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The Panic Buyer's Creed - A Poem

This is one of several pages of original poetry, prose and reflection by this author which comment on many aspects of the human condition

The Background To This Poem

In the spring of 2020 the coronavirus outbreak, Covid-19, is gripping the whole world, and at the time of writing, no one knows exactly for how long it will remain a major threat, and how many will have been lost before it finally passes as a major threat. Severe restrictions on personal liberties and freedom of movement have been imposed in an attempt to control it, and these restrictions have seen the very best - and unfortunately the very worst - in humanity, come to the fore.

One of the worst aspects has been the panic buying of supplies. In the UK this has particularly applied to staple foods, hand soaps and sanitisers, medical supplies and - bizarrely - toilet rolls, despite the fact that there is in reality no shortage of stock in the supply lines of these commodities; it is only selfish panic buying which causes temporary shortages at the point of sale.

Most of those who panic buy are ordinary people who, in normal times, will be law abiding and decent individuals. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to try to look at panic buying from the mindset of one of the culprits, and how they probably see themselves as doing nothing much wrong. It is a fairly lighthearted poem, though the activities described are seriously bad. I hope nobody who reads this, recognises themselves as the narrator of the poem!



My apologies to John Masefield, because phrasing inspiration came from his poem 'Sea Fever'. You know, the one that goes:

'I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by'


I must go down to the shops again,
to the queues of people there,
and all I ask is a small wish
for the aisles to not be bare,
'least not till after the buying spree
that I intend to do,
'cos it's every man to fend for himself!
(from my personal point of view).

I must go down to the shops again
to buy toilet rolls galore,
A multi-pack, or three or four,
to last me several months or more.
And all I ask is that hospital staff,
cannot get there first
so there's lots and lots for me to buy,
to tide me through the worst.

I must go down to the shops again
to grab their soaps and sanitisers
Wasn't that the guidance
from the government advisors?
And all I ask is for the chance
to empty every aisle,
so when I have to stay at home
I'll live in well stocked style.

I must go back to my home again
and think only of myself.
I've bought up all the drugs and potions
to help preserve my health.
To hell with health care workers,
the elderly and infirm.
At least I am cosy here at home
safe from that bloody germ!

And when it's finally over
and the germ has gone away,
I'll be proud to have survived
and come through it all OK.
And I'll console those who really suffered
in every kind of way,
and I'll congregate with all of them
to celebrate and say:

"We've fought this thing TOGETHER,
and together won the day!

© 2020 Greensleeves Hubs


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 20, 2020:

Alun, you captured the entire crazy scenario and manged to make us smile through it. This is a good keepsake to share with our grandchildren later, who are too young now to understand the mood. Thank you.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 06, 2020:

Lora Hollings; Thank you Lori for a very nice, generous comment. I don't feel very confident writing poetry, so I appreciate what you say about the poem, and also your comments about our human nature. Alun

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 06, 2020:

FlourishAnyway; Thank you Flourish. Your comment is much appreciated and welcomed! :) Nice to hear from you again. I hope things at least on the Covid shopping front have calmed down a bit in the States, as they have here in the UK. We have long queues to get into supermarkets due to restrictions on the numbers they're permitting inside, but at least the shelves are now fully stacked.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 06, 2020:

RoadMonkey; Thank you very much! The panic buying was all pretty silly wasn't it, because there never was a problem with supply - the problem was with demand due to the panic buying! The behaviour of the public created the very problem of shortages that they were worrying about! Fortunately it all seems to have settled down now, and all we have to worry about (shopping-wise) are the long queues at the supermarkets!

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 06, 2020:

Liz Westwood; Thank you Liz! One of the few bright spots of the coronavirus crisis has been the proliferation of jokes, humorous memes and ironic takes on events - the human spirit will always rise above the situations they find themselves in, and even in the midst of sadness and worry, people will find something to laugh at! :)

Apologies for the late reply.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on June 06, 2020:

Ruby Jean Richert; Appreciated Ruby. Thanks for your nice words.

Venkatachari M; Thanks for your comment. Appreciated.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt; Thanks Umesh.

Apologies to all for not replying sooner.

Lora Hollings on April 19, 2020:

A great poem for these times! It is a poem that certainly confronts us with some profound truths and makes us look deep into ourselves and at our often self-serving behavior. We all need to reflect more on our actions and why we do them, then maybe we will see the necessity for change. Wonderful writing!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 19, 2020:

Good to see you again! I like your tongue in cheek poem. Every time I go to the grocery store the list of items that have limits imposed grows longe, if they have the item at all. I don’t know what we will do without toilet paper. I’m starting to wonder. I’ve sent my husband on reconnaissance missions looking for packages when he travels for business and he visits 5-6 stores but comes home with moist wipes instead. It’s better than nothing.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on April 01, 2020:

Ann Carr; Thanks Ann. Appreciated. It was all the formatting changes, and the introduction of restrictions on the layout of pages, which really upset me. I had always prided myself on trying to make my pages as attractive as possible, and I felt that was being lost.

However, the ready-made audience and the access to the upper reaches of the Google Search engine are big plusses of HubPages and its offshoots like 'Letterpile'. It's very difficult to get that kind of exposure to an audience on a personal website without paying out a fortune in advertising!

Come what may, I will always be grateful to HubPages for the opportunity it gave me to get started in online writing. Anyway, it's nice to be back here at the present time

Ann Carr from SW England on April 01, 2020:

I can understand that, Alun. Well, I hope you visit more often, as it's always good to see old friends and your writing is informative and entertaining. I also hope that your other sites get the recognition you deserve.

Hope to see you again soon!


Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on March 31, 2020:

PERSONAL NOTE; It's been nearly three years since I last published here, and it was really nice that the first three comments on this hub came from members - Ann, John and Bill - whose past interactions with me, I remember very fondly.

A brief explanation for the absence - suffice to say that I'd gotten disenchanted with HubPages for various reasons and felt I had to try to develop my own websites instead, and that is what I've been doing. But traffic unfortunately is abysmal to those sites and I wanted this poem read by a few more people whilst it is still relevant to the current crisis - hence my return to publish now.

I'm not sure at the moment if I'll be writing here much in the future, but I have been heartwarmed by the response to this poem, so thanks for that. And it's felt really good to renew these old acquaintances, so we'll see what the future holds. Cheers, Alun

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 31, 2020:

Thanks Alun. It's great to have you back.

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on March 31, 2020:

Bill De Giulio; Thank you Bill. Very glad you liked it. Really hope you too are doing OK and staying safe. In times of crisis it's probably a universal trait to hoard - the self-preservation gene is strong - even if it's unnecessary when it comes to this kind of panic buying.

Re- the welcome back, thank you Bill. Grateful for that. I think I should offer at least a very brief explanation, so I'll do that in a separate comment shortly, addressed to people like you, Ann Carr and John Hansen

Ann Carr from SW England on March 31, 2020:

Yes, we're coping well, thanks. In 12 week self-isolation, due to partner's age, medical problems and to my having travelled on a coach 2 weeks ago. So far, so good and actually enjoying the peace and quiet! An occasional walk by the sea, avoiding any others out there by at least 3 metres, is the highlight of the day!


Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on March 31, 2020:

Ann Carr; Aw thanks Ann. I trust you are well and coping OK?

Ann Carr from SW England on March 31, 2020:

Good to see you back! I hope you are soon reunited with your future bride.


Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on March 31, 2020:

John Hansen; Good to hear from you again John and grateful thanks to one of HubPages' most respected poets for your acknowledgement of my effort!

It is silly isn't it. Supply isn't the problem by all acoounts - demand is the problem. The shops and supermarkets simply cannot stock enough at any one time to cater for panic buying. If people were only sensible, the shelves would all be stocked. Hopefully though, they'll be able to get organised for more deliveries, and in due course the demand will die down. After all, people cannot eat or drink any more than they were doing before! Cheers. Alun

Greensleeves Hubs (author) from Essex, UK on March 31, 2020:

Ann Carr; It's good to hear from you again Ann, and thanks for your comment. Much appreciated to get comments after so long away from HubPages!

Yes I'm OK and don't have too many problems - except that I should have been getting married this summer to my Thai fiancee - now I don't even know when I'll see her again! ☹️ But otherwise, I can't complain as I'm living alone and not working, so I don't need to go out much - others, including former work colleagues of mine in the NHS, have it far worse.

And yes, I do have plenty of toilet rolls (though not due to panic buying!)

RoadMonkey on March 30, 2020:

Excellent poem. Enjoyed that and it also has a big sting in it. My house is reasonably well stocked but not because I panic bought. I prepared for Brexit last year and kept all the stuff because Brexit will now be 31st December 2020, so it is being useful for Covid-19. I didn't see many other people preparing for Brexit but I will be keeping my stocks up against that day. Today, I was able to provide my daughter with porridge oats, and frozen veg which were out of stock in our local supermarket but which have been in my freezer (the veg, not the porridge) since before any sign of lockdown. Nor did I panic buy fresh food. What's the point? I can't eat any more of it and it doesn't last, so why waste and why deprive someone else? I believe in preparing well ahead of time, where possible. That means my stocks are not depriving anyone else at the time and they are also helping others to cope more smoothly.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 30, 2020:

This is a brilliant take on the art of panic buying. It reminds me of a joke I he4ar recently: It's 2058, a significant day for Harry. He has just used the last toilet roll from 2020.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 30, 2020:

When this first hit the shelves were bare, greed reared it's ugly head once more. Your poetry said it all. Well done!

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on March 30, 2020:

Very nice, to the point, poem picturizing the panic buyer's mind. I appreciate your style of presentation exposing the crazy mentality of that buyer. Enjoyed it a lot.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on March 30, 2020:

Nicely presented.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 30, 2020:

Hi Alun, welcome back. Hope you are doing well and staying safe. It's just as crazy here, people are hoarding all of the essentials, and also the non-essentials. Wonderful poem, brought a smile to my face to start the day. Stay safe.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 30, 2020:

Good work on this lighthearted but serious poem. The same thing is happen here. The stores keep saying “there is no shortage” but the shelves are emptied as soon as they are filled..especially toilet rolls, hand sanitizer, mouth wash, and foods like minced meat. people go crazy in trying times like this.

Ann Carr from SW England on March 30, 2020:

Very good! I believe some people really think like that, though I can't for the life of me see why they don't realise it's selfish.

This made me smile; it's good to use humour to get a strong point across and you've definitely done that.

Hope you and yours are keeping safe and well (and that you have enough toilet rolls!).


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