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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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    Tuesday
    Jan262016

    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

    Saturday
    Jan232016

    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. 

    Wednesday
    Jan202016

    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

    Sunday
    Jan172016

    Chattering class: quibbles and queries

    TV shows on dieting

    Ugh, enough now! Oh alright, just one more...

    People leaning forward in train seats

    Annoying and intrusive

    Metcalfe's Skinny popcorn

    Favourite niche snack about to go mainstream

    Tax returns

    Absolutely love sharing misery on Twitter

    Books received for Christmas

    No idea how/when to get through the stack

    Doddle

    Still not convinced it's a doddle

    Dry January

    Would be easier if people didn't stop talking about it

    People who breathe really loudly in yoga and pilates classes

    Do please shut up

    Kale and spinach

    Why do they come in such huge bags?

    A newly filled fruit bowl

    As satisfying as fresh bed sheets

    Thursday
    Jan142016

    Middle-class office-speak: 'I'll raise it in the 3.30'

    The word 'meeting' is over, it would seem. I'm lucky enough not to have had to go to many meetings in my career. But everywhere I've worked I've heard people around me talking about them – arranging them, fretting about what to say in them, then fretting about what was said and moaning about how pointless and/or long they were. And these days they tend to refer to them just by the time at which they are held: 'David was saying in the 11...', 'I'll raise it in the 3.30'.

    I quite like this format in its brevity and plainness. Everyone understands that a meeting is being talked about; the word doesn't need saying and nor does the agenda need referring to. The world of work has come to realise that saying 'I'll bring it to the resource strategy meeting' is pointless because everyone knows meetings never stick to their agenda and usually fail to achieve anything. So you may as well just be honest about it being nothing more than some people sitting down in a room at a certain time with the aim of feeling a bit more useful by talking about some stuff.

    It's the sort of office speak that's actually an improvement on communication at work – a rare thing indeed.