The Duke - December 3, 2014

Black Friday Tesco Blackpool 2014
Black Friday Tesco Blackpool 2014
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I must admit I was quite looking forward to Black Friday coming to Blackpool last week.

Well, I’d not read the small print (new glasses are on my New Year wish list) and just assumed it was some sort of Black Sabbath tribute band doing the rounds.

And having had my rock ‘n’ roll heart considerably lifted by Robert Plant’s recent Tower Ballroom 
concert I figured the next best thing to seeing the real crazy Ozzy Osbourne and his ageing chums rattle the plasterwork in town would be for me to shake my thinning hair to someone tipping their musical cap to them.

The penny did begin to drop a little when the aforementioned Black Friday seemed to be the busiest band in the world – appearing everywhere at the same time. Still, I thought, if Father Christmas can manage it so efficiently every year, why can’t some ambitious band of Brummy wannabes?

Then I went and missed the whole thing.

Now normally I’d be doing the “big shop” on Friday but last week I found myself making a live broadcast on Radio Lancashire, lunching in Lytham with The Manager then heading to Lancaster’s Dukes Theatre for an early starting Christmas show. The joys of being retired from the daily grind (and in fact the daily Gazette)!

By “big shop” I actually mean stocking up on the bare necessities (wine, beer, vegetables, some more wine). I’ve always had my suspicions about people whose supermarket shopping list reads “two tins of soup, box of Weetabix, toilet paper, 38 inch screen television, half a pound of cheese and a PlayStation 4 for the spare bathroom.”

But then that’s largely because they usually end up just in front of me in the checkout queue and want to split the cost between three different credit cards. None of which work.

So the first I heard about the madness that was Friday, November 28 was after seeing Cinderella’s not all that ugly sisters (it’s a sign of age when at least one of the squabbling siblings seems to have a certain charm) exhibit what I thought was purely fictitious consumerist fever.

Watching later on Sky News as supermarkets and chain stores were being mobbed in a manner which made street rioting looters look civilised was sickening.

Hearing the aftermath excuses by shop owners, shop managers and mere shoppers was almost as bad.

I no more believe the “we didn’t expect that sort of crowd – what could we have done?” whimperings from smug men in suits than I do the “we really need a television the size of a cinema screen which we can’t get in the boot of the car anyway” justifications by track suited shoppertunists.

Thankfully this version of Black Friday is an American import so we are somehow able to offload part of the responsibility – and most of the blame.

Our own Black Friday is a much more sedate affair and has nothing to do with shock shopping. It is, of course, traditionally the last Friday before Christmas when everyone finishes work a bit early (five minutes seems to be the going rate) and heads to the pub where, once they’ve given the temporary doorman a couple of quid sweetener to gain admission to the same place they’ve been getting in free to for the rest of the year, they can be squashed and squeezed to their heart’s content waiting to be served short measures without ever fearing they’ll be decked by someone wanting space for the newly purchased last wide screen in the county.

Anyway all that shopping frenzy is over for now until… well Boxing Day actually when the New Year sales are due to start!

The good news definitely outweighs the bad news

It’s certainly been a week or more of the good, the bad and the ugly in this divided nation of ours.

The ugly is chronicled elsewhere on this page – the feral-like behaviour of the Black Friday shoppertunists out for blood and bargains on the nation’s shopping aisles.

The bad is shared honours. First there’s the “Tory grandee” (well that’s what The Sun called him) David Mellor and his obnoxious behaviour towards long suffering taxi driver “Brian” who had the temerity to have a mind of his own (and the wit to presumably make a bob or two out of flogging his story later).

Then there’s Andrew Mitchell (not the Sunday name for the Radio Wave head of news) whose reputation is in tatters along with his bank balance after losing his two year battle in the 
“Plebgate” saga.

And the good? Well, all of the above could do with taking a leaf out of 93-year old British-born Pippa Doyle’s book. She has belatedly received France’s highest honour (the Legion d’honneur) for her exploits during Wold War II when she was parachuted behind German lines on “perilous” spy missions.

What makes Ms Doyle even more special is that she was so modest about her exploits she only told her children 15 years ago.

Finally something to make us all proud to be British.