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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 Will H (9)

    Monday
    Dec312012

    MC NEW YEAR'S EVE RULES

    Another New Year's Eve, another minefield of social nuance and celebratory etiquette to carefully step around. Here's a few ground rules for keeping your December 31st reassuringly middle class. 

    1. The cut-off age for queuing outside nightclubs on NYE is 29. Yes, even if your mate’s mate is DJing.
    2. If NY at your local pub is looking like the only option, remember the mantra: “It was soooo easy. Great atmosphere and a really eclectic crowd”. 
    3. If the prospect of a dinner party in East Sheen is losing its appeal, unlucky, there’s no pulling out now. Unless you have kids. In which case, Lola’s got a temperature. Done.
    4. If you’re hosting a party, make sure you pop an invitation through the neighbours letterbox on either side. Don’t worry, Steve and Angela won’t come.
    5. Worried your outfit isn't New Yeary enough? Just add fake eyelashes.
    6. Served as an amuse bouche before the cheeseboard, Vodka sorbet is the acceptable face of doing shots on a Monday night.
    7. Keep an eye out for double dippers around the tzatziki and bread sticks. It’s quite simply a norovirus accident waiting to happen.
    8. With house parties, there’s no clearer way of saying I bought this 5 minutes ago in the newsagent around the corner than 2 bottles of Campo Viejo. (Good idea to take the Londis price sticker off too).
    9. And, no, 2 bottles of Sainsbury’s cava isn’t really better than one bottle of champagne.
    10. For a house party, the cheaper the fireworks the better - everyone likes an underdog, no one likes a show off.
    11. Pre-booking a cab doesn’t mean you’re dull, it means you don’t want to shout out your postcode three times to a man from Diamond Cars while dancing to Billie Jean, before lurking in the hallway till 3am.
    12. If you’ve decided to stay in, make sure you tell everyone you know beforehand. Then it becomes a cultural statement of self-empowerment and not just an evening on the sofa watching Graham Norton.

     

    Tuesday
    Nov132012

    In-aisle reputation: and 5 discreet items to give you a killer makeover  

    Admit it, your weekly shopping basket is starting to look a bit obvious - Tropicana, Olivio, an economy pack of Finish Powerball - you're just going through the motions. That’s fine, they’re essential purchases, but how are you going to feel if you bump into a neighbour, colleague or even worse a would-be squeeze?  Below are a handful of killer items to add a bit of flair to your in-aisle reputation, and keep a lid on the six-packs of baked beans:

    Illy Coffee tins

    Not only does the glint of silver add instant sparkle to your basket, it also sends a strong hint that you may well be the owner of a Barista-level Italian espresso machine at home. Win win. The packaging itself is also an instant makeover for the kitchen itself - never put theses away in the cupboard. Go green (Decaf) and red (Fine Grind) for maximum aesthetic effect.

    Shallots

    Everyone buys onions, the staple of pretty much any evening meal you can think of and the most useful and versatile essential of any shopping list. Avoid them. Let the fiddly, hard to chop, time-consuming shallot be your Allium species of choice. Its powerful trolley presence cannot be underestimated, in one glance it says: Out of my way, Im about to make an over-complicated risotto.

    Belvedere vodka

    The drinks aisle is a high-risk section whatever you choose can dominate the rest of your trolley, obscuring a lot of the good selections youve made up to that point. Youre only ever an own brand spirit away from disaster. Ignore the transient price offers and multi-deals, youre a discerning sipper not a student, and play it safe and strong with the slender, frost-coated bottle of Belvedere vodka. Of course you cant taste the difference in a slim-line vodka tonic, but you can in your local Sainsury’s Local.

    Rye Bread

    The preeminence of the pappy pre-sliced factory made supermarket bread is enough to make anyones stomach churn whod want to be spotted in the queue packing Hovis Best Of Both? Theres only one name in the bakery section that never fails to deliver: rye. Its dark colour stands out in any basket, its mysterious properties add a touch of the exotic and its dreadful taste shows your commitment to lower cholesterol levels and reduced bloating.

    San Pellegrino

    You're not a six-pack of Tango kind of guy, we get it but where does that leave you if you get a craving for saccharine citrus-based carbonated drinks? Perfectly-placed, that's where. Because prohibitively expensive Italian drinks brand San Pellegrino is MC shopping basket gold. Anyone prepared to spend over a pound on a single can must have discernment in buckets. And where else do you get a strange silver foil hygiene protector over the lid. Wonderful. And reassuring.

     

    Tuesday
    Oct022012

    Cut-off age for driving a car with a spoiler  

    There are certain ironies involved when it comes to driving a car with a spoiler. 

    One is that the peak for a man's spoiler obsession comes at an age when he almost certainly isn’t old enough to drive. Say around 11. And conversely, just as you reach an age when you’re earning enough money to afford a car which legitimately has one, you’ve almost certainly reached an age when you’re too old to actually be seen driving it.

    There’s a dangerous middle period in your late teens and early twenties, when the risk of a brief flirtation with a ‘hot hatch’ spoiler is at its highest - probably just a strip of grey plastic glued on to the back of a 1.2 litre Peugeot. Of course, this spoiler isn’t serving any physical or scientific function, other than to make the owner look like a berk.

    On some performance cars, of course, a pretty small minority, the spoiler does serve an actual performance function - something to do with downforce and rear-wheel drive. And then only at speeds likely to see the driver do a jail term. From mid-20s to mid-30s you really need to be driving one of these to get away with it.

    After that, at 37, you’re in the danger zone and need to face reality – the only car with a spoiler that suits you now is a Toyota Prius.

     

    Pics by HD

     

    Tuesday
    Sep252012

    How middle class is your desk?

    Is your office desk an anonymous wasteland of generic company-owned fixtures and officially supplied stationery? Then you’re missing a massive opportunity to mark your territory with the kind of strategic accoutrements to fully cement your MC credentials. Here are some suggestions:

    Pictures

    Shun the standard shot of your smiling beloved in Argos-bought picture frame. Instead try a sun-kissed Polaroid of some friends in fancy dress taken at Bestival. Preferably with a 70s style Hipstamatic filter.

    Drinks

    Bringing your own IKEA glass water bottle and matching tumbler is a minimum requirement. For extra points, you really need a statement item – think Bodum cafetiere, Illy coffee bag or stove top coffee maker. Even better if your kitchen doesn’t actually have a stove.

    Reading Material

    A folded up selection of the weekend’s Sunday papers is a nice touch but can be improved upon. Go one bigger with a carefully-placed and well-worn classic novel, preferably bought from your local Help The Aged charity shop.

    Post-Its 

    Nothing says MC like a bit of organized chaos. It’s an easy way to say you’re intelligent, you’re creative and just the right side of eccentric. A few scattered Post-Its in different sizes and colours, with unintelligible scribbles should get the job done.

    Snacks

    If spotted, a stray crisp packet or soft drink can will do a lot of damage to your MC profile. Make sure the only visible signs of desk grazing are nut or seed based. An obscure vitamin supplement originating from a South American rainforest herb is recommended.

    Accessories

    You’re going to need the odd personal touch that gives the casual observer a little of yourself and your life outside work – a plant to signify your love of the outdoors, a candle to show your sensitivity, or better still, a small dog that sleeps at your feet. Now that’s MC.

    The Big Ticket

    Only for the super-ambitious, big ticket items like an antique modern desk lamp or ergonomic chair represent a classic risk-reward situation. If done well, it’s the coup de grace you’ve been looking for. But if presented with too much pomp and fanfare, you’ll look like a desperate nouveau with narcissistic personality disorder. As ever, life’s a tightrope.

    Thursday
    Aug092012

    Middle class men and the short-sleeved shirt

    Some things in life are uncertain and mysterious. The existence of a soul, the origins of crop circles and the industry acclaim for the Sky One series Ross Kemp on Gangs.

    Other things however are definite, and without any compromise, like the rules regarding short-sleeve shirts on men. Disregard them at your peril:

    • Let’s be absolutely clear, there are no clear circumstances in which formal short-sleeved shirts can be considered acceptable for the over-12s. Yes, even if you’re an administrator in the Police, Transport or Fire Service.
    • The concept that they are somehow a canny way for an office worker to stay cool in summer is itself a myth. It’s the colour, cut and fabric of your suit that will make the difference not exposing your arm hair to the sun.
    • To wear one with button-down collars and/or a tie is to announce to the world that you are a child in a man’s body, that you are emotionally and culturally stunted, and that your tie may as well be a clip on. It is also to risk being mistaken as a staff supervisor at the Curry’s on the High Street.
    • Even the smart-casual oxford is to be treated with the same caution as a wild-haired man on the bus. Many an MC man has been drawn in to this trap before a summer barbecue or similar function. Stay strong and remember, the purpose-built Polo or T-shirt does a better job with more aplomb.
    • So is it ever safe to go short-sleeved and collared? As a rule of thumb, the more casual it is, the safer you are i.e. super bright colours, crazy patterns and casual fabrics and soft collars only. Wear it with at least three buttons undone, in temperatures over 31º, less than 100 metres from the sea and you should be fine.