Mark Andrews on Saturday: cheek of petrol boss, pigs in blankets, and learning to cope with the Facebook outage

As the Army steps in to ease the fuel shortage, Gordon Balmer, head of the Petrol Retailers Association, says 'more needs to be done' to help 'disproportionately affected areas'.

Surely we can make our own pigs in blankets?
Surely we can make our own pigs in blankets?

By which, of course, he means London. Doesn't everyone know the world revolves around the Big Smoke?

Frankly, Mr Balmer, who represents independent petrol stations across Britain, has got a cheek. During the crisis, many of his members made hay by instantly inflating prices. When I replenished my empty tank the day the shortages emerged, the petrol station had put on an extra 10p a litre before it had even had time to update the sign. As the crisis developed, many were charging much more.

Fair enough, that's supply and demand, and we've all got to make a living. But when the British taxpayer is bailing the industry out, it's probably wise to keep quiet.

Because there is a strong argument it should be the industry – be it the forecourts or the oil companies – that foots the bill for this debacle.

Should the fuel industry be paying for army assistance?

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It was also interesting to see Iain Duncan Smith giving his thoughts on the HGV driver shortage. Because the former army officer is actually one of the few people in Parliament in a position to do something useful, rather than just talk about the problem. He is a qualified HGV driver.

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And given the shortage of lorry drivers, you might think there are rich pickings in retraining as an HGV driver, particularly now furlough has ended.

Maybe there are ­­– in the short term. But given the determination by politicians and big tech to press ahead with driverless vehicles, how long will these jobs be around for?

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How did you cope with the Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp outage?

I think on balance, I managed ok. It was tough, but I came through it stronger for the experience. Partly because I don't have Instagram or Whatsapp, but mainly because I was at work and had better things to worry about.

Doesn't it say a lot about modern Britain that a social media platform being out of action for a few hours becomes a lead story on the news bulletins? Talk about First World problems.

Instagram and Facebook

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Talking of which, some of the reports about supply-chain problems are starting to sound a little hysterical.

This week we were warned about a Christmas shortage of 'pigs in blankets', because there are not enough butchers to assemble these 'labour intensive' products. Are we really so hopeless it is considered a hardship to wrap a bit of bacon around a sausage?

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