Author: Paul Millard

Essayist and professional cynic, Paul has written for various website and publications, embarked on a short career as a failed novelist, promoted the use of narcotics during air travel, and frequently casts a vicious wry-eye on pretty much everything. Paul is currently working hard on www.snarkytuesday.com and his second novel. He also has a pencil for hire, so if you would like Paul to pen a little something for you, please feel free to contact him at: snarkytuesday@gmail.com

A Black Friday

I was compelled to write this week’s twaddle based on my mistakenly watching a 79-second YouTube clip. Yep, I really am that desperate for ideas! In fact, it’s going to take you a damn sight longer to read this nonsense, than it is to just watch the clip in question and come to your own scathing opinion on it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1YuOIfqr_8

If you bothered to click the link, you would have seen a glorious little piece of footage showing our polite, fair-playing, English reserve for what it truly is – a circus of despair, fed upon by that atavistic desire to survive at any cost, and fuck over your fellow human in the process.

And what did it take to expose this raw nerve of scum-bag arseholery?

Yep, you guessed it… the promise of a cheap TV.

Black Friday – the latest import from the county that gave us high definition war footage, pop twat Justin Beiber and Real Housewives that bear absolutely no relation to any real housewife I know – but then again, I’ve never been to Bognor (which I’m told is quite similar to Beverley Hills!).

Anyway. Black Friday. When did we Brits start engaging in Black Friday? Did I miss a meeting? I know our American cousins enjoy this annual plunge into horrific credit card debt, but I didn’t think we English folk were quite so keen.

In fact, I always thought the Boxing Day sales was more our style of shopping-assisted suicide.

By 5am you can usually find a nice queue forming outside the local Next, Primark or whatever place has been spamming our television sets with relentless adverts for the past 72 hours. An organised gaggle of neurotic, sleep deprived bargain hunters lay in wait. Every one of them clutching a fistful of gift vouchers, and keeping a beady eye on the poor fucker stood behind the shop door. Some 17 year-old kid who not only has the pleasure of working for minimum wage on a public bank holiday, but also opening the store before sunrise, so he can be stampeded by a gollup of wide-eyed insomniacs, with shopping lists longer than a Peter Jackson movie!

If I’m honest, I was staggered by the above clip. The savagery and greed on display was a bit sickening. It smacked of a vermin-like “Chav Olympics” – a plague of highly competitive rats, all fighting over a cheap kettle as if it were a mouldy carrot stick in a pub urinal.

I thought the chav culture had been eradicated by our impressionable children, who now aspire to be rich people from Essex, rather than hoodies from Benefits Street. Seems like I was wrong, and not only are they still breeding and keeping Burberry in business, they also love to shop.

Looking again, it also feels a bit fictional, like a deleted scene from The Purge. Picture, if you will, the entire green room from The Jeremy Kyle Show getting inside one of these massive superstores. Upon the claxon sounding, they proceed to kick the scratchcards out of each other in order to buy a stainless steel toaster with 20% off the tag price!

Now tell me that isn’t worthy of a trip to Asda? I’d go. If only so I could feel the world get lighter, as each “contestant” is eliminated, chopped up, packed into microwavable containers, and sold as discount cat food.

Also… take another look at the clip. Can you see the crap they are fighting over?

Since when did a Polaroid TV become a thing of worship and untameable desire? I didn’t even know Polaroid made TV’s. It’s like finding out that Pedigree Chum also makes spy satellites! Weird, and probably bullshit made up by that bloke down the pub who claims to be controlled by super-intelligent space ants.

In short, we are watching a bunch of mouth-breathers fighting over the chance to purchase a shit TV that will be sold for the same price a month from now in the January sales.

A throng of rocket scientists (just back from doing their community service), humiliating themselves in order to buy utter rubbish for a cheap price, and validating it because it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving… a holiday we don’t sodding celebrate to begin with. Brilliant!

Now whilst I may consider myself to be a reasonably competent, semi-functioning writer, I gotta tell ya, folks – even I couldn’t make this shit up! Not even if John Grisham asked me as a personal favour (not that I know John Grisham, or would do him any kind of favour without first discussing financial terms and movie rights).

In fact, the more I think about it, the less I have to add. Just watch the above clip, and think about how much worse it will be next November – when all these poor bastards squabble over the latest smartphone from Heinz!

Happy Thanksgiving… and God Save the Queen.

Paul Millard 2014

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Black Friday

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You Oughta Know!

There are certain things a man is just expected to know, or do, without question.

Being able to stand up whilst taking a pee is probably the most basic one we get a hand on (sorry) at a very early age, and creates an immediate separation between us and the ladies.

For the most part, this divide only lasts until around middle age – by which time most blokes have realised that sitting down whilst taking a wiz is far more forgiving towards lighter coloured trousers, allows for the use of both hands when playing on your phone, and negates the need to mop up a piss-covered floor afterwards!

Fixing stuff is another one. In particular, the simple household bits and bobs that one day stop working, and without your skilled hand, might pose a risk to family, neighbours or the World Health Organization.

I’m talking about the shelf I put up six months ago that now hangs from the four nails I later pounded into the wall as a “clever short-term solution”.

Or the kitchen cupboard door that became so dangerous I decided to ignore it until it fell from its hinges, hitting my kid (who happened to be passing at the time), and damaging the kitchen floor. Joking aside, this could have been a lot worse… without my son’s head taking most of the blow; the floor may have been truly fucked!

There is also a large amount of redecorating that I apparently need to sort. I’ve gone so far as to purchase the paints, wood strippers, bags of render and new light fixtures to hang. All of which was received by walking into the DIY centre and having a typical “manversation” with the store experts on hand (mostly customers that have nowhere better to be).

I’m now just waiting on my lazy-arsed wife to understand her matrimonial responsibilities and get started on the hallway!

But without question, the biggest one I seem to run into frequently, and feel the most inadequate and spiteful towards, is the complete lack of knowledge I have on basic car maintenance. In fact, just knowing what car I have is sometimes an embarrassing mystery that real men have caught me out on.

For the record, I only started to drive a few years ago, and perhaps more remarkably, passed my test within six months of instruction. I bought my first car based on colour and that it had heated wing mirrors. With the stereo carefully adjusted to avoid Radio One, I took to the road with all the confidence of a goldfish riding a unicorn.

A year went by, and with it came the need for the car’s MOT. As with most men of my intellect and motor vehicle erudition, I asked my wife to book it in. A few weeks later I took the car to said garage and braced myself for a manly conversation. Swaggering into the office, a greasy mechanic in overalls that were clearly off the peg asked,

  ‘You the bloke with the Toyota for an MOT?’

I nodded in a nonchalant manner, as if I had been through this process a thousand times (and could probably do his job for him). I replied in my best bloke voice,

  ‘Yeah, mate. I’ve got the Toyota. She’s outside, innit… moosh.’

It was clear that my new best friend behind the counter recognised a fellow wizard of the combustion engine and that I was not some hapless knave, but a man well-versed within the art of the oily rag.

In short, I gave the impression of a genuine diamond geezer who recognized his big end from his sparkle plugs. Looking down at the paperwork (whilst I twirled my car keys with a jaunty, devil-may-care aloofness), the mechanic looked up at me with a smirk, and said…

  ‘You own a Honda, mate. Not a Toyota.’

It’s quite amazing how a man’s testicles can just disappear into his body!

I readjusted my cocksure attitude with hast, and with an awkward shuffle of my feet (making me look like a six year-old who needed the toilet), I uttered with broken voice,

  ‘Yeah… I have a silver Honda. Can you look after me it, please?

Pathetic and heart-achingly inevitable, I don’t know why I try to be anything other than a totally deconstructed male when faced with such endeavours.  What’s the point? I’m only going to be found out anyway, and be a damn sight more embarrassed than if I had pranced through the doors like a London dandy, and asked the bloke to ‘service my throbbing engine’, in the best Kenneth Williams voice I could muster.

If it’s a dirty stereotype that women don’t understand “motah’s”, why is it so readily accepted that blokes should? This bloke doesn’t, not even vaguely!

I know I need to water it with unleaded petrol, that the driver side window should never be opened, and that on occasion you can hear a funny vibration on the passenger side – I’ve not bothered to get it checked as I’m sure it’s just a squirrel trapped in the glove compartment or something.

I’m turning the tables on this whole thing. From now on, I fully expect all women to know how to fix my car, make kitchen doors less dangerous, re-plaster my carpets, and repair that tap in the downstairs toilet which seems haunted by Moaning Myrtle!

As for me – I’ll be on the sofa watching Downton Abbey and knitting a scarf. After all, that what you ladies do, isn’t it?

Paul Millard 2014

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Car

 

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Meanwhile… at the bookshop!

As an affront to all Kindles and tablets I decided to wander into a high street book shop yesterday. Yes, that’s right, an actual book shop made of bricks and wood and other stuff.

For those that might be a little confused, a bookshop is a place of business similar to an Apple store, only it sells books made from paper, and is staffed by people old enough to remember Kylie Minogue as a shitty car mechanic.

Nostalgia was rife as I pondered the rows of hardbacks, and islands of cardboard marketing stands promoting the latest bestseller about whatever. It was enjoyable and charming. I remembered the days of not needing an app for this kind of thing. Being able to touch before you buy, smell the ink of the manuscripts and dry-heave at the body odour wafted from the shop assistant.

Wandering past the current Top 20, I stopped to take a look at what the well-informed masses were buying. Perhaps I should pick up the new “must have” thriller so I can appear smart and relevant on the train ride into work. However, if what I saw was an indication of the reading habits of the educated and urbane, then I was happy to remain the village idiot of the 8.15 to London Waterloo.

Holy fuck! What an amazing display of obnoxious titillation and god-awful triviality. A veritable plague pit of celebrity biographies, celebrity cookbooks and companion pieces for crass TV shows. The selection appeared to be a wickedly insightful manifestation of what Jeremy Kyle’s audience like to read whilst taking a shit!

It’s strange. When flicking through the Kindle store, or surfing iBooks, you somehow miss the sense of awfulness you get when confronted by rows and rows of mediocrity, and unvarying dreck, in physical form. The enormity of just how much of this stuff is out there, and how much money is being paid to the celebrities selling their inner bullshit, is staggering.

Are we really that eager to read the life story of a 22 year-old winner of Big Brother, or stupid enough to hand over £25.00 to learn the backstage secrets of Britain’s Next Top Model? How about feeling inferior and worthless in light of what Jamie Oliver served up during his last narcissistic TV series?

All this shit seems to be fuelled by the celebrity worship that has become a fucking epidemic in recent times.  Honestly, how else can mediocre comedians, celebrity shag wits and obnoxious cooks sell so many copies of their fascinating life stories every year? How is that even plausible, much less possible, without a hungry and obedient audience of well-trained consumers?

In fact, the larger question of what is now deemed to be acceptable is nothing short of miraculous.

Consider the legions of 8 year-old girls inspired by the plastic people from The Only Way Is Essex, and encouraged by their parents to be just like them. It’s nothing short of a cultural ass fucking for anyone who can see past the light-hearted approach held towards these “role models”, and the lowering of standards that is being freely embraced by people that should know better!

My own parents affectionately laughed at a 23 year-old man not being able to tell the time during last year’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! In days gone by this would have been a cautionary tale in order to get more homework done.

  ‘Practise your times tables, or you’ll end up like Joey Essex!’

However, in these enlightened times of incentivised stupidity, ending up like Joey Essex seems to result in an 8-figure book deal, and a few million quid in your Halifax Junior account!

Based on the breeding ground for the exceptionally average I witnessed in my local Waterstones, I seem to be in a minority with this opinion. My bafflement towards what passes for an entertaining read is destined to continue and grow with each seasonal autobiography, reality TV exposé, and middle-class cookery worship – all lovingly (ghost) written and endorsed by the latest, factory fresh, celebrity dip-shit.

And by the time my own son reaches the age of illumination, I’ll be looking in antique shops for anything written by someone who doesn’t have a series on Channel 4, or their own perfume range in Asda.

In short, that’s the last time I go to a fucking high street book shop!

Paul Millard 2014

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The Young Folk

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Young Folk

I would love to be able to engage with the young people in my office. They always seem to be having so much fun and glow with the enthusiastic energy of a supernova. At times it’s like watching an advert for the upswing of a bipolar disorder.

They constantly chatter about something really exciting they have done, or are going to do. Or where they went the previous night, or are going tonight, and tomorrow night – and the night after.

It all sounds amazing and so much better than anything I’ve ever done. I listen to their lives with great interest and a yearning for a nice cup of Horlicks and an aspirin.

It’s almost embarrassing when they turn to me and ask how my evening was. Talk about awkward, they hang on my every word and pose difficult questions. In short; I’m sadistically interrogated by ISIS-trained One Direction fans.

It’s no joke! It’s also fucking tricky to keep making interesting shit up to tell them each morning. I can’t regale them with my tales of watching Coronation Street, finding a lump on my back, and retiring to bed at 8.30pm without having sex (again).

It’s now got to the stage where I Google ideas the night before, and rehearse my casual answers during my commute into work.

  ‘What did you do last night, Paul?’

  ‘Oh, I popped by an alternative lifestyle awareness event that was held at my local multicultural centre. I threw a clay pot, made a goat-skinned tambourine, and then I took my wife and son to get decorated with ethic beads crafted by blind, young offenders. How about you?’

Most of my colleagues are exceedingly attractive and sickeningly single. A lot of their time is spent talking about hair products, the gym, and whatever relationship they are trying to get into. I listen to their stories of being cheated on by this guy, or not getting a call back from that girl, or how the Rohypnol was so weak that Shelia is now having flashbacks towards getting into a cab with the weird bloke from Accounts.

If you didn’t already know, I’m married, and carry all the traditional hate-etched wrinkles and scars that come from a loving relationship with someone who would rather have you living in the shed (at your parent’s house).

In spite of this I’m pretty safe in the knowledge that my wife’s spirit is now suitably crushed enough for her to keep hold of me as a charitable cause. I take this as justification for not giving to Oxfam (after all, I’m one of them!), and enjoy the thought of never needing to play that syringe-littered “field” again.

To be honest, I wasn’t very good at it the first time around, and have a nice library of petrol-soaked photos of previous girlfriends to verify my crapness at being good relationship material.

The beautiful people in my office also keep asking me out with them, and it makes me feel wanted and relevant.

Only a few weeks ago I was asked to join a 5-a-side football team by what appeared to be a fitter version of the Wolf Pack from Twilight. These guys were gorgeous and healthy, and didn’t seem tired or bitter!

I smiled and explained I have a trick knee that stops me from being Lionel Messi. Without missing a beat they immediately suggested a few beers and a session on the Xbox. I took it as a friendly offer, made in light of my heavy breathing and sweaty response to their stupid suggestion of unnecessary exercise.

And get this… a couple of very cute twenty-something girls keep asking me to the pub, and always enquire whether I’m going to attend any of the relentless social events that are seemingly arranged by the hour.

They see my snarky demeanour and washed-up appearance as a challenge away from the obvious targets found within the Wolf Pack. I should take the bait one time and be surrounded by these angels in hot pants for a few hours. To feel all young and “fuck you” about everything would be a welcome change from just feeling “fucked off” and ancient.

And whilst I’m exhausted enough never to stray, it would be kinda nice to be the older guy with an alluring twinkle in his eye, and a smart-bomb wit that could weaken the most assured and desired of the gang.

It would be very nice indeed… but I always turn them down. I say that I need to be home for my 4 year-old son, and make apologetic expressions for being such a square!

Seriously, what would these heavenly creatures want with a 43 year-old bloke who always looks like he’s just slipped in some dog shit? In truth, I think they only want me there so they can sacrifice my baggy ass to the pagan gods that keep their bodies hard and breasts mesmerising.

And in case you were wondering, my son doesn’t really need me. In fact, he’s recently taken to calling me, ‘that guy that drinks beer in my house!’

It’s strange to be surrounded by gaggles of people who will only be in their 50’s by the time I’m shitting myself in a state-run care home, and being hosed down by a friendly Jamaican nurse who I’ve taken to calling “Dark Momma!”

It’s all simple mathematics: the older I get, the more people of a younger persuasion will come n’ mess with my shizzle.

I might never be able to feel comfortable with those that were born only knowing the remakes… rather than the originals. Nor will I ever get to a stage where I can match their lifestyles and daring accessorising.

Does it worry me? Nah! Age begets experience, wisdom and a calming acceptance for the person you are. And providing those young girls keep inviting me to their alcohol-soaked coven, I’ll continue to play the snarky bloke with the greying hair that keeps lying about what he did last night.

Paul Millard 2014

IF YOU’RE YOUNG, LEAVE A COMMENT

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A Place for Everyone (My run-in with the Twitter people)

You know you have reached a certain time in your life when you start reading Playboy for the quality of its authors, rather than for the quality of its silicone. Personally, I still bounce between the two factions. I respect the genius of past contributors (Joseph Heller, Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac, to name a few), but I can’t help but get distracted by the beautiful female “journalists”, and their use of split infinitives and saucy lingerie.

Anyway, after you’ve finished here, I urge you to go read Gilbert Gottfried’s piece in June’s edition (link below). Within The Apology Epidemic, he assassinates the social media dwellers that seem to be in a perpetual state of being offended or outraged by something. It’s hilarious, wickedly insightful, and required reading for a few people I recently ran into.

Gottfried is no stranger to controversy. Tweeting jokes about the Japanese tsunami, and baiting the outraged masses on social media, he was dismissed from a recurring television advertisement campaign as a direct result.

Honestly, if it’s that easy to destroy the livelihood of comedians you find offensive, why isn’t Michael Macintyre and the cast of Mock the Week claiming jobseekers allowance right now?

However, not a month after the Gottfried piece went out in Playboy, Anthony Cumia, from the Opie and Anthony Show on Sirius XM, was sacked for reasons that were equally amazing and staggeringly familiar.

It would seem that Cumia, whilst taking photos in Times Square late one night, was assaulted by an African-American woman who claimed he had taken her photo without permission. Rather than report the attack, Cumia recounted the experience to his Twitter followers. Big mistake!

Ignoring the vicious and unprovoked act of violence he had endured, the faceless offended picked over his tweets and simply branded the guy a racist.

Looking at the comments made it’s fair to say his words were unforgiving, understandably angry, and clearly written “in the moment”. But it’s a leap to call them racist.

Stupidly taking the bait, and engaging in the hatred (when he should have perhaps ignored the resulting tweets as nothing more than gravy-train outrage from the worst examples of social media bottom-feeders), Cumia was later dismissed from his radio show. All thanks to a few tweets and a lot of outraged people with internet access.

Now is it me, or are these ridiculous social media reactions nothing more than an example of the toxic piling-on culture that seems to be the proclivity of the more “sensitive” user?

Usually hiding behind their anonymity (a luxury not all of us have!), these people add their thoughts (loose term) and shake a disapproving fist at things they have either not fully understood or should not care about – certainly not as much as they profess too, as you will see later.

Perhaps naively, not only did it surprise me that so many people could be so hate-filled by such banality (seriously, you people can’t find anything else to get a tad miffed about? How about wartime rape or state-sanctioned child abuse?), but it also inspired me to experience a little of the heat for myself.

Now, I only became a Twitter person recently, and solely for the purpose of advertising this shambolic website. I use it every now and again, checking in on a few people I know, and a few I would like to know (I’m looking at you, Anna Kendrick!).

During the signing-up process, I remember being offered a few friendly suggestions on who I should be following – one of these was the UK X-Factor winner, James Arthur.

It was James who sprung to mind when choosing my muse. You see, I needed someone I could post a stupid comment too, and guarantee myself a shower of disapproving zealots who will bundle in and take issue with my obnoxious bullshit.

But that wouldn’t be enough, I also had to write something dumb and thoughtless enough that most would simply ignore as the act of an attention-seeking moron, but spiteful enough to lure out the whack-a-doodles and flick their Pavlovian conditioning to chase the bone thrown, en masse.

If my goal was to say something a little stupid and misguided, then I was in good company with dear old James. Here was a guy that had certainly seen his share of outspoken moments and strange controversy – my personal favourite being his alleged dropping from a record label for glamorising terrorism!

Seriously, Bananarama would turn in their grave if they knew what today’s pop stars were up too!

Anyway, with my research into his brand of followers concluded, I was ready. I had sent a few testers in previous weeks to see how deep the waters ran, and to explore what would provoke the right reaction.

But then something happened.

On the day I decided to drop the bomb, I read online that Mr Arthur was considering the removal of his Christian (first) name within the title of his next album, in the hope of shaking off yet more controversy. This time it was certain lyrics that had been deemed homophobic (by whoever monitors the use of homophobic lyrics in songs, I guess!). This was too good to miss.

After preparing my apology (because I knew I would need one), I sent the following recommendation to James… sorry… I sent the following recommendation to Arthur.

  “Rather than drop the James @JamesArthur23 , how about dropping yourself from a multi-story car park? Just a suggestion. Think about it.”

Honestly, I felt pretty shitty when I sent it. You see, I have no interest in James Arthur, or his name dilemma. I don’t know his music, or hold any malice towards him. He seems to be a decent guy who is trying to deal with the shitty side of instant fame as he sees it. Not an easy thing to do, and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – regardless of the groupies and money made from lucrative Iceland adverts!

However, I knew James had a particular sort of following that would leap at my tweet. Sure enough, they came running – threats and all.

One follower suggested that,

  “…his [my] son must be proud of him [me].

I can only assume this person was so angry they carried out a search on my name, found my website (thanks for the bump in readership!), noted that I had referred to my 4 year-old son in the past, and then used this information against me, in order to make a very creepy point.

Is this the work of a stable individual? I’ll let you judge.

Another stated that,

  “When somebody tweets that they clearly lack intellect or empathy”.

Now that’s a very fair point to make. However, just as I thought I had found a sensible voice among the chorus of bile and hatred, the same person tweeted,

  “Paul, you are clearly a fucktard”.

As much as I smiled at the moniker, the irony in their words was far more typical of the breed.

Finally, someone tweeted the below picture and rhyme.

1406358975718

I’ll be honest; I’m really not sure what to say on this one. Whilst it has provided some amusement over here at Snarky Towers, I resent being called a “troll”.

For the record, I only go under bridges in order to receive £10 hand-jobs from whatever homeless person is living there.

Relax! I’m making a joke! Please, I don’t want to hear from any offended homeless people who happen to have a smart phone, a Twitter account, and a better hand-job pricing structure than the one I eluded too.

Anyway, after an hour of dutifully taking all of the above comments on the chin, I issued the prepared apology and explained the reasons for my actions. I also provided my email address should any of the outraged tweeters wished to contact me directly for a calmer, more constructive, discussion.

If I had genuinely offended anyone, or caused a second of unnecessary upset, I wanted to discuss it and offer an honest apology – one that would be longer than 140 characters and perhaps a little more human.

Amazingly, all those people that had so much to say during their throws of being so unforgivably offended; suddenly dried up upon seeing the reality of the moment.

In short, when offered the chance to honestly engage with the person they found so deplorable and had freely insulted, threatened and vilified – they chose to become opaque and disappeared as quickly as a chip being fought over by a plague of starved rats.

I can only assume my dumb-ass comment hadn’t offended anyone that night. It pointed more towards a moment seized upon by a group of people that perhaps lack a more meaningful anchor within their lives – caring a little too much about a pop star, and not enough about their own questionable actions of self-justified retaliation?

In essence, these outraged and offended followers had only managed to mimic the ignorant and malicious position I had adopted – the only saving grace was that mine was a construct, I can only guess at what their genuine reasons for such behaviour were.

And once the mob mentality and knee-jerk piling on had disbanded enough to become unworthy of their faux abhorrence, the validity of the concern shown became truly transparent, comical and utterly indicative.

For the most part, the whole evening had stunk of that acceptable facet of verbal assault, via keyboard, which seems destined to be the foul undercurrent of an otherwise remarkable tool of mass communication.

Social media seems to have provided a flawless breeding ground for some truly breathtaking witch-hunts. The ability for people to group together, and attack from the safety of large numbers and unknowable distance, is truly frightening – particularly if you don’t have the stones to dismiss it all as stupid Twitter comments, and really not worth the candle to begin with.

For me, it’s a wicked by-product towards the larger benefits enjoyed from freedom of speech. How the likes of Twitter and Facebook can provide anyone with a podium to have their views and voice made public. Albeit usually from behind a curtain of absolute anonymity, and delivered without real ownership or consequence.

I should also add that throughout this episode, James Arthur was the only one of us who responded like a responsible, measured and assured human being.

How does that saying go: “You can choose your friends, but not the crazies that follow you!”

Paul Millard 2014

http://www.playboy.com/articles/stop-saying-sorry-on-twitter

http://variety.com/2014/biz/news/fired-opie-and-anthony-host-wont-apologize-1201261702/

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The Sickness Syndrome

I recently overcame a crippling bout of flu. No, it was far worse than flu. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was a mutated strain, more akin to SARS, deadly Swine Flu or the T-Virus from Resident Evil. I was in bad shape and unable to do any household duties – even if I wanted too – which I didn’t.

Confined to my couch and linked to my Xbox and refrigerator, I was suffering, in turmoil, close to death!

Not that my wife was interested in any of this. Passing my sick bed with a sneer, she failed to acknowledge the torture my infected body was going through. It’s no fun when your wife has expert medical knowledge, decades of professional healthcare experience, and a piss-poor attitude towards the dying.

Now I may have been knocked down, but I wasn’t pushing daisies just yet.

Sure enough, my superhuman conditioning came though the challenge. The Millard anti-bodies, aided by my crime-fighting immune system, sought and destroyed the interloping virus. Five days later, a fridge of food devoured, and a few thousand Xbox points achieved, I unstitched myself from the sofa and marveled at my ability to cheat Death!

My heartless wife offered her shitty congratulations on my return to good health, pointed to the sink and threw a tea towel at me.

However, it soon became clear that the last laugh was safely in my pocket. The following day, and with a barrage of coughing and sneezing, she too was struck with the plague. Karma can be a real bitch, eh?

As a caring husband, I was itching to give her my complete support and loving attention – you know, just as I had received! I was ready to brush past her internment on the couch with the same poxy attitude she had offered me. And with the fridge empty, and her lackadaisical attitude towards gaming through sickness, she would be truly shipwrecked and unable to battle past the snot-filled days ahead.

At first, she tried to put on a brave face. She fussed around in the kitchen, dragged the hover over the entire house, and re-grouted the shower – all before lunchtime. I could see right through it. She didn’t impress me with her stupid attempt to ignore the disease raking over her system.

After a restless night of listening to her wheeze and drip I was up early the following morning, waiting for my beloved to stumble into the kitchen, all pox-ridden and fevered. As anticipated, she looked truly disgusting – to the point where I stopped her from making my breakfast.

It was clear to see. Stage two of the infection was underway! I remembered my own weakened state. She could forget about re-plastering the ceilings or whatever acts of silly indifference she planned to show me.

She would buckle today, just as I had.

Later on, after she had popped out to get the car serviced, she returned home with the weekly shopping, four bags of cement she had planned to use for resurfacing the patio area, and a few tubs of the ice-cream I had asked for (I had a slight tickly throat that needed soothing).

Only stopping to take on a Lemsip or a handful of paracetamol, she hadn’t missed a beat. I got bored waiting for the fall, and returned to the sofa and a box-set of Homeland.

She went on like this throughout the day. The house looked lovely, the garden was immaculate and my son was washed and sand-blasted. 48 hours had passed since her first contact with the superbug, and she was acting like Mary Poppins on ADD medication!

Ok, so she still looked a little undead and slimy, but she wasn’t eating VapoRub or crying blood anymore.

I guess looking back, it’s clear my wife suffered a different, less potent, strain of the killer flu. What else could it be? Her tolerance towards the illness was certainly not some stereotypical, sexist, display of how women can just get on with things. Or how men linger and ponce around crying over a stingy nose.

Oh no! She was bloody lucky! And only a fool would suggest otherwise.

Paul Millard 2014

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Sick Days

 

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Halloween Hangover

A four-day Halloween weekend has taken its toll, and I’m not prepared for this week’s nonsense. Sorry.

Normal service will be resumed next week.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of two kittens in a boot…

Snarky Tuesday Kitten Boots Paul Millard

Paul Millard 2014

 Seriously, if you leave a comment for this week’s rhubarb, you need help.

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On Halloween

Why do us Brits have such a sniffy attitude towards Halloween? Around this time of year I hear all sorts of miserable excuses for not taking a single fang of interest: Young kids trick or treating is nothing more than begging (this gem was from my own Father!), it’s an American thing, it’s all commercial and too expensive, my great grandmother was burnt as a witch and it brings back bad memories. Seriously, I’ve heard them all, and they’re all an absolute crock.

I love it all: costumes, decorations, a good scary movie, haunted house parties with 40% proof spirits, and trying not to lose any fingers on the pumpkin carving. And how about the kids coming to your door dressed up and hopped up on chocolate-covered lumps of bubblegum-flavoured kiddie crack pellets of pure sugar? Honesty, how the hell can anyone call that begging? It’s just a bit of fun… with a hint of type-1 diabetes. Cheer up!

Begging is what those overly friendly charity workers on the high street engage in. Armed with a clipboard, a bright yellow t-shirt and a stupid grin, they try to talk you out of your bank account details, with a guilt-laden script provided by a worthwhile charitable trust that needs every penny possible. However, these efforts fall flat when it transpires that the charity in question is paying said stupid, yellow, grinning bastard an attractive hourly rate so they can annoy the shit out of you.

It’s intrusive, fucking annoying and all perpetuated by adults… and not exactly in the same realm as a seven year-old Dracula asking for a few sweets. If you don’t agree then don’t open the sodding door! Pretty simple isn’t it?

Halloween is also the one time of year I absolutely long to be in Florida. In all fairness, I always want to be in Florida, but it’s more keenly felt around the witching season. That’s not to say I buy into the second excuse mentioned above, quite the opposite in fact. All Hallows’ Eve isn’t just an American thing – they just seem to embrace the tradition more than anyone else, and as a result, do it so much better.

Spooky shops materialise in empty lots, and dematerialise all the money in your wallet – leaving us all with a sense of being robbed by Casper the friendly pickpocket! Spirit Halloween is a particularly good store that appears for a few months in the Orlando suburbs and is usually filled with an array of plastic stuff provided by our trade partners in China. We have similar places in the UK, filled with the same shit. I’ve purchased my fair share of Halloween ‘merch’ from these places, to the extent where I can now read Mandarin and have a desire to occupy Tibet.

Sticking with the American thing for just a minute longer, the Florida theme parks also have their say in the proceedings too, and are again another reason why I would sell a kidney to be stateside during this time of year. The cash registers ring for Universal Studios and their legendary Halloween Horror Nights. Disney has Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (check out the below photo), SeaWorld have their Spooktacular and Busch Gardens hosts the annual Howl-o-Scream event.

And to top it all, you have craft beers with their seasonal brews – Shipyard, Dogfish Head, Blue Point and a hundred others. It’s a time for pumpkin bread, candy corn, pumpkin spiced latte and Count Chocula cereal. Jesus, it’s beautiful!

Yes, I can hear you… “Aha! You have just accepted the third excuse on your list… it is too expensive and disgustingly commercialised!” And yes, you are right; the examples above all have a nice price tag. But it doesn’t have to be all about the money.

How about a little time with the kids making a costume, some candles, a jack-o-lantern, and a few bags of sweets for anyone who knocks on the door? Your best scary stories with a few episodes of Scooby-Doo and you’re good to go. Regardless of which side of the pond you reside, you could do all of this for a fraction of the price a theme park will charge you (in the case of Universal Studios a Frequent Fear pass for Halloween Horror Nights 24 is coming in at $86.99, that’s £54.00 for 16 nights entry – damn good value in its own right!).

As a semi-responsible father to a four year-old, my time dreaming of the theme park scare events are currently suspended, and a cheaper Halloween family tradition is heading my way. This year I have the day off work and I intend to spend every minute of it with my son: making his costume, preparing the house, carving the lantern, trick or treating and doing all things spooky. I have Blackbeard’s Ghost and The Haunted Mansion on DVD, and a few scary stories up my sleeve for when the night comes to a close.

So what’s left on the excuse front? Ah yes, your great grandmother, the sorcerer! Well, this is even more reason for us British folk to gather around the cauldron and celebrate a holiday we hand a fair hand in creating. Whilst originating as a Celtic tradition, centuries of pagan history, Druid rituals and white witchcraft have all recognised the importance of celebrating the dead as keenly as they would the living. All Hallows’ Eve, All Saint’s Eve, Allhallowtide, it has gone by many names and has been consistently observed, in one form or another, since the Roman Empire. How do ya like those (bobbing) apples?!?

In the UK, we have thousands of haunted castles and stately homes, all with their own terrifying stories of grey ladies, headless monks, and blood-soaked servants wailing down the corridors. We gave the world Charles Dickens, M. R. James and Yvette Fielding. Ours is a history steeped in the supernatural – why the hell wouldn’t we take one night out of the year to recognise it? We celebrate a terrorist every 5th November, why not Will-o’-the-wisp?

The truth is there is no attitude, not anymore. I think Halloween for us Brits is a generational thing, which is becoming more prolific within our shops, and more acceptable within our homes, as time continues to bring a new batch of accepting parents. For the record, my parents hated the time of year, and did precious little to celebrate it. I would like to think that my son is destined to have nothing but fond memories of Halloween, and of how the house was always decorated, Mum was usually the casualty of a few scares, and mischief was always encouraged by his stupid Father.

Paul Millard 2014

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 LEAVE A COMMENT, AND JUST TRY TO ARGUE WITH ME!!!!

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A Damn Good Scary Movie

Snarky Tuesday The Conjuring

The importance of a good spooky scare cannot be underestimated. Seriously, think of it like this: in your day-to-day whatever, how many times do you receive a good fright? Something that gets the heart racing and the mind clawing to comprehend what has just caused you to lift a few feet into the air whilst letting out a chicken-shit whimper of terror? I’m guessing not very often. Unfortunately, unless you’re a Ghostbuster or have the sickening pleasure of living in Portsmouth, the chance of bumping into a horrifying spectre to provide such a jolt is pretty slim.

Enter a good scary movie to address this balance.

Now, I’m not talking about the stupid torture porn that passes for scary these days. Hostel, Saw, The Purge – you might be very popular with the popcorn masses, but you can all bugger off to the back of the queue. Why? Because those films just ain’t scary. Vile, ugly and staggeringly predictable, perhaps, but not scary! I’m also not referring to monster movies like The Thing, Jeepers Creepers and The Mist. Yes, they do have some spooky elements and I enjoy them all, but no, you lot also need to wait by the door until called for.

Perhaps at this time of year more than any other, we all need a real butt-tingling film to truly shatter the bone marrow and make us fearful to turn our backs on the open bedroom door. I’m looking at movies such as Poltergeist, the first Paranormal Activity movie (theatre cut), The Grudge, The Orphanage… and more recently, The Conjuring. Yes sir! The Conjuring is a perfect example.

I’m an old hand when it comes to horror and fright flicks. I’m seasoned enough to remember the VHS/Betamax video nasty debates of the 1980’s, and the first time Freddie, Jason and Michael pitched up in the local flea-pit cinema. I’ve sat through Cannibal Holocaust, The Men Behind The Sun, Visitor Q and Audition. From the trendy wave of Japanese, Spanish and Mexican horror imports, to the reinvention of the more tongue-in-cheek creature features such as Piranha 3DD, Sharknado and Big Ass Spider. Whilst they may all have a place within the wider billing of “horror”, not all are quite so deserving of their resting place among the truly unsettling and macabre.

As testimony to this, last Saturday evening I rediscovered the beauty for a simple, no thrills, utterly gripping, good old-fashioned scary movie.

The Conjuring has no bad language, zero sexy moments, and less blood and gore than a typical episode of Casualty. The premise is easy, the story accessible, and the execution right on the money. To be clear, this isn’t so much a movie review but rather a review of how a movie scared the crap out of me!

The film certainly conjures (sorry!), a sense of uneasy companionship within the first few minutes. The opening shot alone cements you into a creepy apprehension on what’s to come, and there’s something to be said for that edgy, uncomfortable feeling you get when in the presence of a balls-out-of-the-bath scary movie. I have to admit, twenty minutes in I was starting to feel the heat and had taken to occasionally looking away from the screen, not out of boredom, but in an attempt to limit my exposure to the scare… when it eventually arrived.

The jump moments in this film are provided in a way that abandons the obvious attempts to catch you unaware, and instead lulls your misplaced trust into a flash of fist-clenching fright. It’s difficult to explain, but there were several moments in which the scare arrived, I jumped and swore, and then immediately re-watched the scene in order to relive the moment with a little more awareness and bravery.

Mid-way through and I was totally engrossed with the story, invested in the characters, and questioning my choice to watch this bloody film just before bedtime! This is embarrassing, but I actually started to laugh at the scares in the hope of taking the edge off. Seriously, such was the nervous energy I was infused with, I felt like I needed to laugh at the craziness in order to get through it. Stupid eh?

Minimal use of tired stereotypes, no “dumb blonde” moments and a cast of mostly believable characters who were making the same choices that I would have made in their situation – this was proving to be a very different movie to the one I had subconsciously predicted. In essence, The Conjuring had some truly unique features towards what has become a quite hackneyed and predictable genre. For my money, it was these aspects that added to my own fear scale, which for the record, was now starting to worry me!

However, the last ten minutes of this film also happened to be its worst, and provides an anticlimactic ending that almost feels out of place when referring back to the previous ninety minutes of painful suspense. Everything is wrapped up nicely (maybe a little too nicely), and whilst it managed to readdress my own levels of stupid apprehension at the time, it has provided a derisive talking point for the horror elite out there – with many taking real issue towards such a cop-out approach to close an otherwise refreshing film.

With that said, it’s been a very long time since I felt this way during a movie, and rarely have I found the need to look away and hide my trepidation from the screen before me. I really should have saved this film for Halloween night, and tested the nerve of my wife (who has categorically refused to watch it as a result of reading this!).

I’m not sure how The Conjuring played in a packed cinema upon release, but in my living room at 1am, with the lights off, and a strong coffee as my only company, I was spooked out like Shaggy in every episode of Scooby-doo.

clap-clap!

Paul Millard 2014

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Feeling Those Magic Balls

So, another £100 million Euro Lottery weekend has gone by, and I’m not a penny richer from it. Damn! After carefully selecting my numbers, and weighing up the pro’s and con’s for having more than three single digits in my choice, I duly purchased my ticket and dreamt of what I would do with all that lovely lolly.

A charitable soul by nature (not that you would notice!), I’m going to bypass the countless good causes I would bless with my galloping philanthropy, and dismiss my altruistic acts towards all the caring foundations that provide dyslexic, one-legged, lesbian, Kurdish transsexuals the chance to build a better life and pursue meaningful careers in event management. Don’t you worry; I’d do my bit for charity and throw a few shekels into their collective sky rockets – you never know I might get a knighthood, or meet Coldplay!

And while we’re on the subject of the alienated and mentally puzzled, I’d make sure my family and friends were sorted – even the ones I don’t like and avoid like a dose of Ebola. All would be provided with a brighter future, a little less fiscal worry, and a lovely new washing machine. I’d even take care of my wife’s side of the family twig… although when I say “take care of” I mean it in the Tony Soprano sense. Bada-bing!

What else? Well, I guess I would also quit my day job. No, let me re-phrase that, I’d scrape my job from the soles of my shoes quicker than Oscar Pistorius can shoot an unarmed door! Seriously, thanks for the budget brand tea and coffee, and for the use of that shitty toilet with the broken door and bogey-covered mirror, oh, and for all those free envelopes you left in the stationary cupboard – thanks a fucking bunch for all of it… but I really need to go now. See ya.

Next I would take a long holiday – for about six years. Myself, my wife and my boy… we’d go everywhere. Experience scores of different cultures, and look into the faces of every nation we could reach. We’d see the true wonders of the world and succumb to the wider embrace our little planet can offer those with a valid passport and the right inoculations. Just think about it for a second – Burma, Nepal, Bora Bora, Guernsey!

And with the world truly encircled, the day job safely exorcised, my furthest and dearest comfortably rinse-cycled, and a glut of questionable charities fairly rewarded, what else would I do with all that free time and loot?

Well, after a brief stint as a megalomaniac, and a few failed attempts to build a working “death ray”, as a means of exterminating the parasitic Justin Beiber from our lovely blue marble forever, I think I would retire into a life of doing nothing. Yeah, that’s right, I would do sod all for as long as possible.

It’s funny, but whenever you get into this type of conversation, everyone barks the same statement,

“Ohhh, you would eventually get bored though wouldn’t you?”

NO! I fucking sure as hell is hot wouldn’t!

I’m serious. I would never be bored again. Speaking from a great deal of personal experience, I’m here to tell you all that working a crummy job is boring, not having the cash to travel the world is boring, not being able to afford a decent washing machine is boring (what is it with me and washing machines today??). But having millions to blow on whatever… isn’t – boring – at – all.

Money doesn’t buy happiness – fuck you! Eight holidays a year, no mortgage, a new car whenever I fancy one and a bottomless bank balance will bring a smile to my face every sodding time. And to push the materialistic shit to one side for a moment, the potential of having a son who gets to see his Dad for a little longer than my current working week allows would certainly make me and mine very happy indeed. Easy money is easy lost… just try me!

Guess what? It’s this fantasy that will drive me to buy yet another ticket next week. I’ll gladly spend £2 on keeping that dream alive for a few more days, until the next draw – because that’s what we do isn’t it? We buy the dream each week and make wondrous plans, and outrageous imaginary purchases, with the immense wealth six random numbers could bring. That sliver of printed paper is truly the stuff of dreams, and until mine is dashed, I’ll continue to surf Trip Advisor, purr over the Audi R8 website, and dribble at the new Hotpoint washer/spinner coming out this winter.

Paul Millard 2014

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 WOW… WHAT WERE THE ODDS?!?!?!

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