‘A good traveller has no fixed plans,’ the Chinese philosopher Laozi once suggested, ‘and is not intent on arriving.’ While I don’t know exactly how bad the traffic was in ancient China, I reckon Laozi would feel right at home if visiting Britain today.

This week, the country has decided to turn itself into a real-life remake of the 1980s Hollywood comedy, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In that 1987 John Hughes film, Steve Martin and John Candy tried and failed to make their way across America in time for Thanksgiving. Along the way, every single form of transport taken turned into a disaster. As is the rule with eighties comedy films, everything ends up ok. But in our modern-day British re-enactment, not so much.

Let’s start with the planes. Anyone foolish enough to dream about going abroad now that the pandemic is over is instead experiencing the aviation version of cancel culture. The only variation in the story is which particular airport/airline is making the headlines that day: at the time of writing, it is Heathrow cancelling 10 per cent of its flights due to excess baggage problems. By the end of the week, it’ll be somewhere else buckling under the weight of people wanting to fly.

The train, to tweak an old railway advert, is also making the strain. If this is Thursday, then we’re on day three of the largest national rail strike since the late 1980s (with a London Underground stoppage thrown in as an additional Brucie bonus for those commuting to London). By contrast, over in Germany, the authorities are currently encouraging people to return to the railways, with a €9 ticket offering a month’s travel on local services.

If you can’t fly or go by train, that leaves the good old-fashioned automobile to complete your journey. Except the cost of petrol has probably gone up again in the time it has taken you to read this sentence. It now costs over £100 to fill up a family car, with fuel prices performing that curious phenomenon of rising like a rocket when oil goes up, and descending like a feather when it go down.

So what could be done? On petrol, the Chancellor’s 5p cut in fuel duty is now outweighed by the extra 6p in VAT per litre he is claiming as prices rise: rather than lining the coffers, cut VAT on fuel. On planes, waive the post-Brexit immigration rules to let airlines bring in European workers to solve staffing shortages. And on the trains, help bring the two sides to a resolution, rather than playing politics from the sidelines.

‘We’re Getting There,’ British Rail promised in the 1980s. In Summer 2022, getting anywhere would be start.