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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

“’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?

Latest Comments
The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    Thursday
    Mar172011

    Chattering Class

    Reassessing Jim Davidson

    Why give him the oxygen of publicity?

    Tweeting about Japan

    Writing ‘sad face’ emoticon is not the same as a Red Cross donation

    Me-easter Eggs

    Any know the correct eggs-for-family/ eggs-for-self ratio?

    ‘Thanks in advance’ sign-offs

    Most grating aspect of the round-robin work email

    Emails starting ‘Hey [Your name]’

    Even worse than ‘Thanks in advance’

    ASDA launches singles site

    Talk about a cheap date

    Our ‘Third World Roads’

    Potholes.co.uk says UK roads 39 percent worse than 2009. Who knew there was a potholes.co.uk?

    Lloyds Bank

    Now charging £5 fines every time you go overdrawn, even with a pre-arranged overdraft. So what’s the point?

    Poetry chosen to inspire the London 2012 athletes

    You don’t get that at The Super Bowl

    Kelly Osbourne

    Presenting something called Fashion Police, apparently. The nerve of the girl

    Thursday
    Mar172011

    MIDDLE CLASS PORN – WHY THE IDEAL HOME EXHIBITION REMAINS AN ESSENTIAL STAPLE IN 2011

    The Ideal Home Show is responsible for launching the microwave (1947 since you ask), and (in the 1950s) the first fitted kitchen. That was back in the days when the Queen used to come. This year the Home of the Future contained inhalable vitamins (with the dubious name of Le Whif), taps that dispense fizzy water, scales that tweet your weight, and a bath with built in tv and fridge.
     
    Otherwise the show remains a reassuringly familiar (I mean, innovative products are great, but we wouldn’t want our homes to be too radical would we?). The star attraction, the Show Homes, are Victorian (the Coronation Street House), Georgian vernacular (The Prince’s Foundation house) and Scandinavian log kit (the Open Plan Living house). Nothing by Zaha Hadid then.

    There’s plenty of middle class porn to be had – Little Greene paints, locally made chorizo from Bath Pig, brightly coloured garden cushions, garra rufa fish pedicures at £10 a nibble… and a certain amount of horror – gaudy new grandfather clocks (surely any self-respecting middle classer will have either inherited their grandfather clock or picked it up form that nice antique dealer in the Suffolk village where they have their holiday house), ornate ceramic candlesticks (all handmade! the stallholder chirps, as if this somehow gives them artisanal status); outdoor hot tubs larger than the average London living room; and chunky marble and chrome furniture quite similar to some sold in the shop at the top of the Walworth Road.
     
    Sadly, the homewares demos for which Ideal Home was once famed (back when women took housework seriously) are now relegated to the darkest recesses of Earls Court. In a corner of the Ideal Home Show that time and TV makeover shows forgot, regional door-to-door sales men (and the occasionally woman) cling to the hope that someone might buy one of their high performance mops, plastic sushi makers, miracle cleaning agents, or labour-saving salad choppers. If someone had been demonstrating a SodaStream, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

    It’s easy to loose a whole day wandering the aisles, and not just because it takes so long to find the escalator to the upper level and then back down. But there’s only so many times in a day that you can hear the phrase ‘a carpet really dresses a house’ or ‘the kitchen is the heart of the home’ without wanting to drown Linda Barker in a vat of muted-hue lead-free paint or smother her with own scatter cushions. I probably exited just in time.

     

    Thursday
    Mar172011

    Can A Man Be Too Old For A Hoodie?

    Flickr: Kevin Lawver
    I don’t think anyone would ever think to describe me, in witheringly pejorative, little England tones, as a “hoodie”. As a father of two in my mid forties I am too old to be considered a danger at shopping centres and amusement arcades and I don’t need a hug from David Cameron either. 
     
    But guess what? I’ve just had a look through my sweater drawer and was rather surprised to discover that I owned at least four of these much-maligned garments. Brown, blue, grey and dark red. All with zips up the front, manufactured by US garb merchants such as Gildan, Fruit of the Loom and Champion. Not a logo, gang tag or gothic scrawl on any of them.  
     
    They get worn under coats and jackets, their thick fleecy cotton construction providing insulation as folded mass of un-erected hood cloth gives warmth to my neck whilst on the bike. I feel preppy, Ivy league-ish in my hoodies, fooling myself that the streets of Paddington and Notting Hill are actually the leafy campuses of Harvard and Princeton. I like the fact that the Italian Stallion wore one when he made that glorious sprint up those stone steps in the Rocky movie.
     
    I reckon that now that all the fuss has died down, hoodies should be allowed to revert to their original status as a properly classless garment.  First made by heritage sportswear label Champion for labourers to wear in the frozen warehouses of New York, hooded sweatshirts went on to be produced for American football and track athletes…who would lend theirs to their girlfriends as trophies turning this once practical bit of kit into loosely fitting casual wear.  So, really, this nasty hoody thing should be dismissed as a blip.
     
    I think an older man wearing a hoody all comes down to intent and style. Yes, a man should probably give up his hoody habit after, say 25 years old, but he can re-acquire it at forty, and then for the rest of his life, knowing that he isn’t scaring anyone anymore.  
     
    With me, the hood itself rarely goes up, so I’m never adopting the sinister and intimidating “cobra” stance which gives pensioners and corner shop owners the collywobbles. I don’t do that weird thing of going all off-duty-Vegas-legend with them – a pristine white Versace hoody with gold diamante details is very aging…or very “Peter Andre” depending on which way you look at it. 
     
    In my hoodies – all of which have a distinctly un-hip-hop, un-teenage snug fit (oversized on middle aged middle class people is, as always, totally unacceptable) I look benign and cosy not scary and threatening. I’ll carry on wearing them, without prejudice, until they go out of fashion. 
    Wednesday
    Mar162011

    A LIFE LESS CATCH UP

    Last night as I busily absorbed last week’s Dream School, so I could watch it tonight ‘real time’ and participate in the office chat tomorrow it struck me that bar the benefit of zero adverts, I wasn’t quite enjoying it as much as I would have had I known it was ‘live’. In fact I wasn’t enjoying it at all. Basically I was watching it to feel like I had caught up, and to feel ready to talk about it the next morning at work, and that made it feel like a chore.

    I enjoyed the little bits that showed “what a decent guy that Rankin is” (half interesting to others six days ago, now redundant as a conversation piece), but generally felt that I just wanted to get through it so I could go to bed, safe in the knowledge that I was ready for Jamie today.
     
    I wouldn’t mind but a few weekends ago I spent the entire weekend sucking up six episodes of Episodes so I could join everyone for the finale, in the vain hope that I could make a contribution to the next day’s chit-chat. I’m actually beginning to feel like my entire life has become like a modern version of Mike Reid’s dreadful Runaround programme, jumping around in a big pack hoping you’ve caught the right show. Except that I’m 42 years old.
     
     So that’s it – I’m coming off the hamster wheel, and all attempts to be ‘relevant’. People can now catch up with me should they wish. Oh yes, I’m going to be living life live from now on. But just before I do, I’ve just been told last nights Lilly Allen’s Riches to Rags was “un-missable”.

    Tuesday
    Mar152011

    BRITS FAVOURITE PASTIME AT WORK REVEALED 

    The internet has given us many wonderful things; an ever expanding library of knowledge, available to all; the opportunity to connect with fellow humans, all over the world, instantly; the means to rise up against oppressors & overcome them; but most importantly the chance to shop with an ease hitherto unimaginable.
     
    No need to find a space to park the Mini - which even with a residents’ permit is frankly a nightmare - no need to wrestle with loads of bags on the 52, no need to deal with the squillions of people in Selfridges. No need to skive off work.
     
    It seemed the perfect solution, until the fruits of my all-too-easy e-commerce experiences started arriving at work. It had never occurred to me that previously, shopping was essentially a private pursuit, and mercifully so. Can there be greater ignominy than the guys from despatch bringing 47 parcels to your office in a week? Only the creeping sense of dread you feel when you realise others not only see how shallow you are, but also imagine you are either well paid – horrors! - or indebted to Barclaycard – horrors!
     
    Last week, I took delivery of no less than 4 cardigans from All Saints, some leather trousers from theOutnet (mitigation: they were Balmain, at 70% off), 2 pairs of leather shorts from ASOS (leather again? Afraid so), and a mincer attachment for my Kenwood Chef from John Lewis (I told you I was middle class). It got so bad that one of my colleagues actually came right out and asked where I get the money for it all. Just describing it has sent shivers down my spine. So I am resolved: never again. Ok, never again after today’s parcel, just a tiny, essential leather jacket from the All Saints sale. Well I did send all that stuff from last week back. Well, most of it.
     
    Oh, the shame!