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The Book

Out now at Amazon | Waterstones

Middle Class Handbook on Twitter
Chattering Class

Prince Harry

Even republicans approve, surely?

Microwaving tea

Recommended by scientists, apparently. Disgusting

No televised election debates

Disappointing; we were rather looking forward to May vs The Sturge

Broadchurch

Olivia Coleman = nailed-on Future National Treasure

Spring Bank holidays

Too close together! Very bad!

Bin-mageddon

“I queued for THREE BLOODY HOURS at B&Q for a new recycling bin! The entire town’s in CHAOS”

S-Town

To be listened to whole on a long journey for maximum effect

Using a proper paper map

Strangely satisfying

The “Flash” Flash ad

It’s back! Possibly the best ever singing dog in an advert ever

Crap tacos

Reheated, with too much chilli: middle-class kebabs, basically

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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    Monday
    Apr182011

    Things that pass for excitement if you work from home - Part #1

    The post arriving

    The post arriving and it being something too big to fit through the letterbox

    Deliberately ordering something on Amazon so that you’ll get a delivery in a few days time

    That invoice you’ve been chasing for months finally being paid

    A new café opening in the neighbourhood

    Finding out the new café has free wifi

    The children gong back to school after the holidays

    Your partner going back to work after the weekend

    Someone posting something genuinely interesting/useful on Twitter

    Sunday
    Apr172011

    Letter from America #5: The N.R.A. is calling

    Flcikr: Eric__I_E
    This week the National Rifle Association called me. I pointed out to them that I’m not a member and I don’t (yet) own a gun, but they didn’t seem to mind. The N.R.A. representative, who spoke quickly and not quite clearly, told me that they were polling people about my Second Amendment rights (that would be the one about bearing arms). He played me a message from the N.R.A. president, who fired off a few points about how Washington planned to take away my rights and that if they did then the 4 million members of the N.R.A. (gosh, that’s enough for a private army) would have something to say about it. Then at last, the poll: “Do you think that Washington should protect your Second Amendment rights?” Now that’s what I call a leading question.
     
    I told him not to worry, that I thought his Second Amendment rights were safe with Washington, but thanked him for calling anyway, and put the phone down quickly.
     
    I’d been push-polled – not polled exactly, because the N.R.A. aren’t interested in my response or anyone else’s, the question is the message. Push polling is used all the time here by all political parties and interest groups – we’ve been called by the National Organisation for Marriage, the McCain Campaign, even Hilary Clinton.
     
    These are the rare moments when I get to appreciate caller ID, although I must admit, when Hilary called I thought for a second that I would be speaking with the former first lady, not a recorded robo-call. In these situations, caller ID gives me an extra second to prepare an appropriate response and I couldn’t live without it. As Charlton Heston might have said “I’ll give you my Caller ID when you take it, …from my cold dead hands!”

     

    Friday
    Apr152011

    Men and their Mojitos - a waitress reveals a new side to modern men

    Flickr: janineomg
    When taking out drinks to a table, I remember the days I could simply assume the pint was for the man and the small glass of white was for the woman. I could set them down with a smile and not have to actually speak. The same applied to food - who the steak was for and where the plate of steamed fish was going could be guessed; nine times out of ten I’d be right. But all that is out of the window for waitresses now, gender based assumption is no longer safe. I offended some guy recently by placing his Campari and soda automatically in front of his wife. My faux pas was washed over as she made some joke. We all laughed, but when I looked closely, his eyes were shooting daggers at me, clearly appalled. Metrosexualism has very much filtered into menu and ordering patterns. Instead of sticking to the Stella, it seems men are finally comfortable with experimenting in restaurants and bars, and not just with their girlfriends. Gin and tonics, Rose spritzers, Malibu and pineapple, it seems to be about taste for them now, rather than consumption. Drinks dressed in paraphernalia aren’t a no-no for men anymore, and I’ve noticed cocktails becoming quite sought after where I work. Apparently Mojitos with the lads is an acceptable after-work activity amongst businessmen. 
     
    I’m discovering, slowly hovering with my tray at the table, I’ve got to ask what is going where. I hope this ‘fashion’ stops soon, I can’t read people anymore and it’s thrown my whole system. 
    Friday
    Apr152011

    THE FRIDAY QUESTION: CAN FILM MUSIC BE CLASSIFIED AS CLASSICAL MUSIC? 

    Gramophone Magazine, ‘the world’s authority on classical music since 1923’, has dedicated a recent issue to film music. There’s not much in its guide that’s likely to be a revelation to anyone in possession of even a fleeting interest in music and a pair of their own ears. The usual suspects are all present and correct – John Barry, Ennio Morricone (in a profile written by Hans Zimmer, of The Lion King fame!) and a handful of familiar French film soundtracks. But the venerable publication also poses what’s presumably a contentious question for its readership: can film music be classified as classical music?

    I don’t know about you, but like lots of middle-class people, film music has been serving the same purpose as classical music in my CD collection for as long as I’ve had a CD collection. Instrumental music that signifies the listener (me) can cope with something more cultured than Coldplay or Deadmau5, but where you’re under no obligation to know your concertos from your symphonies. Filed after ‘Z’ in my alphabetised CD library, my OST collection has grown to a reasonably impressive two-and-a-half-shelves worth over the years. The roots of my collecting go back to the days of being a slightly pretentious student. Not pretentious enough to attempt some Prokofiev or Mahler but pretentious enough to know that the soundtrack to 37°2 Le Matin (i.e Betty Blue) and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly looked good in the rack alongside The Queen Is Dead and Lloyd Cole. The Best Of Michael Nyman also enjoyed its airings in the Halls Of Residence – mainly because it reminded one of the fruity Peter Greenaway films he used to soundtrack. Then there was the girlfriend who used to use Vangelis’ Blade Runner as, oh dear, ‘mood music’.

    The OST collection has swelled as the disposable income has grown. Included therein are The Last Waltz (on boxset, natch). Pulp Fiction (from when Tarantino’s soundtracks commanded as much attention as his films). Koyaanisquatski (because it’s Philip Glass). The Italian Job and Get Carter (because they star Michael Caine). And The Wicker Man (obviously). Then there’s the real connoiseurish stuff: The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg for its kitsch appeal and Vampyros Lesbos: Sexadelic Dance Party, a collection of 1970s European ‘horotica’ soundtracks, because of its cool cover and the fact it’s available on import only.

    Do I ever listen to this stuff? Not really. But then a music collection isn’t just for listening to. None of my dinner party guests are going to get a conversation started based on Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1/ 3S/ C. I mean have you seen the cover art to most classical CDs? It’s really boring. There’s not a gun or a 1960s Mini or a lesbian vampire in sight. 

     

    Thursday
    Apr142011

    Guide to wearing sunglasses in April without looking like a twat

    It’s a common dilemma at this time in the year: it’s a sunny day but it’s still nippy out. Do you wear sunglasses and risk looking like a Dulwich Mum/media twat/Primrose Hill celeb pretending they don’t want to be recognised? Or risk frying your retinas?

    Brief and totally unscientific research in one of South London’s bourgeois enclaves this weekend produced the following:

    Sitting at a pavement table outside a cafe – yes. Almost compulsory we’d say. Makes you look at ease with your cosmopolitan lifestyle. Accessorise with small dog. Also avoids premature frownies from too much squinting.

    Walking down the street (sunny side) – ok as long as street consistently sunny, not ducking in and out of shade. Sunnies must be removed when stopping to greet a friend.

    Walking down the street (shady side) – no, and not top of head. Tuck into pocket or cross the road.

    With Bermuda shorts and deck shoes, or a strappy dress – no. for God’s sake, it’s still only April.

    With coat (preferably puffy jacket) and scarf – good for working a sort of après ski or Rome in January look. Especially if you are sitting outside a café and have a small dog at your feet.

    An amendment is this rule is no hats, or more specifically tweed caps.

    Oversized quiff, 50s dress, or other retro styling – yes, as long as glasses match period

    Big sunglasses with conspicuous logos (Chanel, Dior, Gucci) – can be worn in any situation, indoor or out, at any time of year. Providing you are a rich expat or don’t mind being mistaken for one.

    On the school run – only if you drive a people mover or a Mini (probably to an independent prep school) and only if you don’t mind people thinking you do.