Yesterday I was in the car coming back from Montpellier and was intrigued to see a line of cars waiting to buy petrol outside a Total garage. I checked my petrol gauge - nearly half full, so thankfully I could stave off a panic buy...
I have lived through several petrol panics here. My ex-husband is a doctor and so always had access to petrol even when it was being severely rationed, but the queues would be terrible - cars lining the sides of roads for hundreds of yards, waiting. It's only when you can't get it, of course, that you realise just how much you depend on it, and how vital it is to your everyday life.
If it came to it, I could cycle to work. It would probably take me half an hour, and do me a lot of good... My bike is a crappy old thing though, so I'd have to start by buying one that had decent brakes and gears that work.
Yesterday, the queues were forming because fishermen were blocking the port of Marseille. This meant that petrol stocks were also blocked in the port and folks wise to this put two and two together and decided to fill up before petrol stations started running dry. A little prematurely, in my opinion, but then the French do tend to panic about potential trouble. I'll never forget my ex-husband's grandmother urging me to rush out and stock up on rice and oil because of the invasion of Iraq. She was convinced, having lived through WWII, that France would be invaded and food would be scarce. She wasn't the only one either. When I went to do my weekly shop, the shelves of staples had been decimated.
It made me chuckle to think that all those panic-buyers were then eating rice for months to get through their stocks. A small price to pay though, for such selfish behaviour. Needless to say, there were no shortages, but there's no telling some people!
I've always thought the French government pretty spineless when it comes to strikers. The whole country can be reduced to its knees because a few mouthy blokes are blocking key ports and nothing is done to remove them. I just hope Sarko, being a stroppy little bugger himself, will not allow such a situation to repeat itself. He should send in the army to push aside the blockers to allow the rest of us to function. The strikers can stand by the side of the road not going to work. That is what strikes should be about - not working, but not stopping everyone else from working too.
The fishermen were complaining that their industry was being destroyed because they could no longer afford to put to sea. On hearing this, my youngest said "Good, cos our teacher said that there'll be no fish left within 30 years if they don't stop fishing." I'm not sure how much support or sympathy the fishermen can hope to enjoy from the general public when such information is being fed to its children...
The future is looking expensively grim!