Claire Black: We think that, whatever politicians say, they mean the opposite

Share this article
Have your say

DO YOU know what I have found most frightening about the panic buying of petrol that broke out like a dose of athlete’s foot in a swimming club?

By that I mean they listen and then instead of a) laughing, b) shaking their heads cynically, or c) rushing to change the channel/radio station so that they don’t have to listen any more, they, in fact, act on what the politician has said. This probably shouldn’t scare me, but it does.

Maybe it’s because I was under the distinct impression that it usually happens the other way round. The government tells us not to panic and we do because we assume that they’re not telling us the truth, just the version of it they view as most palatable. In the spirit of Joseph Heller, we think that, whatever they say, they mean the opposite.

And let’s face it, that’s not entirely irrational. I’m sure I’ve heard several Westminster-bots stating with all the sincerity of a set of speaking scales that they are tackling corruption/not privatising the NHS/really listening to people’s concerns about social welfare cuts, when we know that’s precisely the opposite of what they’ve been doing.

Following this logic, therefore, doesn’t it mean that in the case of the on-again-off-again strike by truckers when they told us to do what they did, we shouldn’t have done it? If you’ve suddenly got a headache I apologise. Petrol fumes do that.

Maybe I’m just feeling tetchy because it’s annoying at a time when I find myself at every turn confronted by all manner of grossly overpriced “Keep Calm and Carry On” crockery, greetings cards and tea-towels that we also have to put up with the fact that people will at the first opportunity “Immediately Panic and Freak Out”. (You can buy those tea-towels too, I know.) I might also be a bit grumpy because no one under 35 seems to know what a jerry can is. Some sensitivity please.

I don’t really mind that other people are panic buying (as long as they’re being safe) and as long as this doesn’t get completely out of control and start to impact on consumer items that I really care about, say, Jammie Dodgers and that new Cawston Press apple and rhubarb juice. I won’t be participating though. I don’t like being told what to buy. Why do you think I’ve never gone anywhere near a personal shopper?

I’M NOT calling for legislation to be passed or anything, but if this unseasonable weather is to continue I think someone might need to lay down some kind of sartorial rules. I only say this because the other day I walked passed a man wearing speedos and flipflops. He was on Holyrood Road. It didn’t get much better in Leith. One group of sun worshippers had actually carried their sofa to the park. Some other wag brought a mattress. Last time I checked it was still there.

WALKING down the Bridges in Edinburgh recently I confess I was shocked by the number of charity shops. Don’t get me wrong, I love a “chazza” as I believe the young people call them. Where else can you pick up two bowls in their own little bag complete with grass cuttings from the 1960s for 10 quid? But still, I get a bit nervous when, as shops are closing at a terrifying speed, some of the only ones doing well are those that don’t pay most of their staff and get their stock for free.

• Last week Claire... didn’t watch Mad Men. In fact, she’s never seen a single episode. She’s not boasting, she just reckons this makes her almost unique