If Dante were alive today, I would have found his muse in a multi-layer confection of artificial colours and smells designed to deafen the senses into mute submission.
This modern hell can be found on the edge of Leicester Square where visitors are encouraged to descend through several levels of indulgence until they are presented with the point where they are expected to pay for their sins.
Virgil is busy today, so your journey will be alone in person, but surrounded by hundreds of lost souls seeking, well, who knows what they are seeking in this curious place.
A warm blast of air greets you as you enter, and overwhelms the senses with added aromas of the products that were once mere confections but are today an entire exercise in branding.
The gateway to this hell is through an old London bus that has had its entire middle cut away. Lacking Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate over the top, it is here in spirit if not in font.
The uncommitted stand around looking in bemusement at what this place offers them. Is it heaven or hell, they are still unsure.
This strange land is dominated by the five demonic colours: Blue, Orange, Yellow, Red and Green each representing one facet of the anthropomorphized confections.
Is it branding, or commerce — for everywhere the company logo leaps out at you, devouring your soul as readily as some visitors have so obviously over consumed their products.
No object fashioned by mankind has been left untrammelled by the sulphurous touch of the marketing hand.
Need clothes? No problem, you can be a walking advertisement.
Need your name on some fridge magnets. Yes, so long as you have their mark of the beast next to it so that you can show your fealty to the unholy five.
They may be the impish quintet, but they come in cuddly forms to lure unwary children to their eternal damnation. Sip the cup of Christ the goodly are told, but here the mark of the brand is found upon cups made from the dead clay of the land.
To lure the lost down further into hell, descend the grand staircase. Do not look into the hell mouth below, for there you will see the five sentinels standing frozen forever upon a zebra crossing. Forever in mute mockery of music, they stand there as ornaments for people to pose by and have photos taken.
Such brief interludes are but droplets within the realm below as the lands are divided between the quintet.
Here is the green zone, where all is green and charming, and ever so slightly odious. Over there the blue, once calm and pleasing now a sea of despair. Orange burns your eyes like the solar orb it derives its existence from. Yellow, putrid and garish, and Red, the colour of hell.
And yet, surrounded by icons of temptation, the unguarded visitor wavers.
Maybe, just maybe, a new cup might be useful? The children do need a new pencil case. A t-shirt can’t be that bad. Maybe some of the confections themselves to nibble upon.
No dear visitors! Turn your eyes away and pray for deliverance lest you too become part of the great collective that puts branding ahead of quality.
Look heavenward, and bow down to your new master.
Welcome to M&M’s World.