What’s the best way to start a fuel crisis? It’s easy; first you have a referendum, then you leave the European Union, then you have a pandemic and last of all you tell people there’s no need to panic. Right now we are being run by a dysfunctional Dad’s Army where Captain Mainwaring has been superseded by Corporal Jones who’s rushing around trying to keep his trousers on and telling everyone not to panic. To be fair, the great British public have no small share of blame in this, going around selfishly buying petrol they don’t need (at least unlike loo rolls, there’s a limit to what your tank will hold, though I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of a man filling his boot with bottles of the stuff, which surely has to be illegal.) And yesterday I was driving along the ring road when I fell into a traffic jam. Unusual, I thought, for this time in the morning. Maybe there’s been an accident. I should have known: as we inched closer to the scene of what I always think of as a follon – the Spanish for fuck-up – I realised it was caused by people queuing to get into the petrol station. Not only that, but someone in the other side was waiting to turn into it, a completely hopeless cause, and blocking traffic on that side. I drove self-righteously past, smug in the knowledge that I’d filled up last week. And just as well I had.
Some parts of the media have a share of the blame too, in spreading stories of impending shortages which then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But seriously, panic buying has to stop.
Got to go now, the tank’s less than half full so I’d better get some before it all runs out. Actually I know where to get some. But don’t tell ’em, Pike!
I’ve been doing some thinking of late. I haven’t been blogging much and I’m wondering if it’s time to lay the blog down, as we say in Quaker circles. Has it served its purpose? What was that purpose? Am I losing my passion for writing it? Have I written all I can on the various subjects that this blog covers?
I’m not looking for a chorus of ‘oh, please don’t go!’ (though if you feel like it, don’t hold back). I just don’t want to fade away as so many blogs do. Anyway, I was reminded last night of something that really has faded away, ie the once ubiquitous chad. If you don’t know what a chad is, here’s an example.
And of course (wouldn’t you know it?) the word has utterly changed its meaning and now refers to an alpha male. Language is very confusing.
You know that moment when you are just about to turn your computer off and it tells you it needs updating so you spend the next half hour watching a progress bar that isn’t really a progress bar because it doesn’t actually tell you how far you’re progressing but sits there not moving and then rushes to the end? Well this post is like that in no way at all except that it concerns progress. My progress.
First, the lurgy. I went to the doctor about the rash and was prescribed a cream which seems to be doing the trick, though it hasn’t entirely cleared up. In between bouts of fatigue I’ve been decorating. I gave up on the wrong shade of mustard and went to B and Q clutching a small piece of wall to see if they could match it. They could! It was quite exciting; first the computer did a lot of thinking, then it did some beeping and finally it spat out a label. Then the woman opened a tin of white paint and held it under a sort if rainbow tap which dribbled in the right amount of colour. Then came the really exciting part: the jiggling. The pot was sealed and placed inside the jiggler and off it went, jiggling at 650 jumps per minute until the paint was well and truly mixed. I took it home and bingo! it matched.
This week I have been decorating Peter’s flat, a job which will continue for the next week or two.
And I’ve been reading. But more of that anon.
As both I and Jeff Bezos have been discovering, time is flying and it’s flying fast. I first came across the phrase in The Phoenix and the Carpet by E Nesbit, but the truth of it has hit me only recently as I now realise it’s a whole two weeks since I last posted. I’ve got a note from the doctors to excuse me but I think it’s time I checked in at least. So… I’ve been reading Oliver Burkemans book 4000 Weeks on how to make the most of time. Carpeing the diem is in there of course but he also recommends totally wasting time; staring out of the window, watching clouds, it’s all good. Social media is not good of course as it sucks up your attention and manufactures outrage, but mainly he rails against the ubiquitous time management self-help manuals that give you 1001 joyless habits of successful people. It’s a relief. One of the books most useful ideas for me was that in choosing to do something you are simultaneously and inevitably choosing not to do others: as CS Lewis put it, you’re ‘free as a man is free to drink while he is drinking.’ You can’t drink and not-drink, you have to choose.
Don’t have a bucket list: enjoy what you’re doing now. Pay attention. Don’t fret impatiently at red traffic lights, just enjoy sitting and being.
It has also occurred to Jeff Bezos that time may one day run out for him, and so rather than spread his wealth around and help the undeserving poor he has embarked on what you might call Project Voldemort, ie the quest for eternal life. As Marina Hyde puts it in today’s Guardian, he has ‘decides that death is as inevitable as taxes, which is no say, not at all for the likes of him.’
I guess some people think you can conquer anything if you just throw enough money at it. Pity he didn’t think to throw some at his own staff.