A handful of excited headlines and queues assemble outside petrol stations, while official inflation numbers show petrol is driving up the entire cost of living too fast for comfort.
Gordon Brown calls for "concerted global action" to bring down the price of oil, without saying quite what.
Yet the straw which most surely pointed the direction of the wind was a report last night that a huge American oil company is thinking of bidding for the Drax power station.
Drax is a coal-fired station - the biggest in Europe. It gets through 36,000 tons of the black stuff a day. The news came only hours after Rupert Neal of the Stratford-upon-Avon stockbroker Montague Capital suggested that pricy oil would make coal-fired power stations more attractive.
Oil, gas and coal are primary sources of energy whose prices keep in line with each other over time.
In due course, high-priced energy encourages the building (and buying) of more coal-fired power stations, which then drive down the price of oil. The anti-nuclear veto on building more nuclear power stations is, at the very least, weakened.
The question is what happens along the way. Last time the outcome was the destruction of the British coal industry as we knew it.
The miners demanded, and won, pay that took account of oil at its two price spikes, bringing down the Heath Government in the process. When the price of oil eventually collapsed, that left British coal ruinously over-priced and the miners exposed to Lady Thatcher's ruthlessness.
Freakish scenarios like that rarely repeat themselves. Anyway there is no British coal industry of consequence left to destroy. The prize for politicians and central bankers round the world is to escape a recession.
Mr Neal disputes the cosy reassurances that oil no longer matters the way it did when manufacturing dominated our economy.
A richer world is using more energy than ever and long years of dirt-cheap energy have made us profligate. Now it is costing us more and there is that much less money left to spend on something else.
Anyway, as we are repeatedly told, this is a global economy - and the Chinese part of it is doing plenty of manufacturing. That is why the explosive demand for oil comes from China.
Gordon Brown is right to call on other governments to do something. If the oil companies face windfall taxes if they don't build refineries - or get tax breaks if they do - there should be fewer bottlenecks one day. Subsidies to people who cannot afford the inflated price of energy make things worse by boosting demand - and then, as the Indonesians found the other day - there are riots when anyone tries to cut the subsidy.
Still, if central bankers raise interest rates to check oil-driven inflation at a time when there is less money around, they risk a recession - it happened in the early '80s. Cheap Chinese imports lower that hazard. But how cheap will those be once Peter Mandelson's weak-kneed deal with the Euro textile countries bites in earnest next year?