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The Book

Out now at Amazon | Waterstones

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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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    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.


    Gulls: you have been warned

    A friend has alerted me to a fantastic article that appeared in a January issue of Sunday Times Magazine - about the growing menace of urban seagulls - here.

    I see that inevitably there is a pro-Seagull, anti-human lobby. According to the RSPB gulls only "protect their nests". As the Sunday Times writer points out, the problem is that the nests are on our roofs. "An urban building is not a sea cliff, and it is perverse to pretend that it's the gulls own territory that is being invaded."
    Any seagulls reading should note that this is the argument I will be adopting this year, and any attempt to confuse my roof with a cliff will result in YOUR DEATH. 



    The politics of Charlie and Lola

    I need to introduce Jez, one of my oldest friends. We were at school together, and even then he was very left wing in his politics. Although now he's senior in local plans at a large local authority near in Manchester, and lives in a very nice house with his wife and daughter in a suburb of said city, he still keeps up with the Labour party (not much to boast about these days, even he admits!), and has this way of making me feel for being more materialistic and workaholic than him. Eg sometimes when I am moaning about work like you do, he'll say "You want to get a grip on what really matters, mate!" Yes, thanks Jez, actually whether or not I get sacked because I haven't got the sales reports in on time feels like it does really matter somehow, maybe I'm superficial. Anyway, although this has not been in effect for a while, I fear it is beginning to resurface in conversations about our children. Jez and his wife and daughter have come down from Manchester to stay with us for the weekend, and this morning me, him and the two girls ended up sitting in front of the telly watching recorded Charlie and Lola on the digital recorder. This had begun badly because I admitted I could never remember how to work this rather expensive thing, and he, who does  not even have a widescreen telly, said, "Give us the remote here - " and promptly worked it out in, literally, one second. Anyway, then Charlie and Lola comes on, and - being perfectly honest - I said I enjoyed Charlie and Lola, and thought it was probably the best modern kids television programme. Jez, who says he prefers solid, no nonsense Balamory because he  it reminds him of his Scottish roots , grimaced slightly, and said "God, do you reckon? I can't stand their pretentious posh voices."

    This is typical Jez. You can't even watch a simple children's television programme without him bringing politics into it. What could I say, though? I couldn't just change my opinion, as I do this quite a lot around Jez, and he once made a remark about it when we were pissed. Hmm. "Shall I make us some tea?" I asked, thinking - best avoid coffee, it'll lead to a political debate about instant versus ground.