The Adventures of Tom: May 2015
I’ve done something terrible. Possibly unforgivable. Something I want my family and loved ones to know I regret deeply. It’s not the first time I have done this, but, if I can be forgiven – perhaps allowed a second chance and with the help of Jesus – I will never do it again. There will be some of you who can relate to this, and, if you cannot, then please let my story be a warning, an exemplar and a deterrent. I went to McDonald’s. I done a McDonald’s. I paid a visit to, I called on, I whored myself to a McDonald’s. I chased the dragon through the Golden Arches.
As I say my relapse is deeply, deeply regrettable; but it was not my first time. My father started me off. I was young, I was foolish, and it was my birthday. I wanted to be cool, I wanted people to like me, so when my father, damn him, said: “Why don’t I take you and your classmates to McDonald’s for your birthday?” I leapt at the chance. Who wouldn’t? All the cool kids had been talking about doing McDonald’s, and as a shy, just-wanting-to-be-loved 23-year-old, I regrettably said yes.
I don’t know if it was the heady smell of the plastic tables, the enchantment of the strip-lighting or the girl lazily pushing her magical mop over the tiled floor, but I was hooked. I couldn’t believe that my father had managed to reserve a window table for us overlooking the splendour of the A12 bypass (originally the old Roman road from Colchester to London). I felt I had arrived. My friends hadn’t, and after three-and-a-bit hours of waiting we decided to order. My father said money was no object (as long as we had enough left over to pay for the car parking). Well, a McDonald’s menu, if you have ever been lucky enough to see one, is a treasure trove of culinary quality – with handy pictures of what one is ordering if conjuring up the image of a hamburger in a bun in one’s mind is too taxing.
Please remember, dear reader, that this is a warning. My first time was a cheeseburger set-meal with a coke. But it soon escalated and I am horrified to admit that I once found a receipt in my wallet for a big-mac, large fries and chocolate milkshake. I don’t remember the big-mac, the fries or the milkshake, but that’s just how it gets sometimes. I was once told I tried to buy a hot apple tart, but I don’t think I was ever that far gone.
I tried going to meetings. It is supposed to help when one has other addicts supporting one’s plight. It may well work for some, but the bit where I had to tell everyone I know that my buggering up their lives was because of my craving for a portion of soggy French fries made me feel pathetic and helpless. I then tried Scientology. Just don’t.
So what’s your point? I hear you cry, as well you should. My point is that in this city of ours, a city that is bereft of corruption, vice and temptation, an evil has crept in. At the end of my road a McDonald’s has started to hang out. Not surreptitiously as one would expect any vendor of questionable goods would do, but blatantly. The other week the McDonald’s was giving out free McMuffins. And as you know a free McMuffin never stops at a free McMuffin. Get the kids hooked on a free McMuffin, and you know they’ll be back for a 79 baht milkshake. And then what?
Before the McDonald’s turned up I was happy treating my desire for a spot of junk food with fried chicken and other healthy comestibles sold by reputable street vendors, but now a sensible bag of pork skins just doesn’t stop my itch. Whenever I walk to the end of the road for something freshly made I see the plastic effigy of Ronald McDonald and his unconvincing ‘wai’ inviting me to cross over and enter his palace of sin. Was it not the Son of our Lord who said: “A pair of Golden Arches shalt bring down my Kingdom”? Or was it the Whore of Babylon? I get confused. And I blame that first cheeseburger.
I have read a great deal, or tried to, on the war on drugs being waged in Thailand against dangerous farmers and defenceless policemen with large guns. But what about the corporations flaunting their naughty, nourishment-free narcotics? Try doing anything after an extra-large Big-Mac meal and McFlurry. I’ve tried a few other silly substances in the past and am glad to report that I can usually function like a vaguely normal me, but a few sesame seeds on my all beef patty special sauce lettuce cheese pickled onion all in an inclusive bun, and I’m buggered for two days (sometimes three if the self-loathing is particularly poisonous).
I have always seen McDonald‘s as a cheap, unhealthy eating option that is a last resort as a stomach liner on the way to the cinema or after work before heading to the pub. Never a place to meet up with friends for a jolly good night out. Yet here under the Golden Arches appears to be the place for the young, trendy kids to hang out with several large packets of French fries tipped onto their trays. And it is not cheap. A large meal of a burger, fries and fizzy drink costs the same as a freshly cooked meal at a decent restaurant in town.
So my dearest reader, at a time when our very society is being pulled apart by plummeting oil prices, reality television and hair-gel let us metaphorically join hands and promise each other that, whenever possible, we will not yield to the temptation of the lazy high McDonald’s promises, however tempting the air-conditioning is. We will hold our heads up high as we pass a Burger King or a Starbucks and we will eschew the refrigerated section of 7-Eleven. Choose Lovin’ ladies and gentlemen, choose lovin’.