SWB on Black Friday

I flipping hate Black Friday. I hate the crowds, I hate the frenzy and I hate the way people are goaded, yes goaded, into buying shit they don’t need and can ill afford. Did anyone hear a snippet from yesterday’s budget? The economy’s a shambles. Families may have less to live on next year because of draconian cuts and this messy Brexit divorce.


I’m not stupid, or oblivious to the fact that retailers need to make a living too, but I find it hard to repress my despair when people start lamping each other in Curry’s over cut price TVs or being crushed in a stampede to snap up a pair of Nike Air trainers. And I don’t buy into this notion as mooted by one of the guests earlier on Talkback, that that’s just how society is now, so we have to accept it. But is it? Is it really? My Facebook feed this week would suggest the contrary. Friends have posted less about binge-shopping for Christmas and more about charitable initiatives, such as this one from Barnardos to gather used and new toys for children at Christmas, and another from Concern to donate to the Rohingya crisis, (worth doing now because until December 17th the government will match every pound which doubles the value of each contribution).


I suppose now I’m going to sound sanctimonious, but there needs to be some sort of antidote to the relentless beat of the corporate drum. So much of the shopping is the adrenaline thrill of ‘bagging a bargain’ and calculating your savings, with a smug little pat-on-the-back and an ‘Aren’t I clever?’ look towards your friend who’s the mug who’ll have to pay full-price next week. Alternatively, you could use your imagination and leave the graspers and grabbers to it and think of different ways to spend your money, (if you’re lucky enough to have any.)


Tonight I’m going to the Lyric and while I’m there I am going to collect tickets I bought for the kids and me to see the pantomime in December. In the spirit of festive fun I’m going to put the tickets in an envelope, write their names in fancy writing, (as though an elf with a talent for calligraphy has been at it,) and leave it on the hearth. It’s going to be an early Christmas gift from Santa, and hopefully they’ll be as excited about having an enjoyable experience as they would be about a tangible gift. I’ve been spending the last year trying to declutter, so I don’t want to spend the next six months tripping over mounds of shite in the form of more plastic toys.


I’m not a miserly old git. There will be stockings and there will be presents on Christmas morning. I was as excited as the kids last year when bleary eyed we opened their gifts. But there wasn’t masses of stuff and the clearest memory I have of Christmas Day was the Wallace Park Run with our friends, and the kids playing on the swings later and LSB whizzing along on the zip wire. (I have to confess to getting torn into the bubbly at my in-laws and falling asleep in the car to Bangor to see my folks, hence the rest of the day lost a bit of clarity.)


So here’s my wish-list: A ten class pass for Flow Studios, so I can start my year all blissfully stretched and soothed; a copy of Female Lines, since it’s a beautiful book and one I’ll want to keep for posterity and it may even inspire me to try a bit more creative writing of my own; and keeping to that theme, LSB has promised to buy me a subscription to Judy Blume’s on-line writing class. With all these diversions, the house is never going to be cleaned again. But then again, if I get a handle on the clutter and don’t have to keep shunting piles from one end of the house to the other, that job might become more manageable too.

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