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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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    Topping it off nicely

    Have you ever seen the famous class sketch from the Frost Report in the 1960s, in which John Cleese and Ronnies Barker and Corbett play upper, middle and working class types? In a satire of the old British class system, each explains which social classes they look up to, and down upon. Much of the visual impact comes from the well-observed dress codes, and a significant element of each code is the choice of hat, as you can see from the still. I suppose like many people I vaguely imagined that the idea of headgear being a signifier of your social tribe seems very old-fashioned, but last night I was browsing the M&S website for holiday clothes, and I was amazed by the sheer number and variety of hats that the company currently offers. The baseball caps alone are enough for a sociology thesis (you still see baseball caps being dismissed wholesale as chavwear, but in my opinion this is wrong - what about, say, all the nubuck-look ones at Twickenham?) but there are many subtle questions raised by the collection. What is the minimum age at which men can wear Panama hats? What kind of ribbon makes a straw trilby trendy, and what kind makes it suitable for the cricket? Would Loft Wingers ever shop at M&S? And is any British class or tribe yet ready for the kepi? 

    I didn't bother with a hat myself, but would probably have gone for one of those patterned bucket-shaped numbers. I quite fancy the deck shoes though - they look as good as Timberlands but at half the price, which is good news in a credit crunch.


    Fake muesli

    As I type we are eating breakfast while watching Peppa Pig (seagulls again, see below), and my dear wife has just admitted that yesterday in a moment of weakness she purchased some Jordans raspberry-flavoured Country Crisp cereal. She was now eating it. "I bet it's full of sugar," she sighed. "It's not muesli at all really, is it?"
    "Not really, dear," I agreed, sighing to show that I was on her side.
    "But it's so nice."
    "Oh, absolutely."
    "If only there was something between this and Dorset muesli."
    "That'd be great."
    We sighed together. The museli quest continues.


    Michelle Obama's fish and chips

    In the frenzied reports of Michelle Obama taking her children to eat in the Audley pub in Mayfair, much has been made of the children's choice of fish and chips. As usual when fish and chips are written about journalists, the implication is that fish and chips are the food of The People etc etc - but are they? In many places in England and Wales, particularly ones where people are not all that well-to-do, kebab, pizza, burger, Indian and Chinese takeaways are far more numerous than fish and chips shops, and I can't remember the last time I saw someone under the age of 25 eating them "the national dish" on the street. Could it be that although fish and chips have strong associations with working class, salt and malt vinegar of the earth types, for the under-50s they are in fact becoming a middle-class dish, sustained by the renewed interest among certain middle class tribes in local food? 

    Of course the wonderful Michelle, being wonderful and smart, or maybe it was just because she is American, knew the real 2000s treat of the people - the competitively-price pub steak and chips. 


    An Over-affectionate Gym nazi

    A strange thing happened at the gym tonight. There I was risking long-term muscle damage on one of the weight machines when the Gym Nazi, ie the bloke who did my induction last week, walked past and rested his hand on my shoulder blade and said, "Hey, how you finding it?" He used a solicitous, affectionate tone as if I was his nephew or something - as he is about ten or fifteen years younger than me, this seemed a bit odd. I think his manner involved some of that one-of-us stuff obsessives develop when they make a convert, but he's being a bit premature in this case. 

    My wife just said he was probably gay. She seemed to find the idea quite funny. I didn't.



    Bitters: slowly drowning in a sea of technology and unable to shout for help

    A friend who works in marketing has e-mailed me identifying a new tribe which he claims is huge - and yet but ignored because of its embarrassed silence. He calls them the Bitters, after Twitter - a site they particularly hate. Bitters basically feel drowned by the technology everywhere, and yet are niggled by the idea that they ought to be trying to keep up. They were always crap with technology, they loathe any type of user manual, and feel a peculiar mix of resentment, jealousy and hatred when they see people such as the work experience kid clutching their copy of Wired and doing something futuristic on their iPhone. Secretly, even though half of them do media jobs where it is alas, quite essential the Bitters wish it would just all go away. However, they do have urges to catch up and get on top of it, which is why they bought an iPod and then didn't get round to actually loading it with songs because they could not face the inevitable disappointment of it going wrong. When  I put this particular point to my friend, he confessed "er, in fact I have 2 i-Pods - I even updated the one I hadn't opened." He also admitted that at least once every day, like all Bitters, he mentally tots up how much he could make selling all his junk on ebay - and then feels tortured because to do so would mean "A, you have to work out how you do it, and B try and remember which password I used/created when I last tried engaging with ebay. I think this is why people are quite happy to see the return of pawn brokers."