Don’t panic Mr. Mainwaring

by | May 13, 2020

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Like the rest of the population, I’m now washing my hands with OCD frequency and doing as the Government are advising and staying at home. After weeks of slaloming clear of anyone who looks even faintly snuffly, all we can do now is do what we’re told to take practical and sensible steps to protect ourselves against The Bug and to protect our marvellous NHS.

But that’s enough about that. I’m adopting a different approach when it comes to financial matters. I’m not sure whether Boris and his scientific team have yet recommended “stick your head in the sand” when monitoring your (rapidly declining) wealth, but it’s the policy I’m following.

Since the arrival of The Bug, I have studiously avoided going online to check on my pensions and savings. I know what the picture will be, and it ain’t going to be pretty.

As the man said, “there is nothing to fear but fear itself” (although one assumes he wasn’t from national audit firm Crowe and the University of Plymouth which have just issued a report claiming the UK’s pension sector is losing an estimated £6 billion annually through fraud).

We’re all doomed

But as tabloid headlines scream daily variations of Private Frazer’s “We’re All Doomed”, it’s worth pondering what other fears we share outside of coronavirus, and just how logical they are.

For instance, ten minutes out of Gatwick on a recent return flight from Tenerife ( oh it does seem like a lifetime ago now), our captain announced that he couldn’t land because of a hole in the runway and would therefore be diverting to Stansted “as we are low on fuel”. Memo to captain: if you don’t want a plane full of screaming passengers, never utter those words again.

As it happened, the diversion switched to Heathrow, where, after a half-hour wait while the folk at Gatwick patched up their runway and we breathed a sigh of relief at the welcome sight of a fuel tanker topping up our plane, we took off on the shortest flight of our lives.

For Lady H, for whom flying is akin to a lengthy session with a badly-trained dentist, this experience induced a sharp spike in her panic-ometer, although she would later reluctantly confess that her fears were entirely unfounded.

Being late for a job interview, cocking up the family holiday arrangements or inadvertently offering your vegan boss a bacon sandwich will all induce queasy waves of anxiety which are acute at the time, but in hindsight – well, hey ho, let’s have another beer.

Trying to look on the bright side

So I do hope my IFA is identifying the undoubted opportunities which the current crisis is engendering – shares in manufacturers of loo rolls, hand sanitisers and baked beans must have gone through the roof. Supermarkets, too: fairly early in the pandemic panic, the manager of my local Tesco said his store was doing the same amount of business as it normally did in the week before Christmas.

This is an ill wind. Those who stay calm and rational will be those who will look back on this crisis in a year or so and realise that even something as devastating as coronavirus can produce some positive results.

Stay safe – and don’t read coronavirus guff on social media. It’s bad for your health.

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