A portrait of Burbage I got from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Burbage

OK so one of the things that has been concerning me lately has been the tendency for a ‘de facto’ form of censorship or suppression of literary diversity through a process of sponsorship of writers.  I read recently that some writers are paid by companies to fill their supposed fictions with various forms of advertising eg “John Halligan-O’Callaghan woke up and drank a bottle of CORPOROFIZZ and then drove to work in his FLYINGCARRIGAN and then ate a PROTOTOSANDWICH” etc etc etc so that a writer’s work becomes, essentially, little more than a baroque collage of product placement.  You read the story and then you find out Halligan-McCallaghan isn’t just the surname of the main character after all; it’s a company with an office in the central business district of Great Yarmouth that manufactures plastic Brazil nuts and what you just read isn’t a novel, it’s the literary equivalent of a shopping catalogue but one that is organised on the basis of stealth and subterfuge rather than those straight-down-the-line shopping catalogues that have “THIS IS A SHOPPING CATALOGUE” written on the front of them.

On the other hand, a writer like me needs to eat.  Just because we’re writers doesn’t somehow mean we are exempt from paying rent or exempt from going to the supermarket to discover that prices seem to be constantly spiralling upwards in a fashion that bears almost no relationship whatsoever to official inflation figures.  Even though we writers are somehow naturally slightly detached from the world, none of the landlords or vendors we encounter in everyday life ever seem to believe it when we tell them and none of them ever seem to think that the act of writing has any kind of commercial value whatsoever, let alone one that allows us to be removed from all pecuniary exchanges apart from the very very occasional ones that go in our favour.  So I can see how Mr or Ms Writer succumbs to the seductions of Mr.Corporation when he comes knocking with his briefcases filled to the brim with faustian banknotes asking ever so politely if Mr or Ms Writer can subtly shoehorn 800 quadrillion references to his pesticides into Mr or Ms Writer’s biography of Christopher Marlowe so that the biography becomes something like “Christopher Marlowe woke up in 1511 and drank PESTIFIZZ and felt better because PESTIFIZZ has no side effects particularly not the ones that have been outlined in forensic detail by contemporary scientists working in peer-reviewed journals (the ones who aren’t sponsored by PESTIFIZZ that is).”  It’s either that or trying to get a grant from somebody like the Arts Council in the UK and I for one can’t figure out how to fill their forms in.

Now I claim to be on the moral high ground in the same sense that Cesare Borgia was on it.  I’m not better than anyone else and in almost all senses usually a lot worse.  Which brings me to a company who I won’t name directly at this stage because it would be free advertising for them but let’s say their name isn’t a million miles away from Burbery and that they are one of the few British-owned companies left as far as I can gather.  I’ll try to be honest and declare openly that I really love their clothing.  So I’ve written the following abject ‘haiku’.

BURBERY

AS GOOD AS RICHARD BURBAGE

SO LONG AS IT MEANS I GET SOME HATS AND OTHER BITS OF KIT SENT TO ME FOR FREE BY THEM THROUGH MY SNAILBOX SO I CAN WEAR A FEW OF THEM AND GIVE THE REST AWAY TO OTHER WRITERS.

Now I recognise that this is a complete and utter sell-out of any small smidgeon of integrity I had left and I apologise for that but at least I didn’t actually mention the company directly and I did get a few Literaripoints by mentioning Burbage.  Sadly though it isn’t a proper haiku on at least the following bases:  a) the mora/syllables are all wrong; b) it doesn’t have a seasonal/nature element and a special season word or ‘kigo’, c) it’s just about my own personal materialistic, ego and sartorial aggrandisement rather than an eulogy to the ineffable, sublime, diaphanous beauty of nature.   So I admit it.  It’s a sell-out and a cop-out.  I admit it.

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