Black Friday is everything that is wrong with our country

PUBLISHED: 15:53 26 November 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 26 November 2019

James disapproves of Black Friday Pic: Archant library

James disapproves of Black Friday Pic: Archant library


James Marston says Black Friday pretends to save us money, all while getting us to spend it. We need to wise up...

We never had Black Friday when I was a boy. Or if we did it was something to do with the stock market or currency.

These days the world is all about shopping, isn't it?

Black Friday is a marketing ploy that means we buy things, or at least we are encouraged to.

No wonder people get into debt with all this shopping all the time.

Discounts tempting us to "save money" - though it's not really saving, is it?

Saving is going without, at least it used to be.

But then when I was a boy we didn't take machetes to cinemas, parents didn't allow their children to scream and shout in public places, people didn't eat stinking food on public transport or put their feet on the seats….I could go on.

The recent political manifesto announcements have left me rather irked as well, not least because they are all, it seems to me, another attempt at manipulation. I don't know about you but I feel bored of this election. Bored of the shouting, the debate which isn't a debate but a slanging match, bored of the hype, bored of the talk, bored. I don't think I'm alone either.

The various parties promising things they can't possibly deliver, the grandstanding, the staged "media opportunities", the soundbites, these awful television debates which demean us and
our political leaders by reducing what they say and believe into turning so-called debate into quasi theatrical entertainment.

As someone cleverer than me once said, "In the age of television, image becomes more important than substance." I tend to agree.

Anyway, I note with some disappointment that Christmas looms.

For a Christian this is an exciting time of year so it's surprising I have some mixed feelings about it all. I suppose the secularisation of Christmas is what annoys me and the endless build up.

Advent, the preceding weeks, before Christmas itself is, it is true, a time of waiting and anticipation for the incarnation, but also a time of penitence and restraint. Some Christians even fast and though it would be incorrect to call it a mini-lent, advent has some similarities to that time of year.

The real significance of advent has been almost completely lost, but I wonder if it might be an idea to try to be a little more penitent, to give up something, to wait patiently, instead of seeking and giving ourselves instant gratification.

Of course, what I'm talking about is contrary to the way most of us live - and I'm no paragon of virtue I can assure you - but I can't help thinking that in the maelstrom we have missed the message of the year - not Brexit, not Prince Andrew making mistakes, not political argy bargy, but the message that climate change is real, here and now.

It looks to me that the writing
is now quite clearly on the wall - we all have to completely change the way we live.

And not just in a small little by little way, recycling isn't enough, nor professing to care and running two cars.

I think it is an insurmountable task, and when I was a boy we learned about the greenhouse effect but seemed to assume technology, the human ability to invent things, would sort it all out. Now, I'm not so sure.

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It seems to me younger people have got it, they understand that climate change - so obvious now - is going to be a far bigger issue in the coming years than it ever was, when I was a boy.

Perhaps, while we are waiting patiently for this election to finally be over, we should listen to them instead of our politicians.

James' Mailbag

Thanks to all who got in touch about last week's Knows Best on the subject of Prince Andrew and the reaction to his recent interview.

Dear James

Well done again James you and I are definitely on the same wavelength. A really good opinion page today. I agree with every word.

Doreen Graham

Dear James

Hmm, I think Sidney Grapes would have said. "I allus weart 'till thass bin worn afore I wash datty laundry". To me, if an offence has been committed it's a matter for the law, not the BBC at this stage.


Dear James,

Another enjoyable and interesting read, re the BBC interview and Prince Andrew.

I just need to say "well said", I couldn't agree more with your view on hypocrisy.

The whole of the media seem to be riddled with the desire to "stir up" trouble, and point the finger for any possible reason that they think might make headlines. It will be argued that it is their job but people seem to take great pleasure these days at watching the demise of the rich and powerful.

I was always taught to remember "let him without sin cast the first stone!"

It would do well for more people to reflect on that and the world might be a kinder and more compassionate place.

Kind Regards,


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