Miles Kington: Some people will stop at nothing to fill their tank

Susan joined a very slow-moving queue. After half an hour, she found herself on the ferry to Le Havre
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The Independent Online

A round-up of the latest stories from Britain's panic-stricken petrol queues...

Jenny Blackwell of Cheshire queued 40 minutes at her Warrington petrol station yesterday, just to get a bar of chocolate.

"I wanted a praline, but t hey only had hazelnut, which I hate, so I didn't get it."

She went to a sweet shop instead.

A man from Essex, Geoff Lowden, had planned for the next fuel crisis long before it happened.

"After the last petrol panic I converted the back of my van into a petrol tank taking 700 litres, and now I can survive any petrol shortage."

So does he dash out before a petrol shortage and panic buy 700 litres?

"Don't be daft. I've always got minimum 670 litres on board. How do you think a garage would react if I went in and filled up with 700 litres? They'd either phone for a computer engineer to mend the till computer or send for the police. No, I always ask for 30 litres. I'll probably join the queue and wait patiently with everyone else, just to avoid suspicion."

Oscar Treadmill queued for an hour and 20 minutes at his petrol station in Yorkshire on Monday, pretending to want petrol but actually anxious to go to the loo.

"I was desperate by the time I got there," he said, "so you can imagine how chagrined I was to find that they had mislaid the toilet key the day before. I drove down the road instead and went behind a tree. Mercifully, there was no queue for the tree."

Joe Glaster of Bristol queued for two hours at his petrol station before he was served - and he was only there to get a windscreen wiper!

"It was a special order," he said, "so I was forced to to wait. When I got to the till they asked me why I didn't come straight to the top of the queue and pop in to get it? I was so furious at the thought of wasting all that time that I said I didn't want the bloody wiper after all. Then after I drove away it started raining, and with my reduced vision on account of having only one wiper, I got involved in an accident. We rang up the nearest garage for help - and guess which one it was that came out?"

Susan Bagshaw of Portsmouth joined what she thought was a very slow-moving queue for petrol until, after half an hour, she found herself driving on to the next ferry to Le Havre. And once you are on a ferry, there is no way you can get off.

"I was actually on my way to work, so it was a bit of a shock when I phoned the office to say I would be late, and they asked me where I was, and I said in France, and they said, What on earth are you doing in France? You know we've got the monthly meeting at 10.15! And I said, I'm picking up some petrol, and in fact I was, because there were no queues in France at all! I got the next ferry back, and was at work by teatime, and had bought patisseries for everyone, so I think I was forgiven for that ..."

Humphrey Mendip of Preston had been queuing for 40 minutes for petrol at a station near Lancaster and had got chatting to the woman in the car behind. As they swapped life stories, he realised to his utter astonishment that she must be his missing sister Ursula, whom he had not seen for 30 years.

"It all fitted," he said. "Date of birth, places, memories, everything. I had been trying to trace her all that time - and there she was!"

Unfortunately, just as they had established their relationship, and were about to celebrate, it was his turn to fill up with petrol, and then he got in an argument with the cashier, and by the time it was all straightened out, she had been lost in the melee. And he hadn't even taken her car number.

"To make it worse, I had lent her my personal organiser to tap in her details, and she has still got it. So I've still got a missing sister, and I've now lost all the details of my own life to boot, and she's got them. I just hope she gets in touch, using it. But the only thing I can remember about Ursula is that she was incredibly disorganised, so I am not too hopeful."