This is the email I fear:
I first came across your blog when I saw a link to your bingo post, which I loved. What I particularly enjoyed was how you didn’t so much cock a snook at the ignominious stench that is online marketing as ram an indignant thumb into its odious plastic anus, even though you could have used the money. I remember saying to a friend at the time, ‘This chap Stan Cattermole is an inspiration to us all. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never see him selling out his principles for a fistful of shekels or a bag of pelf scratchings.’ Then, a mere matter of weeks later, it happens. You sold your soul. And for what? For a fucking toastie machine. Well, I don’t mean to be harsh, but you’ve let everyone down and frankly, I hope you choke to death on one of your toasties.
No one wants to receive an email like that, so as I stand on the threshold of venality, I steel myself and I wonder, do I dare? Do I dare hawk a peach? Or indeed, anything at all which I have not created myself.
In the couple of weeks since all the fun of the bingo post, I’ve had a couple of other people approach me with offers of blog promotional activity. Whether they came on the back of the bingo post or not, I cannot say. However, as I tend to with all such offers, I replied asking for more details.
One lady, who seems quite nice and is therefore almost certainly in entirely the wrong line of work, so I won’t name her, offered me $60 dollars if I would include a link to one of her clients in an old post. Specifically, she wanted me to add a link to my old Everybody’s Free (To Wear A Paper Bag) post. More specifically, she wanted me to change this:
Wear good clothes. The expression ‘You can’t polish a turd’ is a vicious, pernicious lie. You most certainly can polish a turd. Indeed, it is your duty as a human turd to polish yourself daily, and a fine wardrobe is some of the best turd-polish money can buy.
Wear good clothes – the wholesale clothing you own only looks good on the deliciously faux models on the site….
…with the words ‘wholesale clothing’ linked to some online clothes shop. The link would have to stay there for a year.
I didn’t fancy this. Mostly I didn’t fancy it because I’m quite proud of the Paper Bag post and the thought of butchering it for money seemed like the kind of thing that only a real soulless shitbag might do. Particularly for such a paltry sum.
The other one was more interesting. Basically I was offered the opportunity to receive a free gift from an online store and write an honest review of it. Now, although I disdain the kind of duplicitous garbage that bingo-boy was suggesting, I happen to love free gifts. Also, the opportunity to write an ‘honest review’ was appealing. If I didn’t like the product, I could say so, and with as much vitriol as I pleased. Also, the guy who approached me had actually seen my blog and could even string a half- decent sentence together himself. So I checked out the store.
I was allowed to choose something to the value of $70-80. Naturally, most of the stuff I really wanted cost considerably more – for example, there was a leather office chair which cost around $3,000. I really wanted that.
There was also a rug.
My room at the moment is spacious and fine. The only thing that displeases me about it – apart from the smell of stale tobacco smoke – is the carpet, which is cheap and bobbly and timeworn. So when I saw that I could pick up a delightful brightly coloured nine foot by five foot rug within the given price range, my heart soared. I wrote back to Jamie at the promotions company and said I’d love the rug. I told him it would really tie the room together. Which was true. Unfortunately Jamie had made a mistake and wasn’t able to ship my rug from the States to Englandshire. Instead he asked me to choose something from a few UK sites, which weren’t as good. Eventually, however, I found a toastie maker and I thought what the hell.
So here we are.
However, I still have my doubts. Part of me always agreed with Bill Hicks that anyone who advertises anything is bereft of all integrity, just another whore at the capitalist gang bang. But then there’s Stephen Fry – possibly the most universally respected celebrity in the history of celebrity – who apparently makes over a hundred grand a year doing ads and seemingly has no qualms whatsoever about adding his voice to even the most ghastly product. (I'm sure he gives it all to charity. He must. Mustn't he?)
Either way, it’s a weird thing. It’s a dilemma.
I, of course, am no one. I’m just a struggling blogger trying to keep my Johnson hard in a cruel and harsh world, and I happened to have been offered a toasted sandwich maker. All I have to do is link to the cookware site in question in this post and then post an honest review when my
So I’m doing it. And as long as I don’t have to betray myself by being anything less than honest, I think I’ll manage to sleep at night. In fact, if anyone else wants to give me stuff for free and all they want me to do is link and opine, then I’ll do that too. If anyone wants to offer me a rug, for example. Or a $3,000 chair. Or anything really. I love freebies. Is that so wrong?
And remember, I’m not saying you should go and buy anything from anything from the cookware store in question. I really couldn’t give a monkey's. I'd be surprised if you did in fact, because it is frighteningly expensive. But the fact is, I love a nice toastie.
Anyway, that’s it. I know some of you will think nothing of it, but I’m sure some of you will shake your heads and think less of me. I guess the reason I’ve made such a meal of this post is that I kind of agree with both schools of thought. I'm between a rock and a hard place. Between the Breville and the deep blue sea.
So what do you reckon? Unscrupulous opportunistic cynical whore? Or thoroughly decent chap with a pile of debt and a yen for hot cheese and curried beans?
Please be nice.