Larrys Diary, Week Two Hundred And Seventeen


Monday again, for once it’s not raining in London and the sun is out. The Rich Boy was up early this morning as he was off to the Covid enquiry to give evidence. He is sure to be questioned about the August ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme. Now I only hope he asks the inquisitors to detail how many the scheme killed. The number of infections actually increased minimally during the scheme! It was October before it took off.

I hear that the Ministry of Defence is looking to purchase 96 mobile 155mm Howitzers by 2029, to replace the AS90 tracked vehicles they currently use as it is getting a bit old. We have already gifted some of them to Ukraine and have ordered 14 Archer wheeled 155mm Howitzers to replace them. Four of the order have been delivered and the remaining 10 are due, in a single batch, early next year. To me that looks like the MoD have already made their mind up as to what is the best Howitzer for them, so why bother with a competition? I guess the procurement ‘rules’ demand a competitive tender, but I hear there are likely to be a number of bidders. These include Hanwha Aerospace of South Korea, partnered with Lockheed Martin UK and others, with the K9 Thunder, and KMW of Germany with the RCH 155/52. But the favourite must surely be a consortium of BAE Systems, Babcock International and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Archer is currently made by BAE’s Swedish subsidiary but if the consortium secures the order, it will be majority made in the U.K.

Ambassador Cruise Lines have a bit of a problem with its ship Ambiance which is currently in scheduled dry dock in Bremerhaven. The shipyard has discovered that the ship’s propeller shafts and main bearing have been grating and has had to be sent to Denmark for repairs. This means that a 38-day Christmas cruise to the Caribbean the ship was supposed to be undertaking from the middle of December, looked like it would have to be cancelled. However, Ambassador believes the Ambiance will return in late December, so they have taken the unusual step of switching the Ambiance’s sister ship Ambition to the 38-day cruise. When it returns, Ambiance will pick up Ambition’s programme thus limiting the total number of cancellations. I hope they have got the ship’s return date right or there are going to be a lot of disappointed passengers.

I told you last week that Arsenal Ladies were on track to set another new Women’s Super League attendance record when they played league leaders Chelsea. Well, they sold 59,042 tickets setting the predicted new record. I caught some of the match on the big screen TV in the office and I must say I wondered if the partisan crowd affected Chelsea who were well beaten 4-1.

A report on Telegram says that Russian artillerymen are complaining about the viability of the heavy ammunition that has been supplied by North Korea. One of the main problems seems to be that range varies from supposedly similar shells. The article shows photos of shells that have been taken apart by the Russians and the powder they contain is variable in colour and some contain less than others. In addition, many are missing decoppering wire. When an artillery shell is fired it leaves traces of copper in the gun barrel and the wire cleans it out. Without the wire the barrel has a shorter life span. In addition, some ammunition has been found to have small holes in it allowing moisture ingress. Russia is said to have received 1,000,000 rounds that North Korea had in storage.

It seems that Trading Standards have been raiding sweet shops and corner shops all over the country and seizing illegal American sweets. The US has very different rules to us on the ingredients allowed in many of their popular sweets making them illegal to sell in the U.K. Mountain Dew drinks, Jolly Ranchers, Swedish Fish and Lemon Heads are widely available, not only in shops but also on the internet, and have carcinogenic and genotoxic ingredients that have been banned by the UK Government. In Staffordshire alone £8,000 worth of sweets have been grabbed from 22 shops. Versions of some American sweets, without banned ingredients, are made for the European market, but these seized sweets are illegal imports.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
I’ve never seen these before.
Swedeish fish,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Carnival Cruise Lines have sneaked in price increases for many of its premium restaurants on board its ships. The prices were increased on the 1st of December without any public announcement. The increases, ranging from $1 to $50, have been confirmed on the Carnival website. This is for Carnival ships only and not their subsidiaries like Cunard and P&O. My scribe tells me that the most expensive premium restaurant on P&O ships is the Epicurean and that charges £30 which he tells me it is well worth it. But if it was to double in price to £60, would he still consider it worth it?


It was a fairly bright morning when I was woken up by a crowd of MPs having breakfast with The Rich Boy. After my Felix I went to see if I could scrounge anything. I did manage a bit of bacon out of someone’s roll, and it wasn’t bad, it even had a bit of brown sauce on it.

In Turkey, the Turkish FA have suspended all league matches indefinitely after a referee was punched to the ground by a disgruntled club president. In a Turkish Super Lig match between Ankaragucu and Rizespor, that ended a 1-1 draw, the Ankaragucu club president rushed onto the pitch after Rizespor scored an equaliser in the 7th minute of added time. It is reported that he then threw a right hook knocking the referee to the ground where he was kicked in the head by someone unknown. Players and other officials formed a protective cordon around the ref while the club president was hustled away only himself to be attacked. Both injured men were taken to hospital and the club president arrested. I wonder if more people would watch football if it always ended in a fight?

Up in Scottishland the investigation into the SNP’s missing £650,000 drags on. It has now been going on for some two and a half years and seems to be getting nowhere near anybody being charged. However, I hear that the last news is the police are investigating the purchase of a top-of-the-range £95K Jaguar from an Edinburgh dealership by the Wee Krankie’s husband. One day all will be clear to us.

With Christmas coming soon I have been reading that more and more people are buying their pets gifts and clothes as presents. Well if anyone is thinking of getting me a present my list is quite short. I definitely don’t want a sweater or a Santa hat. Top of my list, as you might guess is Felix Chicken in gravy (not jelly thank you) and next is Cat Treats (but not cheese flavour). I am also happy to get any little nibbles like Catnip flavoured mice or duck-flavoured stars.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Don’t try that on me!
Tabby Cat Wearing a Santa Hat,
John Pemble
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I read that there is a row going on in the United States about the installation of a battery and solar array by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-aligned Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL), at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina as part of a new Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Camp Lejeune is a Marine Corps camp, and the BESS is designed to enable the Marines to make use of renewable energy. But there are a number of senior American politicians who are convinced that CATL is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and the company in charge of the project, Duke Energy, has turned off the Camp Lejeune project. I will have to keep my beady eye on this story.

In a political story that seems to have slipped below the headlines, I learn that Nick Brown has quit the Liebore Party. The ex-Liebore chief whip has been under investigation under the party’s independent complaints programme since September 2022. Brown also says he won’t be standing at the next election. He says that at 73 he has had enough of fighting what he says is a complaint made by a political rival over an event that happened 25 years ago. I assume Brown will now be sitting as an independent until the next general election comes along.

The aircraft leasing company, Avolon, has just placed a bumper order for single-aisle planes. They have added 100 Airbus A321neo and 40 Boeing 737 Max to their already substantial order book, bringing it up to 1,087, 632 of which are from Airbus. Airlines often take leased planes as it means that they can pick up extra aircraft more quickly than having to join the end of the queue. However, leasing planes is not cheap as the leasing company need to make a profit. But a big order for 100 planes means the purchaser will get a much better purchase price than someone wanting to buy only four or five planes from a manufacturer.


What a surprise, it’s yet another wet morning but The Rich Boy is happy. He came back from the Commons yesterday singing to himself and grinning from ear to ear. I hear he had got his Rwanda Bill through a vote and much to his shock, without a single Tory voting against it. I wonder how long his joy will last as it’s PMQs this lunchtime.

I understand that Thames Water is broke. Apparently, they owe a mere £18 billion! But more immediately they are supposed to pay back a £190 million loan early next year and don’t have any hope of finding the cash to do so. Yesterday their boss told the Environment Committee that they want their governing body, OFWAT, to let them increase their charges by 40% over inflation. He told the committee that the alternative is for the government to nationalise them and take on the debt. How can a company who sells something that drops out of the sky free with abundance go bust?

The Renault Zoe, one of the first EVs has been “withdrawn from sale” in the U.K. the manufacturer says. The Zoe has been on sale in the U.K. for eleven years but never sold in large amounts, just 30,000 in all those years. I hear it was not cheap and had a short range compared to more modern EVs. It is due to stop being made in March next year so I guess Renault didn’t think it was worth shipping them any longer to such a small market. I understand they are to eventually be replaced by an electric Renault 5, but it has not yet been launched so no one knows if it is any good or how much it will cost.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Not for me thanks.
Renault Zoe R110 Z.E. 50 Experience (Facelift),
M 93
Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

I read that we have eked a bit more fishing back from the EU for next year. When we left the EU, part of the argument was we would let them continue to catch fish in our sector of the North Sea until 2026, although there would be a quota set. After 2026 there will be a renegotiation of the deal and with any luck, we will upset the Froggy Fishermen again. Next year we will let our fishermen take an additional 80,000 tonnes which I presume means the EU will take that amount less. I hope the Navy keep a close eye on the frogs as I wouldn’t trust them to keep to their quota.

Yesterday an illegal immigrant on the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge committed suicide. Tragic as any death is, this man was clearly not stable, no one who kills themself can be. But of course, the Left-wing, led by the likes of the Guardian are calling for the barge to close down. The lefties never miss an opportunity to advance their agenda. I wonder if the man had been living in a council flat, they would have called for all council accommodation to be closed down?

I have some bad news for all you wine drinkers out there in Larry land. I am told that we are approaching a shortage of some wines like Chilean Merlot and Californian Chardonnay. Why you ask, well apparently it’s all down to the lack of rain in Panama and the restrictions the Panama Canal Company is putting on canal transits. Many goods from the west coast ports of both North and South America are being delayed as the container ships sit and wait for a transit. There used to be 40 transits a day, now due to the water shortage it is limited to 32 a day. Consequently, the queue grows every day.

In June 2014 a USAF F-35 crashed and ruined its back end. The Air Force put the remaining parts into storage for spare parts. Then in June 2020, another USAF F-35 had its front end knocked off in an accident where the nose wheel collapsed. The Air Force has now started putting the two halves together to make one good plane from the two wrecks. The aircraft has been nicknamed Franken-Bird and is expected to save the USAF the $82.5 million cost of a new plane. Mind you I wouldn’t want to fly in it.


Good morning everyone, it is dull and grey this morning and a little chilly. Interesting report out this morning says that since Covid the number of people smoking cigarettes has not been falling as fast as it did before Covid. Before the pandemic the number of smokers was falling by 5.2% a year, but the ONS says that last year the number of smokers fell by only 0.3%. I found this hard to believe as I see so few people actually smoking these days, everyone seems to be vaping instead. We now need a report into why Covid didn’t stop people smoking.

Residents of Boswell Court, a block of housing association flats in Bedford, are a little upset because the housing association have ruled that they can only have their plastic Christmas tree in the entrance lobby during the day when the caretaker is on duty. So every evening, when the caretaker goes off duty, the tree has to be taken down, only to be put back up the next morning when he comes back on duty. The residents say they have had a communal tree there for the past 14 years, but the housing association say the fire brigade say it is a fire risk. However, the local paper approached the Bedfordshire Fire Brigade who categorically deny ever being asked or giving advice about Boswell Court’s Christmas tree. Someone is telling porky pies.

Not very long ago the scimitar horned oryx was considered to be extinct in the wild and only to exist in zoos. This particular oryx had lived widely in North Africa on the fringes of the Sahara before dying out in the wild. However, there were some breeding pairs still remaining in zoos, with one of the biggest herds being in the Zoological Society of London’s Whipsnade Zoo. The ZSL has recently been working with other organisations to try to re-establish the scimitar horned oryx in part of Chad where the habitat was deemed to be suitable with grazing. The ZSL had sent several breeding pairs to Chad and they have been released in the wild and supervised and protected from a distance. The wild herd has now grown to over 500 and this type of oryx is no longer considered extinct, and its official status has been downgraded to ‘endangered’.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
No longer extinct!
Scimitar-Horned Oryx,
Public domain

I read that French farmers are revolting. All across the country they are unbolting rural road signs and then putting them back upside down. They say they are protesting at their world being turned upside down by officialdom. They are upset by many new petty regulations being introduced by the EU and in particular the late payment of subsidies which seems to happen every year. They claim that the new regulations are so confusing that local officials interpret them in different ways on different days issuing contradictory instructions to farmers. They say they have been told to raise agricultural wages, but to keep prices down and to be as ecological as possible but to raise production, things they say are incompatible. Of course, the French are doing little about the upside-down signs and what started as a small protest in one region has now spread across the whole country.

In the early hours of this morning, Grunt Shatts signed an agreement in Japan to design, manufacture and build the 6th Generation stealth fighter Global Combat Air Program also known as Tempest. The U.K., Japan and Italy have been cooperating for some time on defining the plane and this treaty takes the plane on to the next stage with the aim of it entering service with the three nations by the mid-2030s and in the U.K., it will replace the RAF’s Typhoon. In the U.K. BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, MBDA U.K. and Leonardo U.K. will take part, with companies in Italy and Japan, meaning tens of thousands of jobs in the U.K. I understand that the global headquarters of the project will be in the U.K., the first chief executive will be from Japan and the head of manufacturing will come from Italy. I also hear that Saudi Arabia is likely to join the project. They don’t have the design and manufacturing clout of the current three members, but they have oil wealth and would like to operate the plane. I wonder what will become of the project if we have a Liebore government. If the Tramp had ever got the keys to No 10, we wouldn’t have got this far.

An intriguing story reaches me from Poland where a train operating company has been plagued by recently maintained trains breaking down or refusing to start. The odd thing was they had all been maintained by third parties, while trains maintained by the train’s Polish manufacturers, Newag, worked perfectly. One of the train maintenance companies called in a group of ethical hackers to look at the train’s software. After two months the hackers have found that the software had been written to cause the trains to stop working if not maintained by Newag. The hackers found that the trains had a built-in GPS tracker that reported back to Newag and the train’s software, the position of the train. If the train is stationary for some time at an independent maintenance site, the Newag written code instructed the train’s software to ‘brick’ the train. The software also ‘bricked’ the train if non-Newag-supplied parts were installed. Newag are threatening to sue the hackers and train operators for breach of contract as they say their conditions of sale say their software must not be investigated! I wonder if any other train makers have similar software.

I have no way of knowing if it is true or not but I have been seeing reports that Ukrainian military hackers have inserted malware into the entire Russian tax system killing it and all its backups. The claims say that the hackers hit the main computer centre and the 2,500 regional centres including those in Crimea. According to the reports the malware has not only wrecked the tax software but has destroyed all the backups, records and archives as well. This supposedly happened four days ago and the reports say that no progress has been made in restoring the system. As I said I have no way of knowing if this report is true but if it is, I suspect that several of my readers would like the Ukrainians to attack HMRC.


Good morning all, well at least it’s dry today. I hear that following Sky TV’s deal to show more Premier League games, it has also signed a four-year deal with the EFL for 1,000 games a year for four years. It’s going to be wall-to-wall football on TV next season.

You can hardly have missed seeing the advertisements for the Omaze monthly £1,000,000 house draw. One lucky person wins the house and £100,000 to pay for maintenance. So far there have been 14 draws obviously giving away 14 homes, but I hear the winners are only still living in four of the houses, nine have been put up for sale and one is now an Airbnb. It seems that the cost of running and maintaining these houses exceeds the £100,000 people win. These houses need staff, power and water, and attract high levels of rates and need lots of maintenance. I wonder how much people got for the house they sold? I bet it was not anywhere near £1,000,000. If I won, I would immediately call in the estate agency, I’m quite happy living in Downing Street.

I hear that bus drivers in London are considering a strike because of the problems caused by the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the removal of bus lanes. The bus drivers are apparently not happy at the amount of time that buses are having to sit in traffic displaced by LTNs and cut bus lanes. They cite a bus taking 45 minutes to travel between two stops scheduled at four minutes and other LTNs increase the journey time on one route by 20 minutes. Could we be seeing a strike by London bus drivers against Sad Dick’s Transport for London? That would be interesting.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Not liked by bus drivers.
Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial,
Jack Fifield
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

In Australia, a woman has been arrested for stealing a van loaded with 10,000 Krispie Kreme donuts (American spelling for an American product). The woman was seen on CCTV hanging around at a service station before driving off the van. When the van was found several thousand of the donuts were obviously damaged and the whole van load had to be destroyed. Krispie Kreme say they are working hard to replace the 10,000 donuts but there could be some shortages.

The European Court of Justice has just ruled against the EU and in favour of Amazon over a Corporation Tax case. The EU claimed that Luxembourg had given Amazon illegal state aid of €250 million by charging them a special rate of VAT. A lower-level court had already ruled for Amazon, and this was an appeal to the ECJ. €250 million is small beer for the EU, the big case is still progressing, this is where the EU are claiming €14.9 billion in unpaid tax from Apple over its Corporation Tax payments in Ireland. What the ECJ has just ruled is that it is not against EU rules for EU states to set specific Corporation Tax rates to attract business. I bet Apple are rubbing their hands together.

In the US the House of Representatives has voted in favour of launching an impeachment inquiry into Sniffer Joe. The inquiry is into Sniffer and his family benefiting financially from his position as Barry O’Bananas vice president. Of course, Sniffer says there is no case to answer, but this is an inquiry to see if there is a case in the first place. The vote enables the House committees investigating Sniffer’s actions the power to subpoena documents and testimony that has previously been withheld by the Democrats. It also puts the inquiry at the front of the news agenda in a presidential election year.

The Great Western Railway has decided to double the number of trains it runs between Reading and Gatwick due to the increasing number of people travelling to the airport. GWR had been running four trains an hour between Reading and Redhill with just one of these trains continuing to Gatwick. Apparently GWR have noticed the number of people buying through tickets to Gatwick and having to change onto Thameslink or Southern trains at Redhill. As from the start of the winter timetable on the 10th of December, GWR have extended another train an hour to Gatwick making it a train every thirty minutes all day long. It seems odd to me that GWR don’t run every train to Gatwick, it is only a few more stations down the Brighton main line. Mind you, as the trains from Reading to Gatwick are diesel multiple units they stand out at Gatwick as noisy and smelly.


Well, at least it wasn’t raining when I wandered down the soggy garden this morning. It was a KFC night last night as the Rich Boy has headed off to Italy for talks with them and Albania about illegal immigrants. I wonder how long he is staying, the longer the better as I might get more KFC.

On December the 23rd a woman is to referee a Premier League match for the first time. The match between Fulham and Burnley is to be refereed by Rebecca Welch. Then on the 26th Sam Allison will be the first black referee to handle a Premier League game in over 15 years when he takes on the Sheffield United v Luton match. I wonder if the league is deliberately slipping in these officials at Christmas?

Yesterday was a good day for Airbus. Turkish Airlines signed the long-rumoured order for 220 aircraft and Ethiopian Airlines added 11 A350-900 aircraft to its order. The Turkish order is for 70 x A321neo, 50 x A350-900, 15 x A350-1000 and 5 x A350F freighter. This is excellent news for the U.K. as not only are all the Airbus wings made in the U.K. but so are all the A350 engines. The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 powers the -900 while the XWB powers the -1000 and F. That is another 140 engines for RR to manufacture and maintain. RR earn more than the cost of an engine in its long-term maintenance.

I hear that woke ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s have lost the ice cream parlour franchise they have on Royal Caribbean ships. Royal Caribbean are being very tight-lipped over what is going to replace Ben and Jerry’s and have only said that it will be “sweeter” and an “in-house” product. Whether this means they are going to make their own frozen products or change the outlets into sweet shops isn’t clear, but Ben and Jerry’s is due to go by the end of this year. I also learnt a strange thing about the B&J franchise. The current shops have a huge advert in the shape of a cow’s arse over the shop and this obstructed the view from some suites. To make up for the obstruction, the people in those suites got free ice cream!

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
No longer on Royal Caribbean.
Ben&Jerry’s, Hazed and Confused, Ice Cream,
Mike Mozart and JeepersMedia
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The first three episodes of the second season of ‘Reacher’ on Amazon dropped yesterday and it is already a huge hit with both the critics and the audience. Amazon must be delighted as this is one of the cheaper series it produces. But what makes people love this? I suspect it is because it is one TV item that is not woke in the slightest. Reacher is tough and doesn’t stand for any nonsense. People get beaten up and killed by the dozen in every book and unlike the cinema films, the actor cast as Jack Reacher is much as described in the books. Oh, I also hear that season three has already been commissioned.

I have just been reading that Japanese scientists have just test-fired a rocket engine powered by liquid biomethane. What is liquid biomethane? It is liquified methane gas made from cow poo, so it is a natural product. Does LBM still smell of sh*t? Mind you they only fired the engine for 11 seconds, but it worked. I wonder how many cows you need to have to send a rocket to the moon?

It’s not only in the U.K. where the government is trying to get people to switch from gas boilers to heat pumps for domestic heating. They are doing the same thing in the EU with about the same amount of success as in the U.K. In the EU the current target is to have 30 million installed by 2030, although the ‘experts’ claim they actually need to install 60 million to replace the reliance on Russian gas. The number of units installed in the third quarter of 2023 has just been announced and it was 485,000, down 14% on the same quarter in 2022. This is nowhere near enough to hit the official 2030 target let alone the unofficial one. The EU put the reluctance to buy heat pumps down to the fact that in the EU electricity is four times the price of natural gas for domestic heating. They have been pressuring member states to reduce the tax on electricity to get it near to the price of gas, but Germany in particular is reluctant to do that. With the price of natural gas falling on the world market perhaps the EU are going to have to give away electricity.

That’s me done for another week. Dry out there, but it’s still cloudy this afternoon and a chilly wind has got up, so I will not be going out this afternoon. Like the last few weeks, it’s going to a comfy chair in reception and the lovely open fire this afternoon. I am sorry to tell you there won’t be a Larry’s Diary next week as my scribe is off on his holiday to the Caribbean. I expect he will be writing about his cruise, and you will have something different to read when he is back in the New Year. I’ll be back with you all in January.

© WorthingGooner 2023