David Parkin on a Black Friday experience

HAPPY Black Friday!

Regular readers (yes, you sir) will have deduced that I feel the same about the annual pre-Christmas sales spectacular as I do about adults dressing up for Halloween.

A rather tacky American import embraced by those without wit or wisdom.

Does that sound a trifle judgey to you?

Good. That’s how I wanted it to sound.

And it’s the closest this blog gets to controversial.

Well, 90% of the time.

I don’t get a bee in my bonnet very often but given that my rant about the service at The Ivy in Harrogate was read by thousands of people, perhaps I should.

However this year I can’t even object to Black Friday.

Or even Cyber Monday.

Because after the year we’ve had, they are a great opportunity for hard-pressed retailers to attempt to kick-off much needed online sales during the normally booming pre-Christmas period.

I was never sure why Black Friday took off over this side of the pond.

The day after Thanksgiving has become the time when US retailers encourage shoppers to start buying Christmas gifts by offering deep discounts.

I’ve never worked out why it is called Black Friday.

That phrase is always associated with financial disaster in this country, not wrapping up in a muffler and trudging the streets or surfing the internet in search of bargains.

Black Wednesday was the September day in 1992 when the value of the pound crashed, forcing Britain to exit the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

And Black Monday was used to describe the day five years earlier when there was a global stock market crash.

So Black Friday?

I don’t have a clue why they call it that.

And I’m not going to Google it because it might rob a wise and kindly reader the opportunity to explain it to me.

And as for Cyber Monday – the Monday after Black Friday when retailers continue to stimulate online sales – that title now sounds really dated.

So I’m going to forget my prejudices against this thoroughly modern tradition and hope that retailers receive a boost from Black Friday today and, if it still exists, Cyber Monday.

What concerns me is that if they are willing to offer discounts of between 20% to 50% on products now, what kind of deals are likely to be done in the January sales?

Perhaps rather than just focusing online, we should all wish retailers a Happy Wednesday when lockdown ends next week and we can all visit non-essential shops for the first time in almost a month.

I feel for those who run restaurants, bars and pubs given the restrictions that the two highest Covid tiers – in areas across the country where most of us live – will impose on their trading.

Tier three means they can only offer takeaway food and tier two restricts eating in to people in the same household.

Unless it is a “business meeting”, which means that up to six people can meet in a restaurant in the tier two areas.

But a note of caution: it might be worth bearing in mind that if you wear reindeer antlers or a Christmas jumper to your “business meeting” they might twig that you are not discussing high finance around the table.

Not so much talking about derivatives as drivel.


FAREWELL then Diego Maradona.

The Argentine football legend and arguably the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of boots died this week aged only 60.

His impact is clear. Not just in his native Argentina, in South America, but across the entire world.

He was a global superstar and perhaps the ultimate flawed genius.

Born into abject poverty, he became a global icon, well before the internet age and social media enabled pasty-faced teenagers to gain millions of followers by posting videos of themselves playing football on a computer game.

You wonder what would have become of Maradona if his football career had coincided with the internet age.

Never mind how his antics would have been captured on camera phones, just consider what would have happened if social media was around when he scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.

I’ve seen social media posts by grown men this week who are still struggling to forgive Maradona the goal he scored with his hand against Peter Shilton 34 years ago.

They have perhaps conveniently forgotten the subsequent goal he scored in the same match which ranks as one of the greatest ever scored at a World Cup.

You only have to have seen what happened in last week’s match between Leeds United and Arsenal when both clubs condemned the “vile” abuse aimed at Ezgjan Alioski and Nicolas Pepe on social media after the London club’s forward received a red card after he headbutted his rival on the Elland Road pitch.

Can you imagine the outpouring of bile if social media had been around in 1986?

The fact that Britain and Argentina had fought over the Falkland Islands just four years before sharpened the rivalry and Maradona’s match-winning performance probably went a long way to burnishing his hero status in his home country.

As a teenager I remember watching that match with my Dad in a bar in Santa Ponsa in Majorca on our summer holiday.

Given it was called the Aha Bar, I wonder if it is still there?

It has probably been renamed a few times since and is now the Five Finger Death Punch Bar.

Get with it – they are a popular beat combo who have been topping the charts this year.

As I like to say – and I’m sure Maradona used to – either go big, or go home.


I LEARNED last week that funding has been awarded to support the development of a West Yorkshire ‘space hub’.

The University of Leeds, Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other partners will work together to develop an emerging Local Space Hub across West Yorkshire, including Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield.

The project aims to identify existing industry strengths while unearthing challenges and knowledge gaps to develop a strong and sustainable Space hub in these West Yorkshire regions over the next five to ten years.

The six-month programme is supported by £80,000 in funding from the UK Space Agency.

Each area, dubbed a ‘space hub’, will use government funding to bring together local authorities, expertise and businesses to create a strategy for how their area can take maximum advantage of the commercial space race.

I’ll resist the urge to suggest this is a waste of space.

But 80 grand will just about be enough to get budding space cadets on a rocket that might reach the end of their garden.

Well, if the wind is blowing in the right direction.


I HAVE to admit I’ve become a bit of a convert to Channel 5 in recent months.

It’s All Creatures Great and Small reboot is well written, well acted and well made and offers the kind of gentle British evening TV entertainment that Call the Midwife used to before its writers bought a copy of Essentials of Clinical Infectious Diseases on Amazon.

OK, it is going a bit barmy with Christmas films currently, but you can find some diamonds in the rough.

I thought I had discovered not one but three diamonds last week when it broadcast Paul Merton’s Comic Heroes quickly followed by documentaries on two British comedy greats, Frankie Howerd and Kenneth Williams.

Paul Merton’s programme covered comedy greats like Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin but was a bit flat and he sounded like he was going through the motions.

Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd In Their Own Words were a good idea but didn’t quite work.

Despite having Kenneth Williams’ friend Giles Brandreth, and huge Frankie fan David Walliams narrate the programmes, I found both a bit lengthy and poorly put together.

Radio scripts don’t really work on TV with sketches to help illustrate them.

Kenneth Williams famous radio sketch as a bank robber falling over his words during the stick up – despite being written by the great Peter Cook – came over as tired and not that funny.

Radio comedy is very different to television.

By their nature the words conjure up images in your mind – like the one where Tony Hancock was a pompous test pilot and as his aeroplane gains altitude, hears a tapping on his cockpit.

No dear, cockpit.

It turns out it is the mechanic working on his plane, played by Kenneth Williams.

“Good evening. Can I come in? It ain’t half cold out here! Move over, I’ll sit on your lap.”

To which Hancock replies: “Do you mind! Get your boot off me joystick!”

It doesn’t need images.

The writing and performances put those into your mind.

And the double entendres don’t even need an eye brows raised facial expression to make them funny.

As Kenneth Williams’ old radio collaborator Kenneth Horne once said (almost certainly written by the brilliant writing team of Barry Took and Marty Feldman):

“I’m all for censorship. If ever I see a double entendre, I whip it out.”

IF you are still confused about the Government’s Covid tiers, can I refer you to the handy guide below.

Have a great weekend.

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