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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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    Monday
    Jun012009

    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. 

     

    Friday
    May292009

    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.

     

    Thursday
    May282009

    The Weather

    Is there ever going to be a day on which it doesn't rain? I know you're supposed to take the British weather with a grim smile, but this is getting ridiculous. Perhaps it's the build up to the flood that will precede Armageddon? In which case it will be interesting to see which two humans Noah chooses. David and Victoria? George Bush and his wife? Two pretty people whose skin has just enough of a coffee tint to allow Noah to claim they are non-ethnically specific? Whoever, you can rest assured it won't be one of us lot - we'll just be paying the increased taxes to pay for the ark.

    Wednesday
    May272009

    I hate fit people part 2

    I have been visiting the gym twice a week, but craftily avoiding the induction by telling them I was a member years ago. Gym inductions are terrible experiences if you are unfit and fat. The instructors are nazis (during the last one I did, the instructor asked me how much I weighed, and when I told him pulled an appalled face, repeated the amount, and said, "REALLY?"), and then after giving you a workout programme designed to kill you because you are fat and therefore deserve to die, they always try to get you to do more stuff than you want. But still, the other day I made the mistake of asking a Lycra Nazi for advice about the exercise bike, and thus being persuaded to do the induction today. It was as expected. A sneer when I said I only wanted to come twice a week, and then punishment via the treadmill. Having set the incline to 8 and speed to about 75 miles per hour, he asked how I was finding it. "OK really," I lied, whereupon he said "Oh, OK, and increased the speed. Of course I had to ask if I could finish before the alloted 25 minutes. "OK," he said, as if I had just asked if I could pop out for a fag. "Build up to it."
    There was similar humiliation all the way round. "It's pointless unless your heart rate is up to 140 for at least ten minutes," he told me about sixty times (Is this true? I thought it was supposed to be some use if you just had a brisk walk? I bet that's one of those things the Government tells you to make you feel less doomed) And yet at the end he asked if I had thought about using him as a personal trainer (answer, yes, in the same way that I have "thought about" having my eyeballs burned out with hot pokers), and if I would like to come to his cycling class? Or perhaps Pilates? Suddenly it was almost impossible to get rid of him. Do they get a commission or something. "Sorry," I said. "But I've just got to pop out. I'm gasping for a fag."

    Wednesday
    May272009

    The unbearable untidiness of airing cupboards

    Panic this morning when, already late getting for ready for work, we realised it was Eva the cleaner's day. Agh - bedroom looked like a war zone. My wife tidied it up while I went to look for fresh bedding. Getting fresh bedding is one of my small yet potent irritations. The sheet, quilt and pillowcase sets are never grouped together, and extracting them makes everything begin to fall out so you have to jam it all back in in a right mess. About once a month we take it all out and stack it in afresh, but it always ends up like this. Is it just us? I seem to remember my mum's airing cupboard being like a little cave of domestic tranquility, and for the contrast between her's and ours is a marker of the divide between the simpler, poorer but happier world of our childhoods, and the better-off-but-never-feeling-properly-on-top-of-things one we inhabit now. It's always like this the morning Jacquetta comes though. I did once suggested that maybe it would be less stressful to just not have a cleaner, but wife said I was being "ridiculous".