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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 Sharon T (7)


    The rise of ADM (Attention demanding machines)

    We’re putting it down to the return of Downton, but at the moment certain machines are getting on our nerves.

    It starts in the kitchen. Labour saving devices like the dishwasher and washing machines are getting ideas above their stations. Is it entirely necessary to beep so insistently once they have completed the simple task assigned to them? Would Bates ring the bell to tell us he had finished polishing the silver? Certainly not. And would Anna grab our arms to inform us that she had laid out our clothes for the morning? Heaven forbid. They would get on with it discreetly, and not disturb us with the minutiae of their tasks.

    That is how we want our homes to behave. And it’s the same in the office. We do not wish to be bombarded with demands from attention when applications want to be updated. Adobe is the worst culprit, leaping up and down at the bottom of the computer screen like an over eager child in the classroom.  Adobe should take a leaf from downstairs at Downton – perform quietly and efficiently in deference to our greater importance. Remember, just as Lord Grantham would not expect to be disturbed to be reminded that the clocks need winding, nor do we wish to be troubled by the such trifles as a new version BBC Desktop, or Tweetdeck et al.

    We’d like all our machines to treat us as if we were Lady Mary in mourning. Tiptoe quietly around us at a respectful distance. You never know, it might even make us smile.


    Acceptable MC behavior at University Drop Off

    University drop off is a classic MC ritual. It’s the culmination of all those years of education, either paid for, or at the one decent state school in the area. It’s a big MC deal.

    Sundays in late September and early October see rows of Volvos packed to overflowing with boxes of books, clothes, posters, IKEA lamps, Waitrose groceries – and nervous parents and students arriving at University Halls of Residence up and down the country.

    But how should MC parents behave? Here’s a quick guide to Acceptable and Unacceptable Uni Drop Off behaviour.

    Acceptable behaviour

    • Carrying boxes and cases up to the room.
    • Helping unpack clothes.
    • Making the bed. (NB Mother’s role to put on duvet cover. Father checks location of plug sockets.)
    • Offering to buy more food.
    • Polite knowing nods to other MC box carrying parents.
    • Short conversations about the distance travelled.
    • Repeated use of the phrase ‘you’re going to have so much fun.’
    • Staring wistfully out of the window at the falling leaves and wondering where the years have gone by.
    • Brief goodbye. A few tears allowed, but best to keep them for the Volvo.

    Unacceptable behaviour

    • Taking one look at the tiny room and saying ‘you can’t sleep in here!’
    • Demanding an upgrade
    • Decorating the room with large photographs of yourself
    • Talking to other freshers, apart from short enquiries about their home town and distance travelled (see above).
    • Any use of the phrase ‘Are you sure you want to stay?’
    • Loud weeping
    • Loud wailing
    • Refusing to leave

    In brief, the code is ‘don’t make a fuss.’ All pretty much MC business as usual.

    Flickr: mattbuck4950

    The art of the over-polite ‘no parking’ sign

    If you live in a city, parking is a problem. If you’re middle class and live in a city you’re faced with a double problem. How can you lay claim to your rightful parking territory without appearing rude?
    The answer is the over-polite ‘no parking’ sign. You’ll find these signs discreetly attached to garage doors and gates in well-heeled areas. Rather than a straightforward ‘no parking’ message they’ll tell a story. They will appeal to your sense of fairness and explain precisely why their need to park is greater than yours.

    • ‘Please Do Not Park Here. Doctor requires 24 hour access.’
    • ‘Please do not obstruct access to this communally owned garage’
    • ‘Elderly infirm relative requires access day and night. Please park elsewhere.’ 

    The font and the size of the sign toes a tricky line between noticeable yet unobtrusive. They generally bear the mark of the local ironmonger, but even if they are homemade, they were clearly not dashed off in a fit of rage with a load of cheap paint from B&Q. (See fig 1)

    An MC ‘no parking’ sign doesn’t scream ‘get off my land’, it coughs politely and asks if you wouldn’t mind awfully going elsewhere.  

    Fig 1. Non MC No Parking Sign



    The Delicate Art of Buying Books as Presents

    Books are the perfect MC Christmas gift. Especially for those people who are tricky to buy for. There’s no risk of getting the wrong size (I’m sure she’s a 16 but she thinks she’s a 12), there’s no chance of imposing your taste in an unwelcome way (hideous vase/nasty candlesticks/twee ornaments) but best of all, giving a book says ‘you look like the kind of person who reads,’ and that’s got to be a good thing. 

    So once you’ve decided to go the book route, what to choose? Here’s a quick guide to MC book buying at Christmas:

    The celebrity book. Difficult area. Celebrity culture is an anathema to most of us. Empty, vacuous, a symbol of all that’s wrong with society today. However there’s a celebrity sub strata that we do like. If the celebrity book can be pre-faced by ‘that nice person from x’ then we might give it as a gift. So a book written by Miranda Hart, ‘that nice woman on the TV’ would be a permissable present,  as would anything by Stephen Fry, ‘that nice man from everywhere.’ But we won’t be gift wrapping anything by someone who once appeared on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here’ or indeed anything else on ITV.

    The political memoir. Good choice. Serious, weighty. Maybe not a lot of LOLz but you can’t go far wrong with the right biography featuring a senior political figure who has been instrumental in shaping our history. Although do think carefully about the message you are sending out. Would you rather be seen as someone interested in the inner workings of Barack Obama or Edwina Currie? Quite.

    The cookbook. Christmas perennial, and the perfect gift for anyone who has been boring you with their experience on the 5:2 diet. (Too many people to mention). Eat some food, it says, enjoy yourself. Nigella gets a big tick, so does Nigel, so does Jamie. More obscure cookbooks will get extra kudos, ‘it’s written from the notes found in the attic of a Hungarian pastry chef in 1952’ but that goodwill might be short lived. Recipes containing ingredients that can be bought in the supermarket are more user friendly.

    The novel I thought you’d enjoy. Hardest category to pull off. Obviously any kind of misery memoir is out of the question, or indeed anything covering difficult family relationships (what’s she saying about me? Does she think I’m overbearing/needy/an alcoholic?). As this covers most modern fiction, the pool of suitable Christmas gift novels is shallower than it might first appear. A safer bet is to offload the critical decision onto someone else. ‘Booker nominated’ or ‘up for the Orange’ says to the recipient ‘you look like someone with advanced critical faculties’ rather than ‘I think you might need therapy.

    The ‘oh God I don’t know’ book. Covers most purchases. This is the book bought at the counter after 20 minutes of procrastination in fiction. Books which you wouldn’t dream of buying the rest of the year suddenly appear appealing as a safe bet. Funny books score most highly. Giving a gift that says ‘I think you’re clever with a good sense of humour’ spreads good will without ruffling anyone’s feathers. The perfect MC gift.

    And in case you were wondering, this year the book to buy is The Art of Being Middle Class. Got that?

    Flickr: Dennoir



    Growing your own vegetables is nothing new, but over recent years the middle classes have truly embraced ‘gardening’ as their own. Practical, aspirational, green, creative, physical, meditative; gardening truly ticks all the Sunday supplement-tastic boxes. 

    But with so many new gardeners and allotment holders joining the ranks, there’s a need for a few rules. No one wants to look like a newbie; there’s nothing we like better than being there first.

    So if you want to appear like an old hand rather than the new kid on the block, follow our five rules for securing your authentic gardening status.

    1.  Avoid over accessorizing. Yes, we all love Cath Kidston, but nothing screams ‘first time gardener’ louder than weeding in a new floral tea dress and shiny spotty wellies. Think Barbara Good in a tatty jumper if you want to appear authentic.

    2.  Give judiciously. One of the joys of gardening is being able to share the fruits of your labours, however new gardeners often go into pickle-making overdrive and make the mistake of thinking these homemade offerings make perfect gifts. Ask yourself, seriously, would you rather be given a decent present or another jar of Sarah and Josh’s (slightly iffy!) Green Tomato Chutney?

    3.  Heritage. Brownie points for growing heritage vegetables. You get far more gardening kudos for a crop of Tomatillo de Jalapo than for a crop that everyone else is growing. Heirloom vegetables occupy true middle class gardener territory, so embrace them if you want to fit in.

    4.  Instagram. Old style gardeners don’t Instagram every new shoot, every raindrop, every squash, leek and carrot. It is all so beautifully picturesque but remember an old style gardener would be squashing that snail, not photographing it with soft focus filter.

    5.  Stoicism. Gardening can be soul destroying. It will be too cold/wet/hot for your seeds to germinate. Slugs will eat your seedlings. Pigeons will massacre your brassicas. New gardeners might give up after one setback, but old style gardeners know it’s a long game. Gardening is a series of set backs punctured by the odd success, and There’s Always Next Year. Practice saying this, and you’re there.


    Flickr: Nat Ireland