The day my friend
and I chose to head for the Tower of London
was incongruously bright and sunny
, both for that country and our destination, and perhaps that had the greatest bearing of all on the train of events
to follow. We are dark-loving creatures
, she and I, disdaining the excessive warmth that others revel in; and so the ball of fire in the sky
drove us seeking the nearest shelter, a lair we should not have dared if not driven to extremes: the local McDonald's
It may have been simple pain stimuli that forced us indoors, but it was curiousity, the disease of Americans, that sent us to that particular restaurant. Seeing such an icon of home, even one we hated so, in this strangely familiar, strangely foreign place proved a hook deep enough to pull us inside, to push us not only to enter but to embark on the dangerous adventure of ordering and consuming the "food."
Merely going inside the place counted as an event for both of us; but that was not to be all we remembered about the visit. Waiting in line, we remarked on how the restaurant seemed larger and more complex than the American version - large enough, almost, to actually deserve the term "restaurant." The many interior walls and partitions prevented us from seeing the highlight - or low point - until we had nearly reached the till.
Rounding a corner, we came upon it in its full glory, splashed across a pristine wall like a fresh spray of human intestines. No detail was missing: the full 4-bit color scheme, the cartoonish and jittery lines, the poorly delineated shapes. The overall effect was that of a blind, braindead marketing exec with carpal tunnel and a paint-by-number kit. Oh, and no historical education whatsoever.
Yes, my friends, it was the Tower of London, in full McDonald's splendor. Green, leafy trees basked in butter-yellow sunshine, while the pure 0x0000ff blue moat gurgled happily below a vibrant sky dotted with scurrying, fluffy white clouds. McDonaldland denizens in all their acid-trip glory waved cheerfully from battlements, Fry-Guys peeking shyly out from behind crenelations where normally perched only ravens. Ronald McDonald, absent from the scene, sat lifesize in plastic on the bench in front of the mural, smiling bemusedly at his playful subjects.
It was really a masterful rendition of one of England's oldest and most historical sites, marred only by the fact that they had unaccountably left out all the blood.
Thus, my friend and I determined to correct this inaccuracy and hopefully restore trust and confidence in McDonald's representations of English history. I feel that we really did the world a service that day; we toiled until the effort was complete, even though the years of the Tower were many and long.
In the end it turned out very good that we had asked for extra ketchup.