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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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    The Chaveau Riches: Scott and Tash

     

    Scott and Tash grew up on the London-Kent borders. Scott’s dad worked selling insurance until the late 1980s, when he spotted a gap in the market for a new product, and made his family very rich. Tash’s mum and dad have split up, but her dad has a building firm and her mum runs a small chain of beauty/tanning salons. Scott went to a comprehensive, Tash’s mum scraped enough together to send her to a small private school – neither was a conspicuous academic success, but they were far from being bad kids; just middling, as they say. The fact that none of the teachers at their school predicted they would do so well for themselves makes them quite proud, in a way.

    Scott started off as a dj, then set up a dj agency and now has his fingers in all sorts of pies; he has a dance show touring theatres all over the South East, has gone into partnership with a property dealer, and has this new scheme he ain’t telling anyone about except to say he’s down to the last selection round on Dragons’ Den. Tash tried a bit of modelling but then buckled down and helped her mum with the salons, and began looking into surgery, dentistry, stuff like that. They have. Made. A. Bomb. Her and her mum row and fall out, but they keep it together and now own 12 salons, and employ 40 girls. Some of them can be right lazy little so-and-sos though, only wanting to talk about where they’re going this Friday. You have to watch them like a hawk.

    They first met when someone Scott worked with got in touch to ask if they could do make-up for the dancers at one of his gigs. It went from there, basically. They are not married – ain’t got time, mate, too much to do! – but when they do, it will cost a vast amount of money and have a fairy-tale theme. Weddings are very, very important for the Chaveau Riches, because they are a reason to create a material fantasy world, and Scott and Tash adore fantasy, although they don’t necessarily talk about it as such (to be honest, Scott and Tash tend to think of “fantasy” as a sexual term if anything, sex also being very important).

    They aim to have a baby soon, so they have been planning a fabulous nursery with the aid of an architect. There is plenty of room - they live together in a new five-bedroom house which is furnished in a sort of British version of the Los Angeles style commonly seen on Cribs (they love Cribs). This is a blend, rarely seen in mainstream furnishing magazines, of modern minimalist mixed with extravagant opulence; anything soft or to do with entertainment is massive – beds, sofas, lawns, cushions, TV, speakers, barbecue – while everything with a function (which automatically makes it feel a bit boring and irksome, because you have less control over where you can put it) is sleek and minimal. There are lots of gadgets – Scott loves them – and a room done out in a pink, girly style with chiffon clouds attached to ceiling. They used to live half their lives in nightclubs, but nowadays they don’t get out all that much apart from to work-related functions; instead they have friends round all the time, and are generous in the extreme. Social creatures at heart, the Chaveaus have a strong urge to share the benefits of their money. “Money is only a means to an end, you have to keep hold of that,” as they told the reporter from the local glossy homes-and-lifestyle magazine.

    Essentially their style is that of the contemporary High Celebrity age, but it is not so much that they take their cues from OK, Cribs and Jordan – it is more that they share the same values. At the heart of these values is a fantasy version of what old Hollywood glamour would have been like, which is where the fantasy comes in. Their devotion to fantasy tells you something important about them. They grew up in the long boom when there seemed so much of everything and yet all the money still left you stuck in the Home Counties with their rain and traffic jams and ugly miserable-looking people.

    Even all the individual success couldn’t transform the entire world – and so they began transforming their own little bit of it. Sometimes it is as if the actual world can’t give either of them the excitement they feel it should; they would, ideally, like to feel as if they were living in a film, and to get closer to that they have some crazy ideas about what they would like to do with the house – creating fairy wonderlands and caves and all sorts. As yet they just have Tash’s girly room – but wait until you see those amazing plans for the nursery!

    When Scott and Tash get fed up, they sometimes think about moving to Jersey where Scott’s uncle lives – life is pretty good there, you have to say.

    They get sick of all the moaners and the bullshit in England; too many dolescum scrounging, too much negativity, too many people everywhere creaming off money without producing anything of any value, and too much looking backwards. Because they are just about still in touch with their families’ working-class origins – something they are prone to exaggerate – they think of themselves as entirely self-made people who have struggled really hard and worked for every penny; like TV talent show contestants, they incorporate into their own stories an element of the rags-to-riches hero from Hollywood musicals.

    The recession has been kind to them – their businesses thrive regardless – and so Scott and Tash go on consuming and imagining. In many ways, Scott and Tash are the embodiment of the great consumerist, individualist energy that was set loose in the 1980s. Back then, some commentators thought the energy would transform the whole country; it didn’t, but it meant that some enormous gardens would look like Narnia for millionaires.

    As Scott and Tash demonstrate, this energy could also be more fair and generous than it is sometimes given credit for. The Chaveau Riches are more open-minded than many of the tribes who make a show of their liberal credentials: their friends are more varied than The Hornby Set (Page 25); they are more fiercely protective of their families than Jamie Oliver’s Army (Page 15) and they are less uptight than White Vain Man (Page 72). They work very, very hard and they believe in giving everyone – everyone – a fair chance. And in many ways, they are more open-minded and egalitarian than any other tribe in this book.