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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
    Dec072015

    How to respond when someone says they're an accountant

    It's Christmas party season, which means MCs up and down the country will soon be asking each other that most boring of questions: “What do you do?” But what on earth do you do if you get the apologetic, verging on self-loathing, answer: “I’m an accountant, I’m afraid.” Or: “Accountant. Very boring, I know.” It’s an etiquette minefield.

    It seems that no matter what you do you’ll end up making things worse. Here are four ways MCs tend to respond when faced with a new acquaintance who works in accounts.

    1. Have recourse to Dharma by sagely talking about how “everyone has a role to play. Where would we be without accountants? All those creatives wouldn't make a living without an accountant to sort them out.” Pretty patronising, this.
    2. Make the accountant feel better by playing up the downsides of your own job: “Well, at least you have nice regular hours and know where you are. You wouldn’t believe how draining it can be having to travel all the time.” A bit insulting.
    3. Protest too much. “No, no, NO! There’s nothing boring about accountancy. I imagine you must work on some tremendously exciting projects and meet lots of different people!’ Implausible and embarrassing.
    4. Struggle for words and fail to find any. Make a little “ah” of feigned interest and wait for the accountant to change the subject. Awkward.

    Tumblr: Uber Brick

    Saturday
    Dec052015

    Secret Snob #18: traditional Welsh blankets

    The duvet has a lot to answer for. Much as it revolutionised middle-class life, it also meant blankets, and the blanket box, ceased to be essential items, disappearing as we de-cluttered our households and embraced our continental lifestyles.

    On the plus side, once something is no longer “essential” we can start to appreciate its finer qualities and move it into the category of items classed “object of desire”. On that basis, it’s time to stand back and appreciate the work of craft that is the traditional Welsh blanket.

    You’ll be vaguely familiar with the pattern: a checked arrangement of fuzzy squares and lozenges – currently being replicated on tea trays and lampshades by admiring designers – and the slightly coarse texture of the thick, woven wool. These are heavy-duty blankets for a pre-central heating world.

    Over in Pembrokeshire, Melin Tregwynt is wooing the design shop market with some contemporary patterns and mid-century modern crossovers, while Trefriw Woollen Mills in the Conwy Valley stick so closely to tradition that they even spin their own wool. But today we are heading to Rock Mill at the heart of Welsh blanket country on the Ceredigion/Carmarthenshire border. Not only is it the last water-driven woollen mill in Wales (check out the water wheel), but the low stone mill was built by the present owner’s great-grandfather. 

    Friday
    Dec042015

    CHATTERING CLASS: WHAT'S THE STORY

    Advent calendars

    When did we all get so snooty? Chocolate ones are perfectly acceptable

    Being able to order 'the usual' in your daily coffee shop

    You can't force it. The staff have to take the lead. Can take years

    Christmas crockery

    Awful. Better to use plain china and dress up with festive napkins etc

    The smaller the poinsettia...

    The naffer it is. Go big or not at all

    Having a box of tissues in the car

    There's something lovely and thoughtful about this

    Marcus Wareing

    Doing a great job on MasterChef this year. He gets twinklier and twinklier

    People parking in front of your driveway and only moving if you ask

    Just not on

    Excessive announcements from train guards

    We're trying to read! Be quiet!

    Multiple Christmas trees

    No, says @cunarders: yes to proper decorated tree in main room, twig-like tree with just lights in secondary room

    Wednesday
    Dec022015

    HOW TO BE MC: WIN AT AIRBNB

    Gone are the days of using Airbnb to see the world on the cheap or to get a taste of local living. Now it's all about finding the most whimsical or avant-garde dwelling out there – chosen for its particular instagrammability, of course. 

    Airbnb oneupmanship has become serious business. Yurts are old hat – we're now talking geodesic domes, castles, windmills and fairy cottages, ideally with an outdoor hot tub or candlelit grotto thrown in.

    “We stayed in the astronomy dome in Chile with self-contained observatories for star-gazing.” “Sounds lovely, but we could never top our tree cocoon in a forest in France.” “Our hobbit-hole underground was carbon-neutral – an amazing feat of eco-architecture.”

    This is the kind of conversation you get these days among keen Airbnbers, and sooner or later you'll be feeling the pressure. Here's our guide to coming out on top.

    1. Stay in an eco-dwelling in one of the world's most extreme environments.
    2. Go tiny – stay in a shipping container or a house within a house.
    3. Make sure your hot tub gives you a spectacular, even cosmic, view – the Northern Lights would be perfect.
    4. Ignore health and safety – candle-lit treehouses guarantee Instagram love.
    5. Ruffle some feathers by revealing that you found your last holiday digs on onefinestay instead of Airbnb.
    Friday
    Nov272015

    CHATTERING CLASS: THIS WEEK'S FADS AND FLOPS

    Quality Street

    It's too soon for the first box of the season

    Mince pies

    Too soon for them, too, unless homemade for a school fair

    MasterChef's pig's trotter challenge

    A bit much

    Secret Life of Five-Year-Olds

    Those little monsters are just brilliant. Lovely teachers, too

    'Reach out'

    This has to stop

    Being told 'things' don't bring you lasting happiness

    Yeah, but what about things like the NutriBullet?

    Waitrose 'Heritage Collection' bath stuff

    We see what you're doing, and we're not biting

    'Excited for'

    This is creeping in and it's very worrying

    Over-hashtagging tweets

    #Notnecessaryorclever #Really #Annoying #Stop

    Quilts

    Back in, and we couldn't be happier

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