Larry’s Diary – Week Two Hundred And Thirty-Two


Good morning readers and welcome to another week of my ramblings. And it is another horrible wet morning, quite a change from what was a lovely weekend. I did hope that spring had arrived. I was wrong. A very strange weekend in Israel with Iran launching what many people would consider war with Israel with 360 drones and missiles at them. I understand that only 1% of the launch got through, a handful of ballistic missiles that mainly fell in the desert. Only one person was injured, a 10-year-old girl. But it is odd to read that even Arab nations got involved with Israel’s defence including Jordan shooting down drones and Saudi Arabia providing intelligence.

BAE Systems are in pole position to sell four anti-submarine frigates to Norway. But there is a little problem that revolves around BAE’s capacities at its frigate factory on the River Clyde. The sale would be for 4 x Type 26 frigates very similar to those currently under construction at BAE’s Glasgow yard. It seems that there are only two yards still in the Norwegian competition, BAE and US yard Fincantieri Marinette Marine. It was revealed last week that BAE could deliver the first Type 26 to the MoD early, while the US yard is three years late with deliveries. I read that Norway has a very tight delivery schedule and this has put BAE in pole position. However, there is a small problem in that the first delivery for Norway comes in the middle of the eight-ship order for the Royal Navy. Apparently, BAE and the MoD are discussing making ship five the first Norwegian Ship and adding four ships to the end of the order so one RN ship would be on delayed delivery. Sounds like a plan to me.

While on the subject of US frigates, the four ships currently on order (Constellation Class) are the first frigates built by the US Navy for 35 years. Although the US did reclassify some of their smaller destroyers as frigates. While most navies in the world rely heavily on frigates, the Americans have considered this class of ship to be too small. At the moment only one US frigate is under construction and is supposed to be handed over in 2026 but three others have been ordered. However, the programme doesn’t seem to be going well.

What is going on in Australia? For the second time in three days someone has been stabbing and killing people. The first one has been described as mentally unstable and was running round stabbing mainly women in a Bondi shopping mall before being shot dead by a policewoman. Now someone has been arrested after stabbing a priest in church and injuring another three people. What is happening down there? Have they been taking lessons from London, or is someone putting something in the water?

In news from Ukraine, I hear that they have started to build a new nuclear power station. This new power plant will be in Khmelnytskyi which is in the far west of the country. The plant is to have two American Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, the first Ukrainian nuclear power plant to have anything but Russian reactors. However, at the same time Ukraine is importing two Russian-designed reactors in kit form from Bulgaria. It is claimed that it would normally take five years to build a 1,100MW AP1000 reactor in peacetime, but Ukraine has opted to take some heavy equipment that has already been manufactured. I would be surprised if it isn’t already on the Russian target list.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
An AP1000 Nuclear PWR in China.
Sanmen Nuclear Power Station,
Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Last month the government banned ‘bottom fishing’ in 13 areas in British territorial waters to protect vulnerable habitats. The process of bottom fishing involves dragging a weighted fishing net across an area of seabed and leaving a dead area. The new rule applies to everyone. This means British fishermen and French fishermen who despite Brexit still retain some right to fish in waters they traditionally fished in. I’ll let you guess who has complained. You have got it in one, of course it is the French, who claim we are wrecking their industry and have run moaning to the EU. I wonder what the frogs would say if we were to bottom fish in their sensitive areas of vulnerable habitat.

Could we be about to send DragonFire air defence lasers to the Ukraine? We are currently looking at installing them on our warships by 2027. But before we can do that the military wants to ensure they are 100% perfect and that will take a lot of testing. What better way could there be than testing the weapon in action against real live targets? Things are always developed far more quickly in times of war. I’m pretty sure the Ukrainians would love to have a laser that can take out drones and missiles for £10 a shot rather than using a $4 million Patriot missile. I bet they would love DragonFire even if it is only 98% ready.


Lovely and sunny when I woke up this morning, but gosh it was windy still when I went outside. I thought my fur was going to be blow off! I see the BBC has shown its bias yet again when in an interview with ‘Call Me Dave’, Nick Robinson talked about Israel ‘murdering’ 30,000 Gazans. Murder is something that no one is accusing Israel of and even the number comes straight from Hamas.

Recently I have been telling you about the slowdown in the EV market. Now a bit more evidence has appeared, Tesla has decided to lay off 10% of its worldwide labour force of 143,473 employees. And layoffs started yesterday the day of the announcement. The layoffs come just before Tesla’s quarterly figures that are due out before the end of the month and are expected to report a substantial turndown in profits. In fact, some analysts described the results as “tumultuous”. The results will be interesting when they are finally published.

The local people in Barcelona have been complaining that they are being crowded off local buses by tourists. In particular they are struggling to get on board Route 116 which is the Park Guell area. Park Guell is a rather nice park which also has quite a lot of works by Goudi making it very popular with the thousands of tourists who visit Barcelona every day. But the buses that operate the 116 route only carry 20 people. Rather than put on a bigger bus which would prove difficult in some of the streets it serves, the decision has been made to remove it from the likes of Google Maps and from route planners in the hope that hiding it will attract lest tourists.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Barcelona from Park Guell.
Park Guell, Barcelona,
George M. Groutas
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The Belgian frigate Louise-Marie was due to join the Allies’ fleet in the Red Sea, but its deployment has had to be cancelled because during pre-deployment training in the Mediterranean it was found to have lots of faults and failed a number of technical tests. The Belgian Government has refused to say what exactly the problems are, but it is reported that in a test, a ship’s Sea Sparrow missile failed to fire in a simulated drone attack. Consequently, the warship is still in the Mediterranean where its systems are being fixed before it is allowed to transit the Suez Canal and go on duty.

I see the huge site in the North East that was going to be the BritishVolt EV battery production factory is on the verge of being sold to be developed as Europe’s biggest data centre. The land is now owned by the BritishVolt liquidator. But the council has the right to buy the property back at cost and intends to exercise that right and sell it on to Blackstone Holdings who want to develop the data centre. Blackstone will gift the council £110 million which is far more than the land is worth.

I have been reading another story about how Ryanair treat their passengers. A group of 40 schoolboys and teachers were on an Easter football tour of Barcelona and were bumped from the Ryanair flight home. They had all checked in and their baggage had been loaded. When the flight was called, they made their way to the gate lounge ready for boarding. But when it was boarding, a lady just in front of the party, was trying to board without a passport and a row broke out causing Ryanair to close boarding early and leave without the footballers. When they complained, Ryanair claimed they hadn’t turned up at the gate, but they flew them home the next day which rather admits the footballer did nothing wrong.

Apparently in the United States the decision has been taken as to which of the country’s major defence contractors is to be awarded the ‘next generation of interceptors’, a contract to develop and build the missiles that will defend the US from intercontinental ballistic missiles. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which is developing the Next Generation Interceptor concept is specifying the radar, missile, etc, is understood to have chosen Lockheed Martin for the missile component for a mere $18 billion contract. No wonder the bids were hotly contested by the two finalists, Lockheed and Northrop after Boeing were knocked out.


I must say it was nice to wake up to sunshine again this morning. The girl on the radio my feeder was listening to, said it was going to be a dry day, although the sun might be patchy later. While she had the radio on, I heard that inflation was down again. That is obviously good news, but apparently it wasn’t quite enough for some economists who felt it should have been more. Some people are never satisfied.

So, the Ginger Whinger has lost another High Court case this time an appeal against the decision to that he wasn’t entitled to armed police protection whenever he could be bothered to come to the U.K. I love that the judge told him that he needed to pay the Government costs, so he now has a bill of £1,000,000. His legal representation then asked for permission to appeal to a yet higher court as they had won some aspects of the case. The judge gave permission to appeal but said he had won no aspect of the case and had virtually no chance of winning an appeal. Has the Ginger Whinger got the money to burn?

I have been watching a report on the Georgian parliament where a fight broke out as a member of the government was announcing a new bill. A member of the opposition who objected rushed over and punched him before all hell broke loose. Why can’t we have things like that happen in the Commons, it would liven things up. There are quite a few smug MPs, on all sides of the House, who could benefit from a punch on the nose.

It is nine years since a Chinese Airline placed an order for new aircraft with Boeing and five years for Airbus. Of course, in that period we have had Covid that hit Chinese air travel very hard, and all the problems with the Boeing 737Max that is still grounded in China. But air travel in China is nearly back to pre-Covid levels and many of their widebodies are getting old and need replacement. In particular the Airbus A330ceo and Boeing 777ER which Chinese operators have a lot of. Will we see a rush to new widebody planes? I suspect it will only take one order to breach the dam. However, in China they are developing an indigenous widebody the, COMAC C929. It is at least four years from certification but don’t discount Chinese operators buying it, the Chinese State will insist that they do.

Back in 2022 TUI pulled out of operations at Doncaster Sheffield Airport causing its closure. Now TUI have changed their minds, the package tour industry has bounced back and the demand for flights from Doncaster has returned. Since closing, the site has been sold but all the infrastructure is still in place. I doubt whether TUI alone operating flights would make reopening financially viable. But if another airline like EasyJet, or Wizz joined in it could reopen.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
It’s not very busy.
Doncaster-Sheffield, Robin Hood Airport terminal – – 5085243,
Chris Morgan
Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Yesterday Virgin Airways had to cancel a flight from New York to London disappointing several hundred passengers. However, I read it wasn’t Virgin’s fault in the slightest. A Gate Gourmet catering truck, you know, one of those whose back elevates on a scissor lift, collided with one of the Virgin’s A350’s engines and got jammed under the plane’s wing. At the moment it would appear to have been a case of the truck driver losing concentration and not applying the hand brake. The truck rolled into the engine and became jammed under the wing while the plane was parked at a gate. The engines on an A350 are Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 and are rather expensive at about $25 million each. I hope Gate Gourmet have good insurance.

I read that astronomers have discovered a new huge black hole in our Milky Way. It makes me laugh when I read that it is very close. I suppose it is in astronomy terms as it is ‘just’ 2,000 light years away. Astronomers observed that a companion star that orbits the object in the constellation of Aquila was wobbling. The wobble was caused by the enormous gravitational pull exerted by the black hole which has been labelled BH3. The companion star is trapped in an orbit around the black hole which it orbits once every 11.6 years and is the second largest black hole in the Milky Way.


It’s a lovely sunny Thursday and it should be a dry day; I am going to rush through my diary to get out on the windowsill as early as possible. I see that the police have been busy taking down a fraudster’s website and have arrested a load of people. It seems the site, LabHost, hosted scammers enabling them to send out their scams to millions of people worldwide. I wonder if it’s the site George uses?

Could the Government be about to come to the rescue of the troubled train-making factory of Alstom at Derby with an order for new trains for the Elizabeth Line? It seems there is a clause in the contract under which Alstom supplied the trains for the Elizabeth Line which can be activated to purchase additional trains. The advantage of this approach is that a new contract does not have to be negotiated and that the detailed design has already been done. Alstom say they would need an order for a minimum of 10 trains for the factory to reactive the frozen parts of its production line. I hear that a decision will be made in May.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
Are ten more coming?
Elizabeth Line train at Abbey Wood,
Public domain

I hear there is a growing number of people complaining that they are being spuriously issued fines for not paying Sad Dick’s London ULEZ charge. The London system uses Sad Dick’s automated number plate recognition camera system to check if the car owner has paid the daily charge of £12.50, if it is not exempted, and automatically consults the DVLA to get the registered owner’s name and address. But this system is clearly not infallible as fines are being sent to owners whose cars were not in London. A man in Manchester was sent a fine for his Ford Mondeo which showed a picture of Nissan SUV as ‘proof’. The ex-owner of a car donated under the Cars for Ukraine scheme was sent several fines. The owner of a car with the cherished registration 444AA has been sent fines for the car but again the photo ‘proof’ shows a car where 444AA is only part of the registration. It seems that either the automated system is faulty or cars with cloned plates are rife in London.

I chuckled when I read on the Biased Broadcasting Company website that Russia had now lost over 50,000 soldiers, in over two year’s fighting in the Ukraine. How did the Biased Company come to this conclusion? Well, it seems they have been creeping round graveyards counting fresh graves of soldiers. I wonder how accurate this method is, did they visit every single cemetery in the whole of Russia? What did they do about cremations, I understand that 70% of all bodies in Moscow alone are cremated. What about bodies still on the battlefield or blown in an unrecognisable pulp? The Russians haven’t put out any official numbers for a long time, so everyone is guessing, but I have been seeing numbers in the hundreds of thousands from independent sources. Obviously, the Ukrainian-issued numbers are much higher at nearly 500,000, so my guess is the true number lies somewhere in the middle.

I read that the House of Lords has instigated a one-way traffic scheme to and from their car park. In total the roads in and out are only a few hundred metres. But to ensure the old duffers can navigate the route to their parking spots they are to spend £840,000 pa on parking assistants. This works out at about £93,000 a year per person. I bet the queue to apply for the jobs went round the building.

I was delighted to see that a Muslim student who took the Michaela Community School to court over its policy of banning prayer at the school lost. The school rules were quite clear, it wasn’t just Islamic prayers that were banned it was all religious prayers. The court ruled that this was perfectly legal as it didn’t treat any religion differently. But how mad is it that the child’s mother was awarded £150,000 in Legal Aid to pursue the case and that the same mother has applied to send the girl’s younger sibling there in September?

I had to laugh when I read that Me Gain’s first ‘lifestyle’ product from her ludicrously named American Rivera Orchard website is to be strawberry jam. Apparently, she has handmade 50 pots and sent them out to internet influencers and friends. It seems to have succeeded in producing a load of free advertising as many TV and radio stations have been talking about it, but I have yet to hear anyone say if it is as good as Hartley’s or Robinson’s. I must say I have been pondering on how the ex-royal couple came up with the website name. Did they pick three random words from their Webster’s dictionary or is it their ‘What3Words’ address?


No sun this morning, in fact it is a bit dull but not cold. I love the story this morning that the URL for the version of moaning Me Gains what3words named website redirects people to the website of the Trussell Trust. Of course, the trust denies any involvement.

When I told you about a possible order for 10 new trains for the Elizabeth Line saving the Alstom factory in Derby, I didn’t realise the convolutions behind the possible order. The problems at Derby have been caused by the cancellation of the trains that would have been needed to operate HS2 to Manchester and Leeds. With the cancellation of those legs, not so many trains were needed. Mind you while in London, money is supposedly being saved by slowing down the southern end of HS2 with the opening date of the track to Euston and Euston Station being delayed for years. But trains will now be terminating at Old Oak Common, and the trains will disgorge passengers onto the Elizabeth Line to continue the journey into Central London. Of course, the Elizabeth Line service schedule is not designed to take these extra passengers so they will need extra trains. Someone has screwed up.

Barclays Bank has introduced a new rule for all non-business accounts. They are imposing a limit of £20,000 per annum on paying cash into your account. They say this is a rule to stop money laundering. I guess not many people, apart from traders, regularly pay cash into their current account. But I bet there are a few jobbing gardeners or window cleaners who are paid in cash and are not very happy this morning. How often does a normal customer pay £20,000 into their account? Not often I would think, maybe if they sell a car privately. But I suspect this is the thin end of the wedge and the real aim is a move to close branches and to go to digital banking and a digital currency.

I see that the offshore patrol ship HMS Mersey has emerged from dry dock in Falmouth after five months. It is now to get a few final touches before going back to sea. What is interesting is that it has been painted in what is called ‘Western Approaches’ camouflage. This paint scheme was invented during World War 2 and is supposed to make the ship hide between the waves. It is different to the ‘Dazzle’ camouflage of World War I which was designed to mislead people aiming weapons at them especially submarines. Why has the ship been given this paint job, are we expecting another war?

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
HMS Mersey, before its new paint job.
HMS Mersey-Portsmouth-02,
Crochet.david (talk)
Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Norwegian company Var has discovered a new oil field in the Norwegian part of the North Sea which ‘experts’ had claimed was exhausted. The field is believed to contain 23 million barrels, not huge, but easily extractable by liking to nearby infrastructure. It makes me wonder how much oil there still is in the UK’s supposedly exhausted fields. If Labour wins the general election we will never know as they say they won’t be issuing any more exploration licenses.

A few years ago, a man found a huge, fossilised jawbone on a Somerset beach. More recently a father and daughter found a similar, but smaller, jawbone in mud on a beach 11 km away. Scientists have been examining the bones and believe they are from giant ichthyosaurs. This was a species that swam in the seas some 200 million years ago and is believed to have suffered an ‘extinction event’, whatever that might have been, leaving only the smaller version of the ichthyosaur remaining. Apparently, the giant ichthyosaur was 25 metres long, about the same size as today’s blue whale, but was actually a reptile and not a fish.

In the United States, it’s not just Boeing that is having trouble with certification of a new version of an aircraft. Lockheed Martin, who manufacture the F-35 fighter have been attempting to certify the FR3 batch since switching to it in June last year, and consequently has not been able to deliver the new version. The current aim is to have this version of the jet certified by Q3 this year. The FR3 version is a major upgrade, particularly of the electronic fit-out.


A warmish dry morning. It was a KFC night in the office and gosh did they get a load. It’s not easy to get it delivered to Downing Street, I doubt a man on a moped would be let in, so someone goes out to get it via the back door. They had a couple of huge buckets and piles of chips. Last night they also had something called corn, it looked like yellow lollies. I tried some but I think I will stick to the chicken.

It never rains but it pours for Boeing and its 737Max. The latest news is that the American FAA have issued a mandatory regarding an electrical fault on certain Max8 and Max9 aircraft that are in service. I understand that it only affects 79 planes and enforces the installation of two electrical jumpers on each plane, but it is yet another nail in the Boeing coffin.

This weekend is the 100th anniversary of the opening of London’s Northern Line with the City and Charring Cross branches meeting at Camden Town and then two branches running North to Edgware and High Barnet. The junction at Camden is highly complicated and allows southbound trains from either branch North of Camden Town to access either of the branches South of Camden Town. In reverse, northbound trains can switch over to either northern breach. The plan to build what is the most complicated junction on the Tube first emerged pre-World War I when the City and Suburban Railway got permission to extend its tunnel from the then terminal at Euston to Camden Town. At the same time the City line tunnels were to be expanded to the same diameter as all the other deep tube lines to allow the interoperation of rolling stock. But the war paused the plans and work only started after the war and was completed in April 1924.

WorthingGooner, Going Postal
It doesn’t look much above ground!
Camden Town Tube station,
Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

So, Mr Nicola Sturgeon has been charged with embezzling SNP funds. Of course, now it is a live case I will have to be careful what I say. However, it is public knowledge that £600,000 of SNP funds has gone missing and there is no word as to if any of it has been found. I suppose we will find out all the details if it goes to trial.

The fossilised remains of a giant snake have been found in an Indian cave. The snake, which has been named ‘vasuki indicus’, was about 15 metres long, weighed a tonne and was not venomous. In fact it would seem to be similar to a modern-day python but slithered around in what was swamp land 50 million years ago. I must say I would not like to have met one on a dark night. I suspect a moggy like me would only have been a snack for a monster-size snake like that.

More news out of Scottishland today about the ferry fiasco. It seems commissioning is not going well with the Glen Sannox, the first of the pair of ferries being built for CalMac. Reports say that all is not well with its LNG propulsion system. The shipyard that built the ship and are still building its sister ship, have had numerous problems and the new build is years late, so the extra two months that this latest problem is going to add are but a flea bite. This is the first LNG-powered ship the yard has ever constructed, and it has offered many problems, not least the fact that LNG must be stored at minus 162°C to keep it in liquid form which is necessary. The shipyard has had to use subcontractors who have expertise with LNG propulsion, and it seems that it is the complexity of the system that is causing the newest problem.

I told you earlier this week about the Chinese plane maker COMAC who are designing and building a new twin-aisle jet, the C929, but I didn’t mention they actually have a single-aisle jet, the C919, in operation. On paper, the C919 looks to be a success with over 850 orders from 24 companies. The C919 is supposed to be the Chinese equivalent to the Boeing 737Max and the Airbus A320neo. The problem is despite the plane being a modern design the plane is made with a lot of old-style bits. The Chinese, having no indigenous civil plane makers have had to buy in parts from worldwide makers. Because the Chinese have such a poor reputation for stealing technology, these manufacturers are reluctant to supply the latest technology. For example, the engines are last generation and offer 15% less economy than the modern engines on the competition. The C919 is more the equivalent of the previous models of the competition the A320ceo and the B737NG. So who has bought the C919, unsurprisingly it is 99% Chinese airlines who like COMAC are owned by the Chinese State.

I’m done for another week and I’m off for my Saturday afternoon snooze on the windowsill. Today the weather is not wonderful, but it is not bad enough to stop me, just a bit windy. This should be my third Saturday afternoon on the windowsill this year, but who is counting! Chat to you all again next week.

© WorthingGooner 2024