On Panic Buying

From 2013 (When Bob Crow was alive).

So I wake up this morning and I make the kids breakfast listening to Evan Davis on Radio 4 like I do every morning and she comes down and I say

“Bob Crow is urging everyone to go on strike which could mean a mega winter of discontent”

and she says

“oh dear”

and then I say

“and the weather man reckons it’s going to be one of the coldest winters on record due to unseasonably high isobars or something”

and she says


and then I start thinking that this could well be the perfect winter storm what with Bob Crow and his plans combined with God and his plans and it could mean a really dreadful winter possibly the worst winter ever on record and it occurs to me that I should probably stock up on firewood now because I bet everybody is listening to Radio 4 and thinking

oh my God I must get more firewood because of the really cold winter that’s coming and that dreadful Bob Crow fellow urging everyone to strike

and it’s therefore important to get there first before they run out of wood or the laws of supply and demand force the cost of wood to shoot up so I sit down at the computer and try and remember the name of the company that I ordered wood from last year and whilst I’m Googling cheap wood in Stratford-upon-Avon I accidentally type food instead of wood and an advert for Tesco pops up so it starts me thinking about all the other things that we should stock up on if we have a winter of discontent because it’s not just about wood fuel it’s about having human fuel and to some extent water although one could argue that if it snows then there’ll be lots of water and then I remember an article that I read ages ago about the whole of the UK food supply chain only having four days of food in it because the nature of the fast moving consumer goods industry means it’s all about supply chain efficiency and not carrying lots of stock so I tell her that after we drop the kids off at school we should swing by Tesco to stock up on tinned goods

and she says

“I don’t really like Tesco”

and I say

“well it’s not really relevant here because it’s about getting lots of cheap own label tinned goods, not organic lamb kofkas because I think the family needs provisions to be self sufficient for a month at least and we have to keep it a secret too because I’ve seen The Road and I know what people are like when they don’t have food and they’ll murder their neighbours for a tin of tuna particularly our neighbour because the husband seems very highly strung and I dread to think what he would do if he was starving with the spectre of a cruel slow death knocking at his door and a family to support and I bet he’d cut us all down without a moment’s thought to get to our tinned bounty in the garage and when I say don’t tell anyone I mean not even your friend Nat or your mum or your sister or if you do have to tell them because you seem to tell them everything then tell them to stock up too although they mustn’t tell anyone because otherwise word will spread like wildfire of the impending potential catastrophe and it’ll start a total panic buying scenario in Stratford-upon-Avon”

and so she follows me into Tesco but about five paces behind because she thinks this is a ludicrous idea and I tell her that she won’t think it’s ludicrous when Bob Crow is going on national television urging everyone to calm down and not take the strike so literally but by then it’s too late because the entire infrastructure has collapsed with no heating because of the strikes and outside constant subzero temperatures making it so cold that the river Avon actually freezes over and the starving hoards are combing the desolate frozen land scavenging for scraps and eating dogs and cats and really for half an hour out of her life it’s not really a big sacrifice to safeguard the survival of our family and anyway the only downside of all this is that I spend £200 and we have a garage full of Spam which causes some upset because she doesn’t like Spam but I tell her that Spam is an important source of fat and protein and that to ward off malnutrition or conditions like scurvy and rickets it’s vitally important to have a balanced diet and also Spam is quite versatile in that it can  be used as a base ingredient to create lots of different dishes

She says

“but Olivia is a vegitarian”

I ignore the comment safe in the knowledge that when it all comes crashing down vegetarianism won’t be on an option and I start loading the cart up with lots of Spam and she wanders off and then I go and find the corned beef section and note that it’s all made in Argentina which I find strangely interesting and by the time she catches up with me she’s got three massive packets of loo rolls and I explain that this activity is about tins of food not getting 72 loo rolls and when Bob Crow and his strike and the subzero conditions combine and the four horsemen of the apocalypse come round the corner with hoofs flailing and their skeletal faces screaming into the wind that loo roll is not going to be what saves us

and she says

“well what are we going to wipe ourselves with”

and I say

“when the time comes we’ll have to improvise and use newspaper or leaves or whatever we can get our hands on”

and she says


and then after some thought she explains that she’s going to buy the loo rolls with her own money and put them in the loft and when it all happens she’s not going to share her loo roll and she then goes off looking for water biscuits and I fill the remaining space in the trolley with tuna fish and rice pudding and baked beans and head to the till where the checkout person is looking  bored and I remember when I was a 17 and I worked on the till in a supermarket and I never looked so outwardly bored and I notice his name badge says Keith and I say in a quiet conspiratorial tone to Keith that I’m stocking up just in case to try and cheer him up by treating him as a person not an appendage to the till and he looks at me blankly and doesn’t say anything whilst I load all the tins up on the conveyor belt and he scans the cans looking off into the middle distance and I joke that if the world comes to an end then we’ll be OK

and he says


and avoids eye contact and she turns up with ten boxes of water biscuits and a giant bag of marshmallows and raises her eyebrows and says


and I don’t even bother saying anything and we put all the tins in bags and take them home and I open the garage and clear four shelves of unused dusty DIY products and load all the tins up on the shelves and in front of them I put old tins of paint to hide them just so nobody stumbles across them and go inside to Google wood.