Comedy

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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On Fatherhood

On occasion, it’s difficult to believe that I’m someone’s Dad. It’s weird to say the word, let alone get comfortable with the concept. I’ve been doing this job for four years, and there are days when I honestly don’t think I’m suitable for the position. Maybe there was a mix-up in the Human Resources department, or perhaps the recruitment consultant was just like every other recruitment consultant I’ve ever met – staggeringly stupid and glorious in their empty-headed inability to do anything, much less offer a guy like me the role of “Father of One – 3rd class”.

I mean, how the hell can I be someone’s Father?

Anyone who has had the pleasure of my company (you lucky devils), will agree that I’m a tad prickly – not nasty prickly, or prickly in the way Josef Fritzl might come across to his children, I’m just a bit difficult.  I give dreadful advice about pretty much everything, I’m constantly distracted by whatever is going on in my head at the time (a perfect trait to have when caring for a baby!), and for the most part I’ve never really given a shit about much else.  I consider my day job to be an impediment that I’m trying to find a corrective shoe for, my wife an impediment towards my desire to marry Amanda Peet, and my ancient, money-pit of a house a serious impediment… period!

Where do I get the balls to have a kid, much less school the poor sod in the ways of life? I’m not joking here; take my general regard towards the various jobs I’ve had over the last twenty years, it’s truly horrendous and not exactly in-keeping with the kind of thing a father figure should be promoting.

Honestly, I’ve had more roles than a delivery driver for Greggs (I know the spelling is wrong, but just go with it). I’ve been known to start a promising career at 9am, go to lunch a few hours later, and that’s pretty much it. The older I get the more I regress into a prissy student who’s too stupid to hold down a job and just fucks off when the dinner bell rings… I’m like the Curious Case of the Unemployable Nothing. I’m embarrassed by it. The amount of jobs I’ve carefully expunged from my resume is hilarious – it’s like cutting and pasting into a patch-work quilt of utter bollocks.

I’m serious; my resume is so fictitious Marvel was interested in buying the rights (they eventually went with Guardians of the Galaxy as it’s more believable).

However, having a child brings alarming things into your once semi-manageable life. I don’t mean alarming as in “let’s scare Dad by putting spoons into this power socket”, but more in how they can alter your perspective, your character, your need to put circuit breakers on everything and insulation tape on their pudgy, burnt fingers!

For me, I seem to be moving away from the snarky Dr Seuss character I’ve spent a lifetime fleshing out, and more towards something akin to a weird Jewish mother-type figure, with wide eyes and thinning hair. You see, I’m now stupidly neurotic, over protective, suspicious and bat-shit crazy when it comes to my precious. In short, I’m Gollum with a Toys-R-Us store card.

Am I happy about this? I guess so. I used to spend a lot of time doing stuff I had no real reason to do – like trying to get stupid Benjamin Button references into whatever I’m writing at the time. These days I spend most of my time removing Lego figures from the soft tissue of my foot and wondering where all the damn spoons have gone.

With each new day comes a new fear. Something I can mull over, worry about until I’m on the verge of mixing myself a vodka Prozac martini, and then drive my wife insane with my unfounded dread and anxiety. She hates this aspect of my quirky, lovable nature – to the point where I frequently need to remind her that Amanda Peet would be far more understanding and sympathetic to my sociopathic tendencies. Will I ever get used to fatherhood? I really don’t know. It’s a minefield that changes on an hourly basis and is destined to end in an amputation of some kind.

I guess you’ll have to watch this space to find out which limb goes first.

Paul Millard 2014

Paul Millard Snarky Tuesday

… and for my own enjoyment, here is the future Mrs Millard!

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“Something like this…”

In light of the amazing amount of celebrity deaths taking place each week, I thought I would jump in and give my two-bit opinion on perhaps one of the most influential, yet alarmingly neglected, comedians still with us.

Now, let’s see how many of you know who I’m talking about before I get to the next paragraph. Recording his first comedy album in 1960, it went on to top the Billboard charts and won two Grammy’s. His second album swiftly followed, winning yet another Grammy, and for an eight month period, both albums occupied the number one and number two places in the charts – I think it’s fair to say this guy started his comedy life at the top!

Two hugely successful sitcoms later, more albums, and a handful of movies, his career has been an irresistible force for the last 60 years. Now in his eighties, and only appearing in the occasional episode of The Big Bang Theory (for which he bagged an Emmy), he is still relevant, still hilarious, and still one of my all time favourite funny people.

Any ideas? Ok, I’ll tell you. I’m talking about the great Bob Newhart.

It’s a name that might cause a few of us ‘limeys’ to scratch our heads in utter ignorance and start trawling IMDB for a reference point. You see, Newhart is an all-American comedian and not particularly well known outside of their borders – which is a total tragedy as his work has pretty much shaped the way modern situation comedy is built.

First off, you need to listen to those first three albums he cut. The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back! and Behind The Button-Down Mind. Whilst a few of the bits are a little dated and entrenched in their time (late 1950’s, early 1960’s), it’s clearly evident that Newhart was bringing something different to the mix. With a style on stage that felt conversational and stammered in the set-up; the delivery of each piece (usually started by a brief explanation, and embarked upon with his famous phrase “something like this…”), was nothing short of flawless and utterly mesmerising.

With such immediate success from the vinyl, and after a few years working the nightclub circuit, Bob looked towards television. The Bob Newhart Show was recorded in the seventies, and sealed his image as the amicable everyman with the deadpan delivery and apologetic tone. The show is, on occasion, very much an animal of its time and can be a little inaccessible for a modern audience, however, it remains warm, light-hearted and truly provided the template for so many after it – The Cosby Show, M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, and more recently, Two and A Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, and ironically, The Big Bang Theory.

With that said, for me the real strides in his TV career were made during Bob’s second sitcom, Newhart. His earlier guise of a psychologist in Chicago was replaced and for the new show came a new Bob, that of an author who owns and operates a Vermont hotel.

With a perfect stage to play on, new challenges to overcome each week and a string of secondary and tertiary players that filled the gaps between memorable and inconsequential; the show ran for eight seasons, was hugely popular and caught the attention of a very young Paul Millard.

Only airing in the UK sporadically during the mid-1980’s, and not via any substantial series run you would expect by today’s standards, it found me in the twilight zone of being too young to remember everything, but certainly old enough for the wry humour to seep into my subconscious and linger. It was also around this time I was discovering those other American greats, Abbot and Costello, The Marx Brothers, Mel Brookes and Sid Caesar. For the record, and to ensure my British heritage is firmly established, this American invasion was built upon the foundations that Tony Hancock, Will Hay, Peter Sellers and the Ealing Comedies had already laid – all of which was gently influencing my own later attempts at comedic styling.

Newhart was wonderful in its simplicity. It didn’t act highbrow or folksy, overly staged or under performed. The material was consistent, mild mannered, easily reached and always funny. Its comfortable viewing and accessible cast delivered a sitcom you can wander into, and out of, without any feeling of unfamiliarity. Seinfeld and Friends owe a great deal to this method, and for my money became the leviathans of comedy they are, from the vantage point of Newhart’s shoulders.

I could go on, and in all fairness my wife will probably be subjected to back-to-back seasons of Newhart after this post hits the website – I can only assure her that it will be time well spent. For me, Bob Newhart is a gentle giant of comedy whose influence can be seen most evenings… all you need to do is switch on any sitcom post 1972 and sit back!

On a more sombre note, we have all recently been stung by the mortality of some comedy greats – Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and James Garner in particular. In the face of so many funny voices leaving us, I can’t help but feel the need to cherish those that are still here.

To this end I say thank you, Bob… for everything.

Paul Millard 2014

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No Signal For You!

I’ve recently changed jobs. Yes, I know what you’re all thinking, “So, in addition to the astounding quality of dross produced on this website, he also does a proper job?!?!” I do… well, I used too. Many years ago back when I was working in and around London I did several proper jobs, and I was quite good at a few of them, these days I’m interned on the south coast of England, and now dwell within the quagmire offices of whatever company is hiring – prior to their filing for bankruptcy.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I escaped the last place I was sentenced too – a truly awful shithole in which slimy, obnoxious, dim-witted sales agents fleeced old people out of their money, by falsely promising to provide cruise holidays the company could never hope to deliver as advertised/lied about. It was the most dreck-filled sleaze pit I have ever had the misfortune to sit within… think shitty high street McDonald’s, but with a photocopier.

After eventually rediscovering my soul, I quit the place in question and now work within yet another office, located in a very nice hamlet town just outside of Guildford (I’m slowly inching away from the seaside wankers, and back to my beloved metropolis). However, this recent change of paymaster has brought up a very alarming side to my being, one that I was totally oblivious too.

You see, in the English countryside we have a great many things – cricket greens, cobbled streets, fudge shops, incest and charitable devil worshipping. The houses are older than the Lost Ark (and just as difficult to find), and the people are warm, gentle of face and just a little bit fascist.

However, during my two weeks among the tweeded gentry, I noticed the one thing they don’t seem to have… a decent cell phone reception.

What the hell is wrong with this place? How can I stand literally anywhere within a three mile radius of my office, an office that is located amongst some of the country’s most expensive real estate, and not get a sodding phone signal? At first I thought my new employer was utilising some MI5, phone cancelling, spy-shit technology to stop its workers from looking at Plenty of Fish and Grindr. In fact, no one cares about sexual deviancy in the countryside, and my lack of being able to “phone home”, was the result of my network provider’s ass awful coverage. Bastard!

Now whilst that may be annoying, and seriously affecting my scores on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, what I find more alarming is my newly discovered attachment to my phone. Seriously, when did I start to care about my phone? Have I really become that person – the kind of clone who cannot be without their app-filled guardian for one second longer than it takes for yet another insignificant selfie to appear on Instagram?

I hate to say it, but the answer is yes. I need my phone. I need to be plugged into the Twitter-verse at all times, I need instant news from my various RSS feeds, I need the half-arsed opinions from the countless blogs I subscribe too, I need to see my email, my SMS service, my WhatsApp, my Snapchat. I need the ability to listen to a podcast whilst taking a shit, or watching YouTube videos about people I’ve never met… whilst taking a shit. I need to be linked-in, facebookered, instagramified and all other things I’m probably subscribed too but don’t fully understand.

I never knew how dependant I was until some bastard mobile phone operator skimped on its mast technology and left a town full of city laywers and smugs of Prii (if you’re not sure, that’s the collective noun for more than one Prius), in digital darkness. In short, I say goodbye to my phone signal as I park up, and I don’t see it again until I’m ten minutes into my commute home.

It’s been two weeks now and I feel utterly out of the loop. My stupid twitter comments are no longer consistent or relevant to whatever celebrity died that morning, I can’t keep track of my hate mail from this website, and my wife is unable to drop me little texts to remind me that I’ve forgotten to get our kid out of the bath… again.

It’s got to a stage where I’m thinking of dropping a line to social media pimp Mark Zuckerberg. I heard on several news feeds, a series of tweets, and his MySpace page that he is planning to fly drones across Africa – in an effort to provide broadband connection and Facebook adverts to those people who don’t have access to clean drinking water. How about leaving that shit to Bill and Melinda Gates, and send a few of your drone things over to parts of Surrey and Sussex?

I can’t be alone in thinking that some first world problems demand a billionaire’s third world solution?

Paul Millard 2014

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Homicidal Tendencies

A few weeks ago I decided to count up the amount of people I had killed over the past five years.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting a pretty high number, but upon giving it some thought I have to say I was really shocked.  I wasn’t prepared for just how prolific I had been.  I was also pleasantly surprised by my diversity in victims: men, women, children, animals (I like to skin these); black, white, Asian, European, Inuit.  I’ve done ‘em all.

It was also pretty alarming just how little can spark me into an apathetic killing spree.  Let me elaborate.

In fact, this happened only a few weeks ago…

I’m driving back to my house and trying my best not to kill anyone.  I’m taking it easy in my beaten-up car and obeying all the signals and demonstrating good lane discipline.  It’s a little rainy and the road is wet, but visibility is good and the traffic is moving along nicely at this time of night.  Then… it happens.  Out of a clear blue sky some air-headed pedestrian strolls into the street and takes the full brunt of my front grill.  The guy disappears under my front tyre and I bump uncontrollably over his collapsing body.  Looking in the rear-view mirror, it’s clear this guy is now nothing more than an abstract smear on the road – and I’m in utter bewilderment at the stupidity of the fucking idiot that has just broken my ‘no killing’ attempt to get home.

I go off in total anger.  To hell with it… why am I bothering to conform to a society of people that can’t even cross a road safely?  Selecting the semi-automatic that I like to keep fully loaded, and with wild abandonment I let a few rounds off.  Without even aiming I manage to take down a few people walking into a nearby park.  I hear the screams (that always accompany my target practice), and I’m immediately urged to stop the car, select my silenced MP5 and let the big dogs hunt for a while!

That night I killed around sixty people.  Sick, eh?  To be honest, what’s really sick is the amount of stories I have that run along this same adrenalin-soaked vein.

There was an occasion when I stumbled upon a woman cooing at what I thought was a baby in a pram, it turned out to be a revolver!  The crazy bitch lunged at me with a scalpel and I had no option but to empty an entire clip into her skull.  One time I was following this guy I needed to kill, got a little sloppy with my execution method and ended up taking out a dozen or so police officers.  I was riding a horse (whom I had been with for many adventures), that got spooked by a rattle snake and bucked me off – I retaliated by giving my new Winchester rifle a run out… I had to buy a new horse after that incident as things got a little messy.

Trust me, this shit happens all the time, and usually someone, or something, gets dead.

I don’t blame myself; I blame how the social order I live within has raped and desensitised me to the vile criminal behaviour I frequently indulge in.  I blame movies and how the power of celluloid has corrupted my mind with visions I can never forget.  I blame music for providing the torture and emotional hobbling the movies simply couldn’t get done.  I blame my parents for wiring me this way, and then my wife for allowing me to become such a vicious and competent killer – Christ! She even brings me tea whilst I’m butchering and dismembering whoever ‘deserves’ it that day!

Perhaps more than anything, I blame a guy who went by the name of zllEnVyllz.  He was the bastard that introduced me to this world, he got me set-up with the right equipment and tools, he encouraged me to select certain scenarios to experience and thrive within.  He more than anyone else told me it was okeydokey to kill, and then laughed at my attempts to best his efforts.

Such savagery takes up a lot of my time and I’m kind of addicted to it all now.  Looking at what I’ve become, and the monster that dwells inside of me, I often wonder why I ever agreed to buy that damn Xbox from him!

Paul Millard 2014   (Gamertag:  MacNu1ty)

… And if you were wondering, the games were Grand Theft Auto 5, BioShock, Hitman Absolution and Red Dead Redemption.

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Be My Virtual Saviour

A lot must be considered when picking the right religion to be on-line ordained into.  Due diligence is key to finding the right path to enlightenment, and whilst it looks very easy for those tambourine-rattling, devil-dodgers on Songs of Praise and The Only Way Is Amish, a degree of actual commitment and clarity of mind is critical for spiritual success.  My personal journey began on a Saturday morning, and only after I had managed to sit still for a full five minutes without the need to check football scores or snipe on Twitter.

During a rare moment in which my kid wasn’t trying to break my spirit and with absolutely nothing better to do, I managed to reach a strange inner stillness – the kind you get when idly watching the fat bloke in your office stuffing a KFC into his monstrous face.  Almost without thought I reached out to my laptop and clicked the Google icon.  Courageously battling the obvious urge to immediately watch porn, I entered the mystically sensitive sentence, ‘Ordain me, bitch’, and sat back.

I was now locked into a sea of organised beliefs, all clambering over themselves to stake a claim on my soul (such as it is).  This is when the real inflection and quest for the glorious and the divine began in solemn plight.

There were so many to consider… The Universal Life Church, Spiritual Humanism, The Open Ministry, The Pacific Life Church, First Nation Ministry, to name but a few.  If enlightenment was on the menu, then I was starting to feel a little stuffed – a feeling said fat bloke from the office will never experience.

The Universal Life Church was very appealing and offered a lovely line in redemption, soul saving, and a very reasonably priced Ordination Package.  For a measly $26.99, you could own a “… beautiful credential for your wall, a clergy badge, a plastic personalized wallet card credential, parking placard, and a Minister Window Cling.”

As an opening offer this one was hard to turn down.  $26.99 for all that lovely plastic shit!  It was tempting.  However, I was soon turned off The Universal Life Church upon reading what I could get from the Spiritual Humanism site.

Not one, but three packages to choose from!  $14.95 would get you the Basic Clergy Service Pack (Really… who wants to be a basic clergy?), the Advanced Clergy Service Pack came in at $39.95 (now we’re getting somewhere), and finally the Deluxe Clergy Service Pack walked on water at $89.95 (I want to be a righteous weapon of God, please?).

The deluxe package was bringing all the good shit, Ordination Certificate, quality ID badge, manuals, CD-ROMs and lots of other stuff including a whole mess of baby naming certificates, marriage certificates, affirmation of love certificates, to name a few.  Ok, so an official pardon certificate for molesting altar boys was not included, but I’m pretty sure you could have ordered one via their online store.

Now, you would think that my quest for cost-effective enlightenment was over, and deluxe divinity was awaiting my PayPal account?  Hell no.  Much like the road to Damascus, my journey would be long, difficult, and littered with the occasional mound of donkey shit.  So with this in mind, I made myself another torturous cup of coffee, laboured hard to open the second bag of chocolate, and pushed my twisted and gnarled body back into my wonderfully comfortable sofa (cross-shaped), and flicked on the TV.

In between episodes of The Real Housewives of Orange County, I continued my quest.  The First National Ministry had a very basic web design, and for those blessed with a higher calling, they seemingly failed to make use of higher jpeg resolutions.  The Pacific Life Church appeared to be more interested in selling T-shirts and tote bags to religious zealots with healthy bank balances.

… and as for The Open Ministry, well, they looked cheap and nasty – religion for the pound shop brigade.

In short, the more I searched for the perfect religion to be ordained into, the more I was getting side-tracked by the lovely Heather and Tamara from Orange County – two women that once ordained, I fully intended to brain-wash into my new cult.

Holy shit… I would need to sort out a cult!

All of that organization and grooming I would have to do.  I would need to find a compound to preach from, stock up on food and water – enough to outlast any police stand-offs.  Where the hell was I going to buy Ak-47’s and rocket launchers from?  It was all getting too much.  I’m naturally lazy and shiftless, hard work is something I try to avoid at all costs.  Seriously, I get a little clammy when asked to do the washing-up, how was I going to handle the logistics of my congregation’s eventual mass suicide?

Un-nailing myself from the sofa, I paced the room in lonely contemplation and inner reflection.

Suddenly, as I walked past my DVD collection, the enlightenment I sought was blasted into me like the sound-waves emitted from a celestial chorus.  Falling to the floor, with the tears of a thousand sinners upon my cheeks, I gathered myself up and three minutes later was ordained into the one religion I could fully commit too.  I was now a recognised minister, capable of marrying people, christening kids, procrastinating spiritual advice, and a worthy foot-solider awaiting the Rapture.

I could now drink White Russians, go bowling anytime I liked, wander around in a bathrobe and generally mimic one of my all-time favourite movie characters – safe in the knowledge that I was doing all of the above in the name of spiritual harmony, wellbeing and sanctified lethargy.

The Church of the Latter Day Dude is my sunbeam, and in The Big Lebowski I had found my shepherd.

Rev. Paul Millard – 2014

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The Space Lizard Next Door

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Is it me, or does there seem to be more people these days that might be carnivorous space lizards, hell bent on controlling the Earth and systematically enslaving the entire population – who they intend to eat as part of some intergalactic sushi bar?   You know what, let me dial it back a little and explain the concept.

The whole space lizard way of thinking was the brainchild of ex-football pundit and part-time messiah, David Icke.  It goes a little like this:

Flesh-eating reptile humanoids, living in underground bases around the world, have infiltrated every facet of human life and are the key players in a world-wide conspiracy.  In fact, many of the world’s leaders, decision makers, cultural icons and royalty are decedents of these space lizard people – who according to Icke, originated from the Alpha Draconis star system… which is, for those that are interested, just left of Krypton and two hundred yards before the Death Star turn-off.

Now, I’m currently living in Portsmouth, England, and while this place does not appear to be one of the hive locations for the space lizards, it could well be twinned with one.  So, as perhaps the only genuine human (keep your jokes to yourself!), living in Portsmouth, I need to ask a question… where is the real downside to this theory?

I mean, how cool would it be to have space lizards walking around, staffing pound shops and creating government policy?  What a hoot!  Prime Minister’s question time would be insane.  Just imagine the BBC broadcasting our beloved PM lying under a giant heat lamp, with the Defence Minister shedding skin and all the back-benchers eating flies, cockroaches and other examples of junior minister.  Say what you like about the licence fee, but I would certainly watch it.

Joking aside, what is the lizard conspiracy against humans – apart from wanting to dip us in hot sauce and chow down?  What could be worse than that?  Are they going to wreck our rock solid banking system and plunge most of us into negative equity?  How about dragging our arses into questionable wars with other lizards from sunnier, middle-eastern, climes?  The best conspiracy theory I heard was along the lines of the secret installation of a government no one actually voted for, and is working against our better interests and systematically rear-ending us into oblivion… oh, hang on!

How about the proliferation of an endless stream of mediocre talent shows, designed to slowly brainwash our kids into manufactured consumers who are controlled by social media and influenced by Justin Blabber and Miley Montana?  Is that the best shot they have?  We’re already living that shit and guess what, I’m still standing.

And if their plan is to simply turn Earth into a posh gastro-planet, what’s so wrong with eating humans?  It wasn’t long ago people were losing their stupid minds about eating tuna because the nets were also catching dolphins and asylum seekers.  We’re so limited in our taste.  We can’t eat swan (only the Queen can – another lizard!), monkey chunks don’t actually exist (but sound yummy), and beef will send you crazy from cow, hoof, swine-avian flu or some shit.

Maybe it’s time to enter a new food group into the mix and get ourselves some earlobe stew with dick mash.  If we have any doubts on the health implications of eating orange-coloured Essex drones, try feeding it to those bastards on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here – they’ll swallow anything in return for a contract to sell frozen food on national television.

And how about when these space lizards die, just think about what we could do with the skin.  You could have a lizard-skin suit made from the remains of William Hague, a bunch of nice wallets from Prince Phillip, how about a whole fucking closet from the Kardashians?  We need to do something with these things once the MTV gravy train runs out, why not recycle and look fashionable all at the same time.

I guess what’s more worrying is not so much the prospect of space reptiles controlling the planet via their New World Order, but the fact that so many people are gullible enough to believe such horse-shit.

I’ve done minimal research into this, I just couldn’t bring myself to verify facts on space creatures that live underground and hold civil service jobs.  But with that said, and from the little research I did achieve, it seems some 47 countries have vocal supporters of David Icke’s theories and rainbow-thinking bollocks.  Icke himself regularly preaches the word to hoards of paying clowns crowds.  The guy has built a very nice line in seminars, books, and public addresses.  It’s amazing, such influence and power sounds vaguely lizard-like – maybe Icke is nothing but a scaly-skinned traitor to his own people… lizards… whatever!

Perhaps the best statistic comes from our brothers and sisters across the pond.  A poll taken in 2013 calculated that over 4% of Americans believed in David Icke’s theories – I’m guessing that 4% were all lizards, or tourists from Portsmouth.

Paul Millard 2014

(First published in The Spoof – February 2014)

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A Zombie Holocaust

I know the title is a little sensational, largely misleading, and not even close to rational or truthful.  However, you take a walk around any high street or shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, and the heading of this week’s rhubarb becomes very real and alarmingly honest.

By the way, I’m not talking about the zombies seen in too many movies, or the ones stumbling around a dozen TV shows.  I’m not referring to the types found in every videogame since 2006, not even the one wailed about in that shit-awful song by The Cranberries (although I think that zombie was less about eating brains, and more about the socio-political issues facing Ireland… an easy mistake to make I’m sure you’ll agree).

No, these zombies are far more relentless and come in far greater numbers – certainly more than anything a team of hacky Hollywood script writers could conjure up.  Without the need of a toxic spill, a troupe of rage-infected monkeys or the Umbrella Corporation, these unfortunate collaborations of limb, fluid and tissue appear without any noticeable ingress and swarm en masse with a single, unifying purpose.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m referring to those ruinous bastards (usually men) who shamble behind their partners on that unavoidable, vomit-inducing, Saturday afternoon shopping trip.

We’ve all seen them, ambling around shop doorways and eerily peering inside, vacantly observing the frenzied shoppers inside, all in the vain hope of spying their significant other.  They can also be found leaning against walls or handrails, glowering into space and dribbling into their ready-nit scarves.  Occasionally, you may see one of these sorry mofos trying to mimic the actual behaviour of their “handler”, with lacklustre attempts to engage in the rows and rows of identical jumpers and skirts, all in the hope of appearing semi-normal… and not dead inside.

You don’t believe me?  You think I’m exaggerating this stuff and trying to be all humorous and shit?  I was in my local town only a few days ago and I took the below photos as proof.  I wasn’t in some hide, waiting for these things to appear… I was sat in a sodding Burger King!  Check it.

 

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And this is just a tiny fraction of the pandemic now facing every guy who would rather be doing anything else on a Saturday.  It’s a silent, despair-inducing, sickness that attacks without provocation or aspiration.  Regardless of race, religion, social standing or financial positioning, the look found on these people is waiting for you.  All it takes is one nanosecond of weakness, observed and exploited by your devious, self-serving partner.  This is how it works…

Right off the bat, you find yourself in the car (and perhaps more remarkable, you’re the one driving it!).  Already baffled by the cunning ruthlessness of your usually soft and mushy spouse, a jeremiad of inconsequential nonsense is spoken at you.  She drones on about her week, her stupid TV shows, and her awful friends – who are all no doubt cocooning their own partners in a similar web of mall-seeking bollocks.

Wiping the blood from your eyes and ears, the inane babble is only halted by the view of the multi-storied car park.  With pay-and-display paid and displayed, you exit the car and slowly begin the transformation into a bag-carrying undead piece of shit.  Your will is not your own, your mind is not your own, your coffee is not your own… as she inevitably always wants whatever you have.

I’m not kidding around here; it only takes three visits to the same store to turn any fellah into the first stages of zombification à la SuperDry.  Chase this with a ten minute examination on the implications of owning two pairs of pink Converse, and you are all but ready to succumb to an afternoon of mindless wandering.

With three hours in, the gangrenous rot of imposed consumerism has not only settled into your lymph nodes, but has also ravaged the immune system of your relationship with your partner – someone who clearly has no issues with dragging your frustrated carcass around Debenhams.  In fact, you begin to question what kind of banshee you have chosen to be your special honey-bunny.  What was once a loving soul-mate has now deformed into a cross between Gok Wan, and the spiteful sister of that Jigsaw bloke from the Saw movies… and all because she needed a new pair of skinny jeans and a “few bits” from Accessorize!

As the cashiers and shop floor robots get twitchy for closing time, the last remnants of your humanity are rinsed from your body with the swift efficiency of a Hotpoint spin-dryer.  “Full Zombie” is achieved and you are eventually led to the car, bags in hand, car keys in mouth, and soul in the fucking crapper.

However, all sagas have an ending, and this one is no different.  From the confines of your home; and only after it has been suitably sterilised and medically certified, the infection can be addressed and neutralised in short order.  A slow rehabilitation process is realised and your return to being a semi-human is at hand.

With a belt of Jameson’s whiskey, a snifter of Hendrick’s gin, and a few ounces of “Mike down the Road’s Weed”, the effects of Saturday shopping are despatched.  The love lost for your shit-bag partner is soon rediscovered – with promises of never putting you though that pain ever again.  You are given assurances that next time she will go shopping with her sister, and in my case, I get to snuggle up to a bacon sandwich and Test Match Special.

Paul Millard 2014

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P.S.  Should you agree/disagree/don’t give a shit with any of my rhubarb, then put your money where your mouth is and leave a comment…  no need to provide your name or email address, just your inner thoughts!  Easy.

The Wolf of Wall Street

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I love films that look at excessive behaviour, whether it is gangsters, people who used to work for gangsters, or biopics about dead people – The Doors (Jim Morrison), Man on the Moon (Andy Kaufman), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (a few are dead, the rest are in prison).  In fact, I was frequently reminded of The Smartest Guys in the Room when watching The Wolf of Wall Street.

For those not acquainted with the documentary, The Smartest Guys (as I’m now going to term it), is an absolute powerhouse of a movie, detailing the rise and fall of what was America’s most innovative company, Enron – a business with a one-time value of an estimated $100 billion.  It encapsulated the realisation of the American dream, and was promptly uncovered as being nothing more than a massive criminal conspiracy.  An epic smoke and mirrors show, all conducted by some very, very clever men – with testicles the size of medicine balls.

With a similar swagger, The Wolf of Wall Street is all about the excess and the conspiracy, fun and decline, instant fortune and rapid failure.

I loved every second of it, and was immediately inspired to re-watch.  However, that pleasure will have to be taken another time, partly as a result of the three hour running time, but mainly due to the damage my four year-old boy would sustain if walking in on me watching this film.  For a Marty Scorsese film there is hardly any violence, but the language and graphic sex depicted throughout is outrageous – and utterly fantastic.

So, whilst I’m all in on the sex and expletives, the prospect of my son overhearing some of this film and then calling me a ‘cocksucker’ over the breakfast table, is not desirable.

Based on the true antics of one time Wall Street titan, Jordan Belfort, this movie tells a very simple tale of greed and excess, while offering a loud ‘F-You’ to any molecule of morality or realised consequence of action.  As a Wall Street broker, Jordan Belfort spun a web of bollocks like no other.  If any of this portrayal is accurate, and I’m pretty sure most of it is, then this guy was a virtuoso in the field of unquenchable demand from a pool of illusionary supply.

This film’s vision of greed is only matched by its utter entrenchment towards excess.  In fact, the necessity of sexual conquest and fanatical drug use often overpowers the ability to successfully perpetuate the crimes Belfort and his army of clones are chained too.

In typical fashion for such films, the decline is eventually realised and as the wheels fall off the fun-bus, poor old Jordan loses everything (to a degree).  Roll credits.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but that’s exactly what happens.  This film is a very basic, one dimensional telling of an all too familiar rise and fall story.  In some hands this would be a serious problem, but with Martin Scorsese it’s an absolute joy to behold, much like Goodfellas.

I think we’ve all heard how good Leonardo DiCaprio is, and the balls-out performance he gives, so much so that I really have nothing more to add.  He is immense and totally sells the shit-bag character of Belfort perfectly.  In fact, I’ll extend that to all those around him, even the usually awful Jonah Hill puts in a decent turn – clearly, working with people other than the vomit-inducing Michael Cera and that talentless twerp, McLovin’, helps his nauseating attempts to remain relevant.  Keep working with real talent, Jonah, and you might just survive the oblivion usually reserved for your type.

However, with source material provided by Terrance Winter, and based on Belfort’s own book, I would defy any actor to not have a hoot when speaking this dialogue.  The blackness of the comedy is a welcome break from the usual frat-pack stuff, and is akin to Seven Psychopaths and the works of Joseph Heller and early Coen Brothers.

DiCaprio is a force of nature when delivering his sales speeches, Johan and crew are equally memorable with their episodes of living in overabundance, even Matthew McConaughey has a cameo that is up there with Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross – yet another film about the quagmire world of vicious sales and vulgar sales people.  In fact, the pleasurable assassination of sickening sales drones is a ripe topic to poke a shitty stick at.  Speaking from the safety of personal experience, your average sales person is perhaps the perfect example of base arrogance with a slimy, snake-oil void of charm or empathy.  Whilst they may weave a picture of familiar friendship and helpful requirement, the reality is more akin to the arena of prostitution – but without the integrity or valour of screwing someone honestly.

It’s clearly a perspective Hollywood loves, with the likes of the aforementioned Glengarry Glen Ross, The Wall Street movies, Boiler Room, Tin Men, and to a lesser extent, Death of a Salesman and Jerry Maguire.

With The Wolf of Wall Street, this interpretation of greed dominating veracity is almost faultless.  Granted, you are not going to see any original use of lighting, camera position, or a more diegetic soundscape.  The story is very linear and seldom strays from what you already know is coming, and the acting – which is solid – is not breaking any new grounds or challenging the craft.

With this said, it’s a testament to the film that none of the above actually matters, and would only detract away from the real focus of the film – an A to Z route map of the glory of excess and egocentric bullshit, and the stark recognition of its consequences.

Paul Millard 2014

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Scenes from a Portsmouth Supermarket

I take my lunch at the same time every day.  On the appointed hour, I rise from my desk and vacate the building as quickly as possible (usually via the 1st floor window).  Evading the guard dogs and searchlights, I play a game of Frogger across a very busy road and make my way to the local Tesco for a sandwich, a packet of crisps and a critique of the human condition.

In between bouts of awareness towards the inescapability of death, and upon its arrival what happens to my club-card points, I manage to cross paths with a wide variety of indigenous shoppers… and other forms of local pond life.  It’s a strange place, filled with the very base levels of human emotion, moments of stark insanity and attractive buy one, get one free, offers.  On average, I spend thirty minutes each day within its confines and I’ve come to a very worrying conclusion – I’m addicted to the place!

I like to believe that the world is a much safer place than the one portrayed on our television screens.  If you take the scaremongering for what it is and step out, more often than not the world will meet you with an aura of vulnerability which comes from a good place, and when in sync, can be embraced and surrendered too.  Unfortunately, this philosophy is completely redundant at the local Tesco – a supermarket that should be avoided like a council estate prostitute.

With each visit I pretty much see the same series of events played out, usually by the same people I saw the day before.  Honestly, it’s like watching a really bad Betamax copy of Groundhog Day, it’s all grainy and annoying to look at, the tracking is a little fucked and it skips at the best bits.

Right off the bat you have the people that lurk outside the store entrance, usually selling either roadside breakdown cover or paintballing weekends.  They all have the same Joker’esque smile crayoned onto their face and are desperate to make eye contact as a means of kicking off their sales pitch.  On those occasions when I’ve accidently gazed in their direction, and have been asked how my day is going (an enquiry that is delivered with all the sincerity of a politician wiping his arse on a homeless person); I usually supply the following response with the same levels of sickening bonhomie:

‘I’m terribly sorry, old bean, but I don’t speak a syllable of English.  Thanks all the same and toodle-loo.’

This usually confuses them to such a degree that by the time they have worked out that I’m being a little snarky; I’m already in the shop and moving towards the next collection of mouth-breathers.

Why is it that stores of this type have the same layout wherever you are in the world?  I was in a Publix supermarket in Florida last year and the layout was identical – so much so that I didn’t like going in there because it felt so bloody similar.

Right up front you have the magazine aisles and lunchtime sandwich selections.  I’m guessing they put this up front because it’s common knowledge that eating and reading are intrinsically linked, like swimming whilst painting.  I’m also guessing that these aisles are up front because those taking lunch are so weak from hunger and lack of quality reading material they are unable to fully enter the shop.  Truly, my heart bleeds.

After this point, you are plunged into a theatre of dread, in which to survive you must depend upon your ability to predict the unpredictable and invoke whatever supernatural guile you may possess.  A skilfully-crafted maze of refrigerated cabinets, awkward salad isles, and confusing corridors of brightly coloured tins, boxes and packets await you – all of which is being traversed by a myriad of coupon-crazies and guttersnipe shoppers hell-bent on messing with my groove!

With each trip I take I can always rely on two things happening.  Someone will usually stop dead in front of me for no obvious reason, and a kid will be shouted at by a grotesque parent… for no obvious reason.  Of the two, I particularly like the stop dead event.

It’s not like these people stop to look at something, or pause a brief moment to mull over the store brand spaghetti hoops.  No, these people seem to be governed by an invisible traffic light system that demands their total compliance regardless of all those around them.  They just stop, like a fat bloke’s heart during his third plate of cheese.

I’m always tempted to take the hard line, and act as if I were in my car.  In those moments when someone just stops for no reason, and you slam on your brakes in order to avoid a collision with their fuck-tarded stupidity – I’m not alone in my knee-jerk desire to immediately act like an arsehole taxi driver, lean on the horn, and swear until my vocal chords fray, am I?

Well, try this approach the next time some bastard hits the brakes on their shopping trolley.  Get as close behind them as possible and start making loud “beeeeeeeep” noises.  Go ahead and scream ‘fucking idiot’ at the back of their head, and question the whereabouts of their father and need for corrective spectacles in the hope of avoiding future altercations of a similar nature.  As you pass them, give a massive “wanker” sign right in their face… and call them a ‘effing idiot’ again for good measure, and maybe do the “beeeeeeeep” noise again.  At the very worst you will get a suspended sentence and maybe a little community service.

As for the poor child being berated by their parent, well, I currently live in Portsmouth, an area renowned for incestuous teenage pregnancy and people that revel in the lower spectrum of intelligence, respect and self-worth.  I can only hope the poor little bastard gives their grunting mother/sister the slip and seeks a better life away from this abysmal plague-pit of a town.

So, after taking a zig-zaggy, partially-sighted, tour around the place – avoiding traffic violations and inbred kids caterwauling their lungs onto the floor – I eventually arrive at the last stage of the supermarket experience, the cashiers.  After yet another battle of wits with an unarmed opponent, and with my head filled with visions of a toxic spill coating the area and rendering it uninhabitable for the next two-thousand years, I eventually leave the supermarket and head back to my office… another place filled with empty-headed-who-cares-bollock-talkers.

But do you know what the real kicker is?  Ultimately, when all is said and done, the joke is on me.  Why?  Because through all this nonsense and snarky opinion, and away from my tortured tales of battles with local beer-can goblins and £2.00 fruit salads, I still sit at my desk and look forward to my next trip into oblivion.  What a loser!

Paul Millard 2014

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