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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


Olivia Coleman = nailed-on Future National Treasure

Spring Bank holidays

Too close together! Very bad!


“I queued for THREE BLOODY HOURS at B&Q for a new recycling bin! The entire town’s in CHAOS”


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 Bob W (4)


    Skia: a new and very middle-class addition to the overused fonts list

    As bloggers and graphic designers like to point out, in the age when anyone can design their own stationery and posters, certain fonts have come to be somewhat overused. Johnny Flash’s blog has a top ten of some usual suspects including, at number four, the font that must be the world’s current most-hated, Papyrus. I would now like to add to such lists a new, bubbling-under entry; Skia. Over the last year, I’ve noticed this tasteful, Greek-y script cropping in many places from magazines to restaurant signs. Mostly it’s used when the owner of the magazine, restaurant, shop, alternative therapy centre or whatever it is wants to be individual and cool, but also a little bit classy and classic. And while it was a nice, unusual font now, for me it is beginning to radiate a certain smugness, as if it thinks it’s above the sort of corny overuse that Copperplate gets. Time to cut it down to size, I say; it’s well on the way to becoming the modern equivalent of Brushcript if you ask me.


    Don’t hate me just because I drive a John Deere and ruin your holiday: a lonely plea for understanding from tractor boy 

     flickr: Pete StewartIf you drive a car in Britain, the chances are that I am one of the people you hate. In fact, if you drive a car in Britain and are a young male, the chances are that I am one of the people you have verbally abused or tried to physically attack. I am, you see, a tractor driver. A farmer who drives a tractor anyway. And while I’ve been driving tractors on the roads in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire since the early 1980s, I have to say that in the last ten years, the reaction I get from car drivers has got much more hostile.

    And I mean hostile. Last autumn, I had my way blocked by a group of four lads in an Astra who had been angry at what they took to be me not letting them pass. One of them got out as if he intended to get into the cab and sort me out; I wasn’t that bothered (the verge was wide, and I just drove around them, rather pleasing as the little chumps hadn’t spotted that option) but it shook me a bit. A few years back, a woman from near where I live was dragged from a cab and assaulted.

    That sort of thing is rare obviously, but what’s become more common is the hooting, flashing lights and reckless overtaking out of impatience (always worst on Saturdays, and worse in cloudy weather). There’s also the plain weirdness. You’d be amazed by the number of drivers who, pull up behind you when you stop to let them pass, as if hypnotised by your trailer. And then there are those (often families – perhaps the kids like the tractor) who follow you for miles despite long, straight empty roads in front and then me waving them on.

    From the motorist’s point of view, it could be that things have got worse – there are probably more tractors about on the road these days, after all. Small farms being swallowed up into larger ones, means more tractor journeys by road to reach fields, and more and more work is outsourced to contractors, who have to move machinery from farm to farm. And the drivers are not blameless themselves; you can hear them in pubs boasting about who had the longest “convoy” that day. But most of us are just trying to do our job and not cause any more hassle than we need to, honest. I know it’s no consolation, but it’s not much fun chugging along at 20mph on a hot day for me, either. 


    A new middle-class micro-tribe: the M&S maniac

    Ever since I have been shopping in M&S, ie about 20 years, I have been noticing a particular type of shopper. She can be anything from 30 to 70, tidily dressed, and fairly affluent looking without being obviously rich. There is a good chance she will wear a quilted jacket, or a headscarf if older. The distinguishing thing about this woman, however, is not her dress but they way she shops. She shops like someone on a mission, darting about, looking almost angry in her determination, and pushing people out of the way as if there will be a sudden shortage of M&S sliced ham or ciabatta if she doesn’t get a pack RIGHT NOW. They hover over displays like a sniper trying to pick off a victim, and then reach out and snatch what they need like a heron snatching a fish before darting off to the next aisle - where they will not be able to find what they need, and then go and complain loudly to a shelf-filler about M&S changing its layout around too often (which to be fair, they do). I don't know why she is the way she is, and I don't particularly like or dislike her, but what really intrigues me is that you never see this kind of maniac shopper anywhere other than M&S. I'm quite glad, really; I always suspect she would be capable of quite ruthless behaviour if she caught me with the shop's last pack of salmon-and-cream-cheese roulades. 


    Middle class meat-eating in China

    I'm writing from China, where I'm currently staying with a friend in the city of Nanchang, in the south east of the country. Yesterday I visited a village about half an hour's drive outside the city today, and was lucky enough to be there for the weekly visit of the local pork butcher. The spectacle of people queuing to specify the cut they wanted, and the butcher slicing it off (the knives were in a rack on the handlebars) reminded me of the stories about the growing Chinese and Indian middle classes eating more meat. True I'm sure, but this just goes to show that being middle class doesn't always mean the same thing all over the world! I should add that in cities the middle classes do go for more Western trappings; they love Louis Vuiitton, Mercedes and Western celebrities and all that, which I find a bit depressing personally (if you look closely at the Chinese Grazia on the right you'll see the inset celeb is our very own Sam Cam). The big Chinese status symbol is the tea set - the more expensive yours is, the higher your status. I shall be bringing one back myself I think. Oh, by the way, I had some of the pork cooked for me, and it was delicious.