A giant yellow footprint on our landscape

Share
Related Topics
Years ago I had a friend who lived in New York and often came to Europe to enjoy things she couldn't find in America. Ruined castles. Antiquarian bookshops. Small tomatoes grown for taste, not size. Little old tea shops. Things like that.

One day I was talking to her on the phone and I said: "Who are McDonalds?" She said: "Why do you want to know?" I said: "Well, I have just seen an advert saying that the first McDonalds is about to open in the UK. Is that a good or a bad thing?" She screamed and said: "My God, is nowhere safe? And why is it that America always exports the things I'm trying to get away from?"

That friend no longer visits Britain, but McDonalds has certainly meanwhile planted its giant yellow footprint on our landscape. In fact, it ruthlessly tries to plants its big yellow feet on anyone who remotely threatens its inexorable expansion. It now seems clear that there must be a whole team of people at McDonalds keeping their eyes open for anyone opening an eating place which looks at all like a McDonalds eating place, so that they can rain writs on it. You and I might wonder why anyone would want to open a place that reminded anyone of a McDonalds. Personally, if I ran an eating place which turned out to remind people of McDonalds eating places, I would have it closed down immediately. But a Mrs Blair in Buckinghamshire runs a sandwich place called McMunchies, and the team of people at McDonalds who have instructions to ruthlessly crush anything that looks or sounds like them sent out a hit squad to stop Mrs Blair using "Mc" on the front of Munchies, even though she had only used it to suggest a Scottish flavour.

These bully-boy tactics, which have all the elegance of stepping on a man in the scrum, or hitting your opponent after the bell has gone, are odd to find in a company which supposedly cares about its gentle image. Of course, the image of McDonalds has been tarnished badly by the so- called McLibel case in which bully- boy McDonalds have been trying to squash two harmless protesters and which has gained McDonalds more bad publicity than it would be possible to buy. In my case, the image of McDonalds was equally tarnished by a personal visit to a McDonalds eating place ( I refuse to use the word "restaurant" about a fast food joint ) and failing to derive any pleasure from the experience at all. I hope I never have to go inside a McDonalds again.The only disadvantage of never going inside a McDonalds is that you can't boycott the place. One's immediate reaction to reading about McDonalds' bully-boy tactics is to say, "All right, Mr Tough Guy McDonald, that's the last time I frequent one of your dumps!". But if you have already sworn that, what can you do? It's the same with British Home Stores. I received a circular from a Burmese pressure group the other day begging me not to buy things from British Home Stores, because of their trading links with the atrocious Burmese government, who are doing to democracy what McDonalds are doing to places called "McMunchies" and "McDelights" and "McDonuts". I would willingly comply, except that to my knowledge I have never bought a single thing from BHS and there is no known way of improving on that record.

Nor can I stop drinking American Budweiser beer. I would dearly love to stop, after reading a recent piece in The European newspaper which spells out how the American giant Anheuser-Busch - brewers of the American Budweiser - is trying to crush the small Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar. This brewery produces a beer called "Budweiser Budvar", described by CAMRA (Campaign for real ale) as one of the world's great beers. The Americans are furious because the Czechs insist on calling it Budweiser. And why do they call it Budweiser? Because that is the German name of the place where it is brewed, and because the Czechs were calling it Budweiser long before the Americans registered the name for their brew (which CAMRA does not describe as one of the great beers of the world).

I cannot stop drinking American Budweiser beer in protest against this monstrous bullying because all the American beers I have tried were so soapy and dreary that I have never gone back for a second try. Still, I can at least go out and buy a few bottles of Budweiser Budvar to show my support. Anyone know any good Czech hamburger joints?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teachers with QTS nee...

PMLD Teaching Assistant Required - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently looking to ...

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...

Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments