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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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    Entries in Billy Batty (70)

    Tuesday
    Jun112013

    When is it really power-walking, and when is it having a sneaky rest?

    I’ve just started going running in my local park in the evenings, and have been struck by how many people I see power walking rather than doing a proper jog. I know this is recommended as an alternative to get you started, but I do sometimes wonder as I cross paths with the power walkers if they aren’t just would-be runners covering up a little rest.

    Of course the reason I wonder this is that I do it too. I am a rubbish runner, and when I start to run out of breath, energy and pride, I will often slow down to a brisk heel-and-toe walk, telling myself it must still be good for me as it’s an Olympic sport. I don’t really believe this, and am not sure most of my fellow walkers do either; I detect a certain shame-facedness about it as we pass each other. It’s the fitness version of the middle class habit of keeping up appearances I suppose, and as usual it’s done to make ourselves feel less guilty rather than actually convincing anyone.

    Flickr: pixelthing
    Tuesday
    Jun042013

    The secret fantasies of middle class men in hi-vis vests

    My partner is a local authority planner, and when he has to visit construction sites he has to wear a hard hat, and replace his suit jacket with a hi-vis waistcoat thing. I’ve occasionally been with him on these visits and I’m sure that putting the hi-vis waistcoat on changes his behaviour slightly; his shoulders go back, he adopts a wider stride, and his speech becomes more blokey. I suspect that either he suddenly feels a bond with all the workmen in their head-to-toe fluoro gear, or is experiencing that buzz men get from wearing uniforms. Either way, it's fairly typical of what I’m sure is the middle-class male’s fetish for hi-vis attire.

    I have to say that I wish he didn’t share this fetish, as I secretly feel there is something a bit pathetic about men in office formal wear with the hi-vis overlay. The workmen look rugged, but the office types just look mollycoddled, as if dressed by an over protective mother.

    Flickr: Highways Agency
    Friday
    May312013

    How craft beer and the new real ales are reinventing the tradition of Bank Holiday all-day drinking

    At an arts festival in my nearest city over the bank holiday weekend, I was struck by how much specialty beer was on offer among the obligatory street food. Over a stretch of a few hundred metres there were at least three stalls – this in addition to the various pubs with their token local beers – and many of the visitors were cheerily walking around with plastic glasses of artisan lager, golden ales, IPAs, scrumpies and so on. 

    It was all very pleasant of course, but it’s funny how the fact of it being craft beer sold from tents makes it ok to get quite pissed and walk around drinking, while good middle class folk would frown on the idea of drinking six cans of, say, Stella on the street. A good many wouldn’t be too sure about having six pints in an all-day session in a beer garden. 

    Thus has the craft-beer movement reinvented the great British tradition of all-day drinking. We’re all for it, really, but if you’re feeling unsure, here’s a handy guide to the old and new versions.
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Saying “I’m shitfaced – let’s have another!”
    New all-day drinking
    Saying “I’m quite pissed actually – but I have to try that Herefordshire special-edition Cider!”
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Saying “Are you on Becks Vier then? I’m sticking to Kroney.”
    New all-day drinking
    Try “Which ones have you tried? That Dorshet Amber Ale with the dandelionsh in it ish amaaazing.”
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Having a doner kebab
    New all-day drinking
    Having an artisan shish kebab from street food stall
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Ludicrous drunken attempts to flirt with bar staff
    New all-day drinking
    Ludicrous drunken attempt at earnest conversation about hops with bar staff
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Having a couple of G&Ts later on
    New all-day drinking
    Having a coffee to wake yourself up
     
    Old all-day drinking
    Danish bacon sandwich (white roll )for your hangover the next day
    New all-day drinking
    Organic Waitrose bacon  (sourdough loaf) etc etc.

     

    Flickr: Ms Kat 

    Wednesday
    Sep052012

    "Obligatory" back-to-school photos on Facebook; middle-class parents, get over yourselves! 

    This morning, which as you may have realised is back-to-school morning for most parents and children, I checked my Facebook page to find no less than four friends in my news feed had posted pictures of their children en route to school. Fine. Lovely. We love our kids, our close friends and relatives love our kids, sometimes other people can put up with or de-friend us. What is not fine and lovely, however, is captioning your post - as all three of my friends did - with the words "obligatory back-to-school photo". What's with the "obligatory"? Either you want to post a photo if your children, or you do not.

    If you think it's cheesy, you are thinking too much, being too self-conscious and engaging in that dreadful modern behavioural tic of apologising for something but then doing it anyway. It is, sadly, quite a middle-class trait, this, but one that we deplore and discourage. Stop being so self-conscious! It makes you sound so cold. Would you have liked your parents to have referred to showing people "obligatory" photos of you? Exactly.

     
    Friday
    Aug242012

    Would Anyone Like Anything Stronger? The new gentleman’s smoking

    At the end of the last course of a dinner party that I attended recently, the host husband went out for a cigarette, and was followed, one by one, by about half the other guests, who were doing that middle-class smoker thing of waiting for someone else to break cover before cracking into the Marlborough Lights. Shortly after that, he upped the ante. “Would anyone like a stronger smoke?” he enquired, meaning, of course, did anyone want a joint? All the men did, and duly trooped into the garden, leaving the women sitting around the table.

    This interested me because I know that at least one of the women smoked joints at home, so there was clearly a sort of gender divide at work that, come to think of it, I have seen many times at dinner parties in recent years. It’s the equivalent, surely, of the gentlemen retiring to take snuff and cigars in the past, and probably something that would require some updating of dinner party etiquette guides, should such things exist.