Black Friday: On the countdown to this shopping fest, there's only one thing on my wish list - Gaby Soutar

I have been circling a very expensive item for months.

If purchased, it will be the priciest piece of clothing I’ve ever bought at a ridiculous £348. It is a puffer coat, but no ordinary one. This goes right down to my frost-bitten ankles, so that I am practically hobbled. I am a Christmas market bratwurst in a fluffy hot-dog roll.

It has a large hood and extra long sleeves, which cover my chilly wrists. The downsides – it’s elf green and highly unflattering.

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While I’m wearing it, I resemble a giant witchetty grub that’s pensively waiting in line to be nibbled by Matt Hancock on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. I don’t care, I just want to be warm.

Joules, which went into administration this week Pic:AdobeJoules, which went into administration this week Pic:Adobe
Joules, which went into administration this week Pic:Adobe

I have tried it on in the shop five or six times. I’m pretty sure the staff now think I work there. Perhaps not.

I’m more a back of house person, in the same way that Quasimodo enjoyed whiling away most of his time in Notre Dame’s Bell Tower.

This is the sort of place where it seems an employment prerequisite to be young, beautiful and slightly standoffish.

If you want to try anything on, they write your name on a blackboard outside the changing rooms. So, in common with any time they’ve scribbled my handle on a cup at Starbucks, I’ve been variously known as Abi, Gabbi and Gabby. I was even once Grabby at that coffee chain, which seemed an unnecessary personal attack.

As I tend to mill around that tempting coat, without sealing the deal, the store detective probably thinks I’m a shoplifter, but they all do.

Usually, I pass through life invisibly. Even automatic doors no longer open when I approach them. However, I am highly conspicuous to security guards.

It must be my resting nervous face.

That’s even though I’ve never stolen anything in my life, apart from a pack of Wrigley Juicy Fruit from the Edinburgh Dalry branch of Safeway when I was about six years old. I slipped it into my dungaree pocket at the check out. Then, ‘look mum, I just found this on the pavement, can I keep it? It’s not been opened, someone must have dropped it’. I was devious.

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Thankfully, this wasn’t a gateway crime, as I didn’t enjoy my spoils. The chewing gum is probably still lingering in my upper intestines, 41 years later. You’re not supposed to swallow it.

Anyway, the staff in my favourite shop probably laugh about my coat obsession, when I clearly cannot afford the thing. They don’t realise that I’m counting down until the annual sales event that is Black Friday, which officially takes place on November 25.

I’m not the only one waiting expectantly to see if the item they’ve got their eye on will be reduced.

To paraphrase The Flying Lizards, the best things in life are free, though a heavily discounted price is acceptable too. The birds and the bees agree.

The best item I ever bagged, in any sale, was a dress by Scottish fashion designer Jonathan Saunders. It was 50p.

The thrill of making it to the online checkout was comparable to doing a spot of Forth Road Bridge parkour. I’m still riding high on that, and I’ve had the frock for about 15 years. It feels like a trophy.

Currently, it appears that most of us are waiting to invest in a more practical purchase to aid survival over the coming months. I know a host of folk who are anticipating a discount on this season’s must-haves of an air-fryer, an electric blanket, slanket or Oodie.

I have a whole load of other essentials in my potential sale basket too. Mainly Christmas gifts, because there is no escaping its inevitable approach. Each day, we have less sleeps, as if we’re coming to the end of our stay on death row.

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I do get irritated by some of the annual anti-consumerist advice that always precedes Black Friday. The experts seem to think that people will abandon self control and splurge on esoteric stuff they don’t really want or need.

We will end up bankrupt, but at least we’ll own musical egg timers, one-legged trousers, those half Christmas trees that are available at Argos, orange eyeshadow or 50 asparagus flavoured Pot Noodles that are a week away from their expiry date.

That’s slightly patronising. Most of us are waiting to see if the things that we actually need are going to drop in price. I think that the majority also realise that some of the ‘discounts’ are exaggerated or fictional.

I know the original price of my coat and if it drops by 40 per cent, it’s time to strike. I’ll move like a hawk dropping from the sky.

The consumer's guilt will come later. I probably shouldn't be spending money. Instead, it’d be more sensible to shore my wages up, as much as I possibly can.

After all, the economy is a mess, inflation is over 10 per cent, nobody’s wages are going up, and there’s war and environmental chaos.

Despite this, my anecdotal study suggests something other than panic on the high street, while we watch hospitality flounder and familiar businesses including Joules and Made go under.

I feel it too. It’s called hysteria. We want one last crazed hurrah before the lights go off. Literally. I shall have that coat, if it’s the last thing I ever buy.

Maybe if I zip it right up to the top, I will manage to pupate through winter.



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