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The Book

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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


Olivia Coleman = nailed-on Future National Treasure

Spring Bank holidays

Too close together! Very bad!


“I queued for THREE BLOODY HOURS at B&Q for a new recycling bin! The entire town’s in CHAOS”


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 Spellman (122)



    This clever use of a thank you on speed-limit signs is impressive and modern in its approach to anti-social behaviour, and a good example of what is called "nudging". Feeling inspired to emulate it, we have been trying to think of ways to combat certain behaviours that annoy us; we haven't got far with the solutions yet, but the top five problems and needs are clear.

    1. A sign that allows one middle-class parent to tell another middle-class parent, without any un-middle-class conflict or rudness, that it's really annoying when they pick up their child half an hour late from a "playdate".
    2. A form of ticking-off for people who take tickets in numbered queuing systems, and then wander off so everyone has to wait while their number is called and not answered.
    3. A way of encouraging people who have filled up their car at a busy petrol pump to pull forward so that the person behind can fill up. As opposed to waiting for ten minutes while said person goes in to pay, and then DELIBERATES OVER THE BLOODY HARIBO OR ROAD MAPS OR DECIDES TO WRITE A NOVEL OR WHATEVER IT IS THEY DO IN THERE WHILE THE REST OF US ARE LEFT SODDING QUEUEING. Sorry. 
    4. A discouragement, possibly a new sales tax, on people using debit cards to pay for items that cost about  99p or something.
    5. A form of football-style red cards for dads in parks engaged in over-competitive games of football with 4-year-old children. Not necessarily for sending them out of the park, but for reminding them that they should be blushing at behaviour so widely regarded as a joke.



    All hail Cath-letic, fittest mum on the whole school run  

    There's always at least one Cath-letic at any decent middle-class school gate in the morning, and she 's not hard to spot. She'll have on Lycra leggings, chunky Nike trainers, and a fluorescent kagoul, and she'll most likely be checking the stats on her MapMyRun iPhone app. All this is necessary because Cath LOVES RUNNING, and she especially loves to get in a run between school and starting work; on different days she might also get in some circuit training and yoga. Toned, poised and in control, she'll tell you about her next 15K coming up in a few weeks time, and about the knee injury that's worrying her, but because she is so impossibly well-adjusted, she manages not to annoy people.

    In fact, she might even manage to convert one or two, taking them off running and giving them stretching tips (which they gladly note - who wouldn't when she looks as good as she does at 38?) like the natural leader she is. Cath has a good job, sporty partner and mainstream tastes; Coldplay, Jacob's Creek and Downton will do her fine, thanks, as home-entertainment isn't really where it's at for her. For Cath, once she's off the track it's all downhill.

    Flickr: lululemon athletica

    Class phwoar: the mainstreaming of food samples

    It is hardly news to point out how much the middle classes enjoy eating the samples at farmers' market food stalls, but the aisle-blocking popularity of new sample-counters in supermarkets does seem to merit comment this autumn. In my local branch of M&S on Saturday, I watched as a young chap doled out taster-cups of Pecan and Maple liqueur (this itself an interesting ratcheting up of the Bailey's market, but that's another blog), Christmas biscuits and cake.

    He was taking it incredibly seriously, inviting people to "savour the pecan notes" and so on, and shoppers were quite literally lapping it up; at points the crowd was so large that you could barely get past it. I have seen similar scenes at Morrison's and Waitrose, demonstrating how this once-niche-seeming sales tactic has not only become part of the mainstream middle-class shopping experience, but almost a well-loved activity in itself. I can see a sample-size serving street-food cafe of some sort opening soon, thus saving us the hassle of actually having to buy big boxes of anything. 


    A big hand for Pam Dram, the star of your local stage  

    Pam Dram has been at the heart of every amateur play, panto, revue and Gilbert and Sullivan production ever staged in the draughty halls of her market town in Northamptonshire. Sometimes she acts (lead role, obviously) but these days she usually directs, using the language and techniques learned from a brief semi-professional experience of "the theatre" in her youth (she was once Amanda Redfearn's understudy in a touring show - Amanda said Pam was better than she was!). Pam takes all the productions very, very seriously, far more so than most of the cast, who by the third month of rehearsals, when Pam is telling them off for not being "off-book" with their lines, all wish they hadn't bothered.

    She is frequently at loggerheads with the assistant director, who gives in for a quiet life, and constantly annoyed that the actors are not emoting or projecting enough. "Give it some oomph, love!" she shouts at the accountants, teachers, and retired bank managers that comprise her cast. "Act as if you want to tear his clothes off, come on!"

    Pam, 60, a retired teacher herself, likes to think of herself as quite forthright and saucy (which leads some cast members to speculate on the nature of her relationship with somewhat browbeaten-husband Gerard) although she has little time for most "modern drama", which, she feels, uses controversy to cover up for a lack of all-round talent. The last decent thing she saw on stage was Calendar Girls, and even that dragged a little. Pam's Pirates of Penzance was better value than most modern stuff, although fair's fair, New Tricks is terrific.


    Is a brand new 4x4 for £8995 an affront to middle class tastes? 

    In the Middle Class Handbook office, opinion has been divided over the Dacia Duster, and specifically over the Daily Telegraph's rather counter-intuitive review of it.

    Some feel that any 4x4 is too chavvy for words, regardless of price, and that one with such a small price tag will attract people who wear baseball caps, and like to rest their celtic arm tattoos on the sills when driving. In the other camp are the folk who see it as appealing to middle-class sense and prudence, in the way that Skoda Octavias did. "Your kids kick it to pieces anyway," says one. "What's the point of paying fifty grand for a Q7?" 

    Personally, I think it will appeal to a specific middle class type, possibly close to an alt-middle who actively enjoys buying cars that are a bit cranky and/or ugly; a decade ago they were the ones driving Fiat Multiplas, and they may have since splashed out on a Chrysler Voyager. They're a funny lot, mostly female I think; not untrendy, and possessed of a strong sense of individualism that makes them impervious to their peers' sneers. Thoroughly middle class though, as the choice implies a disregard for looks which is quite intellectual and bourgeois. We will call them the Dacia Division; it was tempting to make use of "Duster", but that would be too weird even for them. 

    The Dacia Division's Top Five Slightly-Weird Cars

    1.  Fiat Mulitpla
    2. Chrysler Voyager
    3. Daewoo Matiz
    4. Any Skoda
    5. Dacia Duster