Larry’s Diary, Week Two Hundred And Sixteen


Monday again and it’s warmer in London today, but it is wet again. I suppose that now it is officially winter it is not unexpected. I hear the BBC wants to increase the TV license by £15 a year in the spring. When the Rich Boy heard, he exploded. Normally he is very even-tempered, and I don’t think I have seen him so annoyed before, not even when the Supreme Court ruled against him on Rwanda. He told anyone who would listen that the Biased BBC aren’t going to get that much. We shall see.

I hear that ‘call me Lord Dave’ is off to Rwanda this week to sign a treaty on illegal immigration. Apparently, the theory is that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over treaties so can’t stop us sending the boat people there. We need to start sending them to camps on British territory all over the world. How many will want to come here if they are immediately stuck in a camp in the middle of an uncleared minefield on the Falklands or an abandoned RAF station on the remotest Shetland Islands, I can’t see many wanting to come here then.

I read that around 10% of smart meters have stopped working and are not communicating with the network that has been set up by the supplier to collect the readings. This means that 3,000,000 meters, mainly electric ones are not working to their full capacity. When they stop communicating they resort to dumb meter mode, still recording the electricity used but not telling anyone. If this happens to you it is likely that your electricity supplier will ask you to read your own meter and submit the reading so you can get an accurate bill. But not everyone can read their own meter, some are inaccessible because they have been so badly positioned and some old people just can’t get to an outdoor meter cupboard. It seems that in some cases gas and electric smart meters interfere with each other’s signals. Perhaps the suppliers need to get their meters fixed.

Today the two giant pandas that have been on loan at Edinburgh Zoo are off to China. They will be on a special charter flight operated by China Southern Airline. I hear that the pandas have special metal crates to fly in that even have built-in pee trays. Apart from the flight crew there will only be four people on board, their keeper from the Edinburgh Zoo and a vet from the zoo, their new keeper and an airline official. As there are no cabin crew on board the four will have to warm up their own food and drink in a microwave. Apparently, at the halfway point of the journey the British keeper will hand over the pandas to the Chinese keeper.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Are there any Pandas onboard?
China Southern Airlines Airbus A330-243 B-6058,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s not just Britain that has problems with the railways when it snows. At the weekend it snowed in Germany, and it caused chaos on their train network. Heavy snow in Southern Germany has not only disrupted the Deutsche Bahn services but caused destination boards to fail, and signals to fail. But of course, Deutsche Bahn blame their problems on lack of investment. It sounds like Network Rail but worse. Deutsche Bahn is state-owned but has somehow clocked up €30 billion in debt. I must say Deutsche Bahn is not living up to its slogan ‘we travel in all weathers’.

The BBC are making a new dramatisation of the Enid Blyton Famous Five stories and of course they must make the stories woke. They are still based in the 1950s but couldn’t resist having Uncle Quinton being married to a black woman, who is now the family breadwinner, and George being a half-cast. There are still lots of adventures, secret passages and Timmy the dog is a scene stealer, but I hear there is a shortage of ginger beer.

I hear that Lincoln’s Liebore council has decided to cancel the annual Christmas market because “it is too popular”. I can understand them cancelling the market if it was unpopular and nobody was attending but it is quite the opposite. So why are they cancelling the market? Well, it seems that they worried that it is too popular and would be overcrowded so it was easier for them to cancel it rather than look at better solutions. They say there will be a series of smaller markets throughout the year, but it’s not Christmas throughout the year!


A very dull and grey morning in London this morning but at least it wasn’t raining for my constitutional. It seems to have been incredibly wet these past few days, we’ve had so much rain the birdbath is overflowing!

Do you remember when Ursula Von der Leyen tried to block the shipment of Covid vaccine that we in the U.K. had paid to develop and manufacture and bought in advance? Well, I hear that Boris was so upset by her illegal actions in grabbing our doses of vaccine that he talked to the SAS about mounting a raid on the warehouse in Holland where the vaccine was being stored. What a pity it never happened, because the EU backed down and the vaccine was shipped to the U.K. I would have loved the SAS rapid roping onto the warehouse roof and Chinooks carrying off crates of vaccine to an offshore aircraft carrier. It would make a super TV series.

Next Sunday Arsenal Ladies play Chelsea Ladies at the Emirates. Arsenal Ladies already hold the record for a Women’s Super League attendance when 54,155 people attended the Arsenal v Liverpool match at the beginning of the season. This attendance knocked previous Arsenal Ladies’ attendances against Tottenham and Chelsea to second and third highest. It looks like a new WSL record is going to be set on Sunday as over 55,000 tickets have been sold as I write this. Of course, the record ladies’ attendance in the U.K. of 77,390 is for the Ladies’ FA Cup Final at Wembley.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Will it host a new WSL record attendance?
The Emirates Stadium,
Kieran Clarke
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford in Kent has introduced a bill into parliament to allow the government to overturn Sad Dicks expansion of the London ULEZ scheme. Somehow, I doubt that the bill will become law as it won’t be whipped, allowing Tory MPs to make up their own minds on the topic and Liebore is sure to vote against the bill as it is a Liebore mayor’s baby.

London Underground loses £130 million a year on fare dodging. Consequently, they have been trial-testing artificial intelligence at Willesden Green station to spot passengers most likely to jump ticket barriers. The system uses the station’s CCTV cameras, but Transport for London say it does not employ face recognition. About one in 25 passengers on the tube don’t pay their fares risking an £80 fine. TfL want the fine raised to £100 but this needs Sad Dick’s approval. One of the biggest problems confronting the Underground is the wide gates for wheelchairs, buggies and passengers with luggage, apparently they are easily pushed open and stay open for a longer time than the standard gate, encouraging tailgating. Perhaps LU should be looking here rather than using AI.

I see that the Premier League has quickly signed a new live TV deal with Sky Sports and TNT (was BT Sport) for 270 games each season. The four-year deal is reported to be worth £6.7 billion. Of the six live packages available Sky has won five and TNT one, the Sky deal is for 215 live games, while TNT have the remainder. The deal is similar to the current deal but with a number of small changes, such as some TV matches at 2 o’clock on Sunday afternoons. TNT has the 12:30 on Saturday slot and two midweek rounds, Sky has Saturday at 17:30 and Sunday at 14.00 and 16:30. Sky also has some Friday and Monday evening games and three midweek rounds. Sky will also broadcast all 10 matches on the last day of the season. This time round Amazon has not won a package. Oh, I nearly forgot the BBC has secured the recorded highlights package for Match of the Day, so I’m sorry to have to tell it looks like you’re stuck with Gary Lineker until summer 2029.

Next year if you are still using a first-generation Sky box you will no longer be able to receive programmes. The BBC has already announced that it is turning off all its standard definition broadcasts and now Sky are to do the same thing, killing their SD channels. This renders the 1st generation Sky box useless as it can only receive SD signals. If you have an HD box or a Sky Q box, you are unaffected as they can both receive HD broadcasts. Mind you, I wonder how long the Sky satellite service has left, as Sky is pushing its internet services via Sky Glass and Sky Stream.


Morning all. Another dry morning when I wandered down the garden. The feeder put the radio on while I was eating my Felix, and the news is full of people being stabbed and shot in London. Although many of the victims are teenagers, there also seems to be a big increase in people in their 30s and 40s being attacked. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as this when I was a young cat. In fact, the reporter said that the number of stabbings in London this year is on the verge of being more than last year. I wonder if Sad Dick is proud.

I was delighted to read that the Royal Navy is getting its own planes back later this week. On Friday 809 Naval Air Squadron is being resurrected to fly the new F-35B Lightning. I always wondered why the RAF needed the more expensive ‘B’ version of the F35 when it’s the STOVL version of the jet. Our carriers are designed for this sort of operation, but I always thought it would have made sense to split the order between the cheaper conventional ‘A’ version, as flown by the USAF, and the ‘B’ version. To date, the RAF has been operating the jets on the carriers (together with some US Marine Corp squadrons). So, it’s welcome back to 809 NAS who have an illustrious history, having flown Seafires in WW2, Buccaneers in the Cold War, and Harriers in the Falklands.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
I wonder if this one was in 809NAS.
Blackburn Buccaneer S1 XN964,
Ronnie Macdonald
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

ITV intended to convert its two remaining standard definition (SD) areas to high definition (HD) in November but has failed as its testing showed problems. This is now causing them to rush to try to get the Borders and Channel Islands areas converted to HD before Sky freezes its selectable programme guide over Christmas and the New Year. This is something Sky does every festive period to allow the people who maintain it a long Christmas break like many other offices and industries do. So, the race is on for ITV to get the HD channels up and running well before Christmas or it won’t be able to happen until mid-January at the earliest.

Air India has been tinkering with the massive 470-plane order it placed with Airbus back in February this year. They are sticking with the same total number of aircraft but are swapping some models for bigger and smaller versions. This is something that customers often do when ordering aircraft way in advance. The Airbus A320neo family are a hugely popular family of planes and the production of its seven final assembly lines is sold out for years to come. Consequently, these orders were effectively reserving places on the production lines. It makes little difference what exact model has been ordered this far in advance as the long lead items haven’t got anywhere near production yet. Air India has obviously been looking at its route network and been trying to match aircraft to route density. Consequently they have reduced the number of smaller A320neos on order from 140 to 70 while increasing the number of bigger A321neos from 70 to 140. They have also done a similar thing with the A350-900 and -1000 on order, swapping 14 of the -1000 to -900 meaning they have 20 of each version in the new order.

Over the pond in the USA, Boeing is still struggling to get its 737Max7 certified to fly commercially. Boeing has asked for a number of exemptions from FAA rules. One of them is for the engine de-icing system which is overheating. The Max 7 already has an exemption over lightning strikes. I’m not sure I want to fly on one of these Max versions until they comply with all the rules and don’t need exemptions.

In Malaysia they gave a contract to Chinese company Forest Garden to build a huge estate of high-rise flats called Forest City. The aim was to construct over 1,000,000 flats. With only 15% built, and 1% occupied, Forest Garden has hit huge financial problems in China and construction has stopped. Apparently living in one of the dozens of completed tower blocks is said to be like living in a ghost town with whole floors of the blocks unoccupied. When the project was started in 2016 the property boom in China was at its peak and Forest Garden intended the flats to be second homes for wealthy Chinese. Unfortunately, this has not happened and there are not enough wealthy Malaysians to buy the empty flats.

In Brighton the Liebore party has just expelled two of its councillors from the party. It seems that councillors Bharti Gajjar and Chandni Mistry had lied about where they lived to enable them to stand. The law says that to become a councillor, you must be registered to vote in the area or have lived, worked, or owned property there for at least 12 months before an election. Apparently both these women failed to meet any of these rules. The councillors for Kemptown and Queens Park remain councillors but are facing demands to stand down and have by-elections in their wards. Somehow, I suspect they will try to brazen it out.


Good morning everyone on this dull and drizzly morning, but it was a Felix Chicken morning so that me a happy chap. However, the Rich Boy is not too happy having lost another minister. I can say I knew Robert Jenrick very well; he was just one of those faces that came in and out of the front door and ignored me. I am always sad to see people go who stop and talk to me, especially if they have a couple of cat treats with them!

The Issa brothers, who own the EG group have been busy selling off a chunk of their empire following the purchase of the Tesla high-speed charging network. On top of the ASDA supermarket chain they have owned a lot of franchises for popular outlets like Greggs, Subway and Starbucks. Their portfolio also included 218 branches of KFC and the 7,800 employees, but they have now sold them back to the KFC brand owners, Yum! Brands, who also own Pizza Hut and Starbucks. From what the Issa brothers say they will use the sale of these KFC branches to pay back loans.

News for all you golfers out there. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the USGA have decided to change the rules about the design of golf balls so they don’t fly so far. Recently several golf clubs have had to lengthen some holes because professional golfers are hitting the ball further and further. The new ball should fly about 15 yards less when hit by a long-hitting professional and a few yards less by an amateur. So if you are a golfer, don’t be surprised if you can’t hit your new balls so far.

Tomorrow McDonald’s are opening the first outlet of a chain they are testing. The chain is called CosMc’s and the first one opens in Chicago. The chain is squarely aimed at Starbucks and will sell fancy coffee, cakes and snacks. The snacks are mainly from the McDonald’s menu and I hear that they will include things like an Egg McMuffin, but is aimed at people with a sweet tooth as many of the coffees have loads of sugar in them. The plan is that by the end of next year they will have 10 more branches all in California. Now this strikes me as a little odd. Why open the first one in Chicago and the next ten in California? Wouldn’t it be more sensible, from a logistical point of view to have all the branches near each other? I would have opened them all in Chicago or all in California, but I’m only a cat!

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
I like KFC.
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The dead tree press today is not very nice about the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. Every year since 1949 Norway has sent us a Christmas tree as a thank you from the people of Norway for our support during World War Two. Unfortunately, this year’s tree has been damaged in transit when the ship was hit by a storm in the North Sea. The tree lost several lower branches on one side and the dead tree press say the tree is half dead. Well, I saw pictures of it all lit up and I think it is lovely.

This last couple of days all I seem to be hearing about is people building things without planning permission. Near Frome in Somerset, a Santa Clause grotto was set up in two sheds in a wooded area and they were reported to the council for not having planning permission and particularly for not having public transport links. However, it was pointed out that the two sheds were of a size and type that you can put up without a license. Today it’s a 450-seat theatre in Titchfield, Hampshire. It has only been there for over 10 years and is currently hosting a pantomime, which is rather appropriate. Someone complained that the Titchfield Festival Theatre only had 35 parking spaces and on checking if they were complying with planning permission it was found it was built without any. The council has told them to stop using it by 29th February, but they can appeal to the Secretary of State before the 29th December.

A study by a US university has come up with the astounding revelation that people are put off dating someone with zits. Did they really have to spend thousands of dollars asking over 2,000 people to find out that girls or boys with a face full of whiteheads and blackheads weren’t preferred dating material? Surely it is quite obvious that people, unless they are a bit odd, prefer other people to have clear skin. Why would companies spend a fortune on advertising their spot treatments, if people liked zits. The only person I know of who likes zits, is that woman on TV, Dr Pimple Popper, and that’s because she makes a fortune squeezing long streams of pus out of giant boils.


Good morning all, and it is not raining today, in fact it is sunny. I was listening to some of the staff talking about a Christmas meal they had been to in the Houses of Parliament. It seems the House is on a green thing and one of the things they have done is buy ‘green’ crackers! This means the crackers no longer have a bang and all the little toys were cardboard. Everyone was saying the crackers were cheap and nasty.

In the US, the land of a million court cases, Lockheed Martin is suing Howmet Aerospace over the supply of titanium forgings and raw materials used in the manufacture of the F-35. For months Howmet have been warning Lockheed that it needed a big increase in prices as the cost of raw titanium on the world market had leapt due to the war in Ukraine. Lockheed refused to pay more so Howmet just stopped supplying them. Lockheed claim that Howmet are in breach of contract, while Howmet claim that the contract doesn’t force them to sell parts at a loss. It will be interesting to see exactly what the court makes of these arguments.

Tilbury Riverside Station used to serve the ferry boats and ships that docked at Tilbury, perhaps it is best known as the port where the Empire Windrush docked. But as passenger numbers dropped British Rail (as it was then) campaigned to close the station. Trains from London to Southend used to branch off the mainline to call at Tilbury Riverside which was a terminal station and was located at the point of a V-shaped line where one leg of the ‘V’ carried trains to and from London and the other served trains to and from Southend. In 1992 the station was closed only after BR promised a rail replacement bus service that would operate at the same level as the train service it was replacing. Today that rail replacement bus service is still available and if you buy a train ticket to Tilbury Riverside the nearest station is Tibury Town where you can show your train ticket to the driver of the number 99 bus for a free ride to Tilbury Riverside. The port is currently used by huge cruise ships and I bet Network Rail wish they had never closed the station and ripped up the track.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Tilbury Riverside was closed in 1992.
Former Tilbury Riverside station (geograph 4149459),
Robin Webster
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The Russian military and the American military have different concepts for protecting ground troops from air attack. The Russians use a layered defence of various missile systems embedded with the ground forces while the Americans use air power to protect their ground troops. But in the Ukraine war the Russian antiaircraft missile system seems to have a problem hitting the drones being used by the Ukrainians to drop bombs on them or to direct artillery fire on them. Why? Well, it is explained by Prof. Sergey Makarenko of St. Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI” the author of the 193-page report entitled ‘Countering Unmanned Air Vehicles’. In it, he explains that Russian radar systems are optimised to detect US jets and that drones are usually so small they are ignored. The Russians seem to have some work to do.

I read of a 69-year-old man, with a prostate problem, who stopped in a lay-by on the A41, near Kings Langley, because he was desperate for a pee. Having finished he got back in his car only for someone to knock on his driver’s window. It was a council enforcement officer, and the driver was given an £88 fine for ‘littering’. Dacorum Borough Council, which covers the area, said, “Urination is classified as litter by the Environmental Protection Act 1990,” and that if he didn’t pay within 14 days the fine could increase to £2,500. The council said if he could prove it was a medical emergency, they could review the fine. The man has now paid his GP £30 for a letter explaining his condition and is awaiting the council’s decision.

Arsenal Football Club supporters seem to be of the opinion that when Arsenal paid West Ham £105 million in the summer for Declan Rice it was an underpayment, as he is playing so well. They have set up a ‘Go Fund Me’ page to raise £25 million to give to West Ham as an additional payment. Who says football fans don’t have a sense of humour?

You probably remember that earlier this year Wilko Stores went bust. But what has happened to its old stores? Well, the rights to the name were bought by a company called CDS Stores who operate as ‘The Range’. CDS has already launched online and is selling Wilko-branded goods in The Range stores. It also intends to open 40 Wilko stores by the end of the next year, the first two of which have already opened in Exeter and Plymouth and the third is due to open in Luton before the end of this week. Poundland has snapped up 72 of the old stores but obviously these are all in towns where it is not already represented. Another chain, One Beyond, has opened three old Wilko stores and is looking at 10 more. It has been a similar story for B&M who have acquired 52 branches with their first rebranded store opening this week. All these companies have been reluctant to issue lists of where their rebrands will be opening. However, my scribe tells me that the Wilko’s outlet in Worthing’s Guildborne Centre is currently being refurbished and will open as a B&M in early January.


Gosh it’s wet and windy this morning, it’s absolutely horrible out there. My duty feeder this morning was one who likes to put the radio on. I must admit I was only half listening to someone who was talking about Rhino Neal who had died, and I wondered what zoo this had happened in. It was only when they started on about him being in the film “Paper Moon” that I realised they were actually just badly pronouncing Ryan O’Neal.

So, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves has been to Babcock’s Rosyth and as good as told them that they will either get an order for Type 32 frigates (for which there is no design and no money in the Royal Navy budget) or a second batch of 6 x Type 31 frigates, (no money for it, but at least there is a design). Oh yes, I note Rosyth is surrounded by three marginal SNP constituencies, do I see a political bribe?

Lockheed have been working with P&W to upgrade the F135 engine the F-35A and F-35C jets use. A modern jet engine not only has to output loads of thrust, but it needs to be able to drive a generator to produce loads of power for all the electronic equipment the warplane needs. With airborne laser weapons on the way and needing a lot of electrical power, together with updated Radar and communications, all would benefit from a more powerful engine. But more power would also make the F-35 faster, more agile and capable of flying higher. I suspect they will start putting the new engine in new builds first before retrofitting older planes. However, I do wonder if the British F-35Bs will benefit from the new engine as it uses a different version, the F135-600 for vertical flight. We shall see.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
P&W F135.
Lockheed-Martin X-35B, P&W F135,
Clemens Vastersis
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Next year, for the first time, you will be able to apply for a license to catch Atlantic bluefin tuna in U.K. waters. It will not be like that TV programme where boats race out of US east coast ports to try to land giant bluefin tuna and sell them for thousands of dollars. The British licenses will be for sport only on a catch-and-release basis. I have always wondered what the point of catching fish is if you don’t eat it.

As part of the EU free movement rules EU citizens from the Schengen Area could come to England using ID cards. However, on leaving the EU we changed the rules so that everyone had to have a passport. Unfortunately, this has had an unexpected side effect in that has reduced the number of students learning English making cross-channel visits. Instead, they have been going to other English-speaking nations Ireland and Malta. The new Home Secretary is changing the rules on 1st January and students from the EU, EFTA and Switzerland who are under 18 and studying English will be allowed to enter the country using their ID cards.

I read that the Ukrainians have issued the US with a wish list of what arms they would like to acquire. I don’t have any idea of numbers of each item they would like, but according to Forbes magazine this is what they want.

  • F/A-18 multirole fighters
  • F-16 multirole fighters
  • AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
  • C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes
  • C-130 Hercules cargo planes
  • UH-60 Blackhawk transport helicopters
  • M1 Abrams tanks
  • MQ-9 and MQ-1C UAVs
  • THAAD air defence systems

That is quite a shopping list and I am certain they won’t get all of it, in fact they might not get any of it!

In Canada they have been examining the fossil of a gorgosaur, an earlier relative of tyrannosaurus rex, that lived 75 million years ago. This particular fossil was of a youngster who was only about seven years old when it died, and the scientists have no idea what killed it. However, an adult gorgosaur was a ferocious animal known to hunt and kill other dinosaurs, but what young gorgosaurs ate has long been questioned as their jaws were not developed enough to kill the big dinosaurs the adult preyed on. The scientists investigating this fossil have found that its stomach contained the remains of two small dinosaurs about the size of a modern turkey. However, it appears not to have eaten the whole little dinosaurs, but just the drumsticks. I suppose it’s a bit like people today who only want chicken drumsticks in their takeaway from KFC.

I am finished for yet another week. Although it’s lovely and sunny out in the street it’s freezing cold out there and that bloody great tree has left my windowsill in the shade so I will not be going out there this afternoon. Like the last few weeks, it’s going to a comfy chair in reception where I can keep toasty by the open fire. See you all next week.

© WorthingGooner 2023