Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Things That Are Not What They Seem

So, right then, Scooch had secret backing singers off stage and, ohmygod, they were middle-aged. This isn't the authentic, hard-driving, rock 'n' roll combo we thought it was. At the same time, it turns out a McJob is not, in fact, 'poorly paid and menial', but, according to David Fairhurst of McDonald's chief people office in Northern Europe (can this be right?), it is 'stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression and skills that last a lifetime.' Stone me, they kept that one quiet. Anyway, CPO(NE) Fairhurst wants to get the dictionary definition changed. Fair enough if he can just tell me about these 'skills that last a lifetime'. It's all in the wrist I gather.


  1. HA! Things must have changed a lot since my first job: McDonald's; Jacksonville, Florida; 1974 (age 14).

    Specialization was the thing in those days and I was trained to deal with the french fries. My long hair was up in a net, but that didn't stop it from getting coated with grease -- like the rest of me. For minimum wage, I went to work before dawn on the weekends (one of my brothers had to drive me and he was NOT happy about it), and stayed until the evening rush.

    Finally, I burned my arm badly on the fry basket and decided to quit (no thoughts of sueing back in those days; after all, it was my fault -- all the front-end people were clamoring for their customers' packets of fries). For many years I had a grid-like scar on the inside of my forearm: Marked, by Mickey D's. And yet, probably one out of 3 Americans has worked at a fast food resto like McDonald's.

    It's like bootcamp for the middle class and a life sentence for the poor. I suppose some people stay on to become managers and that must be what the dude whom you are quoting is talking about. It's somewhat better for the managers: They get to yell at everyone.

  2. Scooch, incidentally and irrespective of how they do in this year's Mime Aid, are deserving of a footnote in any comprehensive history of British pop music.

    As I'm sure you know only too well, Bryan, following the fall of the mighty SAW empire, which dominated the UK music charts in the late '80s, the "W" of Pete Waterman went on to rediscover his Midas touch a decade later with Steps.

    The estranged "SA" of Mike Stock and Matt Aitken subsequently forged a copycat response in the shape of Scooch, purloining the succesful, proto-S Club boys-and-girls blueprint while redefining ABBA-lite.

    With a casting couch-load of Top 20 tunes in the bag, a few years of sickly-sweet, McJob-delaying gay club karaoke beckoned. Until - whoops! - Mike Stock (allegedly) got lead singer (read: only singer) Natalie Powers up the duff.

    Four McJobs to go!

    I can't think of a more fitting act to represent the UK in the Strictly Dumb Chancing high camp of Eurovision.

    I think a few Hail Marys are in order after that...

  3. Interesting point on it being a "bootcamp for the middle class", Susan.

    The perception of a McJob seems to vary with geography (and class).

    Working in any kind of fast food restaurant is considered (by the middle class, natch) a very lowly role indeed in the UK, and penniless middle-class students are more likely to be found sneering behind bars (or, indeed, on the other side of the McCounter) than clutching a salt shaker.

    However, as I only recently discovered, in parts of Australia, working specifically for McDonalds appears to be a hallowed rite of passage for youths of all backgrounds.

    I'm amused by the euphemistic, self-delusional nonsense many Aussies peddle about their 'classless' society. But at least those of a 'higher socio-economic status' aren't too proud to ignore what they - not unreasonably - see as valuable real-world work experience for their kids.

  4. I doubt that Mr Fairhurst will effect a change in the definition of McJob, but he could add himself as an example under the definition of chutzpah.

  5. It seems relevant here to acknowledge that while Scooch may be a musical travesty we’re about to unleash on the Europeans, nobody in the BBC seemed bothered to ask what the word actually means. I’m particularly concerned that we’re about to be represented by number seven on the list.

  6. Good grief, Chippy, we must keep this from Wogan!

  7. The Guardian Media article you link to includes this priceless passage:

    Randy from Big Brovaz, who had a chart hit in 2003, added detail to Harvey's charge. "It seems they were miming as the backstage girls were really loud most of the time.

    "Also the microphones Scooch used were for miming. We entered Eurovision because we thought it was about credible acts, but it isn't."

    Another illusion shattered.