Black Friday Blues

Black Friday Blues


Today many retailers in the UK adopted an American tradition: Black Friday. In what may have been a coordinated campaign several major supermarket chains had sales that were so silly they were irresponsible. Police had to be called to various locations & there were many fights & acts of violence.

So why has an American tradition turned into an opportunity for decent British citizens to be ashamed of their fellow countrymen/countrywomen?

A brief history of Black Friday

There are rumours (which I believe started on Facebook) that Black Friday is a term from the days of slavery when slave traders used to try & sell off their remaining slaves before the winter.

The truth is that the term “Black Friday” was’t used in general terms until around the 1950s; a full century after slavery was abolished.

Since then it has many meanings ranging from:

  • A term used by Philadelphia Police to describe the sales on the day after Thanksgiving.
  • A day when people would call in sick in order to get a “shopping&rduo; day off of work.

For quite a few facts that you never knew on Black Friday Visit the page on Black Friday.

Was there a Black Friday in the UK last year?

Actually: were the first in the UK to offer Black discounts as they started offering discounts in 2010

It looks like Black Friday is here to stay. Let's just hope that the health & Safety Executive take a look at the practices used by retailers such as Tesco & Asda this year & conclude that next year there must be systems in place that will keep the shoppers safe. My suggestion would be security guards/stewards & barriers. More realistically there could be a ticketing system similar to the one used in many Argos stores.

Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come and we won’t see Black Friday in the UK again.

Irresponsible retailers

This year there have been several scenes that the major retailers should have anticipated. By not having enough staff on to deal with their sudden increase in traffic these retailers have broken a basic rule of business: keep your customers safe.

I feel for the people who were attacked today simply for purchasing a TV. It would not surprise me (in this age of litigation) if these retailers didn’t see any legal action against them for a range of claims.

Ashamed to be British

Scenes like this…


…make me ashamed to be British. What happened to queueing, remember that? It’s the art of waiting in line until those before you have finished fulfilling their requirements & needs.

Upon viewing scenes like this my immediate reaction was to feel disgusted that fellow Human Beings could act in such a way. Were they trying to buy discounted food in order to feed their family on a very tight budget? No…they were trying to get their hands of cheap underwear; TVs & the like.

A 72” TV for a 5 year old’s bedroom anyone?

Yesterday whilst I was waiting for my son’s school to open it’s I overheard a “parent” telling her friend that Asda was to be selling off 72” TVs & she was thinking of getting one for her child.

Her child is in my son’s class & so is only 5 or 6. Our 5 year old son doesn’t even have a basic TV in his bedroom. If he did he would fall asleep watching TV every night. Instead he has books and toys in there.

I mean, come on! Who on Earth buys their 5/6 year old a 72” TV for their bedroom? No doubt it is to go with their consoles & all their bloody killing/war games.

Rant over: carry on!

Thank God for my legs and my life

Thank God for my legs and my life

Death Personal War

From driving habits to bombs with a 5 year old

On our walk up to school today Rowan and I started talking about people’s driving habits. This led on to me telling him about when I used to drive a big van with blue lights on it. This in turn led me to explain to Rowan about bombs and my time in Iraq as part of the bomb disposal team.

We ended up chatting about bombs and what they do and it brought to the very front of my mind how lucky I am to not only have my life but in particular my legs.

Going to camp DogWood with The Black Watch

As part of the bomb disposal team based an a small Hell-hole called Al-Amarah in Iraq which lies about half way between Basra and Baghdad we were tasked with the IEDs from a wide geographical area. One of the opportunities we had was to support the feared and infamous Black Watch [1][2] on their trip up north to Camp DogWood. The team and I (well the Boss) tried his best to get us on the job but we were not chosen and it was decided from high up that another IED team should take the task on.

The bad news came

As we had not been chosen for the job we just carried on with our normal taskings and in the coming days we received the news that the team that had been assigned the task had been hit by a vehicle borne IED (suicide bomber).

As well as 3 members of The Black Watch losing their lives [1][2] the members of the IED team who was doing my job as well as another member of the Royal Corp of Signals had lost their legs. If memory serves me correct the soldier doing my job was standing behind the door of a Warrior Armoured Vehicle. If he had not been then he may well have lost his life.

These two Soldiers were Mick Brennan and Neil Heritage.

This made us all very sad: not just for our fellow IED Regiment members but especially for the 3 who had made the ultimate sacrifice. It could well have been our team who was in that position and in particular it could have been I that was injured and now without my legs.

An image of many poppies

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion – The fallen will always be remembered by those who appreciate their sacrifice

Remembering all of this made me quite sad (but very thankful) this morning and upon returning from my walk from the School-run I started to look into this further. Initially this was just to confirm my own memories. As it happens the soldier who was doing my job started to ski as part of his rehabilitation and has represented the UK in the Sochi Winter Olympics [1][2].

I then began to dig deeper and found him on Facebook. Upon messaging him it turns out that unlike me he is not at all down about what happened.

Thank God for my legs and my life

All of this makes me thank God for my legs but also for the fact that I am alive and I have the love and support of those around me.

Although I do have PTSD, I feel no guilt over this particular subject: I have a very matter of fact view of it. I feel no guilt as there was nothing I could have done to change the situation. Nothing I would have done would have meant that we could have been sent to that job. All the circumstances that played out were beyond the control of our team.

To forget or not to forget…that is the question!

Although on one hand I wish I could forget my times on certain far off lands, on the other hand I never wish to forget a single moment of my time in these very same countries. They remind me of how lucky any of us are to be alive; to have loved ones around us and also reminds me of the good that I have done with my life.

On reflection. If I had the choice between remembering or not remembering I would definitely choose to remember. There are many quotes I could point to such as:

  • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
  • “Only by remembering the past can we avoid repeating it” – John Evans (2014)

but in essence they come down to this. It would be an insult to all those who have fallen protecting their way of life if we were to forget the sacrifice they made on our behalf.

Is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Facebook Opinion War

Yesterday I witnessed a post that chastised an Irish Football player who plays for a British football team for not wearing a poppy. The posts main image was a head shot with the word “traiter” written on his forehead. The post text then went on to say

“He refuses to wear a poppy on his football jersey….name and shame…..disrespectful, ignorant, anti-British”

And then call for the club in question to sack him. They obviously haven't considered the legalities of sacking somebody for refusing to wear a charitable emblem.

I had until this time respected this Facebook group and also followed them on Twitter but as soon as I commented on their post I “unliked” and left the group.

A poppy is a personal choice

Whether to wear a poppy or not comes down to personal choice and should not be dictated by the minority or even the majority. The moment that it becomes a sense of social duty to wear a poppy the poppy itself loses all of it's meaning.

A poppy is meant to reflect an individual's personal remembrance of the fallen from all the wars. In my opinion it is not only meant to remember those of British origin who have lost their lives. No doubt the Facebook group fails to recognise the work done by members of other nations Armed Forces as part of the British Nation. In my mind poppies represent respect and remembrance for all those who have fought and fallen in order to save their way of life. Be they British servicemen killed in Afghanistan; German soldiers killed in the World Wars or even members of the Zulu nations in the late 19th/early 20th century conflicts.

Personal Remembrance

After spending 2 years of my life on tour as part of the British Army I have lost several friends and I am sure that like me they did not fight for people to be forced to wear poppies.

An image of rows of poppies

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion

No Remembrance Ceremony for me today

Unfortunately today I am choosing not to go to the remembrance ceremony that I usually attend in Barnsley Town Centre. I instead shall be watching it on BBC TV. Does this make me Anti-British too? If people choose to feel that way then so be it. As it happens my 5 year old son is doing his favourite impression of Satan this week and it would be selfish of me to go up to the war memorial and leave my wife to cope with the situation alone (well…she would have the dog). I normally got for a few pints afterwards with my neighbour to celebrate the lives of fallen friends as is tradition. I’m sure those have fallen will understand my decision to stay at home and support my wife.

I haven’t even bought a poppy this year yet

As of yet I haven’t even bought a poppy this year. Does this mean that my employer should also sack me (ok, I’m self employed so that doesn’t count). As it happens I like to buy my poppies from a certain old veteran that stands in the centre of Barnsley each year as he is a pleasure to deal with. The fact that I haven’t seen him yet would mean nothing to this Facebook group. I have however purchased a British legion t-shirt and car sticker which are both still in their wrappers but the poppy watchers will not see this.

I wear poppies throughout the year. When I am having a bad PTSD day or to commemorate a certain anniversary. A have a many poppies placed throughout my home and I often get weird looks from people when I wear a poppy in March. No doubt they want to know why I am wearing a poppy when it is not November.

A poppy is not just for November

An act of remembrance is not just for November: it is one that can be carried out anytime to show that we are remembering the fallen.

An image of the Cenotaph

Picture courtesy of The Royal British Legion

Are poppies losing their meaning?

When the wearing of poppies becomes a social task and something that one thinks they should do because that is what is expected of them then it loses it's meaning.

Barnsley Veteran refuses to wear poppy because of MPs

This year as Mark Ansell tweeted a Barnsley Veteran will no longer wear poppies as he believes that MPs have hijacked the who thing. After watching the video feed I have to agree with his sentiments that the wearing of poppies is becoming the expected thing. I do not agree with him regarding MPs hijacking the occasion but then I believe that unless one has suffered human loss due to war then they can never understand and can only sympathise with those who have.

So is it Anti-British not to wear a poppy?

Well… you decide. My opinion in that it is neither ant-British nor dis-respectful. There may be many reasons why people are not or don't wish to wear a poppy and I along with many many others fought for the right for the individual to make that choice all by themselves.

Rant over so enjoy the rest of your day