In my last post, which was about the use of business jargon, Mrs Trefusis commented with this sound piece of advice:
'My job is full of vile, lazy business-speak, and reading a document full of it makes a part of my soul shrivel and die, so I resolved to dip into the KJV whenever a particularly horrid example lands on my desk.'
I couldn't agree more. Compare the poetry of "For now we see through a glass, darkly" to the functional prose of the Good News Bible's "What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror".
Obviously there are sound theological reasons why new versions of the Bible are printed, but from a literary point of view they are usually disappointing. I'd like to see a Seamus Heaney version.
By coincidence, later that day, the BBC website published this fascinating article on the King James Version of the Bible and how it has endured to the present day. It included this list of 10 phrases still in common usage, 400 years on:
- Turned the world upside down Acts 17:6
- God forbid Romans 3:4
- Take root 2 Kings 19:30
- The powers that be Romans 13:1
- Filthy lucre 1 Timothy 3:3
- No peace for the wicked Isaiah 57: 21
- A fly in the ointment Ecclesiastes 10:1
- Wheels within wheels Ezekiel 10:10
- The blind leading the blind Matthew 15:13
- Feet of clay Daniel 2:33
Perhaps some people would also like to remind me of another quote from the King James Bible:
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
This is a reference to my last post, which was sponsored by the British Library, via a company called Ebuzzing. Apparently, it has caused concern in some quarters that I have crossed the line and monetised (now there's an ugly word) my blog.
Frankly, I'd love to be able to earn a bit of cash from blogging. Last September I ran out of money and got to the stage where I was emptying out jam jars of coins and rifling through the pockets of old jackets looking for cash, just so that I would be able to buy food. So when emails arrived offering me cash or free products if I wrote a promotional blog post, I was sorely tempted.
However, I have always declined because a blog should always be about belief and passion, independent of any commercial agenda. Compromise that integrity and people will soon vote with their feet.
Then, last week, temptation appeared in the form of a very reasonable email which offered a small payment in return for a promotional post for a client. The email promised that I would have complete editorial freedom (although the client reserves the right not to publish) and that I should make it clear that the post was sponsored. It was a disarmingly clever email.
I was about to delete the message, but curiosity got the better of me. Who was the client?
When I discovered that it was the British Library, I couldn't believe my luck. I was expecting some sort of corporation. Instead, I was being asked to promote an exhibition that I would have gladly written about anyway.
As far as I was concerned, the acid test would be whether I could say what I liked, so I wrote a post about business jargon, mentioning the exhibition at the end. I had decided that I wouldn't accept any editorial changes to the content and if the post was rejected, that was that.
The post was accepted. No changes were required and I felt that my criteria were met, but nevertheless, I wonder if I have crossed a line? And where do we draw that line? Free books? Links to Amazon? Invitations to book launches? Promoting books by friends?
If I ever want to see the money, I apparently have to write one or two more sponsored posts and I doubt if I'll ever be offered another client as squeaky clean as the British Library, so my brief flirtation with monetising may have been a bit of a flop. However, I enjoyed writing the post and really appreciated the range of comments, so it was worth doing.