Comedy

Arresting 4-Letter Words

I had a run in with the police a few weeks ago. Yeah… that’s right… I’m so gangsta!

However, if you’re expecting to hear about car chases, my time in prison with a big bloke from Norfolk who kept calling me Doris, or the witty repartee only an obnoxious police officer with a Napoleon complex can provide – I’m sorry, but you’re backing the wrong horse.

You see, my beef was with the internet police, and it happened on a Tuesday morning, at my desk in the office, whilst eating a delicious biscuit.

After publishing that week’s Snarky Tuesday over breakfast, I had taken my 40-mile wacky race into work and started the daily toil in earnest. After shuffling papers for a while, I grabbed a coffee and checked in on the website to see how the early morning traffic was looking.

With an entire Jammy Dodger wedged into my stupid mouth, I clicked on my website, and nothing happened.

Not one to give up that easily, I clicked on the link a further fifteen times, just to make sure. Nothing. I slammed the mouse on the desk and threw it to the floor… to check it wasn’t a particle of dust blocking the circuit board thingy. Still nothing. Just as I reached to unplug the screen (in order to give it a rinse in a bowl of warm, soapy water), I noticed a message:

This page has been blocked because of suspected offensive page content (fuck).

It seemed my website had been blocked because I had used a potty word! One single use of the f-bomb, within a 700-word, skilfully crafted, totally sexy, mind-bendingly funny, essay had gotten me disavowed from the internet.

Now.

I have an issue with this.

Let’s start with how many times you think that word appears on the internet? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing it’s more than once – and not always by me.

And how offensive is that word anyway?

It’s been employed within canonised works of literature for centuries, shouted a thousand times a day at most North London comprehensive schools, and by way of several variants, frequently used to describe every politician on the planet.

You’re telling me that Islamic State can jump on YouTube as a means of repulsing the world with their shenanigans, but due to 4 letters arranged in a certain way I can’t reach a two-bit website that gets the same kind of viewing figures Educating Joey Essex got (before being canned)? This is a joke, right?

I was curious. Who gets to decide what is considered offensive?

I spoke to the IT guy. I wanted to understand the justification behind being blocked in such a way. With nerd juice flying in all directions, he told me it was blocked by software used by the company that was based on a matrix of words and a particular set of algorithm’s that sets a redundant “cost” on something that I didn’t understand, at all!

I think he was still talking when I wandered off and bought a Mars bar.

Techno babble aside, surely there are repercussions towards this annexing of certain parts of the English language? It smacked of the overbearing result of a nanny state – one that seemed hell bent on indoctrinating a charter of unsolicited standards towards what is deemed acceptable and what isn’t?

However, at that moment of rallying my thoughts, and getting a bit political, I remembered a salient and very critical facet to all of this.

The computer I’m using, and the time in which I’m using it, is not mine. I’m at work for Christ’s sake! I should be, ya know… working.

In short, it’s all well and good to have lofty ideas towards how language is being embezzled by faceless censors with absolute power, but do it in your own time, eh!

Oh, and stop eating all the Jammy Dodgers!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Blocked

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On Fatherhood – Part 2

  “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”

Wise words from Phillip Larkin there, and certainly applicable when talking about my own levels of neurosis towards my 4 year-old son.

Let’s take the latest issue being faced by my stupid psyche. It’s certainly a biggie, and one that I have feared for some time now (well, just over 4 years!).

You see, back in September of last year, my little bundle of lithium starting school.

Not an issue in itself. Thousands of kids do it each year. Well, this is the first time my kid has done it, and to put it mildly, I have my own shitty hangs up.

In short, I hated school… every poxy second of it!

With the exception of a few mates, and a wicked English Literature teacher who scared me into learning stuff that was actually helpful, absolutely nothing else about my entire educational experience was enjoyable. The day I left was like receiving a get out of jail free card – hand delivered by a team of Playboy Bunnies.

The educational establishments (loose term) that I occasionally attended were truly dreadful, and acted as nothing more than state-sanctioned hurt lockers for aspiring criminals and future cast members of Benfits Street.

The pupils didn’t give a shit about the school, the teachers didn’t give a shit about the pupils, and I didn’t give a shit about most of it.

As a result of this breathtaking daisy chain of crapness, from Sunday night to Friday afternoon I pretty much plotted ways to avoid the school bell.

I hoodwinked my mother into time off with tales of various germs entering my frail body and laying waste to my immune system. I played truant with my friends in the local town centre, hiding in various café and perfecting my ability to eat cheese toasties whilst playing Paperboy and Bubble Bobble.

And when I had no choice but to attend, I spent the entire time doing anything other than what I should have been doing. For the most part, I concentrated on trying to make the girls laugh whilst avoiding the roaming bullies, droogs and other members of the faculty staff that were employed to keep order and maximize fear.

It was a bad time for me, one that I wouldn’t wish on my favorite enemy – if I had one.

And so it comes to pass that my son now enters the British educational system. The most precious thing I have is being handed over to who knows who, for six hours a sodding day! When else would a responsible parent do such a thing? Do I throw the keys to my house at a complete stranger each morning, and say, ‘I’ll be back in six hours, try not to break anything!’

I feel like I should fight against this apathy. I need to challenge the arcane doctrine we all seem way too willing to accept as normal. And yes, I’m also terrified that his experience will be just as shit-awful as mine!

However, it would appear that underneath my painful attempts to redirect my fear, I have miscalculated one very important aspect. One fundamental element in all of this ridiculous expectation and self-created scaremongering:

My son is not me!

Honestly, I can’t tell you how much of a blessing this is for him. Actually, if you’re a frequent visitor to this site, you probably know all too well just how lucky the kid is for not taking after his father.

Whilst it’s fair to say that being skeptical, a little introverted and a tad standoffish is good for business, it isn’t always helpful away from the keyboard. It’s also pretty obvious how this aspect of my nature (albeit a younger, more toned down version), would ensure my time at school be nothing short of a glorious picnic of red ants and curly Spam sandwiches – covered in dog shit!

I really don’t want to get into a whole diatribe about Paul Millard: The School Years, and recount tales of woe and misery-soaked bollocks. It really wasn’t like that. I’ll freely admit to a little poetic license in this tale, but do not dismiss it as nothing more than a complete fiction. My schooldays were far more Carrie than Tom Brown. Trust me!

Anyway, these days I’m more transfixed with the hope of seeing such potential horrors vanquished from my son’s future experiences. The thought of him having to deal with some of the shit I went through is enough to have me follow him around each day, disguised as a text book, and ever ready to jump out and protect my little angel from weird teachers and fat kids with personal space issues!

Well, he is now into his third term at school. His teachers are glowing towards his efforts, he already has more friends than I have managed to accrue in 42 years on the planet, and he seems to love every aspect of the school experience.

In short, I think his experience will be just that – his experience. No need for me to muddy the waters with my bullshit. I should take a breath and have a little faith in my son.

The fact that he was recently caught in the girls toilets trying to make the chicks laugh, will be put down to a rogue strain of the Millard personality seeping though!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard The Breakfast Club

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Comfortably Vexed

I used to be quite angry for a lot of the time, particularly when I was younger. In fact, when I was in my early twenties I had a permanent scowl on my dumb face – and for reasons I can’t quite remember. I think I wore it because I thought girls would think I’m edgy and a bit challenging. In fact, it just made me intolerable and annoying. I didn’t get much action back then!

I also used to have an opinion about everything! With my facial muscles seemingly frozen into that stupid, angry glare, I would spout utter horseshit about things I had absolutely no knowledge of. I rallied with such conviction and cool exasperation, anyone with half a brain overhearing me would have been driven to convulsions by my pantomiming and general arseholery.

But I believed in all of it – so deeply that I could have reached the earth’s core with my shit-bag opinions on stuff no one was interested in to begin with. What a prick!

These days I struggle to find anything to get that angry about. I’m too old and don’t have the energy to get worked up and punchy. Come to think of it, I would much rather reserve that energy for when Mrs Millard lowers her guard enough for me to sneak some love her way!

Also… what’s the damn point anyway?

Ok, so a bad result in N5 can get me a bit steamed for an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon. The aforementioned wife is no more challenging than any other form of mental cruelty, and with the exception of tearing my feet up on abandoned Lego constructions; my son is a perfect foil to almost all of life’s little attempts to water-board the shit out of me!

This is not to say that I don’t have some concerns and worries.

My ability to detect individual bacteria entering my circulatory system borders on the clairvoyant these days. Not a day goes by when I don’t feel a tinge of pain that requires a lengthy spell on Wikipedia or the NHS website for irrational idiots. Age seems to have delivered a growing trepidation towards mortality and good health – one that I can’t seem to dismiss, regardless of what Google tells me.

As I said earlier, my son is a miracle eraser towards those stupid things that would get me tight and a little vexed. However, the flipside to that coin is my newfound hysteria towards his well being and safety. I’m a crazy man when it comes to my son and heir. In fact, anyone calling themselves over protective clearly hasn’t walked a mile in my moccasins!

In short, my childrearing style takes the nurturing warmth of Mr. Mom, with the offensive qualities of a MOAB intercontinental ballistic missile. I can do the cookie-cutter shit, and I can also lay waste to a nation with the flick of the right button. That’s overprotective, my friend.

Anyway, maybe it’s best if I hold back on my parenting mémoire for now, and get back to the psychological profiling I’m conducting on his new school friends!

So, what else? You know… that’s pretty much it. Without wishing to sound like a psychotic who necks prescribed drugs like a member of the Jackson family, there really is very little I give an honest shit about these days.

Jobs and money always seem to come and go, and sometimes with very little in the way of forewarning. My extended family is an unreasonable monster that should be placed in a cage, and never fed after midnight. And everything else is slow moving traffic and minor train delays on a Friday night.

Honestly, what’s the point in getting all worked up over that? I guess the angry young man of yesteryear might have embraced such torment and drama as a way of attracting impressionable girls with a taste for the stupid. But the older model is far more interested in his raging cholesterol, and whether his son’s school teacher has a criminal record!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Angry2

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Car-cophony

My car is making funny noises again. I thought I had this licked a few months ago when the nice man at the garage managed to fix that squeaky noise that I thought was a squirrel in my glove compartment. It wasn’t a squirrel, or any member of the Sylvanian Family for that matter. No, in that particular instance it was the heat shield thing coming away from the exhaust thingy. In all honesty, I pretty much knew it was probably the old heat shield thing on the exhaust thingy problem; I just like to test the mechanics.

More recently, my car seems to be a little slow when I accelerate and sounds really pissed off that I’m trying to move it in any direction. As a rule, this is usually because I’ve forgotten to release the handbrake… a simple thing to forget when you’re stupid and easily distracted by virtually anything that happens near you! However, this was not the reason for my current Autobot anguish.

I then thought maybe it’s because I don’t always select the right gear. However, an expensive trip to that nice man in the garage taught me that a 14 year-old Honda doesn’t like being gunned out of a parking space in 4th gear! So it can’t be that.

In desperation for an answer I spent most of Sunday morning poking around the engine. It was a total waste of sodding time… I couldn’t find the Flux Capacitor, or indeed any kind of time-drive that might be limiting the power to the Allspark!

Now, as you may have guessed, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in the motor vehicle field. I’ll admit it; my wizardry with such things is akin to that dumb Irish kid in the Harry Potter films – I try my best, but it usually ends with something catching fire.

However, and as I have explored before, as an older guy a certain amount of wisdom is just assumed of me – usually by people who don’t know any better. I’ll give you an example.

A few weeks ago, one of those annoyingly attractive girls I work with asked me a car related question. I initially thought she had done it on a dare, or in an attempt to avoid working (not a bad reason in itself, but why involve me!).

Anyway, with a voice that could melt granite, and a flutter of eyelashes that made me forget I was married for a few seconds, she asked me what the below symbol on her dashboard means;

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Radiator TempI scratched my chin in a manly fashion, gave a knowing look as if I get asked this question all the time, and delivered my carefully constructed opinion to this damsel in distress.

“Does your car have a periscope? Because it might be that you haven’t lowered it or something.”

Based on the symbol, and my deep insight into Autonomous Robotic Organisms, I thought this was a damn good guess.

I later found out it has something to do with the radiator! Far be it for me to tell the car manufactures around the world their job, but that symbol is fucking stupid and looks nothing like any radiator in my house.

So, moving away from the office hottie with the periscope problem for a moment, what could my car be going through right now?

I know an engine is measured in horsepower, could it have a touch of foot and mouth? Is the battery connected to the accelerator pedal? If so, maybe I should stop flicking my hazard warning lights on each time I do a wicked bit of manoeuvring? (I do like to alert people to how good I am – particularly when you consider my car hasn’t been retrofitted with a hover system yet!)

Maybe the big end has gone? I’m not sure what any of that means, but I once heard Kenneth Williams say it in Carry on Cabbie.

What if I’ve bought one of those bloody Decepticons by mistake – and it plans world domination by limiting my ability to go 88mph down the A3?

Whatever way I spin it, I guess another trip to the garage is called for – and yet another conversation in which I try to disguise the fact that all of my car knowledge comes from an 80’s cartoon, Marty McFly, and mild sexual innuendo.

Paul Millard 2015

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Time to Unplug?

I’m in the midst of a tricky home entertainment dilemma at the moment. No, I’m not referring to the fact that my wife now refuses to juggle with chainsaws since the new wallpaper went up, but rather that I’m questioning whether I should cancel my various TV packages and go rogue.

Our American cousins call it “cutting the cord”, which gives a somewhat gory connotation to practices best left in the maternity suites! With that said, it’s also a pretty fair explanation towards what is becoming a very common practice for those who no longer wish to pay inflated prices for a few hundred channels they don’t watch.

Would it not be more in keeping with this modern age to be able to select exactly what you wish to view? To pay for only what you consume?

It’s quite a tricky thing to pull off for us Brits, as we don’t have the luxury of choice found in the US.

First off you have the BBC TV licence fee of £145.50 a year. This is only avoidable if you ensure no TV aerial is ever connected to your lovely 40-inch LED! It’s a tough one to avoid, and wholly impossible if you want to make use of their channels, or any of the free-to-air services provided by the likes of Freeview.

Sky TV (evil Galactic Empire, and headed by melty-faced shitbag, Emperor Murdoch), has a vicious stranglehold on the likes of HBO and most of the UK sports franchises. This chokes our ability to subscribe to a dedicated streaming service that could offer any kind of alternative… at least, nothing that’s strictly legal.

For years we have seen the rise of clandestine websites providing HD coverage of Premier League football – which is arguably the biggest and most sought after cash cow for British broadcasters. However, this small band of rebel websites has provided some means of evading the dark lord Murdoch… providing you are willing to bend the rules a little.

For the most part, Netflix and Amazon Prime have our movie and TV box-set desires covered. And should you need to watch Game of Thrones as it airs (in order to avoid some miserable bastard in the office giving away spoilers), well… let’s just say that other ways exist to source what you need!

In fact, HBO have publically recognised that their shows are immensely popular with the swashbuckling torrent sites. But rather than become bitter and shitty about their expensive TV shows being raped and pillaged by men with peg-legs and parrots, they see it as a flattering testament to the quality, and desirability, of their programming. I’m not suggesting the executives are jumping around in delirium and joy towards those who download, but it is a unique approach to the anti-piracy argument.

I also feel that HBO have learned a tough lesson on this front, and by tying themselves in with the likes of Sky, have only limited themselves to a select audience who are paying over the top prices for an ever expanding list of unwanted channels. Perhaps it would have been more profitable, and less restrictive, to simply release the HBO Go app to the UK market. Time will tell.

Perhaps it’s not so much a case of what is on offer, but rather what the viewing habits of the household are, and how these choices drive the decision to pull the plug on a particular service.

The only thing I watch on “live” TV is Coronation Street. Everything else is Netflix, various box-sets that I pick up on Ebay, and with growing frequency, the wonders of YouTube. My son has recently moved away from the Disney and Nickelodeon channels, and now spends more time watching Netflix Kids, the free-to-air CBBC channels, and a bit of YouTube (Play Doh movies for the win!).

Strangely, my wife is the heaviest user. Our TiVo box is home to an ever expanding list of series links, ranging from whodunits, fashion and home-craft, and those TV shows that carefully document people who don’t sell their house, don’t move to the country, or don’t complete their grand design on budget!

Not being without its limitations, I do believe a phone call to my supplier is not too far away. Looking at the above, it seems I’m paying a lot of money each month for stuff I could get on a £20.00 Freeview box.

But what of the larger question towards a true a la carte TV experience? Will it happen? I think it will, but we have a ways to go yet. In the UK, the BBC and Sky are still the key players in this media brawl, and control just enough to keep most of us in line… and on the books.

From this brave new world, questions towards the validity of the BBC licence fee spring up frequently, and seem to gather more support with each new cycle. Such a decision would certainly be a game changer, and carry monstrous repercussions for not only the UK audience, but also for the global BBC community. Whether it should happen is another question, and is one I have mixed views on.

In short, with the shift in our viewing habits becoming more pronounced, shouldn’t how we select and pay for these services also change?

Cutting the cord? I think I prefer the term, “Virgin Media… I’m outtie!”

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Virgin Media(I’m not taking any responsibility for the above “joke”… it was the only Google image I could find!)

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Waiting to Grow

I have a birthday fast approaching – and with it comes the familiar realisation of something I have been lacking for a long time.

You see, with each passing year I’ve been waiting for a shift in my general adultness. I have a mortgage, a wife and a kid. I’m building up a nice collection of age-related illnesses, a rampant spring of nasal hair that must be harvested every two weeks, and I seem to be shrouded by a constant weariness that I’m guessing comes from having all the stuff I just listed.

Hell, I even have a few Coldplay albums that I keep hidden in the glove compartment of my 5-door family shitwagon. I’m not proud of it, but what else am I supposed to do with them!

But despite all my middle-aged credentials and impressive nasal hair, I have a terrible proclivity that stops me from going full grown-up. It’s an unruly kink in my otherwise flawless resume of noted adult competencies and worldly wise responsibility.

I am a father, I am a husband, I am a home-owner, but I’m also a mid-life gamer?

I started playing videogames over 30 years ago, and I’ll be honest, I feel no different towards them now than I did back then. I still get excited when a game of particular allure goes gold – that’s the term used to denote the final stage before manufacturing and shipping, and is only known by the truly pathetic and virginal.

I pre-order the titles several months in advance (this is getting embarrassing!), and I pour over every morsel of leaked details until the stupid piece of plastic arrives. In fact, only a gamer would happily pay £54.99 for a silver disc and a 6 page pamphlet that spends more time discussing the potential for epilepsy, than the actual game you have just forked out on!

I get a little panicky when I haven’t spent enough time with my current obsession, and I feel guilty if I start playing another game before finishing with the last one. In essence, I’m a neurotic, two-timing, scumbag that needs to spend more time with the game I’ve already committed too, rather than the sexy bombshell that just clicked her new heels and landed on my hard-drive.

It got a whole lot worse recently when I purchased a new laptop with a nice fat graphics card that allowed me to rediscover my love for RTS’s (real time strategy – please, keep up!).

Over the past ten years, the Total War series in particular has leached more of my life than anything else I can think of – and that’s without looking at other time-wasters such as Sim City, The Elder Scrolls, Pharaoh and online searches for pictures of Kelly Brook.

Ignoring Kelly Brook for a moment (not an easy thing for me to do), with the new laptop has come my discovery of Shogun 2: Total War, a game that I have become so close with I now simply refer to it as “my son’s samurai brother who lives in my computer”.

In light of this new arrival, and as a man with true family values, I need to ensure I spend quality time with both my children. It’s all about having the correct priorities in place. When I spend 6 hours playing with my beloved oriental son, I should at least make sure my other, more needy, son gets a quick pat on the head before I send him to bed.

And if that wasn’t time consuming enough, a copy of Total War: Rome II appeared in my Steam account – thanks to those kind people at Hewlett Packard. Upon this discovery I immediately renamed it as “my son’s flighty Italian brother who lives in my computer”.

I’m not kidding, with all these children I may need to get a nanny to help with that needy one who sometimes wanders into my field of vision and moans about being hungry!

However, in spite of these good intentions, every now and again I do get a twinge of doubt towards this gaming aspect of my life. Should I honestly be spending this much time playing with these things? Is it really appropriate that a 42 year-old man longs for the moment his wife and son goes to bed, so he can stick on a headset and kill zombie clowns with complete strangers, who have names that start with punctuation symbols?

I think I’ve come up with a cunning way of getting an answer.

You see, I have built a family in The Sims 4. They are called The Millards. They live in a 3-bedroom house, with a nice garden and two cars parked out front. Everything is ticking along nicely at the moment; however, I’m going to start placing Mr Millard on his computer for 12 hours each day. He will stop talking to his family, take all meals via a straw, and have a colostomy bag fitted to avoid unnecessary time away from the keyboard.

Within a few weeks I should have some indication on how this change in Mr Millard’s behaviour affects the household dynamic. I’ll then be in a better position to decide whether I should pre-order Total War: Attila… or as I intend to call it, “my son’s argumentative brother who lives in my computer.”

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Total War

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A Slim Start to the Year

With Christmas out of the way, and most of the food now vanquished from the extra fridge I wheeled in a few weeks ago, it’s time to tot up the damage I’ve inflicted on myself.

I fear the worst, primarily because the warning signs are already flashing like a fat man wearing a crop top.

It’s my clothes; they don’t seem to be mine. Someone must have replaced them with exact replicas, but in a size more suitable for an Action Man figure. My socks seem a bit tight, my belt has run out of notches, and I have to hold my breath in order to put my glasses on!

I’m also breathing a little heavier and get tired when faced with simple exercise. I knew things were getting bad a few weeks ago when I spontaneously broke into a sweat whilst watching the BBC Sports Personality of the Year show! Now that can’t be a good sign.

My son frequently demands I do the truffle shuffle in order to enter the house, my wife keeps asking me what it was like directing Psycho, and I find myself bumping into door frames that I could previously pass through without getting grazed or concussed.

I need to be less… people. I know I stuck on a bit of weight over the Halloween season. Popcorn, hotdogs and an orchard of toffee apples found their way into my beleaguered digestive system. I tried to be good for November, in preparation for “pulling the pin” come December, but that didn’t work out as expected.

In short, I made Halloween last until the 22nd November, and then quickly adopted an American accent in order to eat my way through Thanksgiving. I even took Black Friday as an opportunity to purchase discounted tubes of Pringles and 2-for-1 chocolate bars – I even found a 55 gallon drum of used fat that my local chip shop had mistakenly left in their bin shed. Crazy!

I know that I’ve lived well over the past few months, and have gained more mass than a supernova, but now that January is biting hard, I need to face the music and head towards the last chance saloon. It’s time to visit my old, enormous, friends at Slimming World!

But it’s such a fricking drag. I don’t want to watch what I eat. I would rather just eat it and pretend I watched it before I ate it! It’s not fair. Why can’t I have one of those fast metabolisms thin people annoyingly complain about?

  ‘Oh god! I never seem to put on weight, no matter how many of these lovely, delicious, full-fat cakes I eat!’

  ‘Fuck off!’

It would be so much easier if I had the same ability to process carbohydrates as say, an ant! I would get a lot more done, and probably not feel the need to sleep in-between meals.

I always thought the “middle-age spread” was a term invented by Paul McKenna in order to sell more fat fighting hypnosis books, or a really grim pull-out section in the over 60’s version of Playboy Magazine. I was wrong, and not only is it real, but it currently resides around my midriff – like an oversized, fleshy bum-bag!

So, I now find myself beating a path down the syn-counting highway of gloom. No more chocolate covered things for me. It’s all red days, green days, and a couple of dry-arsed Shredded Wheat for breakfast (that will no doubt get stuck in my stupid throat and kill me).

Or, I could just embrace my inner John Candy and succumb to a sweet, sugary future of swollen ankles, being hunted by whaling ships and heart disease so chronic it spreads to my place on the sofa/day bed.

Let’s face it, that isn’t the most responsible life choice to make. Whilst eating everything would be very nice, and the heart disease probably curable by a Lemsip or something, dodging harpoons could become a real drag, and would blight my trips to McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme.

No, it looks like Mr Millard will be taking the slimming route for the next few months. As such I would expect a torrent of extra snarky posts, and a fair amount of subliminal references towards cakes and hamburgers!

Roll on Easter… and a chance to eat my body weight in Mini Eggs.

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard

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Merry Christmas!

I’m sure you kind people wouldn’t begrudge me a week off, would you? I thought not.

I hope you had a cool yule, and enjoy a safe New Year.

I’ll see you all on the flipside!

Oh… I’ll probably be tweeting over the coming week, so join me over there if you fancy it: @snarkytuesday

Be good.

Paul

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Yuletime Memories

This week’s rhubarb becomes very self-indulgent and very soppy… very quickly! It’s certainly not in-keeping with the usual crap I write. So think of it as a lighter side to a usually Snarky Tuesday. You have been warned.

Christmas Stocking Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard

So, here we go again!

It’s that most wonderful time of the year. We all get a chance to take a break and unwind for a few days. In the company of good friends, bad family members and various dead animals – all cooked and stuffed with sage. Barracked into your sofa with a healthy supply of booze, snacks and broken stuff from China, it’s a time that is embraced by many, tolerated by a few, and sneered at by those too miserable to just go with the flow!

I’m a lover of Christmas, and make no excuses for it. Decorations are up the first week of December, experimentation with mulled cider begins in earnest around the same time, and jars of seasonal mincemeat have already been aging for a good few weeks before that.

It’s a strange juxtaposition towards the misanthropic shit-bag I usually am for the rest of the year, and the happy-go-lucky, spend-thrift that Ebenezer Scrooge becomes by the fifth chapter (yes, it’s actually a book, not a fucking Disney cartoon!).

I guess I have my Mother to thank for my “keeping of the season”. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household that went all out for Christmas. Every room shone with gollups of tinsel and twinkle lights of all colours.

The ceilings were home to highly flammable paper-chains and slow-leaking balloons. And every mantelpiece and window sill was flourished with some kind of festive ornament or seasonal depiction.

Mum always kept the excitement building throughout the month. Secret shopping trips, and rumours of parcels hidden around the house, were common. Any chance I had to sweep the place, for a hint of what was to come, was taken. Think CSI Miami, minus the pretentious twattery and sunglasses!

A few days before the “big show”, and bowls of sweets would appear like little diabetic time-bombs of joy! Nuts, crisps, and the obligatory tray of dates, would all be laid out in readiness for any passing mouths.

The kitchen was in a constant flux of being used for some kind of preparation. Boiling ham, trays of mince pies, that glorious smell of a tea towel on fire, all was available throughout the day – and usually long into the night.

Christmas Eve, and the pace built to new levels of bat-shit insanity!

Relatives would come – some with the intention of staying for the entire duration.

Armed with suitcases and mysterious black bin liners, my grandparents would usually arrive on the 23rd December, and leave sometime after Easter! Nan and my great aunt would immediately slip into the guise of soux chefs, and my grandfather into the guise of a talking armchair.

At various points throughout the day, people would pop-in for a drink and a moan about how much they have to do. Sweet wrappers would be hidden, Christmas movies would be watched, and presents slowly started to appear under the tree – courtesy of said bin liners.

My sisters were unmatched in their skills at unpeeling selotape, and finding gaps just big enough to discover what lies beneath the bows and ribbons. For this reason, my parents became too shrewd to leave gifts under the tree anytime before Christmas Eve. As a result, the great Christmas present delivery all added to the tradition of the time, and excitement of the occasion.

A sleepless night later, and all hell was breaking loose by 6am!

My father marshalled the reams of torn wrapping paper, my mother contemplated the first Baileys of the day, and my Nan and Auntie looked on with a knowing smile, and words of encouragement… and for the record, my Grandfather had still not moved from the armchair!

It was glorious!

It was also a time before the arrival of affordable video cameras, and smart phones with HD recording. Sadly, only a few photos now remain of those moments. As a family, we often reminisce about Christmases past. It’s a conversation I’m always happy to start. I guess it’s an attempt to ensure the memories don’t fade completely.

Now I’m a father, and in the throes of making new Christmas memories. I can only hope to achieve the same levels of excitement and wonder for my own son!

I think I’m up to the challenge, and I’m sure that in years to come, my son will be able to write a very similar depiction to the one I have provided above.

Let’s be honest, I have a pretty good template to work from!

Thanks Mum. Merry Christmas.

Paul Millard 2014

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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

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