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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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    Entries in Maddie Y (130)

    Wednesday
    Dec232015

    Have a merry ruletide

    How excited MCs get about rules and regulations – and never more so than at Christmas. The complex festivities demand clear guidelines and decisive leadership. Standard rules for the MC Christmas might include:

    • cards only for people you got one from last year
    • gifts only for people you're actually seeing on the day itself
    • presents to be opened after lunch
    • no TV before Doctor Who

    Gift giving is where you'll find most of the Christmas rules lie, because the more potential there is for awkwardness, the more rules MCs will try to impose. “One gift per household/family” is a rule that you'll often hear about these days, along with the increasingly popular Secret Santa arrangement, which has extended from workplaces to families: everyone is to buy one present for one allocated recipient, and sometimes there's a rule on a spending limit.

    Being MCs we love making our rules complicated and with exceptions, so in many MC Christmases you'll find the rule is gifts-as-usual within immediate family and Secret Santa for anyone outside the nucleus. Or one-gift-per-household with the exception of the family that includes two young children, who each get their own individual gift.

    Are MCs ruining Christmas with all these rules? Or is this the only way we know how to really enjoy it? We'd love to hear some of your Christmas rules and regulations. Please do share, and have a very happy ruletide.

    Wednesday
    Dec162015

    'We brought this back from Peru': boasting goes baubles

    The days of the simple, traditional tree covered in your usual old multipack decorations are absolutely over. You may not yet have gone the whole hipster hog and started stacking up pieces of wood in the shape of a tree, but most of us are these days doing something edgier than the standard bauble-drenched spruce. The modern middle class Christmas tree is attractively sparse – verging on austere – in style, carrying very few ornaments, each one carefully, artfully placed for illumination.

    And, crucially, there will be hardly any duplication: most of the ornaments will have been bought or acquired individually, brought back from obscure locations and one-off markets, or donated by interesting associates. MCs will not want this to go unnoticed, and will proudly regale their house guests with the story of each bauble. Whether “brought back from Peru”, "given as a gift from our American cousins”, or “made by Archie in his woodwork class”, each one contributes to the festive-ish whole effect and it's rather impressive indeed.

    Where do we go next with this, though, you might wonder. At MCH we can't help thinking the hipster tree with painfully unique decorations may soon seem tired and too tortured. MCs are excellent at pushing an idea as far as it will go, then recognising a limit has been reached and retreating to a more basic, more fun version. The days of the traditional tree may not be over after all. We'd wager that in a year or so MCs will not sniff at M&S gold and red baubles and a flash of tinsel. And how we'll relish the joyful simplicity of it all.

    Friday
    Dec112015

    Art of hot desking: being seen to be displeased by a dirty mouse

    Having to sit at a different desk every day or for a few weeks at a time is increasingly normal in offices, as the management tries to facilitate flexible working and foster more creative environments, etc etc. But, the one thing nobody talks about amid all the guff about dynamic workspaces is the business of having to deal with someone else's filth.

    If you have your own keyboard and mouse at the same work station every day you can relax in the knowledge that it's only your own questionable sticky blotches on the mouse and only your own splashes of wasabi sauce smearing the space bar. But if you're having to jump on to any old desk every day your first five minutes at work will be spent inspecting those smears and addressing the situation with antibacterial wipes.

    And we love being self-righteous about it, don't we? We like to flap a bit as we're disinfecting the mouse and make comments about other people's dirt and low standards, to make sure everyone in earshot understands that we don't approve, and to imply that we would never leave a work station in such a state – only to go on and scatter flakes of croissant in between the keys and conveniently have to 'rush off' at the end of the day without making time to clear them up.

    Flickr: Martijn van Exel

    Friday
    Jun282013

    Class phwoar: Ikea’s Huset range for doll’s houses

    As ever, it’s the smallest things – physically the smallest – that inspire the biggest joy among the middle classes. And IKEA’s dinky doll’s house furniture is the latest diminutive delight to send our hearts a-flutter. This is an impossibly lovely and stylish range of doll’s house furniture, exactly the same design as some of IKEA’s most popular pieces, only 15 times smaller.

    Will kids really know the significance of this – and can they honestly tell the difference between these and random other bits of doll’s furniture they already have? Will we hear them saying how divine the Klippan sofa looks? No, probably not, but it’s not for them, is it? It’s for MC parents to play mini dreamhouse, and to enjoy the smug feeling of having not just any doll’s house, but a ‘’Huset”. Parents used to have to build their own doll’s house to get that sort of sensation. From August, it comes in a box for 12 quid. Superb.

    Wednesday
    Jun262013

    Heinz meanz many unnecessary types of Beanz  

    No matter how many brand extensions, variations and limited editions they attempt to throw at us, some brands will only ever be truly associated with their original, and best, item. These are the one-hit wonders, the brands who got it right the first time – and we absolutely love them for it. Heinz Beanz is one of those brands. But they’ve been innovating left, right and centre over the past few years – with organic varieties, low-sugar recipes, the ‘Fridge Pack’, and the brand name itself; it used to be simply Heinz Baked Beans, and now we have to put up with the stupid Z spelling. At the moment they’re enormously proud of their new, amazingly unappetising Flavoured Beanz range: barbecue, fiery chilli, garlic and herbs, curry, cheddar cheese.

    All these innovations can go to hell, as far as middle class people are concerned. The only Heinz Beanz we will ever really want to buy are the classic ones. We want them in a tin. And we want to cook them on the hob. Does life really need to be more complicated than that?

    Top three regrettable Heinz Beanz innovations:

    1. Flavoured Beanz Cheddar Cheese
      Seriously, cheesy beans from a tin? They sound totally disgusting.
    2. Fridge Pack
      Completely ruins the experience of opening a tin and cooking beans. Convenient, but sad. 
    3. Heinz Five Beanz (‘beanz for grown upz’)
      Ye gods! If we wanted berlotti beans and cannellini we’d go for some other brand like Napolina. Heinz Beanz are nice precisely because they are not grown-up. They make life seem simple and that’s exactly what we want.