Month: November 2014

The Young Folk

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Young Folk

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

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

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

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

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

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

  ‘What did you do last night, Paul?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Millard 2014

IF YOU’RE YOUNG, LEAVE A COMMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then something happened.

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

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

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

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

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

One follower suggested that,

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

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

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

Another stated that,

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

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

  “Paul, you are clearly a fucktard”.

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

Finally, someone tweeted the below picture and rhyme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Millard 2014

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

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

Snarky Tuesday Mark Twain

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The Sickness Syndrome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She would buckle today, just as I had.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Millard 2014

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Sick Days

 

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Halloween Hangover

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

Normal service will be resumed next week.

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

Snarky Tuesday Kitten Boots Paul Millard

Paul Millard 2014

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

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