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The Book

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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

Please sign our online petition to have them banned

Zootopia

The new Frozen

Artisan marshmallows

Unconvincing

The word “artisan”

Overused

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

Lovely

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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    Friday
    Dec182015

    Joyeux Noël, Mr Bore d’Eaux

    Christmas chez Bore d’Eaux involves peculiarities you won’t find in other households. For instance, Mr Bore d’Eaux is convinced that British culture places too much emphasis on Christmas Day itself – which turns into a "bit of a binge", as he sniffily puts it.

    He’s all for what the French do instead: a big dinner on Christmas Eve to open the celebrations. So, in fact, he ends up with two binges instead of one, but he’s quite happy with that.

    What you won’t find at any point chez Bore d’Eaux is turkey: too American for their tastes. For them only goose, or even capon, has the kind of authentic French rural feel they’re going for with their festivities.

    On Christmas Eve, it will be foie gras, of course. If any of the guests gets squeamish about the prospect, Mr Bore d’Eaux will remind them that the French don’t get "sentimental" about animals the way the British do. Over there, they’re so much more in tune with rural realities, of course.

    Flickr: Jérémy Couture

    Wednesday
    Dec162015

    'We brought this back from Peru': boasting goes baubles

    The days of the simple, traditional tree covered in your usual old multipack decorations are absolutely over. You may not yet have gone the whole hipster hog and started stacking up pieces of wood in the shape of a tree, but most of us are these days doing something edgier than the standard bauble-drenched spruce. The modern middle class Christmas tree is attractively sparse – verging on austere – in style, carrying very few ornaments, each one carefully, artfully placed for illumination.

    And, crucially, there will be hardly any duplication: most of the ornaments will have been bought or acquired individually, brought back from obscure locations and one-off markets, or donated by interesting associates. MCs will not want this to go unnoticed, and will proudly regale their house guests with the story of each bauble. Whether “brought back from Peru”, "given as a gift from our American cousins”, or “made by Archie in his woodwork class”, each one contributes to the festive-ish whole effect and it's rather impressive indeed.

    Where do we go next with this, though, you might wonder. At MCH we can't help thinking the hipster tree with painfully unique decorations may soon seem tired and too tortured. MCs are excellent at pushing an idea as far as it will go, then recognising a limit has been reached and retreating to a more basic, more fun version. The days of the traditional tree may not be over after all. We'd wager that in a year or so MCs will not sniff at M&S gold and red baubles and a flash of tinsel. And how we'll relish the joyful simplicity of it all.

    Sunday
    Dec132015

    Chattering class: this week's ups and downs

    Nigella's halloumi and salad recipe

    She's let us - and herself - down

    People on Facebook doing "'like' if you remember Woolworths"

    It's too soon for this nostalgia, says @kloob. Quite right

    Worrying about what container to use for your work packed lunch

    Old Carte D'Or tubs are not OK

    Christmas lunch in pie form, as witnessed by @ginandcrumpets

    Not sure about this. Not sure at all

    House of Fraser's Christmas ad

    A bit too out there for our liking

    Boomf personalised marshmallows

    Awful

    Personalised children's books

    Lovely

    Calling them 'roasties'

    Tiresome, especially in gastropubs. Jamie Oliver lingo is very old hat

    Being asked if you want your panini grilled

    Well, yes, obviously! 

    Christmas decorations on exterior of homes

    Lights: a few are OK. Flashing lights: no

    Friday
    Dec112015

    Art of hot desking: being seen to be displeased by a dirty mouse

    Having to sit at a different desk every day or for a few weeks at a time is increasingly normal in offices, as the management tries to facilitate flexible working and foster more creative environments, etc etc. But, the one thing nobody talks about amid all the guff about dynamic workspaces is the business of having to deal with someone else's filth.

    If you have your own keyboard and mouse at the same work station every day you can relax in the knowledge that it's only your own questionable sticky blotches on the mouse and only your own splashes of wasabi sauce smearing the space bar. But if you're having to jump on to any old desk every day your first five minutes at work will be spent inspecting those smears and addressing the situation with antibacterial wipes.

    And we love being self-righteous about it, don't we? We like to flap a bit as we're disinfecting the mouse and make comments about other people's dirt and low standards, to make sure everyone in earshot understands that we don't approve, and to imply that we would never leave a work station in such a state – only to go on and scatter flakes of croissant in between the keys and conveniently have to 'rush off' at the end of the day without making time to clear them up.

    Flickr: Martijn van Exel

    Monday
    Dec072015

    How to respond when someone says they're an accountant

    It's Christmas party season, which means MCs up and down the country will soon be asking each other that most boring of questions: “What do you do?” But what on earth do you do if you get the apologetic, verging on self-loathing, answer: “I’m an accountant, I’m afraid.” Or: “Accountant. Very boring, I know.” It’s an etiquette minefield.

    It seems that no matter what you do you’ll end up making things worse. Here are four ways MCs tend to respond when faced with a new acquaintance who works in accounts.

    1. Have recourse to Dharma by sagely talking about how “everyone has a role to play. Where would we be without accountants? All those creatives wouldn't make a living without an accountant to sort them out.” Pretty patronising, this.
    2. Make the accountant feel better by playing up the downsides of your own job: “Well, at least you have nice regular hours and know where you are. You wouldn’t believe how draining it can be having to travel all the time.” A bit insulting.
    3. Protest too much. “No, no, NO! There’s nothing boring about accountancy. I imagine you must work on some tremendously exciting projects and meet lots of different people!’ Implausible and embarrassing.
    4. Struggle for words and fail to find any. Make a little “ah” of feigned interest and wait for the accountant to change the subject. Awkward.

    Tumblr: Uber Brick

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