Saving up fuel for a rainy day

By Simon Round, March 29, 2012

We British (as opposed to we Jews) love a crisis. Which is just as well because there are two coming along at once.

You may have noticed, particularly if you live on the eastern side of the country, that the wet stuff that used to fall from the sky - I forget what it's called after all this time - has failed to do so for so long that the government has decided to ban all use of water. Unless, that is, you can prove that you are really thirsty (at least that's my Jewish and therefore less than stoical take on it).

Meanwhile, petrol tanker drivers, probably driven half mad by the terrible thirst, are about to strike for more money, because their dehydrated brains have lost the power to work out that they already get paid more than most other workers.

Thus we have a national fluid shortage. There are some liquids that are still available, like alcohol and milk, but alcohol is all set to go up in price so that you won't damage your liver, and you can't really water your garden or fill up your tank with milk.

All the Jews I know have taken this as a cue to kvetch practically continuously about the weather forecasters/greedy unions/nanny state, whereas everyone else is merely grumbling, but in that peculiarly British way that suggests they are quite looking forward to having their backs to the wall.

You can’t really water your garden with milk

Other nations love to recall their famous victories but the British, for some strange reason, hark back to crises of the past. The famous drought of 1976 is remembered almost as a golden age, when it was actually a kind of yellowing, slightly parched age. And the petrol blockades of 12 years ago are recalled with something akin to the spirit of the Blitz.

And then there is the Blitz itself. To be honest, if someone started dropping ton after ton of high explosives on my city, killing thousands and razing whole areas to rubble, I would not be breaking into cheery songs, particularly if I only had one scoop of powdered egg to last me the week. Yet I remember my grandma coming over all British - claiming the Blitz was a wonderful time of camaraderie and defiance. (In her later years the Jewish attitudes returned - she would frequently moan about that the price of plaice was approaching £2 a pound).

Of course not even the Blitz generation experienced a time of petrol and water rationing at the same time.

As a Jew, I anticipate it being awful - a time of shrivelled tulips and abandoned journeys, while my non-Jewish friends are enthusiastically taping up their windows and buying in tins of bully beef ahead of the onslaught.

Still, despite a knowledge of Jewish history, which suggests that things do not normally turn out well, I am trying to retain hope that maybe we can persuade the tanker drivers to keep calm and carry on. And hopefully, for all our sakes, there will be storm clouds gathering over Europe - which will then proceed to empty themselves over the south-east.

Last updated: 6:50pm, March 29 2012