31 March 2012

At least we don't have to panic buy nostalgia, it's free

I am somewhat taken aback by the current spate of panic buying: petrol, stamps and pasties. I understand the stamps one best, I guess, as buying stamps that are designated 1st and 2nd class (rather than a specified amount of money) will save you money when postage is hiked at the end of the month.

But none of this stuff is actually life-essential, and I'm beginning to wonder if queuing and shortages haven't become part of the nation's vision of the past, and we consequently feel the need to revisit them now and again (I'm thinking here of the sugar and bread shortages of the 1970s, for example).

You don't have to ask whether the British are nostalgic - we make an industry of it. It's one of the things we do best, and pretty much always have, from at least the days of the Tudors and Stuarts getting misty-eyed about Arthurian times. Brits also dearly love a bargain, even if it isn't one: I doubt I'll ever forget seeing a sales assistant barely escape unscathed from the scavenging mob after she'd pushed a trolley of rather indifferent-looking reduced items into the central area of a local M&S branch. She judged it prudent to flee without attempting to arrange them on the racks, for which you could scarcely blame her.

A lot of Brits also have a liking for hoarding household stuff (one reason why so few people use their garages, if they have them, to contain their cars). The relative who could have run a cleaning products market stall with the contents of hers, and the former colleague whose caravan was lined with loo roll, are probably not untypical. So stock up now, folks - it's our heritage!

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