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The Book

Out now at Amazon | Waterstones

Middle Class Handbook on Twitter
Chattering Class

Leicester City overkill

Yes we get it, it's lovely. But can we talk about something else now?

Online petitions

Please sign our online petition to have them banned


The new Frozen

Artisan marshmallows


The word “artisan”


Discussing sourdough recipes

You buy it? Might as well wear a Burberry baseball cap

Getting the right shade of fake tan

“Just enough to stop my legs looking like something I dug up”

Travelling off-peak on rural branchline trains


Pointless gadgets made by start-ups

Usually no better than Innovations catalogue stuff

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The Periodic Table of the Middle Class
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    How to stop pickled onions rolling off your plate


    It is very unfortunate that so many small, round hard things are so very tasty. Spherical treats such as pickled onions, radishes, cherry tomatoes and various nuts are all, of course, delicious accompaniments to savoury foods, but can be devilishly difficult to eat. One bit of pressure from a knife and fork and zip – off they shoot, leaving the plate and whizzing across the table. This then creates a double dilemma of how to retrieve them – there is just no easy way – and then what to do with them once retrieved? Side plate? Side of the plate? Dog?

    Careful cutting is one solution, but it can go wrong. Sitting the thing in a little bit of mayo may also work, but who wants mayo on a pickled onion? We hear that those in the know keep a bit of side salad to hand to place over the item. That way, you cut into lettuce first, which will absorb much of the impact before you pierce the food underneath. Any other solutions – as well as round-food-based horror stories and embarrassments – very welcome.


    Chattering Class: Cheers and Jeers

    Waitrose Christmas ad

    No use pretending this isn't exactly what we want Christmas to look like

    Tinder CEO's misuse of 'sodomy'

    Highly embarrassing

    Takeaway spending went up during Rugby World Cup

    And we're struggling to get back to home cooking, tbh

    'White' cappuccino

    The cool way to request a capu without chocolate

    Campylobacter in supermarket chickens

    It's hard to keep up with the advice on how concerned to be

    McDonald's secret 'Monster Mac'

    Will always be too ashamed to order it


    Just so good

    Having to order twice in a café, first with a barista, then at the till

    Really awkward and annoying



    There’s always a slightly awkward moment for MCs when we need to pay for a single item or something small in a shop or café. There's an absence of script here, but we can’t just hand over our Kit-Kat to the newsagent or our panini to the Pret barista in an embarrassed silence. If the barista attempts to upsell or we're asked if we want anything else, “No, thank you” seems, oddly, too blunt. 

    The solution we’ve arrived at is to say: “Just this, please”. Saying “just” at this juncture adds a suitably middle-class hint of apology and self-effacement – “I’m so sorry to be making such a measly purchase” or “I do hope you don’t mind me taking up your time by buying something from you”. 

    Another interpretation is that it’s an assertion of virtuous self-restraint: “I’m not really a greedy self-indulgent so-and-so. I’m having just this.”

    This expression has become such a staple element in till-side transactions that it can even, quite ridiculously, accompany fairly lavish purchases. A “just this, please” referring to anything from a triple-chocolate-chip muffin with fondant centre to a £400 Dyson in John Lewis is not unheard of.

    Self-indulgence and self-effacement are never too far apart in middle-class word and deed.

    Flickr: SuperlativeQuip



    There are many awkward situations online, each requiring their own etiquette. Whether or not to tell someone there's a typo in their post, for example, and how to deal with the follower who tiresomely responds to literally everything you tweet – we will address these matters in due course. But first, how does a blogger or avid social media user return to writing fresh posts and/or tweets after a prolonged absence? What’s the correct form here?

    Always keen to put forward ideas in such debates, we here offer some options for sneaking back online. As for why we’re thinking of this right now – we really have no idea (see option 5 below). 

    1. Apologise with full excuse note

    A favourite of bloggers. “Sorry,” the post usually runs, “I haven’t posted for such a long time, I’ve been so busy moving house/having a baby/with life in general, etc etc.” Nice and honest, but can seem unnecessarily fussy. “It happens to us all,” the reader may want to say, “get over yourself.” 

    2. Pick up where you left off

    Make no reference to the fact that you appear to have spent the last six months in outer space. This is the easiest option – but it's a bit creepy, frankly. Your reader is likely to be left feeling suspicious about you and everything you subsequently post. 

    3. Redesign your site and announce a 'relaunch'

    The idea is to look as though you’ve been busy on an overhaul, and now are back with renewed purpose. This is OK, we suppose, but do make it a proper redesign and not just a change in the colour scheme of your Wordpress template. 

    4. Be jolly

    “Hello, remember me?” you might want to ask, hoping for a warm welcome. Be careful with this one; bear in mind a possible answer could be: “No, who on earth are you, get out of my timeline”.

    5. Be meta and anthropological
    Write a piece about the awkwardness of coming back to post on a blog after not posting on a blog, in order to divert attention from the fact that you are one of the returning non-posters. Ridiculous! Seriously, what sort of chancers would try that?

    Flickr: TheTruthAbout


    The most MC TV ads you’ll see this Christmas

    For a concentrated shot of class values, this season’s much-discussed TV ads are a great place to go. There’s that Sainsbury’s ad of course (the one that rips off Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace), but you won’t find more juicy nuggets of insight into middle-class beliefs than in the John Lewis and Waitrose offerings.

    This year, their ads explore a theme close to middle-class hearts – the Sensitive Child. John Lewis brings us the tale of a boy with an imaginary penguin friend while Waitrose tells the story of a girl who overcomes her lack of confidence to run the school gingerbread stall.

    Parallels between the two ads are interesting. In both, the child is slightly at odds with their social environment. Not seriously, dysfunctionally out-of-kilter, just a little different, a little awkward. John Lewis Boy plays with his penguin while the other kids play together. Waitrose Girl looks awkwardly down while her classmates all shoot their hands up to be gingerbread nominee.

    What could be more middle class than that? The fantasy of the Sensitive Child means being special and different. There may be a price to pay in social awkwardness, but it’s well worth it.

    Another interesting feature of the ads is their sense of loneliness. John Lewis Boy and Waitrose Girl both have inner journeys to undertake in these ads – and as they do so they’re largely on their own. Caring parents look on with concern from a distance – OK, Waitrose Girl does get one hug. But deep down, life’s lessons have to be learned independently.

    That’s another major middle-class belief. You have to be self-reliant and can’t depend too much on other people. Life is an individual quest and not always something that’s easy to share.

    For a window onto a totally different universe, the Tesco ad is worth a look.

    No awkwardness and no sensitive children here – Christmas is an outer not an inner experience: about lights, sharing and fun, not long dark nights of the soul. Phew.

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