Tuesday, 9 December 2008

[Turtlewind] Buyer Beware!

As I lay on my miserable wooden cot last night at Turtle Grange, I was unusually restless. Thankfully, Barry had not become 'confused' again, my tossing and turning was in fact due to a sudden flashback to a horrifying abuse of consumer rights that scarred me when I was a far younger stud and went by the name of Terrapinbreeze. Now, I stand before you as a man, mostly, and this is where evil scum-chain McDonalds gets its... its.

Now, my nightly hobo-roughing patrols often take me past McDonalds restaurants, and I can't help but notice that they're obviously effluent-infested dives whose sole useful purpose is to make the poor feel even more depressed than they need to be. However, the duplicitous nature of the McDonalds corporation goes far further than simply copying my 'Tarte a la Boue' recipe and calling it apple pie. Oh yes. Prepare for a worryingly explicit tale of adolescent angst, anguish and milkshake.

It was the early nineties, a time of floppy haircuts and Damon Albarn not being a wanker. The faintly enigmatic Master Terrapinbreeze (only a stick insect tamer back then, but God I was good) and his friends, some of whom were even real, decided to go on a merry outing to watch Ghostbusters 2 at an Odeon cinema, possibly somewhere near you, dear reader.

I am typing this through the tears as I recall the delight and joy we felt as we watched the ever versatile Rick Moranis steal the show from all the so-called 'good actors'. We were so wrapped up in the marvellous exploits of Rick Moranis that we almost forgot to sell on several ounces of crack we had stashed in our popcorn tub to the dodgy old woman knitting at the back. It was a joyous evening. Joyous, I tell you.

But then we left, and decided to cement our evening's fun with a slap-up banquet at McDonalds. Ah, the impetuousness of youth! We were still hesitant, seeing all the hobos, crackwhores and aborted foetuses being delivered to the back door, but then Anti-Matt reminded us that they had a Ghostbusters 2 special with strawberry milkshakes and a big tray to fit on all the food. Then he collapsed with a copy of Coneheads jutting from his chest, gouts of blood spraying all over his comics. Or that may have been wishful thinking.

'Yay! Big tray!' we squealed, and dashed for the garish double arches.

To be fair, we did indeed get a big tray. And a 'river of slime' milkshake, which was actually raspberry. But we had to give the tray back, after Anti-Matt had finished sleeping on it.

No, my childhood was ruined forever by the OTHER item on the menu. A small can, of the variety commonly used to store carbonated beverages. This, we were told, contained a trapped Ghost that should on no account be released.

'Sw33t!' we all yelled, our delirious joy aided by snorting the highly sugared milkshake.

Now, the burger that we had consumed with this meal had been of such a low standard that in another world I would be writing the opinion about that instead. So we were not best pleased, and my little minions and I had already been plotting revenge.

Anti-Matt had wanted to jump on the counter and crap on it, but my agile brain had thought up a much better plan, aided by Jim the stick insect whispering the bad thoughts in my ear.

Instantly, the four of us, plus the two imaginary friends, grabbed our cans and pointed them at the kitchen area. So, the Mcdonalds Corporation wanted to keep ghosts in captivity did they? We'd see about that, and also see if they could make such poor food with four paranormal manifestations screaming round the ceiling and dripping ectoplasm like a third former's 'magazine' collection.

As our fingers steadied on the ring pulls, my company-starved brain was racing. At the stroke of 8:30, my friends' obligation to me would be ended, five quid and a cinema ticket having bought only three hours of social acceptance, and I would have to go home as 'that weird kid with the imaginary pets' once more, hot tears stinging my cheeks. But what about these ghosts? They would naturally warm towards their liberator, and I would know the chilly but sincere love that only mutilated spirits can bestow. W1N!

The cans cracked open as we all assumed heroic Rick Moranis poses. We'd seen the televised adverts for this promotion, and were waiting for blinding columns of light to erupt from the cheap lumps of aluminium to a soundtrack of eldritch screeching.

We waited some more. Anti-Matt said he saw a tiny wisp of vapour escape his can, but I cudgelled him with the tray until he ran screaming into the night.

After about five minutes of peering into the cans with confused murmurs, tipping them upside down to try and shake out any shy ghosts and even shaking them, we found the tiny disclaimer piece of paper which shattered my world. To paraphrase:

'This product is an empty lie and there is no ghost in here. Fool. There's just a bit of that fluorescent stuff you put on watches so you can tell the time when you're asleep or coal mining. Spooky.'

NNNOOOOOOOOO! I screamed with primal rage to the heavens. I pointed at the golden arches with a quivering finger and DECLAIMED:

'Receivest thou this curse, bestower of sewer-tainted meat products. May thy mascot be forever associated with kiddy-fiddling. May thy adverts be forever blighted by retired footballers. And may thy McFlurries be forever full of Smarties because YEA, I quite like those.'

With that, I marched from the restaurant, never to return, ghost can clamped mournfully in one hand as a relic of the friendship and forbidden pleasure that might have been.

So, avoid McDonalds, or they will crush your hope for a better world too with their lying false advertising and lack of real ghosts.

Yours, forever crippled by shame and heartbreak
The Mysterious Mr Turtlewind.

PS: The only thing that stopped me jumping into a canal that fateful night was interesting. I'd just 'finished' with a hobo when I noticed a scuttling shape on the pavement. An insect-like creature was poised to stick an evil sting into my foot. I stared, and felt something like love in my heart.

'No.' I said. The shape paused in its murderous intent, and winked at me.

My childhood was shattered, but a new chapter was beginning...

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