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Chattering Class

Leicester City overkill

Yes we get it, it's lovely. But can we talk about something else now?

Online petitions

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The new Frozen

Artisan marshmallows


The word “artisan”


Discussing sourdough recipes

You buy it? Might as well wear a Burberry baseball cap

Getting the right shade of fake tan

“Just enough to stop my legs looking like something I dug up”

Travelling off-peak on rural branchline trains


Pointless gadgets made by start-ups

Usually no better than Innovations catalogue stuff

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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    class phwoar: extreme muesli

    There’s no doubt muesli is upping its game as 2016 gets under way. The industry has worked out a way to bring traditional muesli, which once defined us as a class, out of its crisis.  The stuff we used to fill our breakfast bowls with is loaded with gluten, carbs and dried-fruit sugars – which simply won’t do any more. So it’s a relief to see new and more acceptable pathways opening up.

    In fact, we have two options. We can stick to old-school carbs but make it worth our while by going super-indulgent: Waitrose offers flower-petal and coffee-infused varieties if that’s our solution. Alternatively, we can submit to the paleo revolution and experiment with the truly extreme: not just the courgette granola that is finding its way into MC homes, but RAWnola or Beetroot and Ginger Muesli from Primrose’s Kitchen. Thank goodness, we can chomp away self-righteously once more.


    collaborative consumption: how to offer sweet treats around the office

    It's lovely when a colleague brings treats to work, but you can't get away with only ever being on the receiving end: eventually you have to step up and bring something in yourself, and it can be quite a fraught experience. You need to approach it strategically, otherwise you will a) make everyone uncomfortable and b) miss out on any of the treats yourself. Here are three ways to go about this to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible:

    1. Leave your biscuits or whatever – and make sure it's a plentiful supply – on your desk. Send an email to all saying people should come and help themselves. Include a fact about where the treats came from (eg. put 'Italian holiday biscuits' in the subject line) – this will give people a nice talking point for when they come over. Of course this might not work and only about three people will come over because people don't like to look greedy and some don't enjoy talking to others; in which case, you could adapt this method and email everyone saying you've left the chocolates or cake or whatever in the staff kitchen. Or, try method 2:
    2. Pass the treats to the person next to you and tell them to pass them around. There will be people who haven't paid any attention to your email and mutterings of 'oh how nice, who are these from, what are these in aid of?' will be heard. Try not to seek glory or validation at this point. Be cool. If you are worried that the treats will get stuck and not everyone will get one – including you – you might take greater control by following method 3:
    3. Actually walk around the office and deliver treats or slices of cake to people in person. It will take quite a while to get round everyone so make sure you have time. If you can do this and make a bit of small talk and make sure the treats are evenly distributed, you should feel very proud: this really is the pinnacle of achievement in social interaction.

    Flickr: massdistraction


    Lunch at work, part 2: the lunch debrief

    “What did you go for in the end?” people ask when you're tucking in to whatever you've brought back from your “Pret run”. It's a strange part of having lunch at work, this debrief that so many of us seem to enjoy or, more probably, feel too awkward not to engage with. When people eat at their desks it seems like you have to acknowledge it in some way, make a little bit of small talk around it. Especially if you've all been caught up in the pre-lunchtime chat about what you're going to have (more on this, here). It would feel rude and unsatisfying not to follow up.

    The debrief session seeks to establish answers to three questions. 1) What did you get? 2) Is it nice? 3) Should someone else get that for their own lunch (either right now, or tomorrow)? There might also be questions about what the weather is doing outside and if it was busy out there.

    The lunch debrief is the end of a little journey we go on with our colleagues each day. We keep each other company as we consider our food options, make a decision, and then evaluate our choice and help others in their own decisions. It might be mundane, and infuriating at times, but it's rather nice.

    Flickr: Ambernectar 13


    class phwoar: almond milk

    Is there anything MCs love more than loudly and anxiously giving things up? That's basically what defines our behaviour at this time of year.  And dairy is often top of the list. But soya milk has never quite been an acceptable substitute. It sounds a bit basic and studenty – just a bit too 1970s healthfood shop. Of course it does the job if you’ve got a serious intolerance, but doesn’t really inspire if you’re doing a bit of non-dairy dabbling.

    So MCs are giving a warm welcome to almond milk, which froths up beautifully for a latte and generally sounds so much more exotic. Artisan coffee shops are stocking up on it too – ask your barista. 


    Lunch at work, part 1: the pre-lunchtime discussion

    It would seem it's impossible to have lunch during the working day without there being some sort of chit-chat about it. Everywhere I've worked there's been an increase in chatter from about 12 noon, in the more extreme cases as early as 11.30am, as people begin pondering their lunch options.

    The comments can be incredibly tedious and detailed, as people go through their options, hopes and justifications. They think they'll get a hot wrap, it's one of those days, they hope Pret's doing the chicken one... That said, yesterday they had quite bad heartburn all afternoon and were really sleepy so maybe actually hot food is not a great plan in the middle of the day, maybe a salad...

    And as the morning marches on the chat gets less theoretical and more strategic: they ask around to find out who's been out, has anyone been to Pret, what's the soup today, is it raining? The culmination of all this is they either finally head out at about 1.30pm to get their lunch, or they wait until someone else looks like they're heading out and cheekily ask them to pick them up a burrito because they just can't get away from their desk. It's a relief when they finally have something to stuff their face with and stop talking.

    Flickr: Ambernectar 13