Column: The only thing the panic people have achieved is to make oil companies even richer

I did it. I sat in a queue of cars for an hour to get petrol, says Notts-raised comedian and writer Steve N Allen.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:20 pm

Before you accuse me of being a panic buyer and come at me with lit torches, which you shouldn’t do because my car is full of petrol. I wasn’t panic buying. I was one of the poor fools who was buying.

I was on the last bar on the fuel gauge.

I know I shouldn’t leave it that late but I like the thrill. My car tells me how many miles of fuel I have left and I always feel like I am calling its bluff.

Columnist Steve N Allen, the Nottinghamshire-raised comedian and writer.

I had a stand-up comedy gig to get to and the car was telling me I only had 24 miles in the tank.

The gig was much further away. It’s amazing how far I have to go to find somewhere that will book me.

I’d normally get some petrol on the way to the gig and all is well. The reason I had a nightmare journey was everyone else.

Jean-Paul Sartre had clearly been queuing for petrol before he wrote that, “Hell is other people.” That’s from a play he called No Exit, so he took that from the sign by the entrance too.

What caused the run on the petrol stations? Some of them had seen a few deliveries delayed the day before but if we are honest the panic buying was caused by the warning not to panic buy.

The thought that someone else might be panic buying something we’re not is enough to send some people out hunting. The thing is, you can’t stockpile petrol. While loo roll can sit in the spare room for months waiting for its chance at the big time, petrol is a highly flammable liquid that evaporates.

What has the surge in demand brought about? An increase in the price per litre at the pumps. Well done panic people, you’ve made the oil companies richer. Their marketing people have probably realised that all they have to do to make a few extra million is put out a sign on their forecourts that says, “No panic buying.”

By panic buying you made those of us who needed fuel sit in a queue, a queue which made other people think they should panic buy.

When I got in from the gig, I saw someone on the news say they’d joined the queue simply because she saw a queue.

Can we find a way to connect those people up in one long circular loop to queue in while we all go about our days?

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