Larry’s Diary, Week Two Hundred And Eighteen


Hi folks, I’m back! Now my scribe has returned from his cruise it’s back to business for your favourite cat diarist. I have had a very pleasant Christmas and New Year break in a pretty empty Number 10. It’s only this morning that the office seems to be back to normal with lots of people in. The Rich Boy has hardly been around, but the feeder rota has held up well and the Christmas feeder gave me Chicken Felix with Cat Treats sprinkled on the top! Then on Boxing Day the feeder brought me in some slices of Turkey from their own Christmas bird. It made a really nice change to have fresh meat.

Well, down to the stories, as usual there was a disaster over Christmas, this time it was the Japanese earthquake. But that’s an old story so I’ll skip over that and for my first story I read that as the Russian/Ukrainian war continues the Russians have been losing naval tonnage at a similar rate to which it has been building it. Of course, both the Royal Navy and the Italian Navy lost more ships than they gained last year. But the differences were in the latter twos’ case it was planned, while the Russians had planned to expand their fleet, but lost the ships to the Ukraine that doesn’t have a working navy.

More news on the ill-fated Boeing 737 Max series. This time an emergency exit door plug failed at 16,000 feet on a 737 Max9. The Max9 is the largest version of the 737 Max series currently in service, and as such needs an additional mid-fuselage emergency exit if the operator has chosen to fit the maximum number of seats possible. But of the 11 operators of the Max9, five have had the emergency exit installed and five have opted for the door plug and one has both types in its fleet. To ‘optimise production’ (in other words make it as cheap as possible) all Max9 are built with the emergency exit and the body of the aircraft is reinforced around it. But if the purchaser doesn’t specify the maximum seats, they can choose to have a fixed plug installed instead. In theory this is better than the general fuselage as the area has been strengthened for the emergency exit but obviously something had gone seriously wrong as the plug fell out of this Alaska Airlines plane. More trouble for Boeing with the 171 Max9 all grounded until rule safe.

My personal favourite story of the weekend is that the Tramp is considering setting up his own political party in opposition to the Labour Party. I haven’t heard what he wants to call the group yet, but it will obviously include ‘Socialist’ somewhere in its name. But the speculation of potential party members is highly predictable and includes Old MacDonald and Diane Abbott, plus other notable extreme left-wingers. Of course, the party will be pro-Palestinian to try to make use of the current large numbers of students and young people who are regularly marching in their support.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
A new party?
Jeremy Corbyn – Caricature,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

BT has a cunning plan! They have just announced they have plans to convert those green distribution boxes you see on many streets into EV charging points. I suppose that as they move people over to digital phones over fibre the old distribution boxes for copper cables are no longer required, and gutting them out and turning them into charging points makes sense. As we are miles behind in installing the numbers of street chargers necessary to meet the pie-in-the-sky predictions for EVs, adding a predicted 50,000 by converting distribution boxes looks logical. But I wonder how much it will cost, do we have the generating capacity and are the green boxes where they are needed?

I see Sad Dick has caved in to the RMT over the Tube strikes and has found more money for a wage increase for them. Reports say he has found £30 million down the back of the sofa and this week’s threatened strikes have been called off for negotiations. But has Sad Dick solved one problem only to drop himself in it. The problem is that other TfL unions had accepted the 5% that Sad Dick said was all they could afford and when the RMT refused the 5% and took industrial action they found more money. This has now meant that the other unions feel they were lied to and want to reopen the wage negotiations that had been settled for. I wonder where the £30 million came from and how much more he will now need to find to appease the other unions, ASLEF have already said that “Now Khan has found the magic money tree we want a 12% increase.”

Once again, the sales of EVs flat lined in December. The sales of cars for the month once again showed an increase in petrol car sales and battery car sales falling on a rising market. The only EVs that had a good year were mild hybrids which often have tiny batteries that are capable of propelling the car for around 30 miles before automatically switching to a conventional ICE engine. However, many people buying such petrol or diesel mild hybrids never use the battery power but rely on petrol all the time. Why people spend the extra money on buying a hybrid, dragging around the additional weight of the battery and getting awful MPG I will never know. But what is interesting is that the majority of EVs are bought by businesses who get a financial benefit, since private buyers lost the EV subsidy very few buy them. That goes to show what the general public thinks of EVs.


Gosh it’s cold today, there was even a little snow on the grass in the garden left over from yesterday. At least it’s going to be dry for the next few days, with no more snow. I think snow is worse than rain, it is freezing cold and then when it melts you get your fur wet just like rain.

A bit more on the Boeing 737 Max9 has emerged overnight. Airlines operating the Max9 with the emergency exit plug have found loose bolts that hold the plug in place on six more planes. The share prices of Boeing and the subcontractor, Spirit, who actually make the fuselage, crashed yesterday. Golly does Boeing have problems, I would not like to be an investor in either company.

The fuss over the sub-postmasters and the Horizon computer system is the gift that goes on giving for the media. Why did it take an ITV drama to make it front-page news? Years and years ago the trade magazine Computer Weekly and Private Eye had the story and were pushing it hard, it even got picked up by Panorama. Then some years back, the Government fell in on the scandal and three compensation schemes were set up and over £700 million has already been paid out in compensation to some of the sub-postmasters who have had their convictions quashed. The real scandal is why all 700+ of those convicted have not yet had their convictions quashed and been compensated. There are also people who were found not guilty but still lost everything defending themselves, they should be compensated. But I wonder why the software house that produced the Horizon system is not being involved in the compensation scheme, did they know the software was faulty or were they pushed into releasing a duff, untested program by the Post Office? Why did the PO continue prosecuting people when they knew the system was bugged? Why did the PO keep telling sub-postmasters that they were the only ones with money missing when there were another 700? The judicial inquiry is due to report in the summer, perhaps we will know then.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
I haven’t seen Private Eye in years.
Private Eye. I’m sorry I haven’t a clue,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The Taiwanese airline Eva Air is the latest airline to place orders for Airbus planes. Any order for Airbus is good for British industry with all Airbus wings being made in the U.K. and Rolls-Royce supplying the jet engines for the A350 range. The order for 18 long-range A350-1000 wide-body planes and 15 mid-range A320neo single-aisle jets injects many millions into U.K. industry and the U.K. exchequer. If I had been thinking of ordering new planes for an airline, I would have thought twice about purchasing from Boeing considering the problems they have. To sell planes I suspect they have to substantially undercut the Airbus price, but to produce cheap planes they must use the cheapest subcontractors and that means you are flying planes made on the cheap!

I’m sorry to return to an old story, but I see little progress is being made in the conversion of the old GAA stadium at Casement Park into a football stadium for the Euro 28 finals. The stadium in Belfast is supposed to be Northern Ireland’s host ground for the event. But it has lain derelict for many years. The order to convert the GAA stadium into a modern 34,500-capacity football stadium was originally placed with a consortium of a British and a Northern Ireland company, but the British company went bust, meaning that the project has had to go out to tender again. In the meantime, the estimated cost has gone up from £77 million to £160 million and the British Government has stepped in to make up the shortfall in funding. I wonder if the stadium will be built in time for the competition, I will be keeping my eye on developments.

Today the Labour Party has launched a new policy (yes, yet another one), they are worried about all the children missing school and want to form a nationwide register of school children so they can get them all back to school. The claim is that many children got out of the habit of going to school during the Covid school closures and have never returned. But hold on a minute, wasn’t it Labour, in cahoots with the teaching unions, who were pushing for more and longer school Covid closures and calling out those who said that more damage would be done to children by closing schools than catching Covid which was very mild in children. Hypocrites.

My favourite story of the day is that Transport for London has had lots of disgruntled tourists turn up at Abbey Road Station only to find it is nowhere near the famous Abbey Road Studios and has had to put up notices telling passengers they are miles from where they should be. Abbey Road Station is on the Dockland Light Railway in East London, near West Ham. The famous Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded many tracks is in West London, near the Lords Cricket Ground. I suspect that many tourists were staying near to the studios and travelled miles out of their way to East London.


It was a late bedtime for your cat reporter last night as loads of people were in and out of Number 10. I wondered what was going on and sneaked a listen at the door. All I caught were odds and ends of conversations, but it seems they were discussing the Post Office Horizon scandal. I think that the Rich Boy is going to make a statement during PMQs. I did hear them planning possible responses to that Limp Dump guy who was the Post Office Minister who refused to meet the sub-postmasters and Lego Head who was the Director of Public Prosecutions who prosecuted several of them. I suggest they should be careful of what questions they ask as they might not like the answers they get!

Channel 4 is a little upset that the Government has appointed five new directors to their board and four of them are white. The chairman of the 15-person board is not happy because they are not meeting their diversity targets. Surely, they shouldn’t have diversity targets they should be appointing the best person for the job and not appointing people to represent some made-up percentage of black, white, brown, disabled, gay, lesbian and trans people. From what I see of Channel 4 programmes they seem to have a huge percentage of nudists on their programmes. Maybe they should promote one to their board.

I see that Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, has had a moan at Boeing over the failure of the emergency exit door plug on the Alaskan Airlines 737 Max9. But why? He has no Max9 aircraft in his huge Boeing 737 fleet and he doesn’t have any on order. There is not a single Max9 on the British, Irish or even EU register. His biggest European competitors Britain’s EasyJet and Hungarian Wizz Air both fly big fleets of Airbus A320s and have hundreds of the latest A320neo variants on order. I suspect that O’Leary, who has many of the smaller Max8 in service and has 150 firm orders for the yet-to-be-certified Max10 in place, is a little worried that all this bad publicity for Boeing will lose him customers to his rivals who don’t fly Boeings.

I hear of a major cock-up involving BAE Systems pensioners. At the beginning of August last year BAE moved the company’s pension administration from Equiniti to pension specialist Mercer. Unfortunately, both Equiniti and Mercer submitted a payroll run to HMRC which made it look like all pensioners had received a 100% increase in their pension where in fact they had only been paid once and it was a paperwork cock-up. However, it triggered HMRC into altering everyone’s tax code to recover tax on earnings that the system predicted would be due on the new predicted increased pension payments. Since August people have been paying double or more tax. I understand that BAE Systems and Mercer have been in contact with HMRC, and new tax codes are being issued and their tax should be back to normal at the end of this month. I suppose that as it is a function of PAYE, they will also be getting back the overpayment of Income Tax.

In 2017 South Western Railways ordered 90 new class 701 Aventra trains to be supplied by Bombardier (now Alstom). The first trains were due to go into service two years later but missed the target by a fair bit. In fact, the first train started running a test service yesterday. The single train is running four return services to Windsor and Eton Riverside each day, for four days a week. You won’t find the train on the public timetable as it is still a test, but the public can travel on it, if they can find it! But what of the other 89 trains that should have started entering service five years ago? Well about half have been accepted by SWR after having delivery fault fixed and are parked in sidings all over the region. However, the other half are still with the manufacturer having more serious faults fixed. This debacle has cost SWR £1 billion.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Class 701, hiding in a siding.
SWR Class 701,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The current holder of the title of the world’s largest cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Sea, has just taken on board its first permanent passenger. It not a human but a dog called ‘Rover’ and she is officially a member of the crew and is termed “Chief Dog Officer”. Her duties include patrolling the deck and greeting and entertaining passengers. But it is rumoured that Rover is actually a drug sniffer dog. At the moment she is little more than a golden Labrador pup but is growing fast and said to be very friendly. I wonder if they would like a “Chief Cat Officer” on the QM2? I rather fancy that ship, it is a bit more upmarket than the Icon of the Sea and I suspect the food on Cunard would be a lot better than on an American ship.

I hear that the BBC have successfully outbid Channel 4 to show 12 live Rugby League matches a year for the next three seasons. The matches are expected to be shown on BBC2 on a Saturday evening. It makes a change for the BBC to manage to outbid anyone for live sport output other than those matches reserved for terrestrial television like Wimbledon. Gone are the days when they showed Test cricket, the John Player League and horse racing on Saturday afternoon Grandstand. Of course, Sky have the rights to show all the other Rugby League games. It takes me back to the days of Eddie Waring and his distinctive commentary style.


Good morning people, it’s another lovely sunny morning, but gosh is it cold. My prediction of yesterday that the Rich Boy would have a scheme to exonerate the Horizon sub-postmasters proved correct. But the Limp Dump boss, Sir Ed Davey, chickened out of a confrontation and didn’t turn up for PMQs. Mind you it didn’t stop Lee Anderson having a go at him and his regular calls for anyone who has made the slightest mistake in office to resign. I bet Sir Ed doesn’t follow his own advice.

As many of you know I’m not a big McDonald’s fan, give me KFC any day. But I must report what I am hearing from the world of Ronald McDonald as I am sure many of you just love a Big Mac and fries. I understood that just before the start of Covid McDonalds introduced the Double Big Mac with four beef patties. But it quickly disappeared when many of the outlets closed for eating in and reduced their takeaway menu. It seems that McDonald’s have decided that now is the time to relaunch the Double Big Mac and it will become available again at the end of this month. I really don’t understand how anyone can eat anything that big.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Could you get your mouth around that?
A double Big Mac. What are people thinking?
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

I was delighted to read that the Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond has played a full part in shooting down Houthi drones and missiles aimed a shipping in the Red Sea. The Americans used three destroyers and planes from an aircraft carrier when 21 drones and anti-ship missiles were launched at them, but Diamond took out seven of the attacking force with its vertical launch Sea Viper missiles and deck guns. Nice to see the Royal Navy more than holding up its end and that our air defence missiles work. If I was a Houthi rebel, I would be scanning the sky very carefully for a bombing raid coming in from that aircraft carrier.

Following a teacher finding the door plug from the Boeing 737 Max9 in his back garden I read that two iPhones sucked out of the plane have also been found. What is surprising is that at least one of the phones was virtually undamaged and unlocked displaying a receipt from Alaska Airlines for two checked bags. I am amazed that a phone can fall from 16,000ft and not suffer a damaged screen, when if you drop it from a few feet the screen will shatter.

The unmanned private moonshot seems to have gone a little wrong with the Peregrine lander not being able to use its solar panels to power the craft. Instead, it looks set to wander in space forever or until it is destroyed by a meteorite! I understand part of the mission was to deliver the ashes of three Star Trek cast members to a final resting place on the moon. Now the remains of Dr McCoy, Scottie and Uhura are going to travel in space forever. Perhaps that is even better than being dumped on the moon.

The AUKUS agreement seems to be progressing well on many levels, not just the nuclear submarine project that is what the press would have you believe that. The three AUKUS members are actually cooperating on all defence matters. Some time ago the Canadians were reported as wanting to join the group and I hear discussions are ongoing particularly on nuclear submarines as the Canadian conventional fleet is in need of replacement. Today I hear that the New Zealand Government has made a tentative approach to join the group. This would never have happened under the old NZ Government, but it’s amazing what happens when you have a general election.

In the United States Hertz are selling off many of their Tesla 3 cars cheaply with a 2021 EV with 85,000 miles on the clock going for $20,000. Admittedly these cars have a high mileage, but they are cheap. So why are Hertz markedly reducing the size of their Tesla 3 fleet? Apparently, they are getting rid of 20,000 EVs. It seems that they are not happy with the number of breakdowns and the high cost of repairs. Not only that, but hirers of these EVs are particularly hard on them. I suggest that this is definitely a case of buyer beware.


Good morning all, another late night at Number 10 where first The Rich Boy was running around asking people if he should commit British forces to a US attack on Houthis. There was a COBRA meeting and a cabinet meeting, then finally after talking to all sorts of people including not only Tories, but the Liebore party, Mr Squeaker and Sniffer Joe, he decided to join in. In the end everyone was up late waiting to hear what happened to the Typhoons from Cyprus and did they get home OK. Anyway, now I’m up, it is not so cold this morning and it was Felix Beef for breakfast.

I hear that LBC are proudly announcing that they have signed up a new presenter, Carol Vorderman. Well, that’s another good reason for not listening to the radio station. It seems to me that to get a job at LBC these days you have to be a left-wing Labour supporter like Jobbie, Shelagh Fogarty or Andrew Marr. They do have one presenter, Nick Ferrari, who is not as bad as most of the others, but he can be a bit of a snowflake at times. Does LBC stand for Labour Broadcasting Company?

Labour has a new policy, supervising children brushing their teeth at school. Is this really a job for classroom supervisors and teachers? I think it’s really a job for parents to teach their children to brush their teeth in the morning and evening. The argument appears to be that people are so poor that they don’t own a toothbrush or toothpaste. If this is really true surely the answer is to give children free toothpaste and toothbrushes not to waste valuable school learning time on supervising the brushing at school. OK, spend a lesson on teaching how to brush teeth properly, use disclosure tablets to highlight plaque then clear it away with good brushing practice, but is it necessary to repeat this every day? What next, toilet training, how to use a knife and fork, forced vaccinations and how to get dressed?

J D Wetherspoon has announced a deal with Haven Holidays to open pubs at all 38 Haven Holiday parks. The first is due to open at Filey on the Yorkshire coast in March. Spoons is no stranger to going into partnerships with companies and organisations and opening pubs where you might not expect them. You can already find them in airport departure lounges, student unions and motorway service stations.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Is Spoons coming?
Haven’s Marton Mere Holiday Village,
Camping Holidays
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Kent County Council called off a public meeting in Hearn Bay just five minutes before it was due to begin because there were too many people there with a queue of over 100 waiting to get in. KCC have decided to introduce traffic calming measures, a one-way system and road closures in the centre of Hearn Bay which has upset many residents due to the lack of consultation. So, what is the KCC response, well it seems they call a meeting to discuss residents’ reactions to the changes only to call off the meeting because a lot of people disagree with the council.

So, it has emerged that the Post Office has paid out bonuses to investigators who got successful prosecutions in the Horizon software scandal. How anyone was ever found guilty when there was so little evidence I’ll never know. In no case did the Post Office find any of the supposedly missing money. It seems very odd to me that in over 900 prosecutions not a single £ of the supposed missing money was found, in fact the opposite was true, the sub-postmasters had been borrowing money, selling off assets and even cashing in pensions to try to balance the books. This is hardly the action of a master criminal stealing from the Post Office.

After five years of saying no, it finally looks like the Germans are no longer going to veto the Saudi order for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. The German Defence Minister has reportedly said they no longer see any grounds for opposing the British sale of the jet to the Saudis. The problem is that the Eurofighter is a joint company set up by the manufacturers’ nations and any partner companies’ government can veto an export sale to any nation. Manufacturing of the Typhoon is nearing the end of its production run and German aerospace companies have little to replace it with and the German unions have been pressing their government to change its stance. With an agreement to supply the Saudis in place, another export order for Turkey is looking very promising.


Well at least it’s sunny again this morning and it’s on my favourite windowsill now that a bloody tree has gone for chipping and will soon be mulch. But I don’t know if it will be anywhere near warm enough to sit outside. My little paws were quite cold when I got back from my trip down the garden. It was a KFC night last night with the Rich Boy not coming back here after his trip to Kiev. I wonder if they gave him chicken Kiev for his lunch?

I read that an American university has been using artificial intelligence to try to identify people by their fingerprints. At the moment, a thumbprint from someone cannot be accurately matched to a first fingerprint from the same person but the university says AI has been able to do so with 80% accuracy. Of course, this is not good enough for proof in a court, especially as the researchers don’t know how the AI program does it! But the research also seems to indicate that something that has been accepted for many years, that no two people have the same fingerprints, could well be wrong. That could lead to some interesting appeals.

I see that Airbus had a super December with 807 orders, taking their order backlog to nearly 8,500 aircraft. The 807 orders include an order for 144 A320neo family aircraft from an unnamed customer. Airbus also announced that they managed to surpass the annual sales target for the year. As they have opened an additional A320 family assembly in Southern France I suspect that the sales target will exceed the 2023 target.

It looks like Marks & Spencer is on the verge of overtaking Waitrose as the food supplier of choice for Britain’s middle class. In the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas M&S food sales were up by 12.1% taking them to just below Waitrose sales whose sales were also up but by only 3.6%. M&S have been closing more and more of its shops selling clothing and household goods and either converting them into food-only stores or opening new food-only stores in a strategy that appears to be working well. Even the smaller M&S stores which used only to sell M&S branded food now sell many of the big brands.

Have you ever been in a plane where the person in the seat in front of you suddenly reclines their seat, spilling your coffee or crushing your laptop? I understand that several long-haul airlines are looking at removing or restricting reclining seats in Economy. Virtually all of Europe’s short-haul airlines had already done so on flights of under four hours. On long-haul some airlines had already removed seats you can recline, replacing them with seats that are already in a fixed recline position of up to 8° and as I understand it many more are to follow. It is only in the premium classes, where you pay extra for a much greater seat pitch, that reclining seats are likely to remain and even then the amount of recline is likely to be reduced. It is looking like 2024 will be the year that sees the end of the reclining seat in Economy.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
No more reclining seats.
Go Flight,
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Earlier this week the government put out a paper talking about its ideas on nuclear power and net zero. At the moment they are committed to building Hinkley Point ‘C’ and the second similar large nuclear power station at Sizewell ‘C’ will almost certainly get the go-ahead later this year when the final funding is contractually committed. The paper says the government then intends to launch a third nuclear power station of the same size. These three stations would give us some 9.6 GW of nuclear power, but the paper says we would need a total of 24 GW of nuclear power by 2050, so just where is the additional 14.4 GW going to come from? Well, the hint is that this will be made up from small modular reactors of the type being developed by the likes of Rolls-Royce. Because these units are small and made on a production line in a factory, they could land up being built almost anywhere in the country so get ready for the complaints from the NIMBYS.

I hear that BT has failed to comply with the government instruction to remove all Huawei equipment from its network by 31st December last year. This was even though the deadline had been extended by 11 months at BT’s request. The government was worried that the Chinese manufacturer’s equipment could be used to spy on phone conversations. As I understand it, BT has removed the Chinese equipment from its 4G and 5G networks which 99% of calls are made on but the 2G and 3G still uses Chinese gear. Mind you some of the biggest uses of 3G are the gas and electric smart meters. I do wonder how much the Chinese are interested in our gas and electricity bills.

That’s me done for another week. Well, it’s still sunny out there, but it is too cold to snooze on my windowsill, so I will not be going out this afternoon. Instead, it’s going to my comfy chair in reception where and that lovely open fire. I hope you didn’t miss me too much while my scribe was away sunning himself and stuffing his face. I’ll be back with you all again next week.

© WorthingGooner 2024