Last night, I finally succumbed to the need to buy some petrol. With the ‘fill up soon, twat, or your engine will conk out’ light flashing, I made my way to my local Sainsburys, hoping the remaining fumes would get me there safely. They did. Sadly, the petrol station had been closed for most of the day and it wasn’t about to reopen just for me. Big decision time: should I give up and limp home or gamble that the nearby Big Tesco store might have some fuel? Sod it. I drove to Tesco and – hooray! – they had some petrol.
I suppose there was a queue of around three cars for each pump so it didn’t take long to reach one. However, for the bloke in front of me it wasn’t so much fun because “there’s no fucking diesel”, as he gently put it. The same man then abandoned his vehicle to walk into the shop to ask when the next batch of diesel would be delivery. “He doesn’t fucking know,” he said, as I gave my best “Am I bovvered?” shrug. I might have said “he doesn’t fucking know because he works here for £9 an hour and is not party to information about fuel deliveries” but I concentrated on filling my own tank.
For some reason, I felt extremely embarrassed about being part of a near scrum to get some fuel and made a point of saying so to the nice man in the shop. “Well, if you need the fuel,” he said, “What’s the problem?” And of course he was right. “Have you been getting stick?” I asked. “Only since I started my shift,” he replied. I didn’t ask when that might have been but I suspect he had been there for some time. He didn’t deserve said stick but I’m afraid that’s what happens when people get frightened and start to panic.
Not that I think much of this fuel crisis is solely about panic buying. I think it’s more of a case of keeping the fuel tank topped up as much as possible because people know there is an underlying issue, admittedly an issue made worse by people topping up the fuel tank when they don’t need to. Underneath it all, this crisis of the government’s own making.
Across Europe there are driver shortages. Poland has bigger shortages than we do but they have not voted to break away from their biggest trading block. They simply allow other European drivers to deliver their fuel thanks to the free movement we rejected. Yes, it’s all about Brexit. And we know it’s about Brexit because Boris Johnson’s clown car government, having told those ghastly foreign drivers to piss off, is now begging them to make some deliveries for us until Christmas, when they can piss off again. And we know there’s a genuine crisis because the armed forces are being mobilised to drive lorries. No wonder people are topping up or panicking.
I suppose the crisis will soon pass and we will have something else to fret about, like gas supplies for example. We have no reserves, unlike most European countries, and if we get a hard winter what if supplies run out? Still, I suppose we could have the SAS killing turkeys and then driving them to supermarkets all over the country in order to ‘save Christmas’. Bit of a comedown after the Iranian siege and Mirbat, I grant, you but needs must. And perhaps we could employ the marines to deliver toys for children if Santa gets bogged down with fuel shortages?