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Npower’s statement is not new. Journalists, please stop giving them free advertising

Npower says it will not raise prices any more until spring 2015 unless wholesale costs go up.

BBC News, 2nd December 2013.

The energy provider which raised bills by more than 10% says no more rises until 2015 – provided wholesale costs remain stable.

Sky News, 2nd December 2013.

What reasons have been given for Npower’s previous price rises?

npower today announced its electricity and gas prices will increase by 9.3% and 11.1% respectively* from 1 December [due to] the cost of buying wholesale energy up 3% from this year.

Npower, 21st October 2013.

From 4th January 2011, domestic gas and electricity tariffs will increase on average by 5% [due to] an increase of 50% in wholesale prices during the last twelve months.

Npower, 12th December 2010.

npower announces price increases due to soaring wholesale costs

Npower, 29th August 2008.

npower today announced plans for new energy prices for domestic customers with an average increase of 9.9% for electricity and 17.2%* for gas from 1 October … due to massive increases in wholesale costs.

Npower, 7th September 2006.

npower today announced plans for new retail gas and electricity tariffs, for domestic customers, following increases in wholesale gas costs of almost 50% in the last 12 months.

Npower, 11th November 2005.

As far back as Npower’s press release archive stretches, I can’t find a single incident of them raising retail prices without blaming increases in wholesale prices. Announcing that they are to stick to this policy in future amounts to a non-story, which should not be receiving acres of coverage.

This 2,088th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

London’s commuters are deluded

You could only walk two months of the year, the rest of the time the weather is too terrible.

According to the Standard, this was the response of Laura Ritchie, a digital project manager, to TfL’s suggestion that she should consider walking instead of taking the tube.

Another commuter, Laura Belcher, added

Waiting for three tubes means I’m not in the cold and rain

There are many reasons why some might view getting the tube as easier than walkng, but these two exemplify an odd delusion which many Londoners appear to share: that the weather in London is terrible.

I spend a few days each week in London, and have done since February. I always take a 45 minute-ish walk into work from London Bridge to Westminster along the South Bank, except when I’m towing a suitcase. I have attempted to walk on 83 mornings this year so far, and have managed perfectly well (without needing even to take my umbrella out of my bag) 82 times. This morning marked the first occasion that rain convinced me to take the tube.

I have absolutely no earthly idea why people think it constantly rains in London. Either I’ve been preternaturally lucky and tried to walk in on the only 82 mornings when it hasn’t rained, or people have a distorted view of London’s weather. In fact, London has less rainfall each year than Rome, New York, Brisbane, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo.

Perhaps if people had a reality check on what the weather is actually like most of the time, then they’d feel happier with walking – which would probably benefit their health even more than it would reduce TfL’s congestion problem.

This 2,081st post was filed under: Diary Style Notes, , .

No freakin’ clue

We have no freakin’ clue. And that’s my expert opinion.

Entomologist Gwen Pearson on what is leaving freaky tiny web-like structures in the Peruvian Amazon. I bet they are made by some evil spider-like creature that would give me nightmares…!

This 2,060th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

sjhoward.co.uk news #6 – Singles, selfies and safety – going out soon

If you don’t already subscribe to sjhoward.co.uk news, you need to sign up in the next few minutes if you don’t want to miss this week’s edition!

This 2,055th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

This week’s sjhoward.co.uk news is going out soon

This week’s sjhoward.co.uk news will be going out in the next hour or so. If you haven’t yet signed up, you’ll need to be quick if you don’t want to miss edition #4!

This 2,050th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

Just putting the finishing touches on this week’s newsletter

I’m just putting the finishing touches on this week’s sjhoward.co.uk news; I’ll be sending it out in the next half hour or so. If you haven’t yet signed up and don’t want to miss this week’s edition, you’d better get your skates on!

This 2,045th post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

Reviewing my own book reviews

Yesterday, I published a review of A Series of Unrelated Events by Richard Bacon. A year ago today, I published a review of The Truth about Cruise Ships by Jay Herring. And in between the two, I’ve published some 39 other book reviews. Writing the book review section has become one of the real pleasures of maintaining this blog – I think it’s my favourite regular column.

Yet, I struggle each week to summarise my review in a star-rating out of five. I often write about struggling to do this, and if you are wondering why on earth I bother, it’s because I republish versions of my book reviews in various other places, for some of which a star rating is mandatory.

So, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the last year of reviews and look at the distribution of ratings. I’d expect the distribution to be skewed – I generally choose to read books that appeal to me, rather than ones I hate. Yet, I also try not to give out too many five-star reviews. Taking these factors into account, I’d expect the mean to come out at about 3.5.

Bar Chart

If you look very closely, you’ll notice that this doesn’t add up to the promised 41 – that’s because there were two reviews where I declined to give a star-rating, despite my self-imposed rules.

It isn’t surprising to me that four-stars is the modal figure, but I am a little surprised – despite what I said earlier – that I’ve only given two one-star reviews in a whole year. I’m also surprised to have given eight five-star reviews.

The mean figure is 3.4 stars, which is pretty much where I thought it would be.

So what do I take away from this exercise? I’m pretty much coming up with the balance of star-ratings that I thought I would be, despite struggling every week. I am perhaps a touch too generous with five-star reviews, but, then again, the mean is where I thought it would be. I’ll repeat this in July 2014, and see if things have changed.

This 2,043rd post was filed under: Diary Style Notes.

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