Unless you have been asleep in a darkened room, you will know that today has been Black Friday.
It’s been a huge tradition in Britain for, what, around two years now. What happens is this. The day after Thanksgiving, which is an annual celebration of the harvest in North America, everyone goes shopping in search of bargains. And they declared it to be Black Friday. Some bright spark decided it would be a cracking idea to have Black Friday over here too, but to not bother with the Thanksgiving stuff. So what we now have is, essentially, a day when shops allegedly make huge cuts in their prices and we are all supposed to go out and buy stuff.
Today, many shops have joined in the spirit and in traditional style thousands of shoppers have queued for hours on end to buy a new telly which has probably been reduced in price by £30. Better still, pictures have emerged of shoppers fighting over sale items. Some people have been arrested, some have even been injured. What on earth is going on?
I blame one person for this: Margaret Thatcher! Well, not directly. She’s been dead a few years now so she can’t be held directly responsible for the sheer madness of Black Friday, but somehow you get the impression she would have approved.
The message of Thatcherism was very simple: sod everyone else and go out and get whatever it is you want for yourself. And it was this spirit that was alive and literally kicking in a good number of high streets today. Not only must you have something, you must get it now. And if you can’t afford it, just buy it on credit. It’s good for the economy, you see. An awful lot of people bought into Thatcher’s vision of self-reliance and shutting out life beyond your front door. It penetrated the national psyche and even now with the old bat six feet under, her legacy of greed remains on the shop floor of our major retailers who know how to convince us that we need something we probably don’t because it’s cheaper than usual.
There probably was such a thing as society in Tesco at Eastville today where shoppers literally fought with each other to buy the remain TV sets. Doubtless, the strongest survived and the weak were left downtrodden without their TVs. When they settle down to a night of Emmerdale, Coronation Street and I’m a celebrity tonight, I wonder if they will still feel it’s worth it.
I hate shopping at the best of times anyway because that’s what the internet is for. And if it involves a fight to buy something I could probably manage without, I’d rather go to the pub.
I wonder what the powers-that-be will come up with next. Manic Monday? Because all we need is another contrived spin-driven day of convincing people to dispense with common sense to buy yet more things they probably don’t need with money they haven’t got.
The people I feel sorry for are those who are being paid little more than the minimum wage to stand in an extended rugby scrum in their place of work. I’ll bet they can’t wait to see the back of Black Friday. I know I can’t.