What's in a date? Friday 25th November, to be exact. Just a day like any other you might assume? If you're a savvy shopper I'm sure you're well aware that this day is what has come to be known in recent, over-commercialised years as Black Friday: an American custom that has crossed the pond in which everyone from high street retailers to online market giants drop their prices in the hope of a huge influx of customers, just before the Christmas period. As you can imagine, it does indeed work; people look for discount Christmas presents and those who have a little extra cash to splash simply find it as an excuse to treat themselves.
My name is Homesick Mick. I am a musician. I am a social activist and this day is also the day that my planned protest will take place. However, I am not simply protesting against the ideology of Black Friday, I am protesting against a figure in the media that I'm sure most will have heard of by now, Sir Philip Green. In the past year or so, he has plagued the front pages with his treatment of former BHS employees and general demeanour.
I am outraged at how the BHS business was managed by Green and the way in which his staff have been treated consequently; I want to give a voice to those who feel the same but don't feel they can speak up. BHS has played a big role in the lives of many of us growing up and it's a true shame to see the demise of such an iconic stalwart of British industry.
After irresponsibly selling the clothing company to the previously bankrupt Dominic Chappell for a measly £1 in 2015, Green and his family have collected £586 million worth of dividends, interest on loans and rental payments and have since retreated to the tax haven of Monaco, leaving BHS with debts of over £1 billion and a pension deficit of £571 million.
As many of you may know if you've been following the story, 'Sir' Phil may not have actually broken any laws, but it is outrageous to think that he can get away with leaving these people deprived of the money they are owed, especially whilst he sits there on his new yacht in the Mediterranean. As a result of his behavior, the Pensions Protection Scheme has been footed with the bill, but many have campaigned for him to repay the pensions himself. I am one of those people.
Even if it's for just one day, my aim is to stop people shopping at any of Philip Green's stores on 25th November; I'm calling it #PhilipFreeFriday. This includes any of the shops that fall under the umbrella of Green's 'Arcadia' group: Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Burton, Miss Selfridge, Evans and Outfit. No, one day isn't going to make much difference to the gold-lined pockets of Sir Philip, but if we can make the point by starving his shops on #PhilipFreeFriday, then hopefully it will provide the kick in the backside he needs to pay back the BHS pensions!
On the big day, I will be taking to the streets and setting up camp outside Topshop's flagship store on Oxford Street, London, to make my point and speak on behalf of the BHS employees who have been wronged. I want to draw a crowd, I want to make a scene and I want Sir Philip to realise that the voice of the little man will not be muffled; we will pester him until we get what we want and until justice is served, it's as simple as that.
You might be asking yourself: 'why does this 'Homesick Mick' character feel like he has to take on Sir Philip?', and your questioning is justified. However, I know that through a peaceful musical protest, we can show some people power, some strength in numbers that might just grab the attention of Sir Phil and act as the last straw in him giving in and paying back the pensions, as is deserved. After all, it's nearly Christmas! The BHS staff need this. I have heard that Sir Philip is indeed human, so I'm offering him the opportunity to show that he has a conscience.