The place that is known as KFC. After work, evening meetings looming, a quick meal necessary – somehow KFC has a sort of eerie attraction when you are in a rush. Unlike other fast-food franchises the food is not unpleasant. However, the food is not really the issue with a drive-thru restaurant. You know what you are going to get, and get it you do. The environment in which you have to make the transaction is perhaps more significant. In Newport, the restaurant is a hideous, breeze-block building with a tall chimney that really does look like an abbatoir. As you approach the pedestrians’ door you have to navigate the in-route for the drive-in customers, and you get to enjoy the spectacle of the bulging, greasy rubbish bins. Decorating the vehicle access ramps are coloured plastic boxes that many will recognise as rat poison.
Once inside, the odd, rubbish strewn lobby navigated, the whole place is designed to ensure you get fed and out as quickly as possible. Luckily, this is an aspiration that from time to time we share with KFC, and at those times, we are happy to indulge it. You do not expect a fancy restaurant, and you don’t get one. Frantic thrash metal plays soothingly on the PA, competing with the manic bleeping of the tills. The seats are battered, the floor worn, the toilet powerfully scented with military-grade air freshener. And yet still we return. We eat, we emerge, fed and content. Like a spotty teenager who’s fascinating but kind of worrying, we can’t help liking the place.