Ronald McDonald: fallen clown

I pity humans who are reduced to eating fast food. For a wild animal, finding enough to eat is one of the great challenges of life. But with fast food there is neither hunting, nor gathering, nor cooking, nor washing-up. Is it any wonder that humans who dine in this fashion put on blubber like a walrus? The next logical step would be to do away with the chewing and the swallowing by attaching the corpulent human to an intravenous drip and injecting a pre-digested slurry of burgers, shakes and fries.

All the same, I must admit having a soft spot for the McDonalds hamburger chain. This has nothing to do with their product, which is pure hog-swill as far as I’m concerned. No, it’s entirely because of those famous TV commercials starring Ronald McDonald in a clown’s costume, making an ass of himself with a flock of frolicking infants. Call me a sentimental old ape, but this takes me back to my circus days, when making the kiddies laugh was very much a way of life – not to say an economic necessity – for me and my workmates.

So it came as a huge shock when I heard, a few years back, that Ronald McDonald was suing a man and a woman for libel. Apparently, this
pair of troublemakers had been handing out leaflets alleging that Ronald’s restaurants were serving the diners a concoction of deadly toxins that had been cunningly disguised as food. On the veracity of these accusations, I have no knowledge and offer no opinion. What I can’t understand is why Ronald would do a sissy, cry-baby thing like taking those guttersnipes to court.

It’s amazing the number of humans who don’t understand the elementary concept of retribution. The principle is set out very clearly in your holy books. If people circulate malicious pamphlets about you, your response should be to circulate equally malicious pamphlets about them. There was plenty of mud that Ronald could have thrown at that incongruous pair of upstarts. He might have made the point that they were uncommonly ugly and very slovenly in their dress. And why had a man and woman who spent so much time together not mated and produced offspring? It seemed very suspicious to me. Did the man have erectile dysfunction? Did the woman suffer from vaginismus? The facts are unclear, but there would have been no harm in drawing attention to these possibilities in a crisply worded prospectus. Once a million of these had been circulated and read, I’m sure that everyone would have forgotten about the scurrilous charge of poisoning the customers.

But Ronald chose to put his faith in a High Court judge, perhaps believing that a man wearing a wig would instinctively sympathize with someone in a clown’s costume. How mistaken he was! The last person on Earth to whom a British judge would show partiality is another bewigged entertainer who might steal his limelight and upstage him in front of the jury. The judge pored over documents; he pretended to listen to arguments; he hummed; he hawed. And finally, many years later, he issued an inconclusive judgement that allowed the unkempt pair of vagabonds to claim the most famous, against-the-odds victory since David felled Goliath with a projectile to the noggin.

Ronald MacDonald’s fast food business has limped on to the present day, with a modified menu to counter the unproven allegations made in court. But the zany man in the clown’s costume has never been the same enchanting spectacle for the earnest little burger-munchers of today. What a sad tale of lost innocence!

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