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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 Country Guy (34)

    Thursday
    Nov102011

    How to be middle class: half-heartedly trying to correct someone when they infer the wrong thing from something you’ve said

    I sometimes have these awkward moments in conversation when the person I’m talking to takes something I’ve said, and infers something about me that is completely wrong. For example, I was recently telling an acquaintance about having eaten in an expensive restaurant. “Oh, I can’t afford places like that!” she said. The thing was, I had been taken there by my boss; I didn’t like this acquantaince thinking I was either showing off or rich enough to eat in the restaurant, so I tried to explain. This then ruined the flow of the conversation (“Well, my boss took me.” “Took you where?” “To the restaurant. I mean I didn’t pay.” “I’m sorry, I don’t follow you.” Etc etc). Later in the same conversation I was describing a friend who I think makes insensitive remarks, and the acquaintance said “Well, I’m not as thin-skinned as you.” I don’t think I am thin-skinned! And yet this time, to my annoyance, I let it go. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is, but I think that the stilted, half-hearted correction is without doubt the quintessential British middle-class response. 

    Flickr: Steve Unlikely

     

    Wednesday
    Jul202011

    Middle-class couples at war: when “Nothing” is the matter

    There are depressing moments in every relationship when it feels that a little more of that magic you shared at the beginning has suddenly drained away. One might assume that these would be to do with having less physical contact or happy moments, but in fact it can work another way too – ie, when you can’t be bothered to have an argument or a row because it just doesn’t feel worth the energy.
    These are the “nothing” moments, the times when your partner notices your sudden sullen mood or glumness, and asks “What’s wrong?” and you pause for a tell-tale second before replying “Nothing.”

    However hard you try to sound neutral, you sound sulky or cross – perhaps because a bit of your subconscious wants you to. Your partner clocks this, and says: “Are you sure?” Or something similar, and you say, “Yes, I’m fine,” and then there is a period of silence after which, with any luck something happens to distract you, and then gradually it can be forgotten.

    Do non-middle-class couples argue differently? Sometimes in these nothing moments of self loathing one is tempted to think they are more honest and passionate than your self-suppressing middle-class self, but who knows? Not me. I just know that, like the rest of the list below, a Nothing moment is a clear sign that you need to get some life back into your relationship. A bracing walk on a beach in Norfolk or a long session with a Wallander box set usually does it for us.

    Signs that a middle-class relationship has gone a bit limp

    1. Saying “nothing” when something is wrong (see above).
    2. One of you staying up to watch the rest of Newsnight when the other goes to bed.
    3. Secretly thinking “Oh Christ they’re moaning about work again,” instead of feeling angry on their behalf.
    4. Dropping the pretence that you really, no, honestly, really like visiting each others’ families.
    5. Both people tweeting while watching TV.
    6. Having a night at the pub, only to realize you can’t think of anything to talk about other than the children.
    7. Agreeing that a night out together isn’t worth the cost of a bloody babysitter.
    8. One person reading “a couple of pages” while the other turns off the light to go to sleep.

    Country Guy

     

    Flickr: Tograph.co.uk

    Thursday
    Jun162011

    The car roof box; today’s ball and chain for the middle-class motorist

    I’m taking my family to Cornwall this summer, and as there are four of us, and we have only a compact-sized car, I know we’re not going to get all our luggage in. I also know what that means; it means I am going to finally give in, go to Halford’s, and buy what I consider to be one of the ugliest modern objects it is possible to buy. 

    I speak, of course, of car roof boxes, those aerodynamic grey plastic things that look like a cross between and boat and a tombstone, and sit atop millions of once-quite-attractive motors as they traverse our nation between staycations and days out. It’s partly their ugliness that makes me hate them, but there’s something else too. For me, the fact that they exist now when they didn’t exist before when we had larger families means that they speak of the massive clutter of stuff that we accumulate. All the extra pairs of shoes we don’t need, the gadgets we won’t use, the just-in-case things that we use once and then use to stuff the cupboard under the stairs before offloading them at the school Christmas fair. I’m not being a lefty anti-materialist poseur here; I accumulate stuff as much as anyone else does, my point is, I seem to do this in spite of myself, and I think my family and wife are the same. I’d like to live lighter and less encumbered, but somehow consumerism has got the better of me, and – for this is how it works – is forcing me into buying ANOTHER bit of stuff so I can move the original stuff around, like a gluttonous and obese snail buying a new shell. Doubtless I will need to buy tools to enable me to fix it on (I have no clue how one does this; the thought of finding out makes me queasy) and then perhaps a bigger box next year. I see no end to it, but if anyone has any ideas and wants to start a box-free commune, please get in touch. Please. 

    Friday
    Mar252011

    Rastamouse – some middle class spin-offs

    The CBeebies sensation is already one of the TV hits of the year, achieving cult status among the middle class people who are the BBC’s traditional audience. Now, we are all for diversity in BBC programming, and it’s a genuinely great bit of TV, but when midlife middle class white people who work in post-production houses in Soho start saying ‘irie!’ something has to be done. We suggest they get their own shows. Here’s a few spin-offs that might be more appropriate…

    Pastamouse – All the spaghetti in Grovetown has gone missing and dem orphans have nothing to eat. Voiced by someone English, but with great cheekbones.

    Vestamouse – The Easy Crew become obsessed with bland 1970s ready meals but with the help of a wise old grandmother voiced by Madhur Jaffrey and some fresh spices they learn how to ‘make a bad ting good’.

    Jocasta Mouse – each episode based on a Greek tragedy. Intense mother-son relationships abound, and ‘Scratchy’ gets her nickname (by gauging her own eyes out). 

    RastaScouse – The Easy Crew swap their dreadlocks for moptops in order to fight the BlueCheese Meanies. RastaScouse’s aunt Mimi voiced by Kim Cattrall

    Nancy Astor Mouse – replacing president Wensley Dale as the main political figure of Grovetown. Voiced by Helena Bonham Carter

    RastaLouse – there’s a nit epidemic at the orphanage. Grovetown sells out of NittyGritty combs, and RastaLouse delivers a speech about nits being attracted to clean hair as much as dirty hair, and anyway, even Madonna’s kids get them.

    RastaRouse – the Easy Crew ditch their reggae sounds in favour of a season of comedy gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe

    DIYdisastamouse – Ep 1: putting up shelves; Ep 2: fixing that drip you said you’d get round to 3 months ago but has now turned into a leak: Ep 3 No point wasting money on a professional…  Frequent appearances from his trouble-shooting tradesman cousin Plastamouse (voiced by Sean Lock)

    So there you go, let us know yours at #middleclassrastamouse

    Friday
    Feb182011

    the friday question: Butter on the outside but what's in the middle? A search for the world's greatest toasted sandwich filling

    There can surely be no more essential a piece of middle class kitchen equipment than the trusty Breville toasted sandwich maker. With its reassuringly British-sounding name and promise of hot comfort food, it has over the years carved its own little niche in the cupboards of kitchens everywhere; in some ways, it is like an old-school forerunner of the coffee maker.

    And yet, for all its potential for variety in sandwich fillings, it seems to be dominated by the cheese and ham option. In this office some claim that in the 80s people tried all sorts of things with eccentric stuff like peanut butter, baked beans and golden syrup, but it really seems to us that nowadays we've all settled down to the classic. Is this a healthy state of affairs? Are there other popular possibilities we're missing?  Today we appeal to all castes and classes to ask: what do YOU stick in your Breville?