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Ken Fyne: Don’t panic, everything is under control…

Are these the experts entrusted to run our country?

You’ve got to laugh.

If you want someone to worry, tell them there’s nothing to worry about. If you want someone to be scared, say there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you want someone to feel pain, say that whatever you’re about to do won’t hurt. And if you want someone to panic uncontrollably, just tell them not to panic.

Every day this week, I’ve visualised Corporal Jones shouting at his Home Guard colleagues “don’t panic, don’t panic”. Unfortunately, no one has told the dozy Dad’s Army running Britain that they’re about as reliable and competent as Captain Mainwaring, who made the jingoistic Colonel Blimp seem like a multicultural internationalist in comparison.

The incongruity of being told repeatedly by “Grinning” Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, that there was plenty of fuel when hundreds of petrol stations had closed and others were rationing supplies was an out-of-touch comment rivalling Marie Antoinette who, when told that French peasants had no bread, said: “Let them eat cake”.

There is no fuel shortage, says Grant Shapps.

To be fair, and that’s not a phrase I often use when discussing bonkers Brexiteers, he’s absolutely right. There is plenty, but it’s in refineries where we can’t get at it due to driver shortages. It’s the same at Fyne Place. We have plenty food buried in our freezer but there’s not much point in having a deep-frozen joint lurking there if I fancy a roast-beef sandwich in the next 10 minutes. How it gets to my plate when I need it is a matter of sensible forward planning and logistics.

Were those to be exam subjects, politicians on both sides of the border would likely score a D-minus, and then only because of neat handwriting and spelling their name correctly.

So, first it was a CO2 shortage, then energy prices soaring, then it was fuel rationing and now, to cap it all, some dancers on Strictly tested positive for Covid. “Gad, sir,” as Colonel Blimp was wont to say. “Help ma boab,” as Oor Wullie might have put it.

Strictly’s Tom Fletcher and Amy Dowden have tested positive for Covid-19.

Those who can afford the conversion to electric, hydrogen, wind-powered, dung-powered or pedal-powered cars are laughing, of course. You can see them in all their planet-saving smugness sailing past the petrol queues.

But what if our electricity supplies are threatened by the gas supply problem? Almost 40% of our electricity is generated by natural gas, more than half of which is imported. Looks like bicycle shops are in for more boom times ahead, provided they can get supplies delivered, of course.

Naturally, I’ve considered sending Mrs F on the new HGV training course, with all the attendant advantages that will bring, including increased income and the major advantage that we’d spend most of our working lives out of earshot. I’ve no doubt she could handle an articulated lorry as easily as our wee petrol car and I’m certain she’d immediately tackle the pathetically inadequate roadside facilities offered to our lorry drivers across the north and north-east if she was to experience what those invaluable drivers must endure.

The country desperately needs more trained lorry drivers.

It’s reassuring to know, however, that we apparently have so many spare Army personnel nowadays that they can be released to drive ambulances and lorries at a moment’s notice. When they signed up at their barracks for a life of combat, fitness, discipline and overseas adventures, was delivering patients to hospitals or food to supermarkets what they dreamed of?

That aside, I’m told that at Fort George recently a scary sergeant-major challenged a young squaddie. “I didn’t see you at camouflage training this morning,” he growled. “Thank you, sir,” replied the lad, proudly.

OK, so that’s certainly apocryphal, but so are assertions that we’ve nothing to worry about. As self-appointed captain of the Scottish Worrying Team, my fingernails are steadily being chewed.

Still, while the Government might be exhorting us to “eat cake”, I’m delighted that the new World Oatcake Champions have been crowned at the Tarland championships. Congratulations to Johnnie Wiseman, from Insch, and Norma Breathet, from near Ardersier.

World Oatcake champion Johnnie Wiseman.

I love an oatcake. In fact, I fancy jumping in the car and driving to the shops for some right now. Oh, wait, I’m not sure I have enough fuel. Dammit.

As Private Fraser regularly opined: “We’re all doomed”.

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