I had never heard of Black Friday until earlier this week so I typed the words into the Google search engine and this is what it came up with:
The very first Black Friday, on 24th September 1869, was caused by the efforts of two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. The scheme was thwarted by President Ulysses S. Grant's release of government gold for sale, making gold prices plummet and creating a panic in the stock market. It became one of several scandals that rocked his presidency.
This little explanation made the whole thing quite clear to me and I could immediately understand why Asda in Guildford had found it necessary to knock 20% of the price off a tin of Whiskas with sardine and aardvark flavour cat food.
Then I read on to discover that, in the modern consumer age, Black Friday is the first day after American Thanksgiving Day, marking the day when all Americans can stop doing their Thanksgiving Day shopping and set about the task of doing their Christmas shopping.
So what has this got to do with Britain? Why has the whole advertising world gone mad this week telling us about a special day that doesn’t seem to have even existed here before today? Why does the retail sector of our economy find it necessary to tempt us into their shops with promises of price reductions at a time of year when we are already spending more money than we have actually got? What sort of world are we living in when a fight breaks out in Morrison’s over a packet of custard powder that has been reduced by fourpence? Why does it matter?
The answer is that we are living in a world of greed and gluttony. The big shops are greedy for our money and we are greedy for whatever we can get; and all in the name of the birth of the Infant Jesus, who I am fairly sure would have be extremely unhappy about all this had he been here now. But the economic world of greed and gluttony, like the real planet Earth, has two poles and at the other end of this world from our affluent pole are places where Waitrose or Tesco aren’t open all the hours that their god sends. They certainly won’t have been having a Black Friday in Malawi or Bangladesh or Bolivia today and if they were fighting over food there it will have more likely been because they were desperate to find enough of it to feed themselves and their families than because they were planning a dinner party.
Christmas and the vulgar consumerism that goes with it in Britain is bad enough at the best of times but to introduce another ‘special’ day to encourage us to wander like brainwashed moronic sheep-based zombies into shopping centres to spend yet more money that we can’t afford on yet more goods that we don’t really need is, in my opinion, utterly immoral and disgusting and I feel quite ashamed of myself to be a citizen of a country that embraces it so freely. Things are going from bad to worse. We didn’t need the Americans to give us a day to fill the shops with over indulgent crap and mark the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season. We’ve already got one. It’s called Easter Monday.
But fair’s fair, and I must admit that all the hype around Black Friday saved me a fortune because it made me stay away from the shops altogether and at the same time I found a better use for my hard earned dough.
So if you have saved any cash today, could you please bear in mind this recent disaster?
During the days from 22nd to 24th November, Central Morocco was ravaged by storms the likes of which have not been seen there for decades. This has left the remote villages of the Tijhza valley in the Atlas Mountains devastated. Buildings made mainly of mud have been washed away, agriculture has been destroyed and livestock killed. The immediate needs of the villagers are plastic sheeting to weather-proof their homes, blankets and non-perishable food i.e. the basic requirements to keep human beings alive.
The Tijhza Emergency Relief Fund is working with my good friends at Exodus Travels to raise awareness of this disaster. In the medium term the villagers will need to rebuild homes, infrastructure and income generating schemes. They would greatly appreciate any donations to this urgent appeal and will keep you updated as their work takes effect.
If you have any money at all to spare, please remember that the plight of the poor homeless people of Tijhza is a much more worthwhile cause than a packet of Marks & Spencer mince pies.
Please click here to donate to the Tijhza Emergency Relief Fund.
Storm ravaged Southern Morocco.