“It’s very sticky today. I had to walk up the street to go to the cashtill and there was a queue, the one in the square is not giving out money.”
”The cashtills aren’t the only thing not working, it seems a lot of the card machines aren’t working either, that’s why everyone is looking for cash.”
”That would explain the queue.”
”I’m not being a conspiracy theorist but there are strange things going on, my mother went to Sainsbury’s and there was no fresh fruit and veg. Apparently, there was some panic earlier and everyone started buying fresh food to stockpile it.”
”But you can’t stockpile fruit and veg. That’s just daft.”
”Everything is daft now.”
It is hard to know how England came to this point. It is hard to know how, in a prosperous country town in an affluent area of the country, people can have reached the point where the slightest whisper can prompt an outburst of panic buying. Sober, sensible people would not have wasted money on food that will perish, or they would not have done before the current mood of madness took hold of the country.
The government admits to making plans for a scenario where there are food and medicine shortages; panic buying in Sainsbury’s reflects the mood of uncertainty shared by the politicians.
Elements within both of the main political parties are determined to proceed, even if it means the worst-case scenario is reached. On both wings, ideologues see the spring of 2019 as a time of opportunity. On the Right, there is an expectation that the departure from the European Union will mean a free market without regulation and scope for greater profits. On the Left, the belief is that the end of the role of the European Union will mean an end to neo-liberalism and the chance to establish a socialist society. Neither side is going to forego what they believe to be an unprecedented opportunity to achieve their goals.
In the middle, millions of ordinary people watch the news with increasing confusion, if not bewilderment. This was not the English way. Other countries have gone through revolutionary upheavals, other countries have seen change through political violence, in England the path has always been one of evolution rather than revolution.
There can now be no happy ending to the story, whatever the outcome, instability seems increasingly likely. Even cities like Bristol have expressed a feeling that there is a need to prepare for social unrest. Finding no fruit and veg in Sainsbury’s will be the least of the problems. These are mad times.