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The Book

Out now at Amazon | Waterstones

Middle Class Handbook on Twitter
Chattering Class

Putting chocolate in the fridge

Always pleasing

Chelsea Flower Show

Lovely as ever, but MC opinion divided about the WW1 garden

The Cbeebies Prom

Who needs Glastonbury?

Hot Punch Nike Frees

When did these become obligatory for MC school-run mums


Can we stop this, please? It’s “Coleslaw”. Thank you.

Frozen-themed children’s parties

An MC epidemic: snow-effect cake decorations now sold out across the internet


Somehow more appealing than a DM

TNT delivery people

Rubbish service, nice bikes

Tyrion Lanister’s trial speech

A great moment from a great MC hero


Very interesting but does anyone really know how to pronounce Piketty?

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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    Emergency etiquette guide: How to react when undergoing the Ice Bucket Challenge

    By now your Facebook timeline will have been groaning with videos of people doing the ice bucket challenge, and you may well be thoroughly fed up with them. However, if you haven’t already done it yourself you may still be called upon to do so, and if you don’t want to look like a killjoy, you will be obliged to go through the somewhat over-familiar ritual. This will leave you with a question: how to react when the icy water hits you, and you stand wet and soaking for the world – or at least the bit of the world that uses Facebook – to see. People’s reactions tend to divide along certain lines, and so far we have noted the following, take your pick:

    The Shrieker

    Screams loudly, then stands quivering as if they’re in a horror film and have just been attacked by the villain. Finally runs off, cursing person who nominated them.

    The In-Shocker

    Stands rigid and silent for so long that it appears they have suffered some sort of permanent injury. May repeat one word or phrase over and over, e.g. “So cold, so cold, so cold.” Slightly worrying.

    The Stoic

    Shows no sign of alarm or distress then walks calmly away. Tends to wear fancy dress and/or be doing something amusing, e.g. drinking gin and tonic, reading a book.

    The Customiser

    Takes the idea and adapts it to a more extreme version, e.g. jumping in bath of ice, having ice cubes tipped over self. Reaction usually in same ball park as Shrieker, as effect is all.

    The Jumper

    Light shouting, with an extreme physical reaction which may involve jumping or dancing around on the patio before running off camera to get warm. Occasionally trips on slippery floor, which can be alarming.

    Flickr: Anthony Quintano

    Introducing Mrs Bore d’Eaux: lover of the French exception

    We’ve met Bore d’Eaux – now it’s time to introduce his female counterpart. Mrs Bore d’Eaux is his equal in revering French-ness, to the extent that once she’s in France, she’ll do all kinds of things she’d never consider at home – because ‘it’s part of the culture’.

    Back in Clapham, for instance, she religiously abstains from wheat and dairy, but both become her daily staples on holiday in the Dordogne, where she’ll even begin the day with a croissant. All these foods undergo a mysterious transformation in her eyes when bathed in the aura of French-ness – as if, through them, she can imbibe the glamour of France itself. At home, she’d never dream of letting her kids drink fizzy pop, but in France, she buys them Orangina by the litre – it’s healthier, of course, because it’s French. She’ll even let them have Nutella tartines for breakfast, when at home, she blames the obesity crisis on non-MC kids ‘eating chocolate first thing’. But if it’s part of French culture – like smoking and adultery – it’s different, naturellement.

    How to spot Mrs Bore d’Eaux:

    • Bookshelves stacked with Francophile self-help books such as French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Children Don’t Throw Food.
    • Serves diluted wine to her six-year-old daughter.
    • Boasts about how she owns one good Hermes scarf rather than a thousand from Primark.
    • Sings along to Carla Bruni in the car.

    Flickr: einalem 


    Meet Bore D’eaux: King vacances en France

    Alex Bore D’Eaux may be as mc-British as it gets – ex-minor public school, plays rugby, works in financial services – but his true amour is France. From Spring onwards he lives for the moment when he loads the wife and their two children into the Audi estate and heads off for the Midi or Sud-Ouest.

    They’ve tried a few places over the years, but now tend to stay at the same gite, where they know the owner and locals (and the local wines!!!) really well. Once there he goes native, cycling up to the café for breakfast in the morning, living on bread and cheese, visiting the vineyards and soaking up as much of the culture as he can. He’s popular and gregarious – all the more so over there – but, get him on his pet subject – France, obviously – and he can, well, go on a bit.

    Ask if it’s better to fly or drive, and he’ll tell you not only why you should drive, but also everything about the motorway system, and the relative merits of the Eurostar versus the St Malo ferry. Mention the wine, and he’ll whip out his Kindle to show you every local mention in Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book. Ask about the local area, and he’ll describe every single local point of interest, with place names all pronounced in perfect French, naturellement, and a bit of history thrown in.

    His wife Sophie humours him, and the kids gnaw their way through crusty baguettes dreaming of the pizza the other kids get. Alex meanwhile imagines himself selling up and moving out in few years time, because the French just seem to have life sorted out better than we do. It would be wonderful, of course, but the only question would be – who would he have to tell about it?

    How to spot Bore D’Eaux

    • Lucky Breton sweater, deck shoes, mirrored shades as “good for driving”
    • Has Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Guide on his Kindle
    • Back of car stacked with wine on return to England, Liber-t tag attached to windscreen
    • Speaks excellent restaurant French
    • Large collection of yellow Michelin road maps
    • Drinks “33” Export when not quaffing wines. Also knows about unusual local alcoholic drinks. Wishes he liked Pernod.
    • Passionately believes Britain has got its priorities all wrong, and quality of live could be doubled at a stroke if lunches lasted two hours and shops opened till 7pm
    • Obsessed by cheese
    Flickr: Simon Woolf

    The Most MC Baby Playmat Ever

    Babies, even the most middle-class ones, aren’t known for their love of subtle, natural colours and authentic materials. So how can MC parents stop the reclaimed floorboards of their home from being deluged with psychedelic Fisher-Price plastic?

    Help comes in the form of the Jojo Maman Bébé Treetop Friends baby playmat. Possibly the most MC baby playmat ever, it comes in a colour scheme that gives the MC baby just enough brightness without disturbing the tasteful tones prevailing in the rest of its home.

    The playmat also provides a good first lesson in MC passions and pursuits. It features a British woodland, complete with owl, squirrel and songbird: none of the exotic creatures and outlandish settings – underwater worlds, safaris - seen in more tacky equivalents. There’s even a cuddly apple, getting the ‘eat local and seasonal’ message across without delay.

    But its sound effects provide the icing on the MC cake. Squeeze the songbird and you get the kind of soundtrack you might hear in a spa: flowing water, real birdsong. Give the owl a push and you’ll hear a peal of resonant bells more suited to a Tibetan temple than a 0-12 months playmat. It’s a world away from the tinny tinkle of the usual baby toy: a huge relief for MC sensibilities. 


    How to be MC: over-do your thank-yous

    It’s a real challenge besetting the middle classes: how to say thank you in a measured, proportionate way. The general habit is to resort to expressions of gratitude that greatly exceed, in their effusiveness, the importance of the transaction involved.

    For example, when being dropped off by a taxi driver, an MC passenger may say:  “That’s absolutely brilliant, thanks ever so much.”

    When receiving small change from the purchase of a chocolate bar: “Lovely, that’s great, thanks.”

    On being made a cup of tea by a colleague: “Fantastic, you’re a superstar.”

    On being shown to a table in a restaurant: “Wonderful, perfect, thank you.”

    Worryingly, the currency of gratitude has been inflated to the extent that a simple ‘thanks’ might now seem churlish or even rude. It has to be, at the very least, ‘thanks SO much’, or ‘thanks ever so much’ (an interesting renaissance of a ‘retro’ phrase). Or, in emails: big thanks, huge thanks, or even thanks enormously.

    It’s hard to know where this escalation can now go. Maybe our only solution is a conscious deflation of the currency of thanks – that might be something to be infinitely grateful for.

    Flickr: Orin Zebest