Tuesday 12 January 2016

Black Dog

Following my brother's excellent article about The Language Barrier I’m going to try to explain the meanings of two similar but very different days. Americans have "Black Friday", the British have "Black Eye Friday". They're not on the same date, they don't symbolise the same things, and the participants do (mostly) different things.

Black Friday's name has nothing to do with darkness, depression, ruthlessness, skin colour, the black death, black holes, black pudding, sharps and flats on a piano, the second player in chess, or anything else you might have guessed. It's to do with the colour of ink on the retailer's bank statements – no honestly it is. If red ink means debt or loss, then black means credit or profit. Black Friday is a big shopping day, and the retailers run promotions and discounts to attract business and get their accounts "in the black". It takes place on the Friday after -- um --  I don't know -- some colonial celebration and everybody has the day off work. My English readers should try to think of it as though the first day of the January sales took place on a special consumerist bank holiday in the run up to Christmas.

Black Eye Friday is the Friday before Christmas and is the traditional day to get into a drunken fight with a stranger. The vagaries of UK public holidays mean that most businesses close down for a full  week no matter what day Christmas falls on. The builders and tradesmen tend to knock off at lunchtime on the Friday go to the pub -- often with all of their December wages in their pockets. The office workers and amateur drinkers join them at 5:00 and everybody drinks more than they really know how to. My American readers should try to visualise it like St. Patrick's Day in a town where every bar is Irish, and everybody likes to drink to excess – but without the preponderance of green liquids.

Richard "No I'm not going to write a David Bowie obituary" B

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