You can’t put a price on principles. Er, well, mine seem worth about 79p…

Today I heard that product placement is to be allowed on British telly for the first time. Outraged? That wasn’t even the start of it. This is clearly the end of the world as we know it. From here it is but a short step to finding that McDonalds are to be entrusted with with healthy-eating advice for our children. Oh, of course, that’s already happened. But you get my drift. Every time I switch on the box to watch, say, A History of the World in 100 Adverts, I’m going to be inundated with casually planted scale models of the British Museum. Or, on settling down to blood and gore in Casualty, I’ll suddenly notice that every patient has been brought a prominent bottle of Lucozade. No, this is clearly a totally unacceptable development. One that I will fight to the death On Principle.

In other news, I’ve recently bought a smart phone running Windows Phone 7.  No, I haven’t bought it, well, not outright, as I’m being offered it free by Orange as some sort of bribe for my custom, having been loyal to them these past 10 years or more. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that this was a lot more about can’t-be-bothered-ness than it was about loyalty – in fact I’m every uncompetitive utilities’ dream, staying with the same water company, electricity company, and bank simply because I’m too bored, too lazy, and too uninterested to spend any significant portion of my life researching the prices of their competitors. And in any case, I know that if I switch, as I believe the jargon has it, then what seemed an amazing £3 a year advantage will immediately become a £200 a year liability when the companies restructure their pricing, and produce even more impenetrable packages than they had before.

Where was I? Oh, yes. My new smart phone. In fact, it may well be that it’s not that smart in absolute terms, but comparatively I’m very happy to concede that it’s a lot smarter than its new owner. Anyway, one of the great delights of its smartness is the ability to get small applications to do tiny, useful things for one. (What, they’re called “apps”? Isn’t that short for application? Oh, whatever…) I hadn’t realised it before, but one of the tiny, useful things I can now see that I’ve always needed is to know, simultaneously, what the weather is like in a multitude of different places. And also, it would seem, what the exchange rate is between two randomly chosen currencies that I never heretofore realised even existed. So I went about choosing an app (You can’t be serious? People don’t really say that, do they?) to deliver each of these new-found, urgent desires. I found that I had a choice in each category. For the princely sum of £0.79 I could have versions that did not try to sell me used cars, sports drinks, or indeed any of a multitude of other things I don’t want. Or, for free, I could have versions with annoying, but I suppose easily ignored, little adverts for those very unwanted things.

Now. Let me see. For £0.79 I can keep my objections to being sold things in pristinely fine fettle. After all, it’s A Principle of mine to resist coarse commerce in all its forms. On the other hand, I can keep my money, and just ignore the adverts. Bugger. You won’t believe it, but keep my money is just what I did. Anyone want to buy a slightly worn principle? I’ve got one here for a mere £0.79…


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