As advertised in your school

I feel like Diogenes snarling from my barrel at a parade of drivel
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Adverts are appearing on exercise books and textbooks in schools and now this is being seriously discussed: What sort of advertising posters should be allowed into school grounds? A radio commentator suggests there should be three kinds of advertising: the welcome (health warnings, etc), the acceptable (records, health foods) and the barred (alcohol, tobacco and so forth).

Now, I'm in favour of information. Times and places of plays and movies, lists of new products, books and records. Information - just give me the facts. But advertising is misinformation in the service of profit. Advertising is brainwashing for commercial gain.

These days even advertising is being advertised. It's promoted as the new "art form". There are Media pages in the broadsheets which seriously discuss the comparative merits of a heap of trash about jeans and a pack of lies about soap. I remember some dewy-eyed art students in Edinburgh telling me that they were going into advertising because it is "an Art". I pointed out that art is the pursuit of truth. Advertising is the pursuit of money. They smiled. They thought it was quite a good slogan.

But the whole world is being invaded by advertising - and most people seem to be happy collaborators. Look at our soccer players, wearing stupid adverts for electrical goods and lager. Look at our teenagers, flaunting the name-tags or logos of those who sell them togs at sky-high "designer" prices. Look at our A, B and C citizens, paying for the privilege of being walking poster sites - wearing T-shirts proclaiming their loyalty to New York or Bangkok or some pissy beer. And now - billboards in schools? Schools are supposed to be places in which the truth is explored and revealed. I feel like Diogenes snarling from my barrel at a brilliant parade of drivel.

How witty, how stylish the TV commercials are! Of course - they're made by fine actors, writers, composers and directors - the best creative talents money can buy. Of course - their budgets are 100 times bigger per minute than any non-commercial programme, or any movie of integrity. Why not have adverts in churches, chapels and cathedrals? After all, a stained- glass window is a poster for a saint, a spire is an advertisement for God and a crucifix is Christ's personal logo.

No. I'd be happiest if all advertisements could be confined to the lavatories of banks and palaces. Until that day, I suggest a new improved advertising tax. A sum representing 100 per cent of the budget of every commercial, poster or press advertisement should be paid into a fund to eradicate poverty, all around the world.

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