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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

“’Slaw”

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

Frozen-themed children’s parties

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Texts

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

Capital

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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    Tuesday
    Aug192014

    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
    Monday
    Jul212014

    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. 

    Thursday
    Jul032014

    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
    Thursday
    May012014

    More small shop awkwardness  

    While we’d be the first to champion small independent shops, there are times when their enforced intimacy can cause the polite middle class person to experience mild discomfort.

    Take for example when you go in to find a specific item and you can clearly see that they don’t have said item, but feel compelled to ask anyway. Probably because they’ve been friendly and/or desperate for a sale and asked, ‘Are you looking for anything in particular?’ Now, the body language of someone ‘looking for something in particular’ (purposeful) is very different from that of someone who is ‘just browsing’ (casual feigned interest), so the shopkeeper’s not going to be fooled. Or maybe you ask because you don’t want to seem the sort of person who strides in to a shop and strides straight out again. You feel compelled to make it clear that you haven’t been shoplifting before people start looking at you weirdly.

    Worse is when the shop has said item clearly on view, but you don’t like any of the varieties of said item that they stock. You can hardly ask, ‘Do you have any item X, but not the rubbish and rather ugly ones you have on the shelf?’ 

    And if they helpfully go into their storeroom, rummage around for a while, cross check stock on their computer and perhaps risk a minor injury by clambering up a rickety step ladder, then eventually emerge with the item you asked for, how uncomfortable are you going to feel when you have to reject it to their face because it’s not up to your own high standards? How long can you gabble away making up apologetic excuses as to why it’s not quite right? 

    Or are you going to feel so embarrassed it’ll be easier just to buy it?

    Flickr: chocobos
    Wednesday
    Apr302014

    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

    “’Slaw”

    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

    Texts

    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

    Capital

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