That’s crowned it! Why I’ll never panic-buy again | Alun Newman

I’ve made every effort during the past year (or is it two?) not to get caught up in any panic buying.

Monday, 13th December 2021, 5:10 pm
Updated Monday, 13th December 2021, 5:10 pm

I don’t mind other people doing it. There are no rules about feeling anxious or wanting to protect your family from a toilet paper famine. Everyone is different.

However, I wanted to resist the moments that instilled worry.

Even on the radio show, I was reluctant to talk about any shortages unless there was some sort of vague justification.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Not one but two turkeys for Alun this Christmas.

As I had established a bit of ‘high ground’ and potential superiority, I was blindsided when someone from the world of poultry said there was going to be a turkey shortage.

The news came from a trustworthy-looking farmer speaking to the news channel from a field wearing warm clothes and looking outdoor-rugged.

For reasons I couldn’t understand, I was unnerved by this prospect and genuinely believed the birds would be ‘gobbled’ up at lightning speed.

Then I did something I had resisted. I panicked. I bought a turkey crown.

We’re not even having turkey this year. My family doesn't even like turkey, but I simply had to get one.

It was an irrational, psychological, poultry-based comfort blanket.

Into the freezer it went and balance was restored. Then disaster struck.

A week later, I went away for the weekend.

I must have gone into the garage to get something before I left. Two days later I returned.

I ventured into the garage only to notice I had turned the freezer off instead of the little swinging light! Everything was thawed. Warm. Body temperature.

All the ice cream; the batch-cooked lasagnes. The thing ‘no-one wants’ vegan shepherd's pies.

And the ultimate heartbreak, the turkey crown.

I panicked, switched the freezer back on and said nothing.

At this point, I'm in a tricky situation.

If word gets out to my clan about what’s happened, they’ll demand everything must be thrown away instantly.

I venture to the internet for advice on what to do with frozen, thawed and refrozen food.

Whenever you decide to go to the internet with any question that has a level of jeopardy, the rabbit warren of information always leads you to the answer that certain death is imminent.

Any research on illness equals doom. Any blemish you investigate and you’ll have an hour to live.

In this case, even looking at frozen, thawed and refrozen food will turn me and all I love to stone. Frozen, thawed, and refrozen food has the power of a Gorgon from Greek mythology.

On a different note, I bet Jason and the Argonauts is on TV over Christmas. I’ll still watch it but it hasn’t aged well (super retro).

Back to my deadly food…

And after two weeks of secrecy, I finally confess what has happened.

It seems such a waste but the risk of poisoning everyone over Christmas is too great, plus the risk of ice cream that tastes really icy (who would ever want that over the festive period?).

So it is with sadness and a heavy heart that I have to throw away the only thing I panic-bought, plus about fifty quid's worth of other food and Christmas canapes.

I was looking forward to those ridiculous tiny cheeseburgers which have now been recycled. Composted food waste.

I suppose I’ll have to find the energy to buy another turkey crown, of which – oh the irony – there seem to be plenty. Yes, they are mocking me from the shelves.

I have of course made sure that the incident never recurs.

There’s now a plaster on the plug switch.

High-end security delivered too late.


Is there someone in your circle of family or friends for whom it’s always hard to buy a Christmas present?

My wife and I come from large families which have increased in size over the years, yet the same people always pose the same challenge. I am not quite sure why. They're not particularly demanding, they simply seem to cause the horse to 'falter at the gate'.

The added twist is that two key family members have the classic Christmas-then-birthday double whammy. I have met parents who have moved their child's birthday simply because they didn’t want that legacy issue to continue. Few people I’ve met are thrilled to have a birthday on Boxing Day or the day after new year. Not to mention actually on key holidays.

When it comes to people who are tricky to buy for, I know I’m out of ideas when I start thinking of vouchers. Don’t get me wrong, I like vouchers, although I’ve still got one from two years ago, unused. Don’t worry, it’s valid for 10 years! The retailer hopes you’ll lose it. Easy money. That’s where I’m up to with the final gift I have to purchase.

It’s for my mum. I always set the bar too high. I want something that says that she matters. It has to communicate a deep sense of love and importance, the indescribable bond mums can create. I also want it to be a gift that makes her smile, a gift that shows thought.

As I was struggling, I called her and explained. She listened and paused. Then she said the same thing she says every year, writing paper. Who writes letters any more! A voucher it is.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.