• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Cyber shoppers are left out in the cold but one canny entrepreneur is on the right track

Having sailed through Black Friday and Buy Nothing Saturday with my savings untouched and my conscience untroubled, I wake to something called Cyber Monday.

The friendly UPS guy who delivers a mid-morning package tells me it's the day everybody makes their online Christmas present purchases. How difficult that makes his working life is between him and his osteopath, but his parting words as he hands over a slim volume wrapped in Amazonian cardboard - "I wish they were all as easy as that one" - tells me the next week could be a testing one.

I suppose, then, that his will be one of the voices issuing forth Hallelujahs! a few hours later as the entire British banking system goes down the pan. Or that part of it which is operated by the Royal Bank of Scotland, anyway. An estimated 750,000 customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank are unable to use their credit cards for three hours, resulting in red faces and promises that anyone left out of pocket will be compensated.

In a scene that could have come straight from a film about the zombie apocalypse, shopping trolleys full of food and drink are simply abandoned in supermarkets. One man fills his car with petrol, finds himself unable to pay and simply zooms off - after leaving an IOU stuck to the pump. How very British.

The beaks at the Scottish Football Association have come down heavily against flares at football matches. That's not to be confused with flair, which was banished from the domestic game a generation ago, or flares, which were worn by fans, players and the odd manager in the 1970s and usually came in shades of municipal pitch rust (brown) and goalmouth green (also brown).

No, these flares are the ones that release smoke and - if you happen to be watching Hearts play Dinamo Zagreb and the away fans light one in a stairwell, as I once witnessed - the sort of firework display you wouldn't want in your back garden. Or your neighbour's. Or your neighbour's neighbour's.

"Och, it brings a bit of theatre to the game," say some.

Maybe. But isn't that what the Romans said when the Christians got drawn against the Lions in the Cup?

As part of its never-ending attempt to make Edinburghers feel good about the transport infrastructure in their city - and we'll get on to the trams in a minute - the local paper dispatches a reporter to investigate the Santa Train currently plying its trade in Princes Street Gardens. Turns out it costs more per mile than the Orient Express. Someone's making a killing, and it isn't Agatha Christie.

Sticking with mythical rolling stock, late-night revellers on Princes Street report seeing a ghostly shape progressing very slowly in an easterly direction along the middle of the road.

Have they been timewarped back to 1956 and the moment the last Edinburgh tram ran?

No, it's another of the council's funeral cortege-style tests of the gazillion-pound white elephant. In fact, the tram arrives in York Place ahead of schedule - not a phrase we're used to hearing in connection with this unloved project.

I Brave the high winds and horizontal sleet to visit what used to be called the Dean Gallery but is now known by the lofty and bracket-bothering title of Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern 2). The reason is the press view of an exhibition devoted to the Scottish Colourist painter John Duncan Fergusson, a Leither with an eye for the ladies and a penchant for green ties. He lived in Paris, except when there were world wars on, then ended up in Glasgow, where he would no doubt have been a regular at The Ubiquitous Chip had it opened a couple of decades earlier than it did.

No Santa Trains in Fergusson's time either, which is a shame because in his younger days in the capital he was in the habit of drawing and painting in Princes Street Gardens. He could easily have dashed off a quick post-Impressionist daub of the thing as it trundled along at £27.35 a mile. He could even have titled it Ho! Ho! Ho! or Laughing All The Way To The Grotto and blessed it in the name of the Holy Green Tie in the hope that it would one day be displayed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern 2). He didn't, though, and it isn't. The exhibition is worth seeing, regardless.

As they should be, the papers and the airwaves are dominated today by tributes to Nelson Mandela. If, as seems likely, it becomes one of those "where were you when you heard?" moments, my answer will be: on the sofa watching Stacey Dooley Investigates on BBC Three. It was as the feisty cockney reporter was interviewing a Ukrainian drug dealer in a Darth Vader mask that the black-trimmed "Important News On BBC One" banner began appearing on all BBC channels.

Things were even weirder for a young couple in London who had booked a babysitter and set off for a rare night at the cinema only to end up having cameras and microphones shoved in their faces as they emerged blinking into the light. They were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and they had joined Nelson Mandela's daughter Zindzi and actors Idris Elba and Naomie Harris at the Leicester Square premiere of Mandela, a new biopic about the heroic South African leader.

The audience only learned of Mandela's death after the end credits rolled.

I end the week as I start it, with my mind occupied by online retailing. And I'm delighted to learn a new phrase in that regard: "fulfilment centre". At first sight it looks like either a good name for a church or a terrible name for a chippie. In fact, it's the term given to those enormous warehouses where your "one click" online orders are picked, packed and posted. Fulfilment implies happiness and contentment, of course. Neither word could be applied to the people who do the picking, packing and posting, though. In an essay for American magazine Mother Jones titled (deep breath) I Was A Warehouse Wage Slave: My Brief, Backbreaking, Rage-Inducing, Low-Paying, Dildo-Packing Time Inside The Online-Shipping Machine, reporter Mac McClelland writes about working in one of these places and the conditions that prevail. It's worth a read. Shop until you drop is one thing - shop until someone else drops is a different matter entirely. Merry Christmas.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

198753