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Iain Maciver: We can’t go on paying an arm and a leg forever

Average UK petrol and diesel prices have hit a record high.
Average UK petrol and diesel prices have hit a record high.

Why are prices shooting up?

They say the rise in energy will be about 54%. That is shocking. I know that’s cheesy, but I think it is the best word.

We know all about inflation but the sharp rises in so many areas of our lives suggest there is something else going on.

Oh, Covid and Brexit? Actually, yeah, but us mere laypeople would have thought that the Brexit effect would have settled by now. After all, remember the promised savings on the side of that big red bus?

With every visit to the supermarket, we see prices of most items shooting up. We are told the pandemic caused staff shortages in all sectors but food products are one of the worst affected. So, employers have to pay out more to agencies and other temporary staff get the work done. How long is this going on for?

The price of fuel is now at an all-time high. It has never been as expensive as it is this week. That is an awful record.

Some fuel retailers are said to be ashamed to put the latest prices up on their big forecourt display boards. So, what else could they put up? Maybe a picture of an arm and a leg?

Things aren’t as grim in Türkiye

Britain is so slow to act on this one. The main excuse is that the pandemic payments, like furlough and other help, has left little in the kitty. Yet, other countries are helping their people.

For example, Turkey has already cut taxes on basic foods to fight inflation after lowering VAT from 8% to 1% on dairy products, fruits, vegetables and so on. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said their VAT will be lowered this week.

Some countries are cutting food taxes to help residents (Photo: 1000 Words/Shutterstock)

Turkey is also on Mr E’s mind. That’s because the president of Turkey doesn’t like Turkey’s name being like the bird which gobbles and which we gobble up with cranberry sauce each Yuletide. He’s not a fan of all that.

Nor is he delighted with the fact that failures – like people, businesses and even racing cars – are sometimes known as turkeys. Nope, he likes that even less. So, he is changing the country’s name to Türkiye. I know it looks similar but you have to emphasise the “ye” at the end. See? It’s a new national identity now.

Have you seen any superb owls lately?

Like the identity of the two storms – or low pressure systems, to be meteorologically correct – which are due to roll in this week. By the time you read this, Storm Dudley, which threatens 90mph gales, is expected to be blowing up every nook in every kilt in every cranny in Scotland. Then its frigid sister, Eunice, is going to be shivering our timbers by Friday with an icy blast of snow and ice.

It is so easy to get things badly wrong if you don’t quite understand what a name means

Like I keep saying, names are very important. It is so easy to get things badly wrong if you don’t quite understand what a name means. For instance, I was seeing a lot online recently about the Superbowl. It was supposed to be quite a spectacle and I’d never seen it. I didn’t know anything about it.

Then, I saw that Superbowl LVI was being played at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California on Sunday. It was online. So, I thought I would put a couple of hours aside to watch. How disappointing was that? Not once did I see an owl, superb or otherwise.

How to save money on Valentine’s Day

Monday, of course, was Valentine’s Day. I tried to get Mrs X to drop clues last week about what romantic excursion she wanted us to take to celebrate it. Ever blunt, she came right out with it and said: “I don’t care. Just be romantic and take me somewhere very expensive.” So, early on Monday, I took her to the filling station.

Forget red roses – say it with very expensive petrol (Photo: MrHomme/Shutterstock)

In Stornoway, petrol is almost 150p a litre and diesel is even more than that. And, as economic forecasters tend to say nowadays, it’ll probably get worse before it gets better. Petrol was already nearly £2 a litre in posh parts of London earlier this week.

After that shock, Mrs X still needed filling up. We decided to toddle off home for a romantic breakfast. Earlier, I had scribbled a few lines of slushy poetry to tickle her fancy and, when she went in, they were there propped up against the marmalade:

“Roses are red
And violets are nice,
I’ll get yours midweek
They’ll then be half price.”


Iain Maciver is a former broadcaster and news reporter from the Outer Hebrides

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