The Independent, 27 November 2012

Yesterday, in case you missed it in your analogue world, was Cyber Monday: one of the two busiest online shopping days of the year. On Cyber Monday 2011, Amazon alone took more than 3 million orders in the UK. It’s pegged to Black Friday, of course: the day after Thanksgiving when otherwise sane Americans indulge in a shopping frenzy like piranhas surrounding a tired swimmer.

Rather than waste a marketing opportunity, the weekend bunfight has spread across the Atlantic to us. Amazon and others go crazy, offering discounts on potential gifts in the hopes of getting us to part with our cash. Though it isn’t linked to a holiday here. Rather, it’s pegged to the last payday before Christmas which, for many of us, was last Friday.

The only trouble is, that if you’re buying presents for children, you may not be getting a good deal at all. For this is the season – just before advent – when Christmas toys undergo the pupation from ordinary caterpillar to impossibly desirable butterfly. I am never happier that I don’t have children than at Christmas. I get the whole idea that Christmas is for the kids and they believe in Santa and all of that. But they also have expectations of total happiness being located in a Furby.

A Furby, I tell you – a boggle-eyed, cheap-looking furry robot bird-thing which was last popular at the turn of the century, and is inexplicably the Christmas toy of choice again this year. These things come in cycles, it seems, like lethal strains of the flu. If lethal strains of the flu were suddenly changing hands for double the asking price online, anyway.

Demand for Furbies already outstrips supply, apparently, which means that otherwise rational parents will soon be re-enacting scenes from Jingle All The Way, the Arnold Schwarzenegger film about trying to get the perfect gift for your child, which proved that even the Terminator isn’t immune to pester power.

And who can blame them? Children have impossibly high expectations of Christmas, and if they don’t get the present they long for – even if it is rubbish – their Christmas is ruined. You’d have to be a hard-hearted parent to withstand that possibility and tell them to make their own fun with a hoop and a stick like we used to.

Meanwhile, I am vaguely wondering whether my dad would like The Killing on DVD (let’s hope he’s not reading this), and my boyfriend’s Christmas was dealt with the moment I received an email with the subject line, ‘Give the gift of JAWS this holiday season’. And if I draw the line at keeping a great white shark in the bath, he’ll be just as happy with a great blu-ray on the telly.

I feel some envy for people who saw the Rolling Stones play their 50th anniversary gig on Sunday night. But tickets were selling for £106, rising to £406, which is too much for me.

Bands charge crazy-money for gigs these days, trying to recover the revenue they lost when online piracy took their doubloons away.

I don’t mind paying more for a gig if I think it’s keeping the band going, though I find it hard to believe the Rolling Stones are skint. What I do mind is the now commonplace sight of rows of empty seats at sell-out gigs.

The tickets are bought on the moment of release by touts (who were offering seats for £1300 for the Stones). None of the huge mark-up goes to the band, and fans can’t afford to go to the gig. Can’t they just turn up on the night and pay a tenner for an empty seat?