My brother John tipped me the wink earlier this week that petrol stations are being resupplied in the wee small hours of the morning to prevent the mere sight of a tanker precipitating grid lock and, based on this advice, I managed to fill up at the Colliers Wood Tesco at around seven this morning. My engine was running on fumes. I myself can largely function without the car, but I have to drive to Hammersmith every Sunday morning to take a man in his ninth decade, who lives alone, out for his weekly grocery shop and that trip was looking less and less likely for this weekend until this morning.
The High Street around the tube station is a perfect storm of incompetence and virtue-signal grandstanding by TFL and the council. At the best of times there is only one lane in each direction because of the cordoning off of the bike lanes and the projection of the bus stop into the road. This morning this was exacerbated by a broken down bus stuck against the curb with its hazard lights flashing. It was difficult to move in the congestion.
"Hard luck," you may think. Bear in mind though that St George's hospital is just up the road from us and ambulances need to charge up and down the A24 (of which our High Street is a section) to and from its A&E department. At the best of times all these traffic calming measures make it all but impossible to pull over and get out of the way. Ben, with his gift for understatement and months ago, described the experience of blocking a siren-blaring ambulance with some poor patient inside and absolutely no option for letting it past as "embarrassing." Quite. Queues at petrol stations have made the situation much, much worse.
Sadiq Khan, London's mayor and former MP for Tooting, ought to know about St George's but unfortunately he is a self-satisfied narcissist. Do you remember his ludicrous "I need 24-hour security because of my skin colour and the god I worship" assertion at the Labour party conference earlier this week?
First of all I can imagine Allah the Most Merciful looking down and announcing, "don't try pinning any of this on me Sadiq. I think we will find it was you who was asleep at the wheel."
As regards skin colour there was a guy with the same complexion as our Great Leader at the petrol station this morning organising the allocation of vehicles to filling slots. He was maximising efficient throughput with a smile on his face that was friendly without ever getting any way near supercilious or condescending. As I was fuelling I noticed that he was subtly arranging things so that vehicles were allocated to pumps on the same side of the car as the petrol cap, all but eliminating that ludicrous thing where you have to stretch the hose over the boot. Ditto avoiding the situation - as far as possible - where a car at one slot blocks access to one in front.
Off the top of my head, I would estimate he was improving performance by about 20%. If he ever runs for mayor I will vote for him in a shot.