WiFi, a fixed number of free drinks and a meal in one of the pay-for-premium restaurants. On other cruise lines they appear to have estimated the VAT charge and included it in the cost of drinks packages. But not NCL who are even adding that 10% to the cost of that free premium meal. The question passengers are asking is how much is 10% of a free drink or meal?
I hear that Ukraine has sent a mixture of 10 Leopard 1 and 2 tanks back to Germany after discovering major faults with the tanks gifted to them. Apparently, the faults are such that they need to be fixed by the manufacturers. Now I am sure I read that all the Leopard 1 tanks Germany gave Ukraine had been in store and they took a long time to reach Ukraine because they all had to be refurbished by the manufacturer first. They must have done a really good job if the Ukraine are finding problems.
So, King Big Ears is on a three-day visit to Frogland and meeting with President Macaroni. Last night there was a huge dinner held for him in the Hall of Mirrors. I wonder if the mirrors are like those fun fair ones where you are reflected as fat, thin, short or tall. But what really made me prick up my ears, was when I heard he had been consulted on the menu before the trip. I can understand his objection to foie gras on cruelty grounds, but he also objected to asparagus on the grounds that it was out of season in France and would have to be flown in. This seems a bit hypocritical to me when he and his horse had been flown to Paris when he could have gone on the train and then they stood on the Champs Elysees while there was a joint flypast by the Red Arrows and Patrouille de Franc. As most things like asparagus are flown in as underfloor cargo on passenger jets, it would almost certainly have been adding a fraction of the pollution caused by the flypast. Mind you he did eat rare blue lobster and drink €800 a bottle of Champagne.
I know it is a little bit late to be reporting this, but the tale has only just emerged. Back on 20th June, the managing director of CalMac Ferries visit the Scottishland island of South Uist to meet a bunch of islanders who were protesting about the island’s appalling ferry service. The islands direct ferry service to the mainland had been withdrawn and the islands ferry, MV Lord of the Isles, had been moved to serve Islay because its ferry had broken down. The islander could still use ferries to reach the mainland but had to use a roundabout route via Barra. What draws me to this sad tale is that Robbie Drummond, the MD of CalMac, couldn’t take his own diversion. Instead, he flew to nearby Benbecula and drove to South Uist over the causeway that joins the islands. This is hypocrisy of the highest order.
Well, it’s a better morning, with a clear blue sky, but it’s still not as warm as I would like it. I see Sir Beer has let the mask slip and admitted that he doesn’t want ‘to diverge from EU laws.’ The Remoaner has been pretending that he has changed and while not a Brexiteer, is happy with the status quo. But this is now clearly not the case. A leopard never changes its spots.
More good news for most ordinary people yesterday when the Bank of England decided to hold interest rates at the current level. Of course it would have been better if they had gone down, but I fear we might have to wait a while for that to happen. I keep hearing that it is the only lever the Bank of England has to try to reduce inflation. But then I hear that pulling that lever has virtually no immediate effect, with the majority of the increases yet to make any difference at all. The majority of ‘experts’ say that inflation would have come down naturally anyway.
It hardly surprises me but old Lego head, Sir Beer Korma, had come out in opposition to the Rich Boys watering down of green policies. Sir Beer has committed to reverting to the dates and targets set by Bozzie and given the chop by the Rich Boy. When it comes to the next election does Sir Beer really think that he is on to a vote winner? ‘A green fairer future’ might be a slogan that goes down well on the Islington dinner party circuit, but I bet it doesn’t do so well Southport, Hartlepool or Bolton. The BBC had a vox pop from Bolton on the TV and the people asked had no idea what ‘Net Zero’ means or entails.
Interesting news today that the crap summer has led to a big jump in autumn cruise bookings. This has delighted the big British cruise operators who have been able to push up the cost of autumn cruises by about 11% on last autumn way above the current rate of inflation. Of course, they have had a hard time over the Covid years and collectively lost billions, so it is good news for them. The majority of cruise lines have been increasing the cost of their add-ons like excursions and premium restaurants, but until now have not got back to pre-Covid passenger numbers, the best were around 95%. Mind you, I hear that cruise lines that you may think of as cheap aren’t really. The likes of Marella, which used to be TUI Cruises are now charging £200 per person per night, more than P&O and Cunard charge, except for their very best cabins.
I am hearing that a party from the Ukraine Air Force has been to France for talks about acquiring Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft. The jets are 25 years old and still in service with the French Air Force and are capable of launching the Anglo-French cruise missile StormShadow (or Scalp in the French armoury) which the Ukraine already has been using. The 50 aircraft in the French Air Force have been upgraded to operate the NATO Link 16 communications system, which allows them to share data with friendly forces on the ground and in the air. There is no news on whether any agreements were made.
At the moment a selection process is underway to select a team for the England over 80s hockey team. I must admit that I was completely unaware that there was such a thing let alone that we had a national team. However, I do hear that they will be playing a team from Denmark who are the only other country in the world to play over 80s hockey.
Last week I told you about a potential 3-day strike by supporter workers in Scottishland schools. The janitors, teaching assistants and kitchen staff are represented by three unions who had a deadline of yesterday for calling off the strike. Well, firstly the Scottishland schools negotiating body asked for an extension of the deadline line to yesterday which the unions agreed to, however Unison wanted a new offer by 12:00 Thursday, while Unite said it would give Cosla (the negotiating group) until 17:00 Thursday and GMB Scotland simply said it wanted a new deal by Thursday. Well, I don’t know if they got an offer but the Scottishland Government has given Cosla an extra £80 million so they should have. Apparently, the Scottishland Government has ‘reallocated’ the money that had been already for other purposes, so someone is going to go short. I will try to keep you updated.
Good morning peeps, well it’s lovely and sunny this morning but very chilly, in fact it was so chilly the heating here came on overnight, but it was off again when I got up and the radiators were just warm. Mind you it is the first day of meteorological autumn, so I suppose being chilly is only to be expected.
Good news for the people of Hertfordshire coming out of the US. The American TV and film company Warner Brothers Discovery has announced that it is going to increase its Leavesden Studio by 50% adding another 400,000 sq ft of studio space, 4,000 people and at least £200 million to the local economy. They already have a huge studio complex there and a Harry Potter studio tour that children love. Other film-makers and Sky TV are already building new or increasing their studio capacity in the U.K. which is already the biggest film-maker in Europe, and this will increase its lead even further as the expansion will add 10 new sound stages.
I hear of problems in the Kent village of Matfield where Prussian carp were found in the village’s pond, one of the biggest in the country. Prussian carp are not native to the U.K. and are considered an invasive species. Consequently, the Department of the Environment has issued an enforcement order to rid the pond of these fish. The parish council has had to drain the pond and use hydrated lime to kill off any eggs that might be hiding out. The council has spent £20,000 on the work including digging out deeper pockets and new plants. The pond will be left to fill up naturally with rainwater. No decision has yet been made as to whether to restock it with fish.
I read that the Labour Council in Worthing is worried about its spending this year and thinks it could overspend by £1.8 million. So why, I ask are they considering turning the main shopping street in the town into a ‘green oasis’ of grass, trees, raised beds and seats at a cost of over a £1 million? The leader of the council says because of the overspend they will have to raid the reserves. Well, isn’t that what reserves are for? I read that a bin man’s strike earlier this year, and inflation have cost them £1.5 million. But I have a better idea, drop the plan for a green oasis, it isn’t an essential.
I hear of a car driver who got into trouble by crashing over a collapsed bridge having followed directions on Google Maps. You could have excused Google for not having updated their mapping app if the bridge collapse had been recent and they had not had time to update the app. But this was not the case, the bridge had collapsed 11 years ago, and the app still hadn’t been changed. Apparently, the local authority, whose bridge it was, say they tried on several occasions to talk to Google but they were not interested. I wonder how quickly the app would be updated if the driver sued them.
Following the government saying that the Bibby Stockholm barge was now free from Legionella, The Guardian demanded to see the test results. Being a lefty paper, used to lying, they were out to show that the government were not telling the truth. The government told them they were not going to disclose the information, so they put a Freedom of Information request in to Dorset Council. What did they discover? We’ll much to the paper’s enormous disappointment all the tests were clear. Expect to see boat people back on board soon.
BAE Systems say they have developed a new version of the 155mm artillery ammunition they make for the Army. The new version will have longer range and be more accurate they say, and it is about to be test-fired. The Next Generation Adaptable Ammunition will have a new self-correcting electronic fuse and will be rocket-assisted for the additional range. Apparently the NGAA rounds are set to replace the current L15 ammunition that has remained unchanged for many years. There is no news on the cost difference.
An eight-year-old girl has become the first in the U.K. to have a groundbreaking pair of operations. She was suffering from an immunodeficiency and her kidneys were failing so was spending a lot of time in a child dialysis centre. Firstly, she was given treatment for the immunodeficiency in the form of a stem cell transplant from her mother, which fixed that problem, but her kidneys were still shot. Next her mother donated one of her kidneys and because the child had the same immune system as her mother her body accepted the kidney as if it was her own. She now does not need immunosuppressants which most kidney transplant patients are on for life.
That’s me done for this week, and the weather in London is rather sunny today with a clear blue sky. It’s just about warm enough in the sun to snooze in, so I’m off to laze on my favourite windowsill. I’ll be back with you all again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2023