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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


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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    Letter From America#1 What Middle Class Women In New York Really Wear

    America may be the land of liberty, with a long tradition of individualism, but it's a fact apparently lost on the middle class women of Manhattan.  After all, you didn't really think anyone dressed like Carrie Bradshaw, did you (other than the equally annoying Sarah Jessica Parker, of course?). Quite the reverse; the women of Manhattan tend not to wear shocking pink tutus, acid orange jackets (even if it was a Chanel) nor gold necklaces that look as if bought from a hawker on a street corner. No, it's a limited palette, with black predominating.  As it so happens, it's the most slimming hue of all. And middle class New Yorkers take care of their bodies; countless hours are spent at the gym (and often, not a few with a plastic surgeon) to have the requisite slim, toned thighs and high behind to show off the ubiquitous dark trousers or jeans.  A jacket over a jersey and a large lightweight woolen scarf and flat boots (preferably not UGG) complete the look. You're set, as they say here. No light wash skin-tight bootcut jeans - straining at every seam - no back pockets embroidered with enough metallic thread to choke a horse. Certainly no tracksuits, nor trainers.  Middle class New Yorkers of both sexes tend to opt for exercises that obviate any need for trainers, which without the class below would be lost. Cycling, Pilates, yoga, and swimming maintain those slender thighs and taut buttocks.
    The British tend to think there is little social stratification in America but the reverse is true; few cities have ever been as snobbish as Boston. And while a BBQ accent (the 'outer boroughs' of Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens) automatically defines one as working class, Americans strongly tend to judge one another at first glance.  And it is first glance; the results of one study indicated that people judge one another within seven seconds. Your clothes end up doing the talking for you, bringing to mind the old saying, "good clothes open all doors."  If not what they should be, doors may very well slam in your face.  So middle class women wear what is essentially a seasonal uniform; after all, conventionality is a thoroughly middle class trait.  Only an aristocrat such as Daphne Guinness - she has no counterpart, American or otherwise - who splits her time between London and New York - or other artists can get away with wearing whatever they please, never flinching from wearing beautiful clothes that may, horror or horrors, make the wearer stand out. There is little tolerance for true individuality in America. And the middle class women in Manhattan, in common with her British counterpart, daring not risk rejection, resorts to the safety of her uniform and the conventionality it earns her.

    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’ says UK roads 39 percent worse than 2009. Who knew there was a

    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



    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.



    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. 


    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”.