How’s this for a sign that the speed culture is on the defensive. A while ago, McDonald’s started offering healthier food like salads and bottled water. Now I’ve just heard that any customer who orders an Asian chicken salad gets a free yoga DVD. Could there be a more absurd paradox? A company that built its fortune on the drive-thru Big Mac encouraging punters to chill out in the Lotus position. I suppose the upside is that this underlines how far the Slow revolution reaches. But I’d be more impressed if McDonald’s took the really bold step of handing out DVDs of Morgan Spurlock’s documentarySuper Size Me.
I was in Sweden this week doing media interviews. I also gave a talk in what may be the most romantic venue I’ve encountered so far. It was inside the Berns Salonger, an elegant 19th-century hotel–cum-restaurant-cum-bar on the edge of the water in central Stockholm. The main hall is all dark wood and leather, with vast chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The talk was in a small space upstairs, just off the balcony that looks down onto the main hall. It turned out to be the celebrated Red Room, setting for the eponymous novel written in 1879 by Augustus Strindberg. In the book, the hero hangs out with bohemians in the Red Room. I spent the evening with businesspeople. But in the end we probably ended up in the same state anyway: well-fed, well-watered and wondering how to change the world.