I have column envy. To be precise, I am envious about one particular column, written by Lawrence Dallaglio, the former England rugby captain in a local sports paper.
It is neither his mellifluous prose nor his insight into the game that is infecting me with the green-eyed monster, but the fact that a good chunk of the copy is taken up with an advert for an airline. We hear about how much he likes it, where it flies and when it lands.
Almost everything except his favourite meal, the name of his preferred stewardess and where he likes to sit.
It is not just that when he writes his column he knows he has very few words to file that irritates me.
Why can't I be allowed to flog an airline or aftershave or even an antiseptic? Pele was able to endorse Viagra; David Beckham sells Calvin Klein boxers; even Wayne Rooney sells something, although I can't recall exactly what it is or why I'd want to buy it if he likes it.
But the policy of this paper is not to accept endorsements or presents. We can accept small gifts that are then auctioned off with the proceeds given to charity. This is maybe a dangerous ploy, because what exactly constitutes a "small gift"? And which charity does it go to?
Many years ago Mahathir Mohamad, then the prime minister of Malaysia, was said to be outraged when a Sunday Times story suggested he had accepted a bribe of £1 million (Dh5.7m).
As I understand it, it wasn't just the allegation of bribery that upset him; what really irked was the insinuation that he could be influenced by such an insignificant sum. He sued for libel, and won.
I have never really held with this mainly North American po-facedness about backhanders. French journalists, at least until very recently, used to get tax breaks just for being journalists. Quite right too. My preference would be to accept as many freebies as possible, but not let them sway my opinion. I have always worked on the principle you should always bite the hand that feeds you.
By all means feed me oysters and champagne, whisk me to sun-kissed Caribbean islands if you will, but be prepared for me to say what I think.
For example, one public relations person took me to Martinique. They had plans to build a golf and beach resort, even though they did not own enough land for 18 holes, barely enough for 12.
I don't know if you've ever been to Martinique, but it's a rum place. The hotel we stayed at combined the lack of charm of the French together with the innate inefficiency of the Caribbean.When I pointed this out in the article, the PR got rather shirty. But you drank our rum, she moaned. Yes I did, but that was only because there was nothing better on offer.
Everybody else on the trip wrote glowing pieces, which made me recall Humbert Wolfe's epigram: you cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.
Rugby players though, even when they venture into print, are even more commercial. This is curious, because of course rugby was about the last amateur sport (except in the southern hemisphere, where the best players were given cushy "jobs" while spending most of the day in the gym). If you want them to get your message across, you need to pay them and perhaps even write the words yourselves.
Why it should come as a surprise that modern sportsmen are rather venal is beyond me.
There has been a tremendous complaint in the British press about this year's shambolic rugby team, who went to New Zealand not to pick up a cup but to trouser as much cash as possible. One player was reportedly heard to comment after the semi-final defeat to France: "Bang goes 35,000 quid down the toilet". Cue moral outrage throughout the land.
This is misplaced and misguided. The world has moved on. Times are hard and we must all do what we can to make ends meet. If advertising is a little sparse, I think the least I can do is pepper my Jaguar copy with the odd Mercedes-Benz. For a fee of course, payable via Visa or MasterCard. I'd rather BMW well-rewarded than struggling along in a Skoda.
Ian Fleming was on to this more than 40 years ago. James Bond, his suave hero, endorses everything from Rolexes to Aston Martins in the books. Watch the later films, and you'll see he switches to an Omega and a BMW. How did that happen?
There is a website called brandkarma.com that rates brands. The BBC is currently its top performer, followed by Wikipedia and Patagonia - the clothing company, not the windy spot at the foot of South America.
I don't know who would bother wasting their time rating things for free, but whoever you are, you're an idiot.
In future nobody's getting any free advertising from me unless they let me stretch out in first class or weigh down my wrist.
It may take a Longines time for somebody to Panerai up with an offer, but I'm willing to wait Lange & Sohne for the right deal.
So come on corporates: give me a Bell & Ross.