Thursday, 17 July 2003

In praise of McDonalds

When the first Mackers ( McDonalds, the Golden Arches etc etc ) opened here in Australia, I tried one of their products. I was less than favourably impressed. Their chips - "French Fries" - are OK, and the artificially coloured artificially flavoured non-dairy emulsified industrial fat "Soft Serve" is actually quite palatable. The meat's alright, not to my taste, but the bread is a culinary atrocity. But all this is a matter of personal taste. And I don't want to "Damn with Faint Praise", I want to genuinely give them credit where it's due.

You see, my son Andrew turned two the day before yesterday. And we held his party at Mackers. A dozen 2-year-olds, and about as many parents attended. And everyone had a great time. It was wonderful - and astonishing - to see a dozen rambuctious toddlers voluntarily sit down in a neat row and become very, very quiet. They concentrated entirely on the very serious business of hoeing in to the "Chippies" (french fries), and some battered gobbets of supposedly avian origin. Washed down not with healthful, natural Water but chemical concoctions in colours Nature never had in her palette.

The decor was loud, the whole atmosphere both plastic and kitsch. So naturally, they loved it. There were BIG RED BALLOONS! There was a WIGGLES VIDEO played REALLY LOUD! The staff had the patience of a whole panoply of Saints, the party room was set up to be quickly hosed down for the next group, and everyone, parents included, had a terrific time, with presents and ice-cream cake for all.

And that last phrase says everything : "Presents and Ice Cream Cake for All!".

This piece of Coca-Colonisation that anyone with two tastebuds in working order would shun has probably contributed to more personal happiness across the world than any other single institution. And if you're Two years old, it's Fun, Exciting, and Culture at its finest.

So thank-you Mackers. I can't pretend to like your Hamburgers, but I say this from the heart, not the stomach. Thanks for giving my little son a great time. Thanks especially to the staff at McDonalds, Dickson, ACT. And at a cost of about $80 Australian for 12 kids, including an extra Ice-Cream Cake to take home for Grandma, who was feeling poorly. As Jerry Pournelle says: "Highly Recommended."

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