Black Friday – will you be counting the cost?

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Some of you will have got some great bargains but many of you will also be counting the cost of Black Friday. Yes there are bargains to be had but are there as many as in previous years or has Black Friday turned into a marketers dream?

The price of lots of items on super sale on Black Friday went down a while ago then they went up and now they have gone down and you are saving a pound on the previous price which had been inflated anyway. So you are actually paying more for it on Black Friday than if you had bought it in the summer.

Of course if you use the Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis’s maxim a bargain is only a bargain if it’s something you really needed and it’s gone down in price. Buying something you don’t need but want just because it’s cheaper on Black Friday is not a bargain unless you sell it for more than you bought it.

Remember that this Black Friday – Stay Calm and Stay in the Black.

UK Black Friday statistics 2014

Black Friday statistics per hour 2014 from the Daily Mirror.

 

Politics is fun


Oh come on it is, don’t take it so seriously it can be a great spectator sport. Especially if you suspend all reason, expectation and take everything that is said with a rather large pinch of salt.

Their now you don’t feel as stressed do you over call me Dave’s misrepresentations or Corbyn’s non button pressing stance. Remember they are players and all the world is their stage or so they wished. Most Americans think Tony Blair is still the PM and when shown pictures of Cameron they think he’s a door to door salesman. The Russians just laugh.

The Americans think Corbyn is a lecturer and the Russians just laugh. Everyone thinks George Osborne is a glove puppet and no one apart from the Germans know who Nigel Farage is. No one at all knows who Nick Clegg is but seem to recall the name. The Russians are still laughing.

The silly season is over, sorry that’s the Conference season is over and of course Boris came up with the best one liner’s since those of Freddie Kruger in “ A Nightmare on Elm Street”

The night’s are drawing in here in good old blighty so we’ll all forget the political debate for now. Apart from Manchester Metropolitan University who in a master stroke are holding a conference on the plight of the homeless and how to help them. Whilst simultaneously evicting the homeless camp on their doorstep, and thier is no conflict as far as they are concerned. Maybe the silly season is extending into the autumn who knows?

However contrast that with footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs who have told a homeless group who are squatting in the Old Stock Exchange which the pair own that they can stay. The building will be turned into a boutique hotel next year and the pair are working with the group to set-up a homeless hub.

So we’ll watch the Rugby World Cup and Strictly Come Dancing and start thinking about Christmas as it’s now advertised everywhere alongside Halloween and Bonfire night. Very confusing and very expensive.

But of course that is life for many in Britain today confusing and expensive. But it needn’t be so. Stop listening to the fear mongering politicians and the advertisers who want you to buy all that stuff they tell you, you can’t live without.

Slow down, enjoy the company of family and friends, think clearly and let stuff wash over you. Enjoy our upcoming winter festivals and remember you can make Halloween costumes from stuff you were going to throw out. Hide and seek and apple bobbing are cheap games for the kids and you can apply the same principles to everything else.

Have fun and here’s some fun spooky music to help your Halloween be atmospheric, fun and cheaper than buying a CD. I hope that’s made you smile.

Halloween Mix 2015 – 4 hrs of non stop spooktastic fun

Black Tie’s


I attended the funeral of an acquaintance today which was a sad, sombre and joyous affair as we celebrated his life. Stories of wonderful times were told and everyone gave him a send off that none of those who attended will ever forget.

As I searched my wardrobe earlier in the week for my funeral attire I discovered yet again that my black tie was missing. I searched again, drawers, cupboards, wardrobe and under the bed. I have no idea why but it seems to be a law of the universe that if things go missing they usually end up under the bed. It wasn’t there although I did find a missing sock, a pen and a £2 coin.

I got my suitcases out with the winter clothes in, nope not there. I went to my stepmums and checked the case I had left. A myriad of coloured ties but no black tie and I was getting a little annoyed now. Why over a tie? Well it’s like this I have bought dozens of them over the years and all have disappeared. It’s as thought the dearly departed I went to send of took the ties with them.

Then I remembered my dad borrowed one, my three brothers also, one of them twice as he couldn’t find the first one I lent him. My friends borrowed them and finally the one I was looking for I remembered I had lent that one to my son. He remembered too that he had lent it to a friend.

When I enquired after said tie the friend of a friend of a friend had lent it to another friend who had lent it to a friend of a friend. The tie has had quite a time of it and become cosmopolitan and quite possibly bohemian in the process. It has been to several cities in the UK and in Europe and was last seen in Australia and now possibly on it’s way to Uganda.

So next time your looking for your black tie and it’s mysteriously disappeared just think of the adventures it could be experiencing at that very moment. It sort of put life and death and the universe into perspective something our departed acquaintance would have laughed at.

Black Funeral Tie

Where is the tie now?

Are You Happy ?


In the UK we have just altered the clocks and moved to British Summer Time (BST) and it’s light in the evenings when we are getting home from work. The dawn was just poking through the grey merk of the clouds as I set off on my usual early morning walk at 6.30am this morning.

Spring is here, well almost but the longer lighter days do put a spring into our step and make us feel happier. But are you happy or do you just think you are, it sounds like an alternative reality right?

You can check what makes most people happy and find out what happiness is and how happy you are at the Happy Planet Index.

We all need a minimum level of income to live but over and above that your accumulating stuff you don’t need. If your constantly looking out of your window and thinking you need a car like your neighbour or a new kitchen because a friend had one. Then take a look at the happiness index it might just help you focus on what really makes you happy.

If your not happy at work try and focus on the tasks you like and what they give you rather than the ones you don’t like. That way their will always be something enjoyable in your day.

Maybe this Easter you’ll have a clear out of all that stuff that no one has looked at in ages? At work maybe you could clear your inbox and feel under less pressure.  And just to get you in that happy mood here’s a couple of happy songs.

Pharrell Williams – Happy

Nurchering Curiosity and Creativity in the Young


One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is that of curiosity. Curiosity of where things come from and how they are made and a sense of adventure fun and creativity to have a go. To make something themselves that works.

Remember when we were young? our dads, uncles and granddads fixed things, made things work again using whatever they had around and built stuff that worked. It was magic and they taught those skills to my generation.

If you thought that was all gone and skills were being lost in our throw away and buy a new one consumerist society you may need to think again.

I watched the Royal Institute Christmas Lecture series on BBC4  and it mesmerised and inspired me as much as it did when I sat and watched it with my Dad when I was a teenager. The audience of Kids, teenagers and adults were also fascinated as Professor Danielle George took us on a fascinating journey. The lectures entitled Sparks will fly: How to hack your home had it all from robots and musical instruments to hands on experiments and eager audience participation.

It was fun, interesting and educational most importantly it showed kids what you can do with every day objects. How you can quickly and easily make something simple that might generate enough electricity to power a light, phone or musical instrument. It empowered them to think creatively about items they may just throw in the bin.

Of course the recycle movement is gaining momentum with Freegle  and upcycling  if we can get significantly more young people to embrace these ideas they will be more confident and self sufficient in the future. They may even come up with ideas that help mankind spread ever more scare resources further. The world will be theirs and don’t we want to leave them and our grandchildren a useful legacy?

Their is one great thing you could do for your children before school and college starts again. Sit down and watch the Christmas lectures with them see if it stimulates discussion, creativity and a desire to make something. Maybe you’ll find their is more than a little Faraday in them.

Have a creative, fun and productive 2015.

Fifty Shades of what?


Note I wrote and published this piece in July 2012 as the film is now out I thought it useful to revisit it. I have added a couple of current links at the end.

This is currently a best seller bought mainly by women it is in fact the best seller on Amazon as a significant number of ladies cannot bring themselves to walk into a book store and buy it.

If you have not heard of Christian Grey then you must have been living under a rock for the past couple of months. The reason ladies are ordering the book which is part of a trilogy online is the fact that it’s rather naughty from beginning to end.  In fact a significant number of pages contain graphic descriptions of sex including explicit descriptions of domination and bondage. So is it fantasy and escapism or is it Porn?

Several commentators both male and female have asked the question what is the difference between this and male porn? When men are reading porn they are vilified as dirty and grubby yet women are not. We are told that porn for women is erotic escapism from the humdrum of life and it is not dirty or threatening to society but male porn is.

I agree male porn can be dirty and threatening to society but only because it’s been around longer and seems to be more accepted. Female porn is in its infancy by comparison which makes a comparison unbalanced.

Female porn is however becoming mainstream. Mills and Boon now have erotic books and there are a significant number of titles for women that cover virtually every fantasy a woman could have. Just as there are for men, but many women complain about top shelf magazines and the likes of Nuts magazine. But just look at the covers of many of the magazines aimed at women and count how many don’t have an explosive sexual headline. I was waiting in the till queue at the supermarket  the other day and one magazines headline had a teenager saying she was so bored she had sex with her dad.

These magazines and erotic novels are often left lying around for children to read whilst most men still hide their copy of Hustler and Playboy and delete their browsing history. Neither of these scenarios can be good for our children or society as a whole.

We are becoming a more sexualised society and what people do with other consenting adults behind closed doors is their business. Sex sells and porn is two clicks away on most electronic devices, whilst music videos are often mini virtual porn movies and many are not really suitable to be shown before the watershed.

So is Fifty Shades a little bit of escapist harmless fun or is it a seminal moment in the further sexualisation of society? And is female erotic literature starting to head into the (allegedly) grubby territory traditionally held by male porn?

The film has surpassed all expectations but the same question remains.

Other Interesting Articles

The Telegraph – Most Successful 18 Rated film ever

The Independent – How ’50 Shades’ is reshaping the world

The Huffington Post – 50 Shades of Grey: Why Women Are Reading it in Their Horny Droves

Escape into Life – 50 Shades of Grey – Book Review

The Guardian – Suzanne Moore – Fifty Shades of Grey peddles the tired old fantasy of romance that keeps women in their place

The Independent – Up close and personal: Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James reveals real-life secrets to her readers