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It’s worse than that, Jim

I don’t think the human race will survive the next thousand. years, unless we spread into space. There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet. But I’m an optimist. We will reach out to the stars

I don’t want to jinx anything, but a few merchants have hinted to me that (whispers) it’s getting slightly easier to get hold of some building materials. The shortages that were threatening to cripple the recovery are easing, ever so slightly. For months, it’s been a case of suppliers saying “you can’t have it, because we haven’t got it”. Now, I’m told the conversation is more “if we can find someone to get it to you, you can have it”. So, still problems, just of a slightly different hue.

Mind you, there’s always the chance that the reason supply shortages may be easing – or at least not worsening – is because demand is falling. I think that seems to be what is happening with petrol anyway. I drove past three petrol stations yesterday evening; all had fuel and none had queues.

Are things getting better or is this just a lull before the storm? The cynical journalist in me thinks that when the clocks go back, the nights start drawing in and the crisp October mornings turn into November bone-chilling cold and wet days, the full realisation of the mess we ‘ve got ourselves into with fuel prices will start to hit home. Not just domestically, but industrially, too. There’s only so much forward price-fixing that companies reliant on gas to heat, say, their furnaces or their brick-drying ovens, can do. Prices of pretty much everything  we buy and sell in this industry are only going in one direction and that’s having effects right through the supply chain. However, the eternal optimist in me really wants to believe that we are heading out of the woods, even if the map’s got a bit unreadable.

So, we have a situation where energy prices are so damn high that even the Prime Minister is thinking about raiding his neighbour’s piggy bank to feed the meter. Where the global economic recovery is stuck at a Suffolk port because it can’t get stuff processed. Where my local builder is booked up for work until April. Where the road to the Dartford Tunnel is blocked because the spouse of a Transport for London executive has glued themselves to the M25. Where the government’s blinkered attitude to the growing pandemic back in March 2020, which was responsible for thousands of possibly preventable deaths, has been laid bare by a Parliamentary enquiry.

With all this happening, what’s the one thing that it’s good to know we can rely upon? The fact that some billionaire with more cash than sense and a few celebrity friends is prepared to throw good money into the air and go boldly where lots of people have already been. William Shatner, the Canadian-born actor who played Captain James T Kirk for so many years on TV, is heading into space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space ship. Why? Because he can. Because it’s there. Because why wouldn’t you, given the chance?

Having watched a lot of Star Trek in my time though, I’m not sure I’d go with him…

 

 

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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