Last night I slept badly, in fact very badly, and I knew what was worrying me. I had very little petrol left in the car and I knew I needed to do a lot of driving about this week. I was also worrying as Kay also had little petrol in her car - only enough for 25 miles - and she said she would need to get a taxi to and from work at the hospital over the next few days or weeks, if she couldn't find any.
The recent shortage of any shape or form of petrol in London and the South-East has been diabolical. Since news of the petrol shortage at filling stations was "leaked" last week, the human race has shown its true colours in all its technicolour glory. The panickers rallied round in their thousands resulting in people filling up any receptacle imaginable to get in on the bandwagon before the pumps ran dry. It was toilet rolls at dawn all over again. The result was that the pumps literally ran dry overnight and there were no tanker drivers to replenish them again. Last week I had a quarter of a tank of petrol still in my car, so I let the idiots take their fill, hoping that by this week I could step in to fill my car once they had crawled back under their stones.
No such luck. As soon as any random filling station managed to get a supply, the idiots were going back and back to fill and refill, even for £5-worth, lest they share it with those who really needed it and were running low. Key workers, especially NHS staff, were left in tears as they could find no petrol anywhere to get them to their vital work. Even ambulances were having to join queues not knowing if there was any petrol at the end of it. The BBC news reported that most of the country was functioning well, but in the South-East and London there was no petrol to be had. Filling stations were either closed completely or just open to sell groceries from their shops, but the pumps were locked. When a random delivery did appear, word spread on Facebook groups and the queues stretched literally for miles, meaning you could queue for over two hours just to get to the head of the queue as petrol ran out again. The queues were causing congestion in the roads, buses were doing U-turns in the High Street to find a detour. It was unbelievable the hostility it caused as tempers soared.
As my quarter of a tank went down more and more towards the red line, I worried whether I would ever find a petrol station open. There are at least six within a mile or two of me, but every single one was closed with signs saying "No petrol". Rumours were saying you had to go away from London as far south as Sevenoaks to find some, but even that wasn't guaranteed, the irony being that to find some precious petrol, you were using up much-needed petrol in the process. Even the news that the army was being brought in to drive the tankers as of yesterday brought no relief. The filling stations still remained closed yesterday.
My anxiety obviously was heavy in my mind last night as I agonised how I was going to get some. I even contemplated walking a fair distance in torrential rain to get to my Pilates class this morning to save what little I had for a trip to choir tonight in the dark, when I would prefer not to walk the dark streets. By 6am I gave up any idea of more sleep and checked my local Facebook group. Someone had posted that a Tesco filling station about two miles away had petrol and (even more appealing) no queues. Forgoing any ablutions or breakfast, I hurled myself into my car and with fingers crossed, I set off for Tesco. To my utter delight the petrol station was open and I only had to queue about 5 minutes - just to wait for the driver in front to pay and return to his car.
First World problems, I know, but I cannot tell you how relieved I am to be on the road again. Kay also managed to fill her tank up this morning too. So we both hope we needn't worry again for another few weeks or more. Hopefully by then the crisis will be over.