Sunday 18 February 2018

Brendan bites

In which our hero relishes instant access to a Big Mac and defends the Golden Arches from anti-American snobbery

They're going mental out where I live. Somebody wants to put a McDonald's near us. I'm going mental too. Mental with delight. The idea of being able to go two minutes from the house some hung-over Sunday to get a Big Mac sounds amazing to me.

I have driven miles to get a Big Mac when the craving hits. And they're usually cold, but still delicious by the time I get them home. The idea of being able to casually decide to have a Big Mac and to have one, in my own home, within five minutes, makes me think the whole capitalist system is actually worth it. This is what we beat the Nazis and the Commies for. This was the consumerist-heaven future they promised us.

And, best of all, it's apparently a drive-through. So, instead of walking the four minutes to the proposed site, I will just drive there in one minute. And anyway, let's face it, walking to go and get a Big Mac would just be wrong. There is a very real danger that the walking could neutralise some of the effects of the Big Mac.

The other reason I was glad to hear McDonald's was moving into the area is because there are taking over an increasingly derelict car showroom in a really big prominent site that was giving a very shabby look to the whole place. You'd nearly suggest that you'd rather see a head shop going in there than to see it continue as an empty lot.

I am conscious of upsetting my neighbours here, so I'll tread carefully, but I think this whole row is more complex than it seems. Ostensibly, the people who are objecting to the McDonald's are saying that it is because it is near a school. That in itself raises questions. Is this to suggest that McDonald's is responsible in some way for obesity or unhealthy children? And is it to suggest that if there is a McDonald's there, the children will all start pigging out on burgers simply because they can, that convenience is the mother of indulgence, and that children have no self-control?

There is something in that, because if this McDonald's gets built, I will probably eat more Big Macs than I used to. But I don't think I'm going to eat so many that it will adversely affect my health. And I certainly don't think that the majority of us who can enjoy a Big Mac occasionally should be penalised because some people worry that the odd child is going to develop a problem due to the location of a McDonald's. I don't actually think that will happen, and I think if someone really wanted to get McDonald's, or other so-called junk food, they could anyway.

Also, there are several other chippers in the area serving food that is no healthier, and probably less healthy in many cases, than McDonald's. And I haven't seen anyone picketing them recently on behalf of the poor children. This leads me to believe that the real issue here may not be about unhealthy food at all, but may be more about the fact that this is a McDonald's, a symbol of universal capitalism, of global homogeneity and of, let's face it, America. There was a very telling comment by one of the people objecting to the McDonald's. They objected to the fact that on the planning permission notice it apparently didn't specify that it was a McDonald's. In other words, it was specifically the brand of restaurant that this person had an issue with.

Funny how politics has shaped our view of food. Leftie, anti-American thinking permeates everything. If this place was called the Gourmet Local Artisan Lesbian Burger Collective no doubt the good liberals of Sandymount would welcome it and the jobs it will bring. And, of course, we can't rule out a touch of snobbery too. Sandymounters possibly see McDonald's as a bit chav for them.

Me, I welcome the evil empire. My child isn't as partial to the burgers as I am, but she likes a few chips and the toy and the balloon they sometimes give her. And everything happens quickly, so you're done and dusted within the toddler attention span. And I would like to hope we are the kind of people who won't end up eating all of our meals out of there. But if we do, and we get fat, I won't be trying to blame McDonald's for making it easy for me.


Brendan O'Connor

Sunday Independent

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