Just back from London where Christmas is already in overdrive with the major stores on Flashy Street falling over themselves to seduce customers with their fabulous window displays and in store tricks, I mean, treats. The shopping vibes are not especially nice. Last Friday, Black Friday, appropriately named, the scenes were Halloween scary. In Asda, people literally fell over themselves, and each other, as they fought over cut-price tellys and more. At Tesco, in Greater Manchester, three men were arrested and a woman was hit by a falling television. Had she died, the death jokes would have followed her through the annals or should I say, anals of history. The telly was on her. And then she was on it. Oh dear.
In the US, it's even worse. There is a Black Friday death count website. Oh yes, here it is: http://blackfridaydeathcount.com/
I cannot verify the veracity of the deaths but it says something about US society and ours. Speaking of US society, why are we buying into this black Friday guff? Can't the British maintain some semblance of dignity?
At the other end of the spectrum, socially, but not politely speaking, things are not pretty in a different way. I usually frequent supermarkets that begin with 'A' and 'L' but I do like the occasional 'W' and not just for their free coffees. Their stuff and their staff are great, but their clientele are from hell. Okay obvs not all of them, I go there sometimes and so does John Snow, apparently. On occasion, I frequent a certain ‘W’ shop in London (thanks for the free coffees!) and marvel at the rudeness and arrogance of the customers and their general sense of entitlement. Nobody smiles, if you have to say 'excuse me' expect a glare. Looking down ones nose is a pose that grows, like the queue - no one, apart from me, uses the new, DIY tills. And don't take a buggy with a chirruping child. Children should be left with the help or at least steered around, petrified in one of those buggies that looks like a slingshot with privileged offspring as missile about to be launched in your startled face. The kid is so high up and ‘out there,’ that the word 'status' and 'symbol' vanish into thrusting orbit. The staff at ‘W’ however, are the antithesis of their customers, they know how to Wait and they know how to waft: Odeur De Rose. Hats off to Mr J.L. They really do know how to treat a punter. As for the shoppers though, they're punts.
My grandparents would never have bought anything they could not afford. And they would have stood in line, and had a chat to get it. As a society, how did we become so uncaring and generally gobbly and greedy, at the expense of others? I think it's a cultural malaise. Enough, never seems to be enough. At the upper end of the scale, there is entitlement in that there is an attitude of ‘we are better than everyone else and we expect servitude from those around us.’ At the other end of the scale there is this rapacious need to have everything that is advertised (in, on and off the telly) despite the consequences: debt, death even. Of course I am generalising, and I know that Britain has a wonderful record (no, not that one) on charity giving, but on the streets of London, shopping is a menace and it points to a deeper lack, and I would say that lack is an emotional and a spiritual one.