Hi folks, well that was a bit of a wild night here in London, but it looks to have been a lot worse in the North and I have heard on the radio that many places are without power and in some places repair workers were withdrawn because the weather was so bad. Still, it is definitely not so cold so that’s a bit of an improvement.
The first news this week comes from the USA where Ron DeSantis has decided to drop out of the race to be nominated as the Republican presidential candidate and asked his supporters to back Trump. After just one primary, in which he was hammered by Trump, he has become the second leading player to see the writing on the wall. Tomorrow is the vote in New Hampshire and of the original front runners only Trump and Nikki Haley remain. If Haley drops out, will they bother with the rest of the Republican primaries?
With the coming closure of the last two blast furnaces in the U.K. we will be losing our ability to make virgin steel which is needed for many major projects. Instead, we will be making steel using an electric arc furnace to melt scrap and remake steel of a poor quality. The resulting steel might be all right for making car bodies but not for nuclear reactors. The steel for the reactor vessels at Hinkley is being made in France and Germany and the main containment vessel fabricated in France and assembled on-site by the same French manufacturer. This is the sort of problem we are going to be hitting more regularly in the future, we will be reliant on foreign nations for steel for power stations, warships, tanks and chemical works. What a state we have got ourselves into by going along with the EU plan of moving heavy industry to the eastern countries and turning us into a nation of service industries.
The really cold spell in the US and Canada has been causing electric vehicle drivers lots of problems. EV batteries lose power as the temperature drops and many people are finding the range of the car has been substantially reduced. In some places owners have been having to queue up for up to five hours to plug in. I was reading of a man in Chicago where the temperature has fallen to below zero fahrenheit who had left his car plugged in overnight and when he came to use it in the morning the battery charge still indicated zero. I understand that when an EV gets to such a low it needs to be transported on a low loader to a specialist to be recharged (they can’t be towed). What is going to happen to all those dead EVs when the low loaders are also battery-powered?
While on the subject of EVs, you will probably remember that last week I told you about Hertz dumping 2,000 Teslas from its fleet. Over the weekend I learned that they are not alone. Europe’s biggest car hire company Sixt are following suit and dumping EVs. Why? I hear you ask. The answer is that they don’t make the company money. Customers are reluctant to hire them because of range fear and because they are expensive to repair, even after the slightest bump, insurance is awful. But it’s not just rental companies. I hear that London’s biggest private hire cab company Addison Lee are dumping a fleet of 1,000 Volkswagen iD4s. In their case the problem has been charging the vehicles. Only 20% of their drivers have the availability of a home charger, many live in flats and terrace houses. Addison Lee thought they would install banks of fast chargers at their depots and the drivers could recharge there. What they didn’t expect was getting planning permission to install a bank of fast chargers at one depot would take over 18 months!
One of the surprising effects of London’s Elizabeth Line is the downfall of Waterloo Station as London’s busiest, and its replacement at number one by Liverpool Street which handled over 80 million passengers last year. Waterloo, number one for many years, has fallen to number three and several other stations on the Elizabeth Line have entered the list of London’s busiest stations, with Tottenham Court Road now at number seven having come from nowhere and Farringdon in at nine up from 38th. All the top ten London stations handled more passengers than any station outside of London.
I hear an odd story about buses on London’s number 18 bus route. Passengers are complaining that buses often do not stop to pick up passengers, instead sailing straight past passengers at bus stops. The passengers have complained to TfL who say that buses only miss stops when they are full. Photos taken of buses passing without stopping clearly show empty seats on the top deck. TfL say drivers are authorised to pass stops if the lower deck is full, which is clearly ridiculous. Passengers say they have been told by bus inspectors that drivers are under pressure to miss stops to keep to the timetable.
It’s slowly getting lighter a little earlier in the mornings and not so cold today. I see we are expecting a second ‘named storm’ today up North, the 10th of the season. Lefty man on LBC early asks weather person, “Is this global warming?” and gets told, “It could be, but we only had two last year and they were both in August.” The storm naming year runs from 1st September to the 31st August. Oh, and we only started naming storms in 2015!
An announcement at the weekend from Ford about the electric F150 pickup. When it was launched about a year ago Ford were certain it was going to be a huge success and launched production with three x eight-hour shifts per day. It was not long before Ford realised that its sales were not keeping up with production so one of the three shifts was quietly dropped. Over the weekend Ford dropped the second shift, reducing production to a single eight-hour shift. It looks like yet another pointer to the lack of demand for EVs.
I hear that Princess Cruises had come up with a novel way of screwing more money out of passengers. Like many other companies in the Carnival Group, they have recently moved their ships over to Elon Musk’s Starlink internet. Not only has this offered a much faster onboard internet connection (about 70Mbs), but it also is much more reliable and cheaper for the company. But Princess has just told travel agents that as of the end of this month the price of the internet is going up from $14.99 a day to $24.99 a day, a 65% increase. However, if you wish to avoid the increase you can buy a ‘Plus’ package that includes a drinks package and unlimited wi-fi for $60 a day which is staying the same price.
Did you see the collision between the two Royal Navy minesweepers in Dubai? The press clearly bought the story that the two ships crashed into each other when one was tied up alongside and not going anywhere and the second clearly went into it going backwards. Now I read that the manoeuvring ship had its engine rewired recently and that when it was put in full ahead it went full astern. When two naval ships collide the captains usually get a court martial. In this case I suspect both will be found not guilty, one was tied up alongside and clearly not going anywhere and the second had been wrongly repaired and, on the video, you can clearly hear the order “full ahead” being issued and the ship going backwards instead.
IAG the Spanish quoted owners of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling has told the Spanish Government that it is going to invest €6 billion in Spain over the next five years. Apparently €400 million of this is to be spent on purchasing the 80% of Mallorca-based Air Europa that it doesn’t already own. Air Europa has hubs in Madrid, Mallorca and Tenerife and operates 44 aircraft, 19 Boeing 737s, and 25 Boeing 787s. The Spanish Government appears to be very much in favour of this deal which will see the Air Europa brand continue to operate as a division of Iberia. As a reward for completing the deal Air Europa is set to be awarded several routes from Spain to the Far East.
So according to the Limp Dumps media machine, their organisation is going to fall behind its leader Sir Ed Davey and support him after a ‘difficult week’. The ‘difficult week’ was caused by his inaction over the Horizon scandal when he was Post Office minister. Sir Ed (wasn’t that a horse?) has been missing since the revelation, being too much of a coward to even appear at PMQs. This is the man who has called for the resignation of anyone who has ever put a foot wrong and seems to be unwilling to do what he wants everyone else to do. Perhaps the Limp Dumps will fall in behind him, but they will have to find him first.
I hear that Cyprus is on the verge of a massive row with the EU. Most of the electricity in Cyprus is generated from oil and they are under threat of big fines from the EU if they don’t reduce CO2 by June. To this end, Cyprus has been working on the conversion of its power generation system to natural gas, but of course there is no indigenous supply, and it will have to be imported. There are three power stations in Cyprus; Dhekalia, Moni and the newest plant Vasilikos. Both Dhekalia and Moni are utilising oil-fired boilers, but Vasilikos is a CCGT station that currently burns oil distillates. However, its latest 160Mw unit has been designed to burn NG which, as I write this, is still not on the island. The plan was to build a jetty and NG reception and storage facility next to Vasilikos PS and pipe gas into the three power plants. This was all supposed to be in place by 2021, but things have not gone to plan. The jetty is not yet finished (now scheduled for July), the conversion of Dhekalia is still not done and the gas distribution pipelines have still not been commissioned and Vasilikos can’t be converted to gas because there isn’t any! It sounds like the sort of thing that happens in the U.K.
It was a bit wet here in London overnight, but we have missed all the high winds of the North and Scottishland. It is bright and sunny and a little warmer again today. The radio tells me The Don had another big win in New Hampshire overnight. Obviously as I am writing this the final result is not in, only 91% of the vote has been counted but Trump has over 54% of the vote.
The Royal Mail wants to kill off Saturday deliveries, saying that in the past few years’ letters posted have fallen from 21 billion a year to 7 billion a year and they are losing money. But is this why they are losing money? If we go back to when the Post Office was privatised it was making money, but due to an EU directive it had to be split up and then opened up for competition. This led to all the profitable bits being sold off, the rise of the likes of DPD and all the other competing parcel delivery companies. The Post Office now is split from Royal Mail and what was the telephone system and Royal Mail still has an obligation to deliver mail to every household in the nation, six days a week for the price of a stamp. So, when the post stops being delivered on a Saturday the people to blame are the EU.
It looks like Germany power generators are about to get a bonanza of orders for gas-fired CCGT power stations. To appease the green lobby the government ordered the closure of nuclear power stations and the rundown of coal. But this has led to a problem with the green alternatives being intermittent and there being a shortage of base generators. Hence the government wants to commission 24Gw of gas-fired CCGTs. Of course, this is also a problem in that they no longer have a supply of cheap gas from Russia. It looks like the Krauts have got themselves into a right pickle.
It seems that Morrisons head office staff have not been happy with the way the company implemented what they called a four-day week. Under the previous scheme they had been working 40 hours made up of 5 x 8-hour days but the scheme brought in 4 years ago reduced working hours to 37.5 a week. This was to be 4 x 9-hour days plus one 7-hour day once a month on a Saturday. Saturdays were introduced to help support store management but were never popular. The new agreement means head office staff will now work 4.5 days a week still making 37.5 hours but with no Saturday working.
For the sixth year running the most popular colour for new cars is the same. For some unknown reason people have been rushing to buy grey cars and I have no idea why, it’s a boring colour. It is also the favourite colour for carpets in offices. Personally, I like just about any colour car except boring grey and I rather like the trend of having a different colour car roof to body.
I see Gordon Ramsey has been getting it in the ear over his £65 roast beef Sunday lunch at the Savoy. The problem seems to be that for the high cost the portion is very small. Just two slices of beef, a couple of carrots and parsnips, three roasties and a tiny Yorkshire pudding. People generally complained that they would be better off going to a Toby Carvery which would be much cheaper and give you a bigger choice of veg and a huge Yorkshire pudding. I would be happy with just a pile of the beef and some gravy!
Two Christmases ago Marks & Spencer took Aldi to court over them copying the M&S light-up bottle of gin with added gold flakes turning it into something like a snow globe. M&S won, and the judge ordered German supermarket chain Aldi to halt sales and destroy their stock. This reminds me of the caterpillar cake saga. Today Aldi appealed the decision. What took them so long, I have no idea, but I will try to find out the result of the appeal for you.
Good morning everyone, it is a little damp this morning, not pouring with rain, but drizzly and horrible. Still, it is staying a bit warmer in the capital city. I see that a boss of the Army was bemoaning the size of the Army yesterday and saying that we need to train a citizen’s army if we were ever to go to war with Russia. Well of course a load of lefties took it that he wanted a return to conscription and a war against Russia when that was not what he said at all. The Rich Boy was not very happy and put out a statement saying he had no intention of reintroducing conscription. Mind you, from what I understand most of my readers would be too old and unfit to be in the Army, that certainly applies to my scribe.
On Saturday a Delta Airways Boeing 757 with 180 passengers and six crew at Atlanta airport taxied out to the runway to fly to Bogotá, Colombia. As it sat at the end of the runway the nose wheel fell off and rolled off down the runway. Fortunately, no one on board was hurt. The American NTSB is investigating the incident and as yet it is not known if the problem is with the plane’s design or its maintenance. I’m sure we will find out soon.
In an effort to save money, Brighton Council have turned off all its parking machines and put up notices that say you must pay for parking using a mobile phone app. The council say this will save them £220,000 a year, which is peanuts. But what about people who don’t have smartphones, how do they pay? Lots of OAPs don’t have or need a smartphone but use a car to drive into Brighton. In addition, people don’t always visit the same city or towns and many councils contract with different parking app suppliers meaning, maybe, half a dozen different apps on one phone and utter confusion.
Showbiz paedophile Gary Glitter is once again up for a parole hearing. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and was originally let out on parole when he had served a third of the sentence. But obviously there were conditions like staying away from children and schools but he broke the conditions when he was found to have been searching the internet for nude pictures of children and automatically sent back to continue his sentence. Now he has served half the sentence and is once again up for parole. How could anyone in their right mind let such a monster out of prison? Glitter is 79, with any luck he will die in prison.
United Airlines are growing a little frustrated with Boeing over the 737. United are a major buyer of the Boeing 737 range and have 79 Max 9 that have been grounded for a week now following the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout. Of course, this is only the latest in a long run of what Boeing has started calling ‘quality escapes’. Apparently a ‘quality escape’ is something that has not been found by a quality inspection. United have 200 Boeing 737 Max 10 on order and options on a further 277 and have been muttering about reorganising their fleet without the Max 10. This is partly because of the ‘quality problem’ and partly because the Max 10 programme is running years late and is still nowhere near being certified. I suppose United could cancel the order, but the only alternative is the Airbus A320neo family of planes, but there is such a huge backlog of orders for the A320 that an order for it is hardly likely. I think this is just United trying to squeeze Boeing.
By August next year all the buses in Reading are planned to be battery-operated, but this is costing an estimated £90 million. A new diesel double-decker costs around £250,000 while a new battery double-decker costs double that, £500,000. The fleet manager says the cost of fuel offsets the extra cost, but he didn’t mention the cost of installing over 100 fast chargers in the bus garage. Not only that, but I hear the draw on the grid will be the same as 16,000 houses and arrangements have had to be made to supply additional power into the town for the bus chargers to work. I wonder who is paying for that? I bet that’s not part of the £90 million.
Apparently, the Ukraine is pleased with the performance of the Storm Shadow/Scalp cruise missiles supplied to them by us and the French. They have been firing them alongside US-supplied unarmed decoy missiles that are aimed at fooling the Russians into firing at the more visible decoy while the Storm Shadow gets a clear run at the target, or that’s the idea. The French have just given Ukraine an additional 40 Scalp missiles but from what I understand there are not a lot more to spare in France or the U.K. Anyway, Ukraine has also asked for German Taurus cruise missiles, but Germany has said no. So, as a possible way around this we are proposing buying Taurus missiles from the Germans and supplying Ukraine with an equal number of Storm Shadow missiles, it is not clear if these would be newly manufactured or old RAF stock. I wonder if the Germans will play along with this subterfuge?
I am feeling a little happier this morning, it is sunny, dry and a bit warmer, maybe I can have my first windowsill experience of the year. I had a little chuckle when I saw pictures of the Japanese moon lander that explains why it has not been working and communicating since it landed. It is upside down and seems to be sitting on its head, that explains a lot. It doesn’t look like it crashed into the moon’s surface headfirst as it doesn’t appear to be badly damaged, but it is more likely it flipped over on landing. I wondered who took the photo and it looks like it was a tiny ball-shaped rover that was on the lander.
More on the two Liebore Brighton councillors expelled by the local party for not complying with the rules for being a councillor anywhere, namely not living in the town. It seems that they continue to sit as independent councillors, but the council itself has so far failed to eject them. But things are at least appearing to move, there is a now police investigation and the council’s Standards Committee is investigating one case of an anonymous councillor not having an address in the city when elected and a second case of misconduct for not answering official emails sent to their Brighton Council email address. Both councillors were candidates imposed on the local party by the national party and both are said to have lived in Leicester at the time. One now claims to have an address in Brighton but not within her constituency. Things seem to be moving in Brighton, but very slowly, like the traffic.
Do you like Indian butter chicken curry? I hear of a case in the Indian High Court where two restaurants are contesting which one invented butter chicken. One has started using the slogan ‘Home of the Original Butter Chicken’ and the other objects, as they say they were the real inventors and want damages amounting to $240,000. Like all things in Indian law, the case is moving exceedingly slowly, and the next hearing isn’t until May. Personally, I like the chicken but could do without the sauce!
I read that the British motor manufacturers managed to produce over 1,000,000 vehicles last year for the first time since before Covid. This was more than predicted. Now I hear that we should not expect the motor industry to repeat the number this year. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s to do with the enforced move to EVs. But all I can say is predictions are there to be beaten.
I understand that last year 48% of social housing in London went to a family where the head of the family was not born in the U.K. No wonder London is changing so fast. Add that to the fact that we had nearly 759,000 immigrants entered the country last year and only 200,000 houses were built. What is going on in this country? We native British, and I count myself as one, are being overwhelmed.
On a similar subject I hear the lawyer who has been representing that Shamima Begum woman is to stand against Liebore in the next general election in Tower Hamlets. What amazes me is that he is standing on a pro-Palestinian ticket. In fact, he is one of a current 30 who will be standing in Liebore seats where there is a high percentage of Muslim voters who in the past have solidly voted Liebore. I understand that they have told the Liebore party they will stand down if the party announces they are in favour of an immediate Israeli ceasefire in Gaza. So, in effect, these people are standing on a single policy which has no chance of being successful and are not considering representing their constituents on anything else.
According to the latest report, last year the City of London regained the title of the world’s top financial city pushing New York into second place. The previous year London and New York tied for first place. Who remembers the dire warnings from the Remainers who desperately warned us that London would lose its number one position to Frankfurt or Paris or Dublin, whichever was flavour of the day, hundreds of thousands of jobs would be lost and the City of London and Canary Wharf would become ghost towns. Well, I can confidently announce it was all bollocks!
When I first got up this morning it was quite cloudy and grey, but not at all cold. But while I was eating my Felix the sun came out, first weakly and then quite strongly. I decided to have a quick patrol up and down Downing Street before I got down to the serious business of the day. It was quite warm with the sun on me and I was sorely tempted to go and sit on the windowsill, but I am paid to be chief mouser so I got the nice policeman to let me in by meowing loudly at the door.
I hear that here in London the capital’s busiest tube line, the Central Line, is in trouble and not likely to get much better very soon. Two problems have hit them at the same time, and they may not be unconnected. There is currently a £500 million ‘improvement programme’ in hand, and this means that five of the lines 78 trains are withdrawn for 10 weeks at a time to rebuild them, part of which includes replacing the DC traction motor with new AC motors. Once rebuilt the trains must be re-certified for public service. The first batch were withdrawn in November and the first returned to service, but it was found to be so bad it was returned to the workshop for more work. Train number two is not now expected back until August! However, the DC motors on the existing trains keep failing and on some days the line has been running with only 50% of the 78 trains needed available. It has been suggested the overcrowding has led to the motors failing. The five trains being worked on are in various stages of ‘improvement’ and a sixth train is in such a poor condition that it has been taken to Acton works by road as it is so bad it can’t travel by rail!
Thurrock Council thought it had found a way of making easy money and invested £1.4 billion in 53 solar farms, believing the ‘green’ propaganda about renewable energy. The only problem was that it was all bollox. The council is now £1.3 billion in debt and its electrical company, Toucan Energy Holdings, has entered administration with the council as its principal creditor. The administrator has sold off the solar farms for £700 million which should now go to the council to reduce its debt. This sounds like a repeat of Nottingham Council and its Robin Hood energy venture. When will these councils learn they are not investment companies?
Back to the story of the Boeing Max 9 that’s door plug fell off. Boeing seem to have been busy trying to pass the blame on to Spirit Aerostructures who made the fuselage. But today a whistle-blower at Boeing has said that for some reason Boeing mechanics removed the plug on the production line and they didn’t reinstall it properly. There is a second item regarding the design. When the opening is an emergency exit the door is designed to be lifted up out of its retaining lugs by the opening mechanism. With a door plug this is stopped from happening by retaining bolts, but in this case the bolts weren’t fitted so the mechanism lifted the plug out of the retaining lugs as designed. So, the ball appears to be firmly back in Boeing’s field with both the poor design and the missing bolts. I bet Airbus are pouring the Champagne this afternoon.
An odd story reaches me from Kenya where it’s being reported that fewer Zebra are being killed by lions than in the past. It’s a complicated story as to why, but here goes. Lions like to hide in acacia when hunting Zebra, but in recent years there have been fewer and fewer of them. It seems elephants like to knock down acacia to eat, but the acacia ant lives in the tree and stings elephants’ trunks and protects the trees. However bigheaded ant have been increasing their range across East Africa and they also like to live in acacia, and they kill off the resident acacia ants. The problem is they don’t attack the elephants and the elephants knock down and eat the trees, removing the lions’ cover much to the zebra’s delight.
Another London bus burst into flames on Wednesday. That’s three of the same type spontaneously combusting in a fortnight. Sad Dick’s TfL are trying to get people to use electric buses, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to travel on one. I wonder if TfL are going to bite the bullet and withdraw the whole fleet of 360 of the same type? I don’t know if three buses from a fleet of 360 bursting into flames in two weeks is unusual, but it seems a lot to me.
A woman in Shanghai, China has left £2.2million to care for her cats and dogs in her will. As it is not legal to leave the money directly to the pets in China, she has altered her will to leave the money to an animal sanctuary that has promised to care for her pets for the rest of their lives. Apparently when she was ill recently her adult family couldn’t be bothered to visit her, but the animals kept her company, so she has written the family out and the pets into her will.
I’m done for the week. There are still some nice sunny spells out there this afternoon and it’s quite nice in the sun, so I’m going to try the windowsill again, I can curl up and catch some rays. It’s very good for you to be in the sun and fresh air. I hope to be back with you all again next week.
© WorthingGooner 2024