You’ve no doubt recently been bombarded with emails about Black Friday bargains that actually aren’t bargains because they’re for products you never wanted in the first place. Rather than celebrating saving £2.99 on a top-of-the-range microscope or whatever, you soon realise you’ve actually just paid £329.85 you could have spent on pretty much anything else in the world, to purchase a frighteningly technical doorstop.
My favourite ads are the ones that proclaim their sale to be the company’s “biggest Black Friday ever!”, conveniently forgetting to mention that this is not much to shout about as it is probably only the second time most UK retailers have bothered with what is essentially America’s Boxing Day. It makes sense in the States to have a huge blowout shopping day following Thanksgiving, when you’ve been cooped up with the family all day and eaten your own weight in pumpkin pie and freedom, or whatever it is that Americans eat.
However, for us, it’s just the day after Thursday. What are we escaping from? A particularly tense episode of Eastenders?
I’m not completely stupid (honest); I might not be even Apprentice-level when it comes to business acumen, but I do realise UK shops have taken on this trend because it’s a great way to get people through the doors slightly earlier than with the traditional Christmas rush. Of course, whether having people wrestling on the floor, tearing apart the shoddy components from a ropey telly, is better than waiting a couple of weeks for the hoards to start panicking about getting everything bought by 5pm on Christmas Eve is debatable.
For my daughter Elsa though, Black Friday will be (as people seem to say a lot nowadays) “a thing”. Incidentally, when did saying “is that a thing” become “a thing”? It’s a bloody annoying thing is what it is.
Elsa turned two recently and it has really dawned on me that her world will be completely different from mine. Just as my mum never managed to get her head round setting the video recorder, I am certain to be baffled by the trends and gadgets that become commonplace for her. And Black Friday is probably the first of these.
The world changes, but you can sort of sense that the same players keep making a reappearance, just in a different costume. With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris there has been an outpouring of bile from assorted numbskulls directed in the general direction of “the Muslims”, as if a couple of billion people spread across the world in a wide variety of different cultures and countries could be presumed to carry the same few narrow personality traits. Not to mention that fact that presuming ISIS speaks for the entirety of Islam displays a complete lack of knowledge of what is happening in the Middle East. Who do you think it is fighting against them in Syria and Iraq? The Scientologists?
Islam is just the latest bogeyman, an entire chunk of the world’s population tainted by the actions of a group who happen to share a God, in the same way as “the Irish” were in the 80s when I was growing up. Looking back, it’s ludicrous to think that all Irish people supported the bombings on the UK mainland or, even more ridiculous, all Catholics, but that is the logical progression from expecting all Muslims to be ardent ISIS fans.
That’s not to say that there are no remaining tensions in the area, but I’d imagine the threat to the British mainland is negligible (I don’t know for sure, for some reason I am not party to this kind of MI6 information. For Elsa, “the Irish” will simply be those lovely welcoming people across the sea. For me, hearing mention of Ireland this week just remind me of my favourite video clip in a long time, this Irish lottery winner accidentally spraying champagne in her own face:
So Elsa will probably be hitting the shops, or scouring the internet, on the last Friday of every November in years to come and the presence of Black Friday will no longer jar when mentioned on this side of the pond. I’ll never get my head round it, but it’s not like my mum is losing sleep about her inability to set the VCR for the series finale of Dallas.
Perhaps though, it might be worth looking at helping out the independent retailers and makers this Black Friday, rather than tossing a few quid in the direction of Amazon who, let’s face it, probably don’t really need it. This Facebook post sums it up pretty nicely: