As Corporal Jones was wont to tell anyone who would list, "Don't panic!" The thing is, givernment policy now appears to be very muck on the side of panicking. As much as possible.
All it takes is a threatened, uncertain, still-subject-to-talks, petrol tanker driver strike some weeks in the indeterminate future and our dear leaders are suggesting not only that one and all should be keeping the car's fuel tank topped up, but that jerry cans should be employed for the pruposes of emergency fuel stashes. And the result? Queues onto forecourts; petrol selling out; widespread chaos and anger and (in one case combining stupidity and government guidance following) people being burned in their kitchens.
My commute-to-work-in-a-car wife commented, as news images filtered through on every channel of people thinking the sky was falling in, that it was ridiculous and simply proved how welded to their cars people were. There merest hint that they might not be able to drive and all hell breaks loose.
And what of the cyclists? Well I guess if the delivery trucks can't get to the supermarkets then they might run out of bananas. Maybe cyclists should start stocking up just in case.
It does highlight an utter dependance, as well as a lack of creative thinking from people in general. No fuel equals no car equals how the hell do I do anything? Legs are long forgotten contraptions. Obviously for many they may works tens of miles from work, but in these days of electronic communication overload, in case of emergency, does being at the office actually matter? Save the fuel for those who truly need it in order to move - ambulances, police, fire services. Get the doctors and nurses to work. Who gives a damn if the accountants or the HR department can't get in for a few days and have to communicate by email and mobile phone instead of around the water cooler.
Okay, so this may all be a bit flippant, and for many there is a genuine need to be able to use the car. But you know what, if people hadn't panicked, and the government hadn't encouraged it, then the panic buying wouldn't happen, and those who need fuel would still have it. Even at the time of the panic there were weeks to go before any possible strike was to happen - chances are that full tank, by the time the strike rolled around, would be empty once more, because you can be sure those who were filling up weren't then planning to park up the car and leave it until such time as it was absolutely necessary.
And that's the truly stupid, idiotic, moronic thing about it all. That total widespread panic was pre-emptive and pointless, even if there was an eventual strike. The fact that there then wasn't the Easter weekend industrial action means that it just looks, not just in hindsight, but also at the time, desperate and depressing.
And buried in amongst the whole mismanaged carnage is the news that the tanker drivers gained some concessions from the government, which means they get to drive for longer without a break. That's what we needed, drivers of heavy goods vehicles possibly more tired from longer behind the wheel. The whole episode is really quite embarrassing...