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Boris Johnson’s children heal rift with PM after as they finally meet Carrie Symonds

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boris johnsons children heal rift with pm after as they finally meet carrie symonds

Every so often a leading politician, usually with a late-night drink in hand, will reflect sadly that the price of power has been the loss of a tight-knit family life. For Boris Johnson, who marked his first year in Downing Street this week with little razzmatazz, that sacrifice has been more nuanced and infinitely more poignant.

All the triumphs, the highs and lows of the most extraordinary inaugural 12 months of any prime ministerial career of modern times, must be set against the effect it has had on close domestic ties. For all the bonhomie, witty one-liners and wisecracking, Boris is essentially a loner with few close friends. To him it is all politics and family.

So the hardest part of all the tribulations to befall him was the rift that opened up with four of his children in the aftermath of his divorce from their mother Marina and their deep upset when they learned her replacement, Carrie Symonds, was expecting their father’s baby.

It means that when historians come to reflect on the Boris premiership and the upheavals of this first calendar year, they might easily overlook the significance of the most affecting and least publicised event of all — the rapprochement between the Prime Minister and his children.

For all the bonhomie, witty one-liners and wisecracking, Boris is essentially a loner with few close friends. To him it is all politics and family

For all the bonhomie, witty one-liners and wisecracking, Boris is essentially a loner with few close friends. To him it is all politics and family

For all the bonhomie, witty one-liners and wisecracking, Boris is essentially a loner with few close friends. To him it is all politics and family

Differences have been set aside and we understand all four of Boris’s children with Marina have met Carrie and their 12-week-old half-brother Wilfred. The encounters have been at Chequers, the PM’s weekend retreat in the Chiltern Hills where, slowly as social distancing measures have been relaxed, the couple have begun entertaining ministerial colleagues, advisers, friends and, yes, family.

Most prime ministers discover that high office comes with a narrowing of their social circle. Who’s in and who’s out is always a subject of abiding fascination but ultimately it relies on one thing: trust.

‘When you become Prime Minister you make new relationships, but you don’t make new friends,’ says one of Boris’s Oxford contemporaries.

‘And your circle tends to become smaller and smaller because you have to be so sure about who is trustworthy and who isn’t. So the friends invited to Chequers have predominantly been drawn from Carrie’s circle. Boris is happy with that.’

But he is even happier that his relationship with Lara, Milo, Cassie and Theodore — from his 26-year marriage to barrister Marina Wheeler — has been hugely repaired.

How often they have visited, when and for how long, no one at No 10 will say.

Differences have been set aside and we understand all four of Boris’s children with Marina have met Carrie and their 12-week-old half-brother Wilfred. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds speaking with the midwifes on zoom that helped deliver their son

Differences have been set aside and we understand all four of Boris’s children with Marina have met Carrie and their 12-week-old half-brother Wilfred. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds speaking with the midwifes on zoom that helped deliver their son

Differences have been set aside and we understand all four of Boris’s children with Marina have met Carrie and their 12-week-old half-brother Wilfred. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds speaking with the midwifes on zoom that helped deliver their son

‘No one goes near his domestic stresses and strains,’ says a source, ‘but reports that the children are refusing to speak to their father or meet Carrie are not right.’

Those that do remain in the magic circle and make it on to the Chequers guest list will find Boris has taken up tennis again — he was unable to play for weeks during his long recovery from Covid-19. ‘His first serve is good but the second is a bit like a girl’s,’ says one recent partner.

He is also swimming in the heated indoor pool. He is not yet ready to take up spontaneous pursuits such as wild-water swimming, which he did while Foreign Secretary and had the use of Chevening in Kent where there is a lake in the grounds. ‘He was gung-ho about plunging in,’ recalls one guest who joined him for a dip. ‘That was Boris 2018, a carefree Boris. The 2020 Boris is a very different person.’

But how could it not be? In just 12 months he has won the Conservative Party leadership, prorogued Parliament — and been condemned by the Supreme Court for doing so — kicked out 21 Tory MPs who defied him, secured a Brexit breakthrough, achieved a thumping general election victory, finalised a divorce, got engaged — though still not married — and become a father again.

He has also, let’s not forget, suffered a near-fatal dose of the coronavirus which at one stage saw his chances of survival no higher than 50:50.

He has also, let’s not forget, suffered a near-fatal dose of the coronavirus which at one stage saw his chances of survival no higher than 50:50

He has also, let’s not forget, suffered a near-fatal dose of the coronavirus which at one stage saw his chances of survival no higher than 50:50

He has also, let’s not forget, suffered a near-fatal dose of the coronavirus which at one stage saw his chances of survival no higher than 50:50

No incoming peacetime Prime Minister has faced such challenges where at any moment one piece of the jigsaw could have seen the whole Johnson project crumbling before he could get his feet comfortably beneath the Cabinet table.

At one key point he told several of his advisers: ‘I write books about history and am conscious that I could go down in history as the shortest-serving Prime Minister of modern times.’

He might have been talking about that moment when he was admitted to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in April when his reaction to Covid had become so serious he was within a whisker of being put on a ventilator, where the odds on pulling through would have fallen to just one in three.

It might also have been the days before the election last December when Tory internal polling showed Labour closing to within a handful of percentage points and with it the prospect of his great gamble being lost.

In fact his observation was about the decision to remove the whip from those 21 MPs, including two former chancellors, Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke, as well as a former Tory chairman Caroline Spelman.

The issue, of course, was Brexit, and the logjam he inherited from Theresa May. The high-risk move to expel them provoked the resignation of one Cabinet minister, Amber Rudd, and might have triggered more.

At one key point he told several of his advisers: ‘I write books about history and am conscious that I could go down in history as the shortest-serving Prime Minister of modern times.’

At one key point he told several of his advisers: ‘I write books about history and am conscious that I could go down in history as the shortest-serving Prime Minister of modern times.’

At one key point he told several of his advisers: ‘I write books about history and am conscious that I could go down in history as the shortest-serving Prime Minister of modern times.’

Boris, who had taken the decision along with chief whip Mark Spencer and Lee Cain, the PM’s influential head of communications, held his nerve.

‘It was the right thing to do,’ he told those advisers.

As a senior figure told us: ‘It was very risky and I gulped when I heard he was doing it, but Boris had made the calculations.

‘He was determined to show the public that the only way Brexit was going to happen was if his authority was paramount. Those MPs who were sacked had held Mrs May to ransom for years.

‘He was aware it could go wrong and it would have been all over for him, but fortune favours the brave. By taking the action that he did, he demonstrated how determined he was.’

And how ruthless. Both are qualities some of his supporters would like to see more of. There have been flashes of steeliness — detractors would call it stubbornness — in his determination not to yield to popular campaigns.

His refusal to travel to the North of England after the January floods, along with steadfast support for under-fire ministers — Home Secretary Priti Patel over claims of bullying and Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, for allegedly helping a Tory donor avoid a tax bill — have been significant.

But it was the uncompromising defence of Dominic Cummings, the most senior No 10 aide, who was revealed to have broken lockdown rules, that signalled a new degree of icy pragmatism.

‘It shows he is not going to be pushed around by negative headlines even if they provoke damaging poll numbers,’ says one source.

So far the strategy seems to be working. Rather than being buffeted by events as predecessors such as Mrs May, Gordon Brown and John Major were, Mr Johnson is sticking to his purpose.

A week may be a long time in politics, but a year is a short time in government. It would have been pointless to pass judgment on Mrs Thatcher a year into her government in May 1980. Equally, Labour under Tony Blair was barely tested in its first 12 months after winning the 1997 election when, in many respects, its policies were almost indistinguishable from the previous Tory government.

Boris Johnson has had to confront the most far-reaching crisis Britain has faced since the end of World War II while battling an illness that could have killed him.

It is the response to Covid-19 that will inform the success or otherwise of his administration.

Rather than being buffeted by events as predecessors such as Mrs May, Gordon Brown and John Major were, Mr Johnson is sticking to his purpose

Rather than being buffeted by events as predecessors such as Mrs May, Gordon Brown and John Major were, Mr Johnson is sticking to his purpose

Rather than being buffeted by events as predecessors such as Mrs May, Gordon Brown and John Major were, Mr Johnson is sticking to his purpose

When he was admitted to hospital on April 5, he was overweight, tipping the scales at 17 st 7lb, far too heavy for someone only 5ft 10in tall. Since his recovery he has made weight loss a personal priority, losing a stone and a half and telling friends ‘there’s more to come’.

‘He is not following a diet,’ we are told, ‘but he is cutting out snacking and eating more healthily with fish, chicken and salads featuring.

‘He’s cut down on alcohol too, having the odd glass of wine with dinner.’

One minister told us: ‘There have been a number of times when I have been waiting outside his office to see him and there was no sign of him. Then he would emerge looking flushed and he would apologise for keeping me waiting. Where had he been? He would sneak upstairs to the Downing Street flat, go to the fridge in the kitchen and cut himself a chunk of cheese. He adores cheese. But that’s all stopped and we have Carrie to thank for that.’

An aide, meanwhile, says how Boris would often point to his expanding girth and say: ‘Working from home means all day you are raiding the fridge.’

‘He is so conscious of his weight because he knows obesity is a major factor in Covid. He works hard to get his weight down but it’s not easy for him.’

Like two other recent prime ministers — Blair (pictured) and Cameron — he is also having to juggle running the country with the demands of fatherhood

Like two other recent prime ministers — Blair (pictured) and Cameron — he is also having to juggle running the country with the demands of fatherhood

Like two other recent prime ministers — Blair (pictured) and Cameron — he is also having to juggle running the country with the demands of fatherhood

Along with the cheese ban there is also a fitness regime. Each morning in the flat above No 11, where he, Carrie and their baby live in the flat David Cameron and his family occupied, the alarm goes off at 5 am. It is the cue for his run.

His favourite locations are the gardens of Buckingham Palace, put at his disposal by the Queen, who voiced concern at his recovery from the virus, and the grounds of Lambeth Palace, the home of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — a fellow Old Etonian — across the river from Downing Street.

For weeks after his near-death experience in hospital, Boris looked ill and tired with bags under his eyes. He was also often forgetful, a side-effect of the virus reported by other sufferers. But in recent weeks he has looked more like his old self.

‘There’s colour in his cheeks and more of the old energy and enthusiasm is back,’ says a source.

Like two other recent prime ministers — Blair and Cameron — he is also having to juggle running the country with the demands of fatherhood. But at 56 Boris is the oldest new father in Downing Street since Lord John Russell in the mid-19th century.

While Carrie and Wilfred are often there with him, they also retreat to the £1.3 million house in South London the couple bought before he became Tory leader.

This allows Boris an undisturbed night’s sleep. Asked recently if he was changing nappies, he rolled his eyes and said: ‘A lot, as a matter of fact.’

While Carrie (pictured) and Wilfred are often there with him, they also retreat to the £1.3 million house in South London the couple bought before he became Tory leader

While Carrie (pictured) and Wilfred are often there with him, they also retreat to the £1.3 million house in South London the couple bought before he became Tory leader

While Carrie (pictured) and Wilfred are often there with him, they also retreat to the £1.3 million house in South London the couple bought before he became Tory leader

Most nights he likes to be in bed by 11pm. Mrs Thatcher famously got by on three or four hours’ sleep, Boris likes six. He has shown ‘remarkable discipline’ in dealing with the bureaucracy of the job, we understand.

Where possible he does his official red box of papers between 7 pm and 8 pm in the No 10 study but occasionally takes paperwork upstairs to the flat to complete. The routine is in contrast to David Cameron, who had dinner with his family and would rise early to do the boxes on the kitchen table the following morning.

Boris has already been up for an hour when he gets to his desk at 6 am and starts sending WhatsApp messages to ministers and senior advisers.

‘I hear the phone, my heart sinks, as I catch the time on the alarm clock. It’s normally just after 6 am and you realise the boss is working,’ says one adviser. ‘And he’s expecting a rapid response so it’s time to get up.’

If all this sounds like the familiar machinery of government of a prime minister possessing a massive 80-seat majority, it is curious then that there are complaints at the way Boris is governing.

On coronavirus, he is criticised for not being a details man, along with muddled decision-making over lockdown, care homes and tracing. His detractors complain he is the wrong PM for a crisis and does not convey the impression of assured competence.

Internally, some party figures are concerned he is driven by focus groups and polling companies.

One senior source told us: ‘The team the PM has assembled are in permanent campaign mode.

‘But they are running a country not a six-week referendum or an election campaign. It explains why the PM is primed to use exaggerated phrases. So he talks about a “world-beating” NHS Covid app. It never worked.

‘He said the test-and-trace system would be world-class. It clearly isn’t.

‘You might be able to get away with slick phrases and gimmicks, sound bites, and stunts in a short campaign, but this is a long haul and the Downing Street operation is not strategic, but all about short-term tactics to get through the day or the week. There is a big difference and it shows.’

Outside the Westminster bubble, however, the public don’t see it like that.

‘They want him to succeed,’ one minister told us. ‘He’s been knocked for six, had to deal with the biggest crisis since the war, become a father again and delivered a big election win.

‘It’s all taken a lot out of him but he’s still got that indefatigable spirit. There’s a six-point lead in the polls and the grass-roots approval is overwhelming.

‘Would I have taken that a year ago? I would have snapped your hand off for it.’

With some degree of justification Boris himself is disgruntled that his primary goal throughout the pandemic, to protect the NHS, was a success yet is rarely acknowledged.

And, of course, he did get Brexit done. There will be more tough times ahead getting a deal but all the same that alone is a record, surely, to be proud of.

So how did Boris mark this anniversary? ‘Drinks with staff at No 10, no great celebration,’ says an insider.

Traditionally, gifts for a first anniversary are made of paper. Will Boris have another piece of paper in his hand before many more such landmarks — a marriage certificate?

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Clive Tyldesley ‘sacked by Soccer Aid after he was slammed for fat-shaming Tom Davis and Chunkz’

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clive tyldesley sacked by soccer aid after he was slammed for fat shaming tom davis and chunkz

Veteran commentator Clive Tyldesley has reportedly been sacked from featuring on future Soccer Aid matches after he was criticised for ‘fat-shaming’ players during this year’s event.

The match was aired on ITV in September and featured former players and celebrities taking on each other in an England vs Rest of the World clash in a bid to raise money for charity.

But according to The Sun two players among the England team in Tom Davis and Chunkz were left ‘devastated’ after being ‘fat shamed’ by Tyldesley during his commentary of the game.

Commentator Clive Tyldesley has reportedly been sacked from his role on Soccer Aid

Commentator Clive Tyldesley has reportedly been sacked from his role on Soccer Aid

The 66-year-old has been accused of 'fat shaming' Tom Davis (left) and Chunkz (right)

The 66-year-old has been accused of ‘fat shaming’ Tom Davis (left) and Chunkz (right)

Chunkz came on a first half substitute for Davis during the clash at Old Trafford

Chunkz came on a first half substitute for Davis during the clash at Old Trafford

Chunkz was a first half substitute early on, replacing comedian Davis in attack during the encounter at Old Trafford which England lost on penalties following a 1-1 draw that raised £11million.

As the rapper, 24, came on, Tyldesley said: ‘Tom Davis is about to be replaced, and by somebody bigger than him.’

Later jibes at Chunkz included Tyldesley saying he was so big you could ‘take guided tours around him’.

An insider told The Sun: ‘Clive’s been told he won’t be back for next year’s Soccer Aid because of the comments he made.

‘It was clear that while Clive thought he was just having a laugh, no one really found his jokes funny, let alone Tom and Chunkz who bore the brunt of them.

‘Soccer Aid raises millions for children and is watched by kids and young people across the UK. Having them listen to someone like Clive then mocking players for their weight seems totally unacceptable.

‘Clive understands why he won’t be back. 

Tyldesley has broadcasted some of the biggest games in football over the last 22 years

Tyldesley has broadcasted some of the biggest games in football over the last 22 years

Tyldesley shared a video online earlier this summer, saying he was baffled by the decision to take away the lead ITV football commentary job and replace him

Tyldesley shared a video online earlier this summer, saying he was baffled by the decision to take away the lead ITV football commentary job and replace him 

‘And it will be put forward as them bringing in new blood when it comes to the commentators on next year’s game.’

The news caps off a miserable year for the 66-year-old having already been replaced as ITV’s No 1 commentator following 22 years in the role back in July.

Tyldesley was replaced by Sam Matterface as the channel’s lead commentator and expressed his disappointment in the decision during a statement.

A self-made video, in which he spoke of his upset over the move, was viewed almost 10 million times.

Tyldesley has since been signed by Americans CBS Sports to lead their Champions League commentary – along with former Liverpool defender and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Video shows F-35 stealth fighter crashing into the ground after colliding with a tanker mid-air

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video shows f 35 stealth fighter crashing into the ground after colliding with a tanker mid air

Video footage has emerged showing the moment a F-35 stealth fighter jet fell out of the sky and exploded on the ground after hitting a tanker in a mid-air collision. 

The US Marine Corps aircraft crashed near the Salton Sea in Imperial County, California on Tuesday afternoon after accidentally clipping a KC-130J during a refueling operation. 

A video clip posted on Aviation Daily shows the $100million combat jet exploding into a massive fireball upon impact shortly after the pilot managed to parachute to safety.

The aircraft is seen rapidly plummeting hundreds of feet before smashing into a a ball of flames in a remote field. 

Bystander footage shows the F-35 fighter jet rapidly falling from the sky in Imperial County, California after colliding with a tanker on Tuesday

Bystander footage shows the F-35 fighter jet rapidly falling from the sky in Imperial County, California after colliding with a tanker on Tuesday

The $100million aircraft bursts into a ball of flames immediately upon impact

A witness who took the video can be heard in the background saying: 'Oh my God! You guys!' as she alerts her friends' attention to the sky

The $100million aircraft crashes into a remote field before bursting into a ball of flames 

A F-35B fighter jet (circled in stock image) crashed near the Salton Sea in southern California on Tuesday afternoon after colliding with a KC-130J tanker during a refueling (pictured) operation

A F-35B fighter jet (circled in stock image) crashed near the Salton Sea in southern California on Tuesday afternoon after colliding with a KC-130J tanker during a refueling (pictured) operation

A witness who took the video can be heard in the background saying: ‘Oh my God! You guys!’ as she diverts her friends’ attention to the sky. 

The group was far enough to be safe from the impact, but still managed to get a clear view of the explosion.   

The USMC on Tuesday confirmed the pilot survived after ejecting safely and was being treated for his injuries. 

Meanwhile, the tanker was able to make a safe emergency landing at a nearby field by Thermal Airport. All eight crew members escaped unharmed. 

Earlier, alarming audio revealed how the KC-130J crew reported having ‘two engines out… we’re leaking fuel, and likely on fire.’ 

The tanker declared a mid-air emergency to LA flight controllers who asked them to confirm that they were ‘going down now’ after a refueling operation went wrong.  

The tanker (pictured on Tuesday) was forced to make an emergency landing in a field near Thermal, California, just east of the airport. All eight crew members on board were unharmed

The tanker (pictured on Tuesday) was forced to make an emergency landing in a field near Thermal, California, just east of the airport. All eight crew members on board were unharmed 

The audio recording posted on LiveATC reveals how the tanker, flying with the callsign RAIDER 50, raised the alarm with the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, California. 

‘LA Center, LA Center, RAIDER 50 declaring an emergency, midair collision with VOLT 93,’ the transmission said. 

‘We have two engines out, we’re leaking fuel, and likely on fire, and in emergency descent at this time. RAIDER 50.’ 

Responding to the emergency, a controller asked the crew to confirm their military operations area, adding: ‘You said you were going down now?’ 

The RAIDER crew replied: ‘We declare an emergency. We still have partial control of the aircraft. Two engines out. We are aiming towards, uh’ – before the transmission from the the tanker cuts out. 

The LA controllers then try to make contact again, while another voice reports a ‘plume of black smoke’ from the time that the emergency was reported. 

The F-35B combat jet (stock image) was reported to have 'disintegrated' after crashing into the ground

The F-35B combat jet (stock image) was reported to have ‘disintegrated’ after crashing into the ground 

Another person says that the impact was ‘prior to his last transmission’, suggesting the smoke was not from the moment the tanker hit a field. 

LA Center then appears to re-establish contact with the RAIDER before the tanker comes to ground, although its crew could not be heard before the recording cut out. 

The US Marine Corps confirmed the collision occurred during a refueling operation, during which a tanker transfers fuel to a receiver mid air, allowing it to remain airborne for a longer period of time. 

At around 4pm local time, ‘an F-35B made contact with a KC-130J during an air-to-air refueling evolution, resulting in the crash of the F-35B. The pilot of the F-35B ejected successfully and is currently being treated,’ The USMC said in a statement. 

‘The KC-130J is on deck in the vicinity of Thermal Airport. All crew members of the KC-130J have been reported safe. The official cause of the crash is currently under investigation.’

Details on the pilot’s condition and the extent of his injuries were not immediately released.  

Eye witnesses took to Twitter to report seeing the pilot parachuting out of the fighter jet before hitting the ground.

Footage shared on social media showed the jet bursting into flames upon impact

Footage shared on social media showed the jet bursting into flames upon impact

The KC-130J was able to make an emergency landing in a field near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, California

The KC-130J was able to make an emergency landing in a field near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, California

One user described the F-35 fighter aircraft as being ‘fully engulfed’ in flames by the time it impacted the ground. 

First responders on the ground also reported that the jet ‘disintegrated’ after bursting into flames. 

A Blackhawk helicopter was deployed to the scene in search of survivors, according to reports.   

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II 

The family of American-made stealth fighter jets has three different variants within the US military. 

F-35A (US AIR FORCE)

The F-35A was officially introduced into the US Air Force in 2016.

It is the smallest of the three types and  uses conventional takeoff and landing methods. 

F-35B (US MARINE CORPS)

The F-35B was brought into service by the USMC in July 2015. 

It uses short take-off and vertical landing and does not have a landing hook. 

F-35C (US NAVY) 

The F-35C entered service with US Navy in 2019. 

Its wings are larger than that of the F-35A and it is designed for catalpult-assisted takeoff. 

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Meanwhile, the KC-130, used to transport military equipment including helicopters, landed safely in a field near the Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal, California. 

Both aircraft were stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, an official said. 

Imperial County is located about two hours drive east of San Diego. 

The family of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth multirole combat jets, one oft the most expensive in the world, have been plagued with issues and have suffered multiple crashes over the years. 

Most recently in May, an Air Force F-35A belonging to the 58th Fighter Squadron crashed while landing at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. The pilot survived after ejecting safely. 

Almost exactly two years ago on September 28, 2018, an F-35B crashed outside the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot, again, managed to eject safely.

The cause of the accident was determined to be from a faulty fuel tube, prompting officials to ground all F-35s to inspect the fleet on October 11.  They were returned to flight status the following day. 

In April 2019, a Japanese F-35A from the Misawa air base crashed off the coast of Japan during a training operation. 

The pilot, Major Akinori Hosomi, had disappeared during the mission and was later found to had crashed in the Pacific Ocean. 

The F-35s were first introduced to the US Military in 2015, with the first F-35B entering the US Marine Corp in July that year.

The aircraft has three different variants, including the F-35A, used by the US Air Force, that uses conventional takeoff and landing, the F-35B, which has a short take-off and vertical landing, and the F-35C, used by the US Navy, that is designed for catalpult-assisted takeoff.

The F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet: How one of the world’s most expensive weapon systems has been plagued with problems

The F-35 family of stealth fighters have been plagued with problems and have suffered a number of crashes over the years.  

In September 2018, an F-35B crashed outside the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, due to a faulty fuel tube. The pilot of the aircraft managed to eject safely.

The accident prompted officials to ground all F-35s to inspect the fleet on October 11, before returning them to flight status the following day.   

In April 2019, a Japanese F-35A from the Misawa air base crashed off the coast of Japan.

 

 

Pilot Major Akinori Hosomi had disappeared during a training mission and was later found to had crashed in the Pacific Ocean. 

In May of this year, a US Air Force F-35A crashed while landing at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a ‘fifth generation’ fighter aircraft, has been considered one of the world’s most expensive weapons system, though costs have finally stabilized at an eye-watering $406billion.

There have also been embarrassing reports of operational shortcomings emerging in the US.

In a mock air battle in 2015, the cutting edge plane was defeated by an older generation F-16, a plane designed in the 1970s.

In 2017, the Pentagon tests found 276 different faults in jet’s combat system.

They included the 25mm cannon vibrating excessively and problems with the he aircraft’s ‘virtual reality’ helmet

Overheating, premature wear of components in the vertical tails and vulnerability to fire were also found to be issues.

The US Air Force temporarily grounded dozens its F-35 stealth fighters while it investigated an oxygen supply issue.

The Marine Corps was forced to ground its planes after flaws were found in the  computer system.  

 

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Father’s decades old Harry Potter first edition found to be worth a fortune

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fathers decades old harry potter first edition found to be worth a fortune

After using it to teach his children English, a father retired his Harry Potter book to its shelf for 21 years.

But he was stunned to find he’d stashed a fortune – after learning it was a ‘seriously scarce’ first edition which could sell for £50,000.

The hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – of which only 500 were printed in 1997 – is a ‘holy grail’ for collectors. 

The seller, a retired British expat who asked not to be named, bought the book to help his children learn English after moving to Luxembourg. 

He plans to pay off his daughter’s student loan after the sale.

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The hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – of which only 500 were printed in 1997 – is a ‘holy grail’ for collectors (file photo)

It will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on October 13 with an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000 – but could fetch £50,000 due to its good condition. 

The seller said: ‘I bought the book for my children around 18 months after it was first published.

‘If I remember correctly, I bought it by mail order from Barnes & Noble so I am guessing they had it in their warehouse for a while.’

He added: ‘I needed English books to read to my three children at bedtime as I was on a mission to teach them my native language from an early age.

‘Their mother is Luxembourgish and they were going to state schools here in Luxembourg, so I needed to make a bit of an effort.

‘It’s just been sitting on a shelf ever since with the rest of the Harry Potter books, with no special care.

‘It’s actually been read only once with the date recorded in the back of the book.

‘One of the children stuck Harry Potter pictures in the book when the first film came out.

‘A couple of months ago when JK Rowling bounced into the main news I decided to re-read the Potter series.

‘I knew there had been a few first editions sold recently and Hansons was featured on the BBC website so, just to be safe, I checked the criteria.

‘I was a big fan of the Potter books when I first read them.

‘There are a lot of ethical and human behaviour discussion points in the books and I had a lot of respect for JK Rowling for producing such a polished and nuanced body of work.

‘It gave me the opportunity to explain many interesting situations to my kids, and helped them all on the road to fluency in English.

‘I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby.’

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, elves wore a uniform made out of a tea towel stamped with the Hogwarts crest.

The seller said: 'I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby.' (Dobby, pictured)

The seller said: ‘I sent it to Hansons in a tea towel as a little nod to the Hogwarts house-elves, especially Winky and Dobby.’ (Dobby, pictured)

The seller added: ‘I did not think mine would be valuable as it was certainly not purchased when first published.

‘I was very surprised and shocked to see that it did in fact tick all the boxes, but still could not quite believe it until I checked with Hansons.

‘I have decided to sell now as I would like to pay off my daughter’s student loan for her, which will give her a good credit history and help her to apply for a mortgage.’

There are various ways to identify the first issue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, published by Bloomsbury in 1997, with one clue being the duplication of the phrase ‘1 wand’ on page 53.

Other telltale signs include the word ‘philosopher’ having the wrong spelling on the back cover and the author’s name appearing as Joanne Rowling on the inside page

However, according to auctioneers, the best indicator is the issue number must read: ’10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1′.

Hansons books expert Jim Spencer said: ‘True first issues are seriously scarce. Only 500 were printed, 300 of which were sent to schools and libraries.

‘This is extra rare because it’s one of the remaining 200 and yet this is my fourth one in just over a year.

‘It’s a cliched phrase, but they really are the holy grail for collectors.

‘I’d dreamed of finding one for years before my first magical discovery in Staffordshire.

‘This new copy deserves to do really well because it’s in astonishingly good condition. I would love to see it make £50,000.’

The book paved the way to Harry Potter mania across the world with six sequels, 500 million copies sold and hit movie adaptations starring Daniel Radcliffe.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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