Month: March 2015

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

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

Advertisements

Elton vs. D&G

The absurdity of celebrities reached amazing levels last week. Employing everyone’s favourite method of witch hunting, Twitter, Elton John launched a scathing attack on cloth-cutters Dolce & Gabbana, encouraging the whole world to boycott their stupidly expensive clothes.

The reason – they said something mean about IVF babies and surrogacy during an interview.

Now.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t know Dolce & Gabbana were actual people. I thought it was just a name, like Burger King or Pound Land.

Furthermore, it seems they have an immense amount of power, enough to influence the entire planet. Well, Ricky Martin seemed to think so. He tweeted the following in light of Elton’s call to arms;

Martin Tweet

Putting aside Ricky’s astonishing talent for “text speak”, the fire didn’t stop there, and only a few hours later a crusader called Ryan Murphy lent his views on Messrs Dolce & Gabbana;

Murphy

Now here is a perfect example of outrage, à la social media.

Not satisfied with showing his upset at the interview, Mr Murphy gives a little fashion advice on the side. Not only are their views unfashionable, but their clothes are ugly. I’m guessing he went on to sing a song about how Mr Dolce smells of poop, and followed it by stealing several of Mr Gabbana’s Pokémon cards at playtime!

I followed this twaddle with genuine fascination. But it got to the stage where I couldn’t keep up with the amount of double standards and two-faced dreck being spouted by these people.

It seems animal testing and using real fur is fine… but not agreeing to couples in love having IVF babies all over the place? Now that’s a bridge too far! Boycott the bastards! How about we slag off their clothes (that we all used to wear and promote!).

Look, Dolce & Gabbana were offering their opinion – granted a pretty dumb one and not particularly well judged or informed – but an opinion all the same. It wasn’t a piece of legislation, or a change in government policy… it was just an opinion.

During the fallout, everyone seemed to forget a very important luxury we all possess – the ability to simply ignore this kind of horseshit and move on with our day.

I guess what interested me was the motivation that caused those to speak out and join the boycott?

Let’s put it this way. Exactly how many people do you think Dolce & Gabbana have corrupted with this interview? Are you going to tell me that a couple (regardless of sex) going through IVF treatment or surrogacy will read these opinions and become shamed into changing their minds?

If they do, then trust me, it has little to do with a fashion designer boring us with their take on things, and more about a larger uncertainty that was already there to begin with.

The inner thoughts of Dolce & Gabbana are not going to rock the world into criminalising IVF. Nor will they alter the opinion of those who already see the innocent and inherent joy surrogacy can provide those who ache for a family. So let’s all take a breath!

As for Elton John and his merry band of Twitter bullies – calm the heck down! Do you not realise how distasteful it is to gleefully engage in this social media “piling on” behaviour?

Elton had his children by whatever means suited him, not as a result of some endorsement from a fashion designer. And not for nothing, no one is calling your kids anything, Elton, but you are by rising to this rhubarb and lending a voice it simply doesn’t need.

You don’t believe me? Well, let’s see how many people are still talking about this nonsense a month from now.

And as for Victoria Beckham, John Barrowman, and all the other celebs that slithered out and bundled onto the issue like spiteful lemmings… can someone do the planet a favour, and destroy their smartphones!

Paul Millard 2015

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

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

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

 

The Metro Online

I recently had a few pieces published in The Metro Online. Now you may think this is nothing more than a cop-out from this week’s usual rhubarb… and you would be right! However, I wanted to share the links here and ask you to take five minutes, have a look, and leave a comment.

http://metro.co.uk/2015/02/15/the-perils-of-a-mid-life-gamer-readers-feature-5062674/

http://metro.co.uk/2015/02/08/video-games-made-me-a-killer-and-i-feel-fine-readers-feature-5053020/

I’ll be back next week with the usual dreck.

Paul

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite

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

Snarky Tuesday Grunge Black Banner opposite