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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)

    Tuesday
    Apr092013

    “Yes bois, it’s going to be sick”: how to talk like a Made in Chelsea character  

    Another season of E4’s staged reality show Made in Chelsea began last night, so now's a good time to take stock of the language this peculiar microcosm has given us and make sure we’re all up to speed.  There are a few words, phrases and pronunciations common to boys and girls, such as pronouncing party as “pardy”, and the oddly childish expression “going on dates” instead of “dating” or “seeing each other”. But there are also elements that are specific to the male and female characters. Here’s a little run down so you can have a go and perfect your Chelsea patter.

    Boys

    Use oddly 1990s slang such as “sick”, “jokes” and “safe”
    Your male friends are your “bois” (spelt like that). Say this as much as possible, “yes bois, how are we bois?”
    Less close male friends, and those you’re feeling a bit hostile towards, are “brothers”
    Every conversation needs to end with an awkward handshake, high five or quick touch-hug
    Women are “girls”. Use this collective whenever there is more than one in front of you. “How are you girls? What have you girls been up to?”
    Girlfriends are, amazingly, known as “birds”
    If nothing to say, hug or just say “yes bois!” a lot.

    Girls

    Affect a 40-a-day croak
    Combine with babyish tone
    End every phrase with a question intonation or a drawl
    Call your female friends “bubba”, “bunny”, “babs”, “babby” and variations thereof
    Call your thinner, more petite friends “little one” with thinly veiled contempt
    Mix up your vowel sounds. Spencer becomes “Spancah”, Andy becomes “Undeh”
    If nothing to say, just stare and pout
    If staring goes on too long, smile coyly and say “this is awkward”.

    Friday
    Apr052013

    Is it acceptable to spoon off the froth on a cappuccino and eat it?  

    A friend of my mum’s is adamant that it’s socially unacceptable to treat the froth on a cappuccino as something to be spooned off and eaten before you get down to drinking the coffee. It’s something I’ve always done and haven’t been aware of finding it offensive in other people’s behaviour, but I wonder if said friend might have a point. 

    There’s something quite childish and distinctly unItalian about tucking into the froth as though it’s a kind of dessert topping, isn’t there? It’s comparable to a garnish served with a dish at a restaurant – middle class people long ago agreed that it’s not the done thing to eat the garnish. Perhaps we should be approaching coffee froth in the same way: just drink the coffee and ignore the froth. Taking to it with a spoon could be considered distastefully pragmatic – you’re making a great show of not wanting it to go to waste. But perhaps that’s alright in these more austere times? We need to come to an agreement. To spoon or not to spoon?

    Flickr: pdbreen
    Monday
    Apr012013

    Charity shopping: what to buy and what not to buy  

    Charity shopping is utterly great and to be encouraged. But, there’s definitely an art to it. There are things that are perfectly acceptable to buy from a charity shop, and then things that are a real no-go. Just because something can be bought there and it seems a bit of a bargain, doesn’t mean it should be snapped up. Of course, all spending in a charity shop is good spending and the MCH wouldn’t want to discourage you, but there’s no need to lose your savoir-faire as a middle class consumer just because your money’s going to a good cause. You can still apply the same discernment and spend wisely.

    Yes

    Clothes that are good quality and which you actually try on (why would you think you don’t need to try them on just because you’re in a charity shop?), books, wine glasses, bags, pots and bowls and vases, CDs and DVDs, stuff that’s clearly new such as greetings cards, notebooks, bars of Fairtrade chocolate and so on, jewellery except used earrings, cushions, throws and blankets, gloves, hats, scarves

    No

    Bras, underwear, swimwear, games and jigsaws unless prepared to count all the bits and pieces, stuff from Primark that would cost the same price new, pyjamas and silky/satiny nightwear (too intimate), old shoes (not hygienic really), stained teapots, baby toys that might have been licked and vomited on, someone’s old postcards and pictures you don’t know the history/context of (creepy), body creams and beauty products that are not sealed, sheets and pillow cases, dodgy old small electricals eg. kettles/sandwich toasters/radios

    Flickr: ilovememphis
    Saturday
    Mar302013

    Licking a finger to turn a newspaper page: a misguided attempt at sophistication  

    I think licky page turning might be my biggest pet peeve. You know, that thing people do when they are leafing through a newspaper and they moisten their finger to help turn the pages. I find it deeply disgusting. I can’t bear the whole system of it: the tongue emerging, poised, waiting for the finger to dab onto it, and then the moist finger catching the corner of the paper, leaving a little mark of spittle.  Over and over again.

    Horrific.

    But so many people do it. From my can’t-not-look-at-it observations over the years, it seems it’s a habit among quite ordinary-seeming people over the age of about 50. At least, I’ve never seen a younger person do it. (The much younger generations are hardly ever seen turning pages anyway; it’s all screens for them.) I wonder if these people were brought up to think it was a sophisticated gesture, considered similar to holding out your little finger while sipping from a teacup? Or maybe it’s much simpler than that, and habitual, as a result of paper having been of a different quality when they were growing up, and therefore pages harder to turn without the aid of a moistened finger? 

    Does anybody know where this awful thing started? Understanding its history might take the sting out of it for me.

    Flickr: jon smith
    Tuesday
    Mar052013

    How to be an MC consultant: insisting on using your own laptop when working in a client’s office  

    Consultancy, as we know, is a middle-class delight. We can’t get enough – it makes us feel important. We get a bit of a kick out of opting in to an office set-up for short periods of time, talking a lot and then opting out again, not having to get involved in any real way with the politics of the permanent team of employees. And essential to this dynamic is the bringing in of your own laptop – ideally a Macbook – to a client’s office, and an insistence that you’ll work better on your own machine, rather than at one of their desktop computers.

    The implication, the air you like to cultivate as the visiting consultant or freelancer, is that you’re entirely mobile, flexible, self-contained, not tied down. Sitting properly at one of the company’s computers, complete with mouse pad, phone and crusty keyboard, feels too permanent, like giving in. Working at your own laptop is a way to keep control. Smug? Yes, horribly. But then so is consultancy work in general.

    Here are three other ways to retain an air of separateness:

    1. Insist on lunching out
    You don’t go in for this al desko dining thing. Life’s too short. Would anyone like to join you in getting some air?

    2. Use your own stationery
    They’ve said help yourself to any of their notebooks and pens etc. but you’re happier with your trusty Moleskine.

    3. Talk instead of emailing
    You just don’t get this business of emailing people sitting in the same room. And in your defence, you like to quote David Ogilvy: “if you want action, don’t write, go and tell the guy what you want.”

    Flickr: kowitz
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