Good morning everyone, it’s another grey morning and I hear it’s going to rain later so no windowsill for me when I have finished duties. This place is relaxed today as the Rich Boy has gone to the party conference in Manchester. I hear he was driven up because the trains are on strike again. I hope he doesn’t have an accident as the junior doctors and consultants are on strike as well. What a coincidence that they have gone on strike at the same time as the Tory conference. The majority will just have gone by car and those that don’t have a car will have gone by coach.
Interesting bits and pieces coming out of the Tory conference early this morning. One I like the idea of is that the Rich Boy has been hinting at ignoring the ECHR judges and just sending migrants to Rwanda whatever they say. I find it amazing that most other European countries only take notice of laws that they agree with while we obey them all. I know we have always been a law-abiding nation, but we are being played for mugs.
The London air pollution data for the month of August is out and guess what, despite the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone air quality has not changed one iota. Of course, we were told that expanding the zone to cover all the London boroughs was going to improve things for everyone in London, but this seems to have been another of Sad Dick’s stories. As the data actually shows, emissions in the first week of September were worse. This is easily explained, as that week we had Saharan storms and sandy rain. The sand particles in the sand are very small and get counted as particulate emissions. I wonder how the next month will go.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has just got egg on its face and has had to withdraw an Airworthiness Directive (AD) it issued last month. The AD referred to 25 Airbus A320 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversions. The P2F is a venture by a private company to convert old passenger versions of the A320 into freighters and they are being operated by seven airlines. The planes had all been converted to include a large side freight door and Airbus had helped to do the stress calculations. EASA decided that the conversion added stress to the main wing box and issued the AD that ordered the planes to be inspected immediately and then strengthened. It now appears that Airbus have looked at the calculations that EASA made and found they contained serious errors and there was nothing wrong with the planes. This morning EASA withdrew the AD.
Over the weekend it was announced that the Ministry of Defence has placed a £4 billion order with BAE Systems the next stage of the AUKUS submarine programme. The money is for BAE to develop the detailed design of the AUKUS submarines between now and 2028 and to purchase long lead items. The money will also support modifications to the Barrow in Furness submarine construction yard and allow for the hire of an additional 5,000 people. It was always obvious that the order was going to BAE as they are the country’s only submarine builders, so it should come as no surprise.
For the first time in one hundred years a baby beaver has been born in London. Last year Enfield council released a pair in a wildlife park. They have been beavering away felling trees, building dams and creating a lodge under the careful watch of wildlife rangers. Now night vision cameras have spotted the kit out helping its parents with their work. No one has yet discovered whether it is a male or female beaver, of course the gay community might even suggest that it is trans.
The decision on the HS2 leg to Manchester seems to be dominating the airwaves this morning. I heard a discussion on the radio this morning where it was pointed out that it costs 20 times more to build high-speed trains in the U.K. than in France. But why? Well, I understand that to appease the green lobby about 75% of the line to Birmingham will be in tunnels, while in France they just ignore the greens and build the trains above ground. Another difference is that in the U.K., the route of the train is as straight as possible which has led to higher costs bridging rivers and on viaducts over valleys. Again, in France they incorporate more curves to reduce the number of bridges and viaducts. Could we learn something from the Frogs?
It was a strange morning, this morning. When I ventured to the bottom of the garden it was sunny and cool but, on the way back to my breakfast there was a sudden shower. It didn’t last more than a few minutes and there didn’t seem to be any clouds dark enough to produce the rain. Anyway, I didn’t get very wet, but during the morning the same thing happened twice more, but at least these times I was indoors and didn’t get wet. I must say I like it when the Rich Boy is away, everyone seems to be relaxed.
The final six companies in the competition to build the small modular reactor for the U.K. has been announced and it comprises Rolls-Royce, but not Terrapower the Bill Gates company. The full list as announced by Great British Nuclear is, EDF, GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy International LLC, Holtec Britain Limited, NuScale Power, Rolls-Royce SMR and Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited. GBN say they consider these six the most likely to be able to produce a working SMR by the 2030s. These six companies will be invited to bid for government contracts and the winner(s) will be announced next spring.
On Saturday the Wilco store in Eccles, which had been shut for a fortnight reopened as a new branch of Poundland. But it had only been open for a few hours before a chunk of the ceiling fell in! It seems that the shop was being refurbished and one part of it was open to the public with work still going on in the rest. The problem seems to have been caused by rainwater getting in. The shop will now be closed again while the damp is fixed.
Virgin Atlantic has announced that it wants to expand services from Bridgetown, Barbados and turn it into its Caribbean hub. Since Covid hit airline services badly Virgin has built up its U.K. to Barbados service to 15 a week, 11 from Heathrow and 4 from Manchester. They have just introduced some Caribbean inter-island flights from Bridgetown to Grenada and St. Vincent using fifth freedoms. At the moment Virgin only operate a few weekly flights to both islands but are now selling through tickets. The aim is to build up the service to at least daily and to add other islands in the near future.
The British Embassy in Washington is ready to reopen after undergoing a five-year refurbishment. The 100-year-old building has cost a mere £130 million to complete and has been the subject of as many cost overruns as HS2. But the real scandal is the fact that the refurbishment is only expected to last 30 years after which it will need to be done all over again.
As I mentioned yesterday the Rich Boy is away in Manchester at the Tory Party conference. I hear they have a stall there selling all sorts of Tory souvenirs and memorabilia. Amongst all the normal stuff like mugs, tea towels and drinks coasters, I rather like the idea of a Margaret Thatcher Christmas pullover with her picture on the front and instead of her saying a festive ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ she is saying her famous, ‘No, no, no.’ But I understand the soar away most popular items are Sir Beer Korma flip flops at £16.99 a pair. I wonder if the Rich Boy will return with a pair?
I had to laugh when I saw a video on the internet where a soldier phoned the Russian Uralvagonzavod tank manufacturer in Nizhny Tagil to complain about a T72 tank. He spoke with two of the factory’s directors and complained that the tank couldn’t go into battle as it leaked oil, its compressors constantly failed and the electrics that controlled the turret location just didn’t work. The directors promised to investigate and come back with solutions. What the soldier didn’t say was that he was Ukrainian, and he was working on a tank the Russians had abandoned as useless.
Another nice morning here at Number 10 for two reasons. The nice weather and the lack of the Rich Boy and his wife. As I have said a couple of times before it is always much better here when the Rich Boy is away.
Late on Monday afternoon there were some nasty thunderstorms north of London but news of the damage only leaked out this morning with firstly pictures of a fire at a food waste recycling plant. Apparently, the food is allowed to rot, and the gas given off is collected in large storage tanks. Well one of the tanks got hit by lightning and exploded in a fireball. Next, I heard of a couple of people being hit by lightning while on a school football pitch and finally I hear that the Arsenal football team were supposed to fly from Luton to Lens in France for a Champions League match on Tuesday night. Apparently the 5-hour delay to the take-off meant that they were too late for the mandatory pre-match press conference. Which makes them liable to a fine from EUFA for ‘not fulfilling their media commitments’. Although it is not really the club’s fault the authorities claim it could have been avoided if they had caught an earlier flight. That might make sense if the Premier League were to move the weekend fixtures.
In Northern Ireland the last coal-fired power station at Kilroot, near Carrickfergus was closed at the end of last month. The grid in Ireland is cross-border and there is still a 915 Mw coal-fired power station at Moneypoint in the Republic and three peat-fired power stations at Edenderry, Lough Ree and West Offaly. Most of Northern Ireland’s Power comes from gas-fired power stations at Ballylumford (600Mw) and Coolkeeragh (400MW). But for some odd reason Kilroot has closed before the 600 Mw gas-fired station on the same site is open.
The big cruise operators are taking record bookings for this year and next year. In fact, I hear that the big guys like Carnival and Royal Caribbean have very nearly sold out for the rest of this year, having already had record quarters for the first three quarters of the year. Carnival say that they have already carried more passengers than last year and that bookings for 2024 are up by 40% on this time last year. I also hear that bookings for spring and summer 2025 are already well up and that is without the autumn/winter sailing going on sale. Carnival and its subsidiaries Princess and Cunard are all adding 5,000 plus passenger ships to their fleets next year so there is a likelihood that passenger numbers next year will be even higher. I hear that my scribe already has his 2024 cruises booked!
At 8 pm on 18th of October, Sky is launching a new free channel on Freeview. Their current offering on Freeview Channel 9, Sky Arts, will be moving to Channel 33 and it will be replaced by Sky Mix which will broadcast a mixture of the programmes that are currently broadcast on its pay channels. That first evening they are going to open with an episode of Magnum PI and following it with an episode of Liverpool Narcos.
If you live near Christchurch in Hampshire, you are being asked to help look for an escaped pet skunk called Sky. The Skunk was taking exercise in its owner’s back garden and seems to have escaped in a patch of brambles. The problem is the skunk is stone deaf so it will probably be scared to be away from its owners. Skunks are nocturnal, and it will more than likely be asleep during the day and look for food at night. I hear Sky particularly likes chicken, cottage cheese and peppers. I agree with it on chicken but not on cottage cheese and peppers.
I hear that United Airlines is poised to order up to 60 new Airbus A320s. No word yet as to exactly how many planes they intend to buy and which version it will be. It’s been a good couple of weeks for Airbus with Air France-KLM placing a bumper order for 44 A350s with options for over 50 more, Cathay Pacific ordering 32 A320neos and LAMAT ordering 13 A321neos. It seems that with the order book for short-haul planes getting longer and longer, airlines are jumping in with orders to have the deliveries they project they will need in five years’ time.
More joy in Downing Street today, the Rich Boy only popped in late yesterday between Manchester and whizzing off to Granada for a meeting of European leaders. I hear he wants to talk about immigration and has got some Italian bint on his side in getting the topic on the agenda as the Spanish hosts didn’t want to talk about immigration as they don’t get much, unlike the bubbles and Ities. Anyway, I have just seen the weather forecast and it’s going to be warm and sunny for a week, not hot just pleasantly warm and dry, just right for lazing on the windowsill while the Rich Boy is missing. Bliss.
When the Rich Boy made his speech to the Tory conference yesterday the bit that made me think was the proposed rising ban on smoking. Basically, it means that anyone currently aged 14 will never be allowed to smoke legally. But does this mean that in order to legally buy tobacco people are going to have to show their birth certificates. I somehow can’t see how it can be done any other way. But can you imagine someone whose birthday is on say December 31st can’t buy fags while someone born the very next day, 1st January, can. But I just expect to see a load more people buying their fags on the black market.
Well, your cat reporter was right again, United Airlines have placed an order for another 60 Airbus A321neo aircraft and 40 more options. At the same time United announced an order for 50 Boeing 787-9 and 50 options. Back in June 2021, United ordered 100 A321neos and the first of these is arriving this year. The A321 is the biggest version of the Airbus single-aisle planes and has a bigger capacity than any of the rival Boeing 737Max range and hence picks up orders from companies like United who also operate the 737Max when they need a plane with a bigger capacity but not as big as a twin-aisle plane.
I hear that 927 motorists have been refunded their ULEZ fines after Transport for London admitted that it had placed a ULEZ camera in the wrong place at a junction and was recording vehicles as entering the ULEZ zone when they had not. I hear that TfL have now, reluctantly, turned off the camera and will be moving it. I wonder what would happen if the Blade Runner were to cut it down? As it is there illegally, could they be charged?
So, we are going to get the Football Euros in 2028, jointly with the Republic of Ireland. It seems the Turks have now formally withdrawn their bid as UEFA have today allowed them to combine their bid with Italy for the 2032 tournament. This has left our bid as the only one remaining, so it is ours by default. Some months ago, I pointed this scenario out when Turkey were first talking about combining their bid with the Italians. The U.K. and Ireland bid includes playing matches at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and Wembley in London. In addition, two as yet unfinished stadiums have been included in the bid, Belfast’s Casement Park and Everton’s Bramley-Moore Dock. Although the Everton stadium is nearly there, nothing has happened at Casement Park and construction will only begin with the formal award of the tournament which could be as soon as next Tuesday. Another win for your cat reporter.
Next year’s London Mayoral election is getting very interesting. I see that the Tory candidate, Susan Hall, has closed the gap to Sad Dick the incumbent Mayor to between 1% and 3% depending on the poll. But the interesting thing is what happens if you include the Tramp in the polling. The Tramp has not declared he is running but his “people” have mooted it. With him in the battle the Tories are 5% ahead in the polls. Although the Tramp has no chance of winning and shows about the same level of polling as the Limp Dumps, I suspect that he might well stand just to spite the Liebore bigwigs.
I have told you before about the problems Boeing has been struggling with regarding sub-assemblies that have been built by Spirit Aerospace in Wichita, Kansas. Well, now I learn that they have dumped their CEO Tom Gentile. The company is in trouble and has been leaking money. First it was problems with 787 front fuselage parts being out of tolerance, now it is mis-drilled holes in 737Max assemblies costing them millions of dollars. It’s all very well dumping the boss but they need to sort out the production problems.
Good morning and it’s nice and bright this morning. The forecast said it is going to be sunny every day until the end of next week, with no rain forecast until next Thursday and decent temperatures. I’m looking at some nice days on the windowsill. I see that up in Scottishland the people voted in Liebore in the bye-election, is this a reflection on the SNP’s current travails?
One of the interesting things to emerge from the Rich Boy’s cancellation of the HS2 leg to Manchester is the effect it will have on the new Euston station development. I hear there will now be a reduction in the HS2 terminal to only six platforms. But that is not the big news, that is the complete development is to be taken away from HS2 Ltd and handed over to a developer. As the plans include not just the new terminal but also 10,000 houses, office blocks and laboratories, this makes perfect sense to me. The developers did a good job at Kings Cross, Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms and Canary Wharf, to name a few so why have a company building a railway become a developer when we already have more than capable developers?
So Just Stop Oil have been at it again, this time stopping the West End show Les Miserables by climbing on the stage during the show’s finale and glueing themselves to scenery. They were roundly booed by the audience, but they are so obsessed by ‘climate change’ they ignored it. Five of the idiots were arrested but I expect they will only get a slap on the wrist. With a seat at the musical costing up to £100, I would love to see members of the audience making claims in the small claims court for the cost of their evening out, plus loss of enjoyment.
What do you make of this weird announcement from FIFA about the 2030 World Cup being held in six countries on three continents? I think it is absolute madness. The first three matches are to be played in three South American countries and then the rest of the matches will be played in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. As yet the country to hold the opening ceremony has not been announced, but it will be in one of the three host nations. How much is it going to cost supporters of one of those six teams involved in those first three games in South America flying there and then flying back to Europe or Africa for the rest of the competition? It’s OK for the bosses of FIFA who will be on expenses to travel back and forth but it is not acceptable for the ordinary football supporter.
Since the beginning of the Covid epidemic, 38 cruise ships have gone to the ship breakers, 18 in the last year alone. However, the number of cruise ships have increased by 15 over the same period and the number of berths has gone up by over 10% as the new ships have got bigger. I have heard people saying we should buy some of these redundant ships and put illegal immigrants on them, but these are pretty old ships that no one wants to buy because they seem to be over 30 years old. I wonder if we were to buy, say, half a dozen ships of this age, would we be putting ourselves into trouble like with the Bibby Stockholm?
I half expected to hear that we were abandoning Inheritance Tax at the Tory conference, but the announcement didn’t come. Mind it could still be announced in the autumn budget. I understand that in recent years the likes of Sweden, France and Australia have all abandoned the tax and found that their overall tax take has gone up. Even the USA has changed its rules and now exempts anyone leaving under $11 million and only 0.08% of estates now pay it, that is much less than us. It’s strange that all the countries that have abandoned IHT are better off without it.
The car sales numbers for September are out, and once again at 273,000 are well up on the same month last year. But it is another month where the petrol cars have been dominating the market and EV and hybrid numbers suffering with only 45,000 sales. But the really interesting thing is that the vast majority of EVs sold were company buys reflecting the huge benefits that companies get by supplying company car drivers with electric models with the new 73 plate.
Good morning merry readers, a pleasant morning and it’s warming up nicely. I understand that it is the Liebore conference in Liverpool tomorrow so the Sunday political programmes will be even fuller than usual with lefty politicians and their media lovies. I bet it will all be ‘the evil Tories’ and uncosted spending plans.
I hear that Qantas has had a major IT failure, but it has not been widely reported because it was a problem with the freight system and not the passenger system. Back on 24th September the airline switched over to what they described as a, “New, fully integrated cloud-based,” management system. The only problem was that it didn’t work! In a country as big as Australia air freight is essential in getting things around the country. But with the IT system not working Qantas staff has had to do the paperwork by hand and this has resulted in them having to prioritise medical supplies and dead bodies. Fresh fruit and flowers have been left to rot. I hear that domestic freight is now nearly back to normal but international freight is still not back to normal and because of Qantas’s dominance in Australian airfreight up to 25% of air imports have been affected.
I have been reading about the bed bug outbreak in Paris. I really do wonder why it has suddenly become a thing. But what is scary is that the bugs aren’t just in the hotel beds but are being found in sofas and armchairs and even the Metro. Eurostar say they have introduced extra cleaning to their cross-channel trains but surely it’s not cleaning they need but fumigating on a regular basis. However, I see that the London Underground is taking no chances and is checking trains that stop at London’s Kings Cross St Pancras, the London end of the Eurostar route, just in case any of the little blood-sucking monsters make it under the Channel and charge onto the Tube.
One little detail I see in the United States likely decision to supply Ukraine with its long-range ATACMS missiles has hardly been reported. That is that the missiles being sent are all time expired, that is past their use-by date and would have, in normal circumstances, have been destroyed. It rather looks to me like someone in the US of A has said, “As we are only going to have to destroy these missiles, if we give (or sell) them to the Ukrainians they can shoot them at the Russians, destroy the missiles in the process and save us the trouble.”
At last, the “First Family” has come to its senses and is getting rid of ‘Commander’ the first dog. The two-year-old German Shepherd has bitten at least eleven members of the White House staff and security men. It seems that once off the lead it goes for people and neither the First Lady nor the President can control him. A statement put out by the White House indicated that the dog has moved on to an undisclosed destination. Could it have gone to the big kennel in the sky?
Did you see the story of the man whose electric car hijacked him? The man was driving in his electric MG and was doing about 30 mph when he was approaching a roundabout. He tried to brake and nothing happened. The car just kept going and the driver managed to steer it round the roundabout, but he just couldn’t slow down. So, he phoned the police who told him to take the keys out of the ignition but again this had no effect. In the end the police decided the only way to stop him was with a roadblock and parked an empty car across the road in front of him and told him to drive into it which he did. Now I wonder what would have happened if that had been one of those self-driving cars?
My favourite story of the week is about a stolen French parrot. I hear that a street vendor in Marseilles was being questioned about the parrot he was trying to sell when the parrot squawked his name to the policeman. The policeman happened to have a friend who had a parrot of that name stolen three years ago, so he investigated a bit more and discovered that this was his friend’s stolen parrot. It has now been reunited with its real owner. It has not been revealed if the parrot was happy to be back at home.
That’s me done for this week, and the weather in London is nice today with a hazy sky but it’s 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