Snarky Tuesday

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

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Taking A Break

I have a few other things on the go at the moment, which means I might not have time to post on this site as usual.

I’ll certainly try to keep it updated with whatever is going on, but expect a few delays.  In short, you may need to find your weekly dose of half-arsed poppycock elsewhere for a few months.

So, don’t cancel your subscriptions or email notifications.  Snarky Tuesday is still operating, and I’ll be back soon.

Paul.

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This Running Man

My new venture into exercise has been – for the most part – pretty damn successful. Honestly, I’m in shock. I was expecting my heart to collapse, my knees to fall off, and the rest of me to simply shut down – all in retaliation against this plan to decrease my surface area.

My first trot out as a newbie runner was with my wife, who accompanied me purely as a precautionary measure. As a nurse, and with a reasonable level of interest in my wellbeing, I figured she would be a perfect companion during my initial attempts to be healthy and spry. It seems I had the right idea, as just tying my laces almost resulted in a rotator cuff injury!

So, with my fancy running shoes on, and at a gentle pace in order to prepare myself for the long haul, I trotted up my hallway, opened the street door, and embarked on my great journey.

My first spell lasted to the end of my road, and provided me with a perfect sheen of sweat and resentment – both in equal measure. My wife, who was carrying a full medical kit and portable defibrillator, kept me at a steady program of running for a measured distance, then walking for a similar distance, and repeating the cycle until my look of fear was replaced with one of crippling pain.

However, twenty minutes later I was getting into the groove. Putting aside any mental anguish for a moment, I was amazed by how quickly my tortured body adjusted to the exertion. I was keeping up with the pressure, and not feeling half as weepy as I had expected too! In fact, upon returning home, I was hit by an unexpected level of smug satisfaction.

I had jogged… and survived.

Since then I have pretty much been running every other day. Not so much because I enjoy it, but rather that I’m becoming addicted to the smugness I feel afterwards!

Take a few weeks ago. It was my 43rd birthday… typically a time I feel at my lousiest.

I mean, really, who the hell enjoys their birthday? Once you get past your mid-twenties, isn’t it just another stupid day, but with a little more post to open than usual? It’s nothing more than a marked anniversary of a twelve month period – during which you didn’t die, and probably could have achieved a lot more if you had bothered your arse to do so.

Anyway, in keeping with this sunny outlook, and as the fateful day rolled around, I woke up with the traditional b-day grumps.

But this year, rather than dwell within it, I jumped out of bed, pulled on my running clothes, and spent the first 40 minutes of my birthday hammering around the local park.

It was like taking an elixir of unabashed self-satisfaction. Seriously, the smugness earned from a good run provided me with a shield against all the usual rhubarb that my birthday typically brings.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I now find myself getting twitchy if I haven’t taken a run within a 48 hour period… its crazy! I’m also thinking of buying one of those smart watch things that monitor your heart rate, step count, calorie burn, and likelihood of a prolonged hospital stay due to runner’s bunions or something.

And now, with this new poxy Conservative government in place, should they decide upon a Hunger Games’esque tournament to eradicate the working class for good, my new fitness levels might get me past the first offerings!

Paul Millard 2015

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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

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David Letterman

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With David Letterman retiring from The Late Show tomorrow night, I wanted to write a little something to mark the occasion.

For a show that ran 5 days a week, for 33 years, and was considered by pretty much everyone as the best of its breed – the UK never aired it routinely. Yeah… pretty stupid!

I remember it showing on Channel 4 back in the late 80’s, then for a few years with Sky One, ITV2 and ITV4. It seemed the UK audiences didn’t get the humour (dumb asses!), and because of this lack of support, I can’t help but feel a little cheated out of my time with Dave.

In spite of this, I have been watching The Late Show (one way or another), for a large portion of my life. It provided a slice of Americana that was utterly intoxicating – particularly to an impressionable 13 year-old kid from London!

30 years later, David Letterman sits with the likes of Bob Newhart, Phil Silvers, Harvey Pekar, P. J. O’Rourke and Mark Twain when it comes to providing a glimpse of US life, with a light dusting of irresistible snarkiness.

During my various trips to New York, I never got to see a taping of The Late Show… but I did get to worship outside the church a few times!

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A very young Paul Millard, doing a very bad Johnny Carwash impression – circa 1992!

Thanks, Dave.

Paul Millard 2015

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Britain’s Got Talent?

Here’s something I wrote a little while after the 2010 General Election, and in response to the Prime Ministerial Televised Debates that aired during April 2010. I’ve published it today for reasons that should be pretty clear.

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Only a few months ago, we were all treated to the Prime Ministerial Debates.

It had never been done before. For the first time ever, a live debate would be held on the economy, foreign policy, voting reform and environmental promises. Nothing was going to be out of bounds. We would witness our future decision makers face the music and answer the big questions.

So, before I go on, did anyone see the debates described above?

I’m not talking about the half-arsed dinner theatre we all got, but rather the fascinating delve into the minds of our political leaders that was advertised by Sky, the BBC and the other one (Channel 5)?

What the fuck happened here? Did I miss the meeting where it was decided that rather than treat those who give a shit about such things, as intelligent, informed and diverse citizens, we’ll instead screw them with their pants on and throw them something we scripted earlier!

Talk about hype, this thing could have been produced by J. J. Abrams… although at times a J. J. Abrams script would have seemed far more realistic and closer to reality.

We had David Cameron looking like a disgraced Geography teacher, Gordon Brown looking for the buffet trolley, and Nick Clegg looking just happy to have been invited.

So with the room paid for, and the band well rehearsed, we all settled down to watch four and a half hours of mutual agreement.

We need more nurses… we need more police… we need more teachers… we need better schools… we need better hospitals… we need a well-equipped army… and we need to cut taxes while paying back billions of pounds in loans.

YES! We all know this!

Honestly, the stuff being discussed was so fucking obvious my pet guinea pig could have stood in for any of these cardboard cut-outs!

These guys were so desperate not to rattle anything, they pretty much echoed each other on everything… and when one of them did forget the script, and foolishly wandered into an actual debate and challenged an opposing policy, they immediately back-paddled to safety.

It was so frustrating. We had the opportunity to seriously debate issues that are going to shape our country for many years to come. We had a stage made up of academics and experts in their chosen fields. And an audience itching to ask questions that will challenge each party.

Fuck that! Let’s just agree that nurses do a difficult job, schools are very important for education, and the police are quite handy for arresting bad people. Holy shit!

This was dumb-down TV at its best.

At a time when stupidity is so readily accepted and catered too on TV, why couldn’t we have used these debates to raise the bar a little higher, and ask people to stretch for it?

We don’t always have to revert to the Wife-Swap formula for lobotomising a nation. If we expect our political leaders to do better, shouldn’t we??

Fast forward a few weeks and Election Night arrived.

The papers and pundits were already calling a hung parliament before a single vote had been cast. In the end, the Conservatives gained 100 seats, Labour lost a ton… and Clegg, the saviour of British politics, actually did worse than ever.

True to form, we found ourselves with a hung parliament – and eventually got a government no one, by a single majority, elected.

And to add insult to injury, Nick Clegg sold out the Liberals and became the Egor to David Cameron’s Victor Frankenstein!

After millions being spent on advertising, even more money spent on boring pundits to cover every boring sentence, and lord knows how much spin and rhubarb, what did the Prime Ministerial Debates provide?

For me, absolutely nothing! All that airtime and money would have been better utilised in an attempt to get Katie Price and Peter Andre back together.

In short, the joke was on us… and continues to get funnier.

Paul Millard 2010 (revised)

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Election Special

I’m not one for getting all political, but this election could be a landmark one for this country – and not in a good way.

Now it might be all well and good for multi-millionaire, and ex-Los Angeles resident, Russell Brand to tell us misguided fools that voting is rubbish.  And I’m happy that Russell Brand (multi-millionaire, ex-Los Angeles resident), is using his popularity to announce such opinions to whoever is willing to spend £16.99 for the hardback.

However, on those occasions when Russell Brand (multi-millionaire, ex-Los Angeles resident), talks such a heightened level of bollocks, I can’t help but see him as nothing more than a South Bank street entertainer who has shagged his way into a very successful career in show business.

As such, I’m not entirely sure we should be taking advice on overthrowing an entire parliamentary system of rule, only to embark upon a torturous reformation of a new socio-political ideal, from a bloke who is a few steps up from pretending to be a statue in Covent Garden.

I intend to be one of the first in line next Thursday – not to register my vote towards a particular party I support, but rather away from one I utterly despise.

These reptiles are largely responsible for an air of tolerated racism and xenophobia in this country.  Basking in opinions that should be shameful and embarrassing, they seemingly appeal to a growing group of supporters who are either too ignorant to cast aside their own outdated and vile prejudices, or too stupid to see past the “good for Britain” rhetoric being promised.

Yep.  I’m referring to those lovely men and women over at UKIP.  The voice of the uninformed voter.

Now, we all know how warm and accepting Nigel Farage is.

His party effortlessly attracts the worst kind of racists and bigots to their numbers, he is good friends with groups such as the rightwing Italian Northern League, to say nothing of his much trumpeted hatred for the European Parliament – who he freely accepts an £83,000 salary from.

Add to this the endless catalogue of racist, sexist, xenophobic and two-faced displays provided by his underlings, and we have a party of forward thinkers, led by a man with oodles of integrity and compassion.

So when Nigel speaks of his sorrow towards drowned immigrant children, I don’t doubt his motives for two seconds… and would never consider his choked comments as a veil to cover his real feelings – a veil so thin I could use it as a fucking contact lens!

These people are absurd, embarrassing and truly poisonous with their intentions.

Every time a UKIP zealot opens their mouth and spews the party line bile, I can’t help but feel sympathy for them.  Sympathy towards how they manage to live a life so terrified and intolerant.  It must be hellish.

However, with such a level of apathy in this country, and with multi-millionaire ex-LA residents telling us not to bother voting, I’m concerned.

Look.  If you place a tick next to UKIP, then fine… congratulations… you’re an idiot.  But at least you have used your right to make that choice, and my tolerant lefty mind-set can’t slam you for that.

However, if these hate mongers get a foothold because too many of us just couldn’t be bothered to vote at all… then we are the idiots.  Willing architects towards a county that will be horrifyingly disconnected and entrenched in fear.

So get down to the booth and vote for anyone other than this lot.  Go Green, go Conservative, go Labour… just make sure you go!

Paul Millard 2015

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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

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Suicidal Gardening

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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

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Easter Break

Ok, so Easter is around the corner, and I have been a little side-lined by a few other writing projects.

Nothing new this week, but the below is the link to my last piece for The Metro Online.

http://metro.co.uk/2015/03/22/youre-only-as-old-as-the-game-you-play-readers-feature-5113632

See you on the flipside.

Paul x

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