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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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    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." 




    I don't know much about UKIP, but they gave us the big winner last night: ladies and gentleman - though not Madames et Monsieurs - Nigel Farage! He just seemed somehow like a man whose time had come, strangely like a Noughties version of Norman Tebbit - same right-for now, sod-them-all, street-fighting instinct,  but with a warm, approachable style. Whatever your political persuasion, you could imagine having a decent enough half and hour with him over tea and cakes (maybe not French-style cakes though). Nigel looks potentially like a new spin on an old kind of Tory face for the 2010s to me. And he has a near-perfect name; could there new Nigel class for next decade? We'll have to have a think.


    Chocolate's neglected classic

    Last night, having watched The Apprentice final in which the finalists Kate and Yasmina each had to make and brand a new box of chocolates, my wife and I had a discussion about chocolate. We were wondering if all the new luxury brands were making life harder for the old ones. She asked what I thought was the most overlooked, taken-for-granted chocolate. I said Thornton's Continental range, but she said she was thinking more of mass market bars whose excellence was overlooked because you saw them all the time. We finally settled on Toblerone. Unusual taste, she pointed out, with the honey and almond nougat. And always feels good in your mouth because of the shape. The trouble is, you tend to associate them with airports, which are not places you associate with pleasurable sensations.


    James Purnell's pinky ring

    James Purnell is often accused of being a closet Tory in the Labour Party, and I couldn't help noticing that in one of the many pictures of him published after his resignation, he seemed to be wearing a very Tory piece of jewellery, ie a pinky ring. On first glance this would seem to mark him out as a Normal Actually, as do his background (Guildford, accountant dad, private school and Balliol) and his serious approach to tennis. But maybe it's not quite so simple. Closer examination of the ring reveals it to be a contemporary, chunky, silver design, rather than the classic signet; it represents a Blairite update of tradition. Perhaps James's ring is saying "I work within the established system but recognize the need to be modern and up to date. Conservative businessmen - you are safe with me! Labour chaps - I might seem a bit posh at first, but I'm on your side." It might seem a  trivial detail, but with politicians of all parties converging style-wise, such details can be important - just ask Hazel Blears. I wonder if this means there is a emerging sub-class of liberal(ish) Normal Actuallys? 


    What where you sit in a car says about you

    Over the weekend I was telling my friend Kevin much I had enjoyed driving the Mercedes A Class in Mallorca, and then we got talking about cars, and he told me an old adage his dad had told him about how couples arrange themselves in cars. Take two couples, Couple A and Couple B. They are about to go somewhere in a car driven by husband A. If they are working class, Husband A and Husband B sit in the front, wives A & B get in the back, thus:

    Husband B Husband A

    Wife A Wife B

     If they are middle class, the couples separate, thus:

    Wife A Husband A

    Husband B  Wife B

     And finally, the debauched upper class splits the couples:

    Wife B Husband A

    Wife A Husband B

     No grounds in research or anything like that, but interesting - to me, anyway.