The Effects of Drink Driving (Spoiler: Not Good)

Drink driving simulation
   I was perhaps nineteen years of age when my eyes did witness the most "Yorkshire" sight imaginable. At this point, I would like to ask you for the permission, dear reader, to indulge me whilst I take you back to that fateful night with a brace of meandering paragraphs replete with clunky, faux articulate prose which I hope will paint a mental image for you.

   After a pleasant Friday evening of playing pool with friends at my local public house (the inimitable Blue Boar), I returned, for the final time of the night, to place my order at the bar. As I did so, a rotund gentleman who had been perched on a stool, filling his stomach with Tetley's for the best part of six hours, stumbled his way past me, pausing only to regain his footing as the room spun around his head. As he bounced into (and off) two walls in a row, his flat-cap falling twice from his cranium, I begun to worry how this inebriated fellow would find his way home in the midst of this impressively drunken stupor.

   Our hero, it would transpire, had formulated a best-laid plan above my level of comprehension. After falling down the exit stairs, the man quickly brushed himself off and, to my amazement, clambered into the JCB parked in front of him. It transpired he'd left his vehicle directly outside the pub so he could drink-drive home after consuming, I'm informed, a minimum of eight pints. To this day I marvel at the astounding hubris of an intoxicated adult manning such a highly dangerous machine.

   Fast forward to the present date and, thanks to LV=, I was able to put myself into the shoes of the protagonist of my introductory tale. Not, I hasten to note, that they plied me with copious amounts of alcoholic beverages and handed me the keys to vehicles boasting heavyweight telescopic handlers to run amok as I please. If they had, I'm quite certain, I wouldn't be here to write this overly portentous post. Instead, at their LVReactions evening in Leeds, the safer (and more informative) option of simulating and recording the effects of drink-driving were employed.

   What, I hear you ask, where the key take-home messages from my evening of pretending to drink and drive? The sonorous wisdom I can depart from my night of learning?

   It won't be a shock to any of you reading this to hear the following bathos-infused statement but: drink-driving is bad. Like, not just a little bit daft but, rather, potentially catastrophic. Yet, as I have no indexicology in the field of manning vehicles whilst intoxicated, it was rather eye-opening indeed to experience a simulation of such a scenario.

   To witness the effects of consuming alcohol, LV= provided us with actual "Beer Goggles" to try on - eye-wear which causes the wearer to see as a drunkard may. So, having been asked to complete a track on a racing car game with no visual impairment impeding me, my "slow and steady wins the race" lap time was recorded. It can be noted at this point that I'm certainly no Lewis Hamilton or OJ Simpson or whoever else it is who drives cars quickly these days. I'm more like the dependable tortoise. The tortoise who has never crashed a car. The tortoise who doesn't entirely understand how to drive. The tortoise with no points on his licence.

   But then, for one night only, I was ready to live on the wild-side and experience just what it would be like to get hammered and go cruising.

   Whilst it should be easy to predict that my ability to successfully complete a lap with alcohol factored in became depleted, I was astounded by the sheer volume my hand-eye reactions decreased as I switched to eye-wear which replicated the effects of an increasingly high unit intake. I had always been under the impression that I was better at things when I drunk - I'm certainly smarter, more attractive and a better dancer. After, say, six pints of Carlsberg, I often realise that I'm akin to a more humble (and better dressed) Justin Timberlake.

   Alas, as I drove round a track I had completed relatively easily whilst sober, sporting goggles which made me feel like I'd drunk four or so pints caused me to crash and die on multiple occasions. I felt like Kenny from the early episodes of South Park (before it got good), dying over and over.  I recoiled as I veered off road and smashed into proud oak trees. I winced as my vehicular avatar spun through the air, careering off road into divots of aching flora and fauna. No matter how hard I tried, I felt I was trapped in my own version of Groundhog Day (just the bits where Phil Connors drives his car off things, mind you, and not any of the funnier or more memorable points).

   My evening progressed. I tried on a further pair which made me feel like I'd been on all day-er, knocking back Stella to drown my sorrow as England inevitably get knocked out of a tournament at the earliest possible stage once more. I died over and over, increasing my lap-time exponentially.

   It turns out that if I were to neck back a skin-full like a top lad and then speed through the streets of Bradford in my hot wheels, I'd more than likely die. Or, failing that, kill others. I looked forlornly at my lap-times which decreased the more I "drunk" and realised the moral of the story: if you want to stay alive and get places quicker in your car, simply don't drink. This is conventional wisdom. As, I believe, is "don't get pissed out of your face and get behind the steering wheel of a JCB" - but this seems too much of a cliche to end this article with. Too late now, I guess.

Alan Sugar & I: An Unrequited Friendship

   Alan Sugar. Lord Sugar. The Big Boss. Mr. Business. Sir Strike-a-deal. We’ve all seen him, right? We’ve seen him, Alan Sugar, Lord Sugar, Britain’s favourite entrepreneur, on the television with his tight ringlets of candy floss hair and his jagged, pointy fingers he jabs stoically at potato-faced buffoons in rigorously starched suits as he bellows aloud his world-famous catchphrase: “You are laid off!”

   To know him is to love him. Who hasn’t sat down in front of a TV set, the idiot box, the deception transmitter, and wished that the grandiloquent gentleman with the profound inability to pronounce “résumé” was their friend? Their best friend perhaps? Their consigliere, their mentor in life and/or death? I know I have.

   Wouldn’t you want this avuncular scarecrow as your guardian? Your guardian angel (not in disguise)? Your ethereal protector in a glossy Windsor knot? How I wish I could tread through life akin to Whitney Houston with Alan, Sir Alan, the kind Prince of Profit, as my Kevin Costner. If, somehow, this became true, there would be a Waterworld of joy in my tear ducts.

   Fate, they say, is a bridge you build.  With this in mind, I had two choices in life. The first was to wait patiently for Alan, Sir Alan, the Baron of the Boardroom, the bullfrog of Business, the ball-sack of Barterdom, to come to me. The second, my preferred option, was to track down Alan, Sir Alan, the Kaiser of Capitalism, the phantom of the Free Market, the ingénue of income, he of indeterminate facial smoothness, and make an offer he couldn’t refuse – an offer made of the most valuable currency of them all. An offer of friendship.

   In hope of replicating the path of all great relationships, I soon realised my best approach was to contact our protagonist on social media like those millennials, those cool millennials, would. I’m not as down with online interactions as Alan is, Sir Alan, the coquette of communication, my hero of MySpace, so I tread as softly as angels in my opening interactions with him, hoping to cultivate a long-term and meaningful friendship with the political flip-flopper.

   As I’m not particularly interested in business, or, indeed, anything Sir Alan, the loquacious Lord, is professionally involved in, I find myself flummoxed as to where to start before reverting to a male cliche - maybe, just maybe, I can coax him out of his shell with football talk. The brainwave occurred to me during England vs Russia during the Euros; I attempted to interact with some well-worded questions which each failed to garner a response.

  I began to worry for Alan - not just because he hadn't replied to me but, because he hadn't yet shared an opinion on the game for a country waiting with baited breath for his analysis.
   Alas, it transpires, our friendship was not meant to be at this time. Undeterred, I begun to think up new ways to get a digital interaction from Sir Alan - a like, a retweet, a reply I could build our blossoming friendship upon - and plumped for making small talk replies on topics of his choosing. I thought I did well but apparently, according to the good Lord's silence, I've yet to step up my banter to the appropriate degree.

   I turned my hand to flattery - sycophancy of the most dignity-relieving, oleaginous kind. That must surely gain a response? Alas, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.

    The following words made my skin crawl, but it would be worth it to make a friend as wise as Alan (Sir Alan, the cherubic face of an industrial society).
   Once more I received no reply but learnt a valuable lesson - the only good thing about a broken heart is that I can't be hurt again. I reached out my hand, my tiny, tiny hand, looking for a hand-up (not a hand-out) in return from Alan (Sir Alan, the quaint darling of quarterly returns), but I was left dangling.

   When I look back on my life as a dream, a dream of walking along the beach with Sir Alan, I'll see that there were two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. Yet, at the darkest times of my life, I will observe I took the journey alone - I notice that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. I will ask: Where were you when I needed you the most? When I needed a friend? Of course, you won't reply but we'll both know - you were in the boardroom. Working hard. At the business that you do. The business of not having me as a friend.

   Well, Alan - if that is indeed your real name - when it comes to our kinship, I have some words for you. Words I'm sure you know very well. Words you know like a collection of words you know well and can remember sometimes. Words you have heard and which you can recall and deliver as a dramatic denouement whenever requested of you by producers or other appropriate supervisors who assist you in making shows for television, for the deception transmitter.

   Sir Alan: "You are dismissed from employment."

Deadpool DVD Review

   One day, just over twenty years ago, Hugh Grant swore on film in a posh accent.

    "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck! Bugger," mumbled the Englishman in dialogue penned by acclaimed writer Richard Curtis. Western culture changed forever in one moment; we all seemingly came to the conclusion that there is nothing funnier in the entire universe than simply spouting swear-words.

   Since Grant's outpouring, Hollywood has cottoned on to the notion that if it swears, it sells. Look, for example, at Ted - a movie about a stuffed toy that uses taboo language! The whole world guffawed because we all know that teddy bears aren't supposed to swear, right?! Oh, my. Look at Dirty Grandpa too - the joke here, of course, is that elderly people are expected to be much politer than they are in this film. Our expectations were confounded and, as such, hilarity must ensue.

   This leads onto the latest example of this such genre - Deadpool. Kids love superheroes: who the heck would expect them to swear and be rude? As such, our expectations are confounded, etc., etc. Can you imagine how funny it would be for a superhero to order a drink called a "blow job"?

    So, with regards to the Ryan Reynolds-starring movie, the question to ask is - do you find bad language funny in and of itself? If so, this will be your favourite movie perhaps of all time. There's nary an actual, properly constructed joke in the entire feature but, oh the bad manners! Your sides will split as more than one character drops the f-bomb! And its really loud too!!!

   Sadly, if you think comedies should be funny, that jokes should contain humour, that action should be thrilling, that cinema should be exciting, then this is not even approaching something I can recommend. This is horrible. Really, truly horrible.

   Everything about Deadpool feels like it has been market researched into oblivion - remember how Guardians of the Galaxy featured retro music selections to hint at an inherent playfulness? You can check that off the list of ham-handed things Tim Miller's movie has appropriated (see, also: the forthcoming Suicide Squad as equally guilty of this if the trailer is anything to go by). This feels very much like the type of movie made by a committee of naughty twelve year olds in the 1980s - the one thing that's missing is for Ryan Reynolds, an actor who has never been so wooden or weasely as he is here, to shout "Cowa-fucking-bunga" at some point.

   The saddest thing about this movie is the fact that it provides testament to Hollywood no longer need to try to achieve quality in its quest for money - instead, all that is necessary is the employment of a known comic book character to raise guaranteed profits. Comic devotees who will consume everything related to graphic novels and teenagers who don't care about plot will run out of multiplex screens, fingers in their ears to criticisms, happy that they didn't have to think too much and that someone on-screen swore a couple of times and that there was some explosions. Who needs morals or a point of any kind when CG violence can take up space in our mind?

   Whilst Marvel are consistently creating movies ranging from decent to brilliant (excluding the odd clangers such as the Thor series), its an insult to comic book fans and to the very medium of cinema itself that Deadpool exists as it does. But, when we eagerly consume filmic spam like this, why would studios spend the time and money to create a feast? The title sequence which suggests the feature was made by "ass-hat" producers and an over-paid director is a truthful acknowledgement that many American movies are taking the piss out of gullible audiences who will watch anything. It is our own fault that we remain intellectually malnourished whilst Hollywood dines on the money we surrender to them.

   Our own faults and that, too, of Hugh Grant. "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck! Bugger," indeed.

Win a Mankind Grooming Box

   My Dad is a great man.

   He's a genuine hero - a retired fireman who was on duty at Valley Parade that awful day in 1985 - and has taught me pretty much everything I know about right and wrong. He's an old school man in all the right ways too; chivalrous, moustached and capable of wiring plugs. You could use his picture as an illustrated entry for "Dad" in a dictionary and, without words, people of all languages would understand the meaning simply by looking at the cheeky glint in his eyes and his preference for beige shorts.

   Yet, if there's one thing that sticks up my craw about him, its that I've never had the first clue what to get him come his birthday, Christmas or Father's Day. He's happy as Larry with his Sudoku puzzle books but, alas, I'm sure I've bought him these thrice yearly for at least the last half decade. Similarly, there's no vinyl record I could buy him which would improve his collection - in the 1980s he once threw out each of his Status Quo albums in a fit of apoplexy (at their decision to play in apartheid South Africa) but has since repurchased them as his stance has cooled.

   Then, as these things do, inspiration struck me as to what could be the perfect solution.

   Mankind, they of male grooming heroism, release regular boxes in which they curate a rather delightful selection of items from their range into a heavily discounted box. Their latest limited edition, for example, features £60 worth of products bundled together at a low, low cost of just £30: a huge reduction of the retail price.

   Included inside are the following items:
  •         Clinique for Men Face Scrub (100ml)
  •         Clinique for Men Moisturizing Lotion (15ml)
  •         Lab Series Maximum Comfort Shave Cream (100ml)
  •         Lab Series Multi Action Face Wash (30ml)
  •         Bumble & Bumble Surf  Travel Size Shampoo (60ml)
  •         Bumble & Bumble Surf  Travel Size Conditioner (60ml)

   At such an incredible price, and with so much variation in terms of items included, the Mankind box may well have served my Father's Day quandary (although, it must be said, IWOOT have also thrown a few ideas my way too).

   Whilst I will be posting a full review of the box over the weekend (please do keep your eyes peeled for that), I'm delighted to offer my readers the chance of winning one of their very own in the interim, as provided by Exante's competition embedded below.

   Do you know the one thing that's better than getting your Dad a box full of great gifts for Pappa's day for a fantastic price? Winning one for free, of course. (The competition closes on Father's Day so your present may be it bit late but... the best things are worth waiting for). And, if you're one of those smart arses who has already bought, wrapped and got everything in hand already - why not keep it for yourself if you win? Either way, its worth an entry!

   Have a look at the form below for details on how to enter and good luck!

WIN a Premium Mankind Box worth £60


   Dads. We've all seen them haven't we, those Dads?  The proud patriarchs. The big poppas. They're always Dadding around, aren't they, with their Sudoku books, their pork chops, their slippers and hubris?

   We all love Dads don't we? We love how they give us life itself and, with equal gusto and aplomb, offer mildly xenophobic, poorly researched opinions on the EU. And the dancing - oh the dancing! True, we may sometimes prefer it if they didn't blow the family's hard earned savings on red sports cars, a cliched cry of anguish in a hyper-capitalist world, but they're good other than that aren't they those Dads with their Dire Straits' record collections, their gadgets and their laughter which masks their languorous ennui?

   As you may note, I'm probably the world's biggest fan of fathers, a profound proponent of paterfamilias, an ardent admirer of antecedents. I'm so enthused, I even invented a portmanteau (or should that be "portmanteau"?)  to describe the arrested developmental state experienced by male progenitors: "Dadulthood". I sometimes also wonder why Michael McIntyre hasn't invited me onto his large team of inevitably underpaid writers.

   How happy I was, then, to be invited to IWOOT's celebration of all things "Rad Dad" over at Pie & Ale in Manchester - a smorgasbord event packed full of decor, games and gadgets aimed at fulfilling a fathers' innate love for manly fun. Fittingly, I made the journey to the other side of the Pennines with Dad-to-be Everyday Dan and Dad-of-two A Bloke's Eye View.

   IWOOT, for those not in the know, stands for I Want One Of Those - a more than suitable title for a store which stocks a multitude of mirthful merchandise. For those struggling for ideas on what to buy their Pappas on Father's Day, I'd suggest you could do much worse than checking out the brand's "Gifts For Dad" list. From beer containers to baseball oven gloves, key finders to Spaghetti Western spaghetti measurers, the collection features an unimaginable cavalcade of goods tailor-made to enrich your old man's life with whimsy.

   At the event itself, I was delighted to be greeted by an array of pleasing sights: a selection of cheeses, a charismatic dog, a menagerie of bloggers, beer pong, a controllable BB-8 figure, a display from the good folk at Mankind (of whom I'm an admirer) and, of course, a bar.

   Whilst I surprised myself with both my aptitude for, and competitiveness about, beer pong, what wasn't unexpected was how at home I felt in a Dad-friendly environment of toys and ale. It was almost like the 19th of June had come early for me. Alas, like all good Patriarchs, as the night went on I decided the most important thing to do would be to hit the bar with gusto - like a Dad at Christmas, I drank.

   Alas, like Christmas Day, the night ended all too soon with me high on spirits and also drunk on spirits too. A Rad Dad time was had by all and, thankfully, I need not experience year-round melancholy for another festivity of Fatherhood. With just two weeks to go until Father's Day, I'm looking forward to another similar celebration. I'd be delighted if my wee ones were kind enough to conspire to get me something from IWOOT but, failing that, I'll more than likely by myself a gift. Because I'm a Dad. And that's what Dads do.

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