Lance Corporal Jones would be so proud of us

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When is panic buying not panic buying? When it involves buying petrol, that’s when.

I only mention this because despite newspaper and television showing queues of cars and a fair number of billy cans (why are they called that?) I’ve not found anyone who admits to panic buying. That said, I’ve not met anyone who hasn’t filled up their petrol tank this week to the point of over flowing either.

Top excuses have been: “I always buy petrol at the same time every week,” “I’d heard it was going to go up in price so thought I’d top up,” “I’ve a long journey coming up so I thought I’d avoid the queues” (they didn’t) and, best of all, “I saw a queue and thought there must be some sort of cheap price offer on.”

With a couple of hundred miles still left (according my dashboard indicator) I’ve managed to smugly avoid spending time I can ill afford, joining a queue behind people who don’t look like they’ve driven since the last time there was a delivery dispute.

I’ve tried not to get too irate as they’ve blocked the roads leading to work and seem never to have encountered roundabout etiquette before (Rule 1: don’t block the way for people who have no desire or need to buy yet more fuel). After all, they are only doing what Cabinet Minister Francis “Mad” Maude recommended – grab as much petrol or diesel as you can now in what receptacle you can lay your hands and to heck with the fact that your garage will be converted into a potential bomb – and that you are helping cause the very shortage of fuel that you foolishly thought you were avoiding.

Every day last week petrol purchased doubled (though looking at the queues it was with people only needing a thimble full’s worth of the stuff). If I’d been in charge of a petrol station I’d have inspected each customer’s petrol gauge and only served those who were hovering on around the red.

In a few weeks I could be eating my words. I really do have a fairly long journey to make if I’m to reach my required holiday destination. I won’t be the only one alone. Next weekend Blackpool was doubtless hoping for a tourism boost particularly if the Easter weather is going to be as good as it has been these past few days. But who is going to risk making the journey here if all they’ve got to look forward to is spending half their holiday in a queue filling up their fuel to get back home again. Not that Cameron and his clones will care. Somebody else queues for their petrol – and we pay for it.

I was chatting to someone in Morrisons who said he had a clothes shop the last time panic buying infected us. “I tried shouting “shirt shortage! Shirt shortage!” But it didn’t work, he said.