Comedy

A Little Update

Reports of my death have been greatly… whatever.

Ok, so the book is shaping up nicely, and very slowly.  A few more pieces have gone over to The Metro (I’ll keep you updated on when they drop), and I’m hoping to get back on here after the summer with more of the traditional rhubarb.

Anyway, just waned to drop some Tuesday love.

Don’t go changing, just to please me.

Paul

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

The Social (media) Contract

With the rise of this website I opened a Twitter and Facebook account, purely to get a little of that free marketing juice. I spent a time reading into the finer points, and learned how to link up my ramblings over here, so they can appear over there… in the social media multiverse.

Anyway, I had lunch a few weeks ago with a friend who runs a very popular website, and knows things about SEO, PPC, and other acronyms’ that she could have made up in order to make me feel stupid. Telling her of my recent triumphs, and expecting some congratulations, she responded with a smirk.

  ‘Is that all you’ve done?’

I was a little hurt by this response, and suggested that surely that’s enough, isn’t it?

She explained that to get anything out of social media, you needed to be “out there”. It’s not enough to flash up every Tuesday, only to be seen by whoever stumbles upon the site. I should be attracting visitors all the time. Building the brand by commenting on hash-tag topics and whatever is trending with the masses.

In short, I should be tweeting and facebooking every day… every hour if possible!

Now I’ll be honest; the thought of being “out there” was not appealing. In fact, my views on Facebook, and the saps that seem to be cemented into their various profiles – nosing around other people’s business – don’t exactly fit the sensibilities Mr Zuckerberg is hoping to reach!

As for Twitter, it appeared to be populated with a technologically advanced lynch mob of hate-filled, self-righteous prigs – as if the Daily Mail and Katie Hopkins had gotten together to create a virtual purgatory for people who don’t have the ability to read anything longer than this sentence.

Putting aside these feelings, I drew my plans for laying siege to the cyber soapbox.

I would be witty, clever and relevant – every day. My tweets would be delivered like surgical smart bombs, and armed with payloads of pure mirth and sneering cleverness.

This lasted 3 days.

During this time I read Jeremy Clarkson’s name more than I ever wish too again, and learnt way too much about Elton John’s synthetic family squabble with a couple of clothes sellers from Italy.

Not exactly a glowing representation of the future of mass communication!

On occasion, when I did manage to enter the inner circle of something remotely interesting, I found the whole experience to be quite cliquey… almost tribal. It seemed that anyone stepping outside of the general views being expressed by the group were quickly cast aside and mocked.

I was beginning to question whether I wanted any of these people heading to my site – they all seemed way too touchy, devoid of any sense of humour, and a bit high maintenance for my taste.

Also, I couldn’t handle the pace of what was going on. I kept getting lost in different timelines, judgment and condemnation was fired in with all the fevered urgency you would expect from a wacky cult, and when I did think of something funny to say, the group had moved on to something else – leaving me with a punch line and no audience!

I’ve since reverted back to my estranged relationship with social media. An automated tweet on a Tuesday is all I can manage. I can’t say I’m disappointed, and I’m sure my would-be followers feel the same way.

To quote Johnny Rousseau, “We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason” – but I’m still not sure why we need social media!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

Running Costs

A few months ago I wrote about my desire to be less people. If you recall, the Christmas weight gain had raised questions towards the structural support afforded by my floorboards, and as a means of avoiding costly building work, I decided to slim down.

However, Easter started in January, and in that early celebration of our Lord’s resurrection, my Mini Egg eating had managed to reach startling heights of excess – that’s how efficient I was at being subservient to God!

So a few nights ago, whilst sitting on the sofa with my wife, I couldn’t help notice how she was slowly moving towards me. At first I thought she was shuffling closer by design, perhaps to instigate a little fooling around! But she started to fight against the movement – she was clawing at the cushions in the hope of stopping this unintentional display of affection.

Trying to understand the phenomenon, we both reached a worrying conclusion – I had developed my own gravitational field! People getting too close to my planetoid’esque stomach were unwittingly dragged into its orbit and consumed.

I needed to lose weight.

Dieting alone wouldn’t cut it; I needed to take some exercise. Time to get the cardiovascular system working independently, and without the need of a massive coffee kick-start each morning. It was time to maybe do a little jogging? I was scared.

So I spoke to few fit people at work, and asked what I needed.

  “You need the right pair of running shoes. Something that will give a little bounce and is the right measurement.”

I kinda figured that one out for myself. In fact, I had already ordered a nice pair of trainers with bubbles in the soles – the marketing literature explained how the bubbles provided the wearer with improved shock resistance, better levels of endurance, and a healthy dose of concentrated pretentiousness.

I would also require the right kind of socks, something to let my feet breath. This sacred me again! I immediately had visions of “trench foot” and Victorian methods of amputation, administered by a fearsome local butcher who hates “bubble shoes”.

The list continued.

Good running shorts to avoid any chaffing to those areas that I certainly wouldn’t want amputated. An iPod, so I could listen to the kind of energetic music I would normally run away from regardless of the expensive trainers on my feet. A decent water bottle, to ensure I kept hydrated. If, like me, you consider exercise as a form of torture, shouldn’t self-administered water-boarding resolve the exercise/hydration issue in one fell swoop?

Whilst listening to these well-toned bastards, I calculated that my pursuit of a fitter body would be more demanding on my wallet, than on my hamstrings!

It went on like this for a while, and I soon became bored and started thinking of home… and the bag of Mini Eggs I had hidden behind a box of firelighters under the stairs.

I drove home that night already planning my excuses for not taking this stupid idea any further. Maybe this is my ideal weight, and tinkering with the system will only lead to more problems, like a disgruntled pizza man who has seen his profits disappear overnight and is now unable to take that family holiday. How could I knowingly cause such a horrible butterfly effect?

However, whilst getting out of the car and spying my shadow – one that seemingly belonged to a herd of Space Hoppers – I thought better of it all and had a little jog to my street door.

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

Suicidal Gardening

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Gardening

Around this time of year I like to consider myself an expert gardener. With whatever know-how I have gleaned from YouTube that morning, I stride into the wilderness of my backyard, and start killing things with dangerous chemicals and gardening implements I’m too stupid to use safely.

The grass is looking particularly haggard this year. Winter months of harsh weather has taken its toll, and my once green and pleasant land now resembles my Father’s head – bald, lumpy and would benefit from some decent drainage.

In all honesty, my fireworks display from last November didn’t help much either – with more than a few bare patches remaining from the ignition sequence of a dozen rockets I launched at the neighbours.

That, coupled with a clowder of stray cats that take turns to shit all over my lawn, has led me to get my house in order, and return my garden to the suburban oasis I think it is (so my son can enjoy destroying it over the summer months).

One of the YouTube videos suggested I rake the thatch out of the grass and aerate the soil with a fork. It looked quite straightforward… almost easy… the kind of thing you can get done in a spare hour.

It turns out YouTube is full of shit and lies to people.

Honestly, the raking alone ensured each disc in my spine felt like a poorly placed Jenga brick! I hobbled back into the house, looking like I had messed my favourite gardening pants. Simply untying my shoelaces felt like a torture process lovingly employed by the CIA on people who look a bit terroristy and foreign!

I admit it. I’m not built for such manual labour, and have in fact been known to break into a muck sweat just by standing still. So the sight of my pathetic form attempting to be horticultural can only result in a trip to the chemist for a vat of Deep Heat, and enough Ibuprofen to stop a team of wildebeest in its tracks.

Anyway, after a week of convalescence and the third season of House of Cards taken from my sickbed, I felt strong enough to do a little more groundwork.

Not one of my best ideas.

If the raking sent my body into shock for a week, the forking of the ground (every 6-8 inches to ensure any winter compaction is alleviated), was enough to have me reconsider the benefits of pouring concrete over the entire sodding area and painting it green!

Oh, and that’s just the first stage. Once I’ve watched the entire first season of Better Call Saul from my sickbed, I have to reseed the ground – this will require a few bags of compost, grass seeds that I can’t smoke, and preferably an experienced gardener to do it all for me.

Ok, so the garden will look fantastic after all this hard work, but how am I supposed to enjoy that from the confines of my iron lung!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Gardening3

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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

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

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

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