Tuesday 10 November 2009

Would a Sanilav rose smell as sweet?

Whatever became of Phyllosan? Not so long ago you couldn’t turn on the telly without someone telling you that it fortified the over-forties (without, as I recall, ever explaining how).

Then you turn your back for a second and find it has vanished into that great brand lumber room in the sky, along with the likes of Spangles and Oxydol.

That’s my first idea for selling the naming rights of my house knackered, then. I thought it had just the right ring to it after I passed a youngish couple in the road discussing “that old bloke who writes for The Journal” who lived nearby.

I entertained a brief flash of hope that David Banks might have moved into the neighbourhood, before reluctantly concluding that they meant me.

Still, I see that Sanatogen tonic wine is still being manufactured, so I suppose I had better fire off an email inviting them to bid. The challenge is to think of some others to make it a meaningful competition. Grecian 2000? Stannah stairlifts? Dry For Life incontinence pants?

At least if I end up living at DryForLife House it will cause less confusion to delivery drivers than The Old Smithy, of which there are at least four within a three mile radius.

Fortunately selling the sponsorship rights for my clothes should be much simpler. I feel sure that the marketing departments of Greggs and Weighwatchers will soon be engaged in a frenzied bidding war for the right to have their names blazoned across the back of my straining suits.

The car will have to become the DFSmobile, because it boasts really comfy leather seats and I would like to be associated with the original and best rather than some three-initialled clone competitor.

Similarly it is no contest for our other home, which simply has to be MumsGonetoIceland House given that mum does actually work for Iceland when she’s not on maternity leave.

Finally, I’m close to signing with a well-known contraceptive manufacturer on the naming rights for the baby’s buggy, or for the baby himself if they can meet my asking price. This will provide a timely warning that it’s never safe to assume you’re too old for something like that to happen.

Not a bad morning’s work, really. I’m certainly making more progress than those characters at St James’ Park. Though even that sorry tale pales into insignificance compared with the news that the authorities at my old university are to mark its 800th anniversary by offering “the ultimate commemorative naming opportunity” to re-brand Cambridge University Library in honour of the highest bidder.

I cling to the very faint hope that this might be some dry, donnish joke. But one Cambridge college recently adopted a new, double-barrelled name at the behest of a benefactor, so I fear not.

The difficulty, once you start down this road, is finding anywhere to draw the line.

In a few months’ time, we may perhaps see the Nike Queen driving from Kraft Buckingham Palace in the NestlĂ© State Coach to open the new session of the Tesco Parliament by reading the speech prepared for her by the Smythson of Bond Street Prime Minister.

Would it really matter all that much, given that it will be an increasingly empty charade as real power continues to gurgle down the plughole to the Gazprom European Union under the terms of the EDF Lisbon Treaty?

And would any of us object too vociferously, if reminded that sponsorship was easing some of the burden of increased taxation that we are otherwise going to face in the years ahead? Why not “go with the flow” and remember that there is no reason to fear the secret police of our new dictatorship. Their PR advisers will almost certainly ensure that they are sponsored by a kiddie-friendly company with a smiling face.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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