Every day I hurry on the way to my perceived work past what Les Routiers (Levenshulme’s premier chip gourmand) shurely must call ‘Bath’s finest eating establishment’; McDonald’s. And every night I stroll back past, and think “I could really do with soaking my heart in a big hunk of fat.” This, despite what I’ve read in the papers, despite the hearsay, despite the book I read of the massed factories mulching up meat and potatoes and the quality of those goods, and the total amorality of the original desperate entrepeneurs.
Further it is also the fact that every morning I shudder as I pass the bins where the food is thrown every five minutes. The smell diffusing from these great steaming red and yellow tubs is the same uric dampness that you find on a tramp on the way out: slow death. It reminds the passerby that every chip, every glob of extralipid mayo, is a few more seconds off the dead end of you, the bits of collapsing bowels and kidneys that we all want to miss really. No-one wants to die: some people prefer it to a slow degeneration: but if we have to die (and we do, whatever you think comes after) then we all want to go cleanly.
What we mean by clean varies considerably. Some think it literally. Some think quick and painless. Popstars addled by antidepressants and t’ cult o’ celebrity think it means young. Businessmen doubtless think it is with their misdemeanours undiscovered. Academics think the same, but relish the thought of a posthumous discovery of their personality (á la john major and his political life). The religious think it is whatever fits in with their arbitrary (but society-supporting) moral code, be it not having chewed bacon rind or having used someone else to bloody their hands. Your mother thinks it’s with clean knickers on.
However you opine, on one thing everyone but Elvis agrees: we don’t want to be burgered to death.
Next time: how this relates to Plato’s concept of ‘akrasia’ (incontinence)