Saturday 30 July 2011

More Classy Quotes

Is your favourite biscuit a pink wafer? Chances are you read The Sun.

 That’s according to a massive survey carried out by Sainsburys, who have analysed the nation’s biscuit-eating habits. The supermarket chain crunched Nectar data from around 12 million shoppers between 4 July 2010 and 2 July 2011, and came up with several crummy conclusions. For example, if you’re a fan of fig rolls, you could be a northerner. The snack is the second-most popular biscuit in both the North East and Yorkshire. Further south however the cookie is king; it’s the second most bought biscuit in East Midlands, East Anglia and London. Jam rings are especially popular outside England, with Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish shoppers buying them in droves. Enjoy a rich tea? You might hail from the South West, as the snack comes second-place in the area’s biscuit league table. However, number one nation-wide is the humble digestive. UK biscuit lovers can’t get enough of the sweet-meal dunker, which sells 17 million packets a year at Sainsburys. That’s more than 12% of 141m packets flogged by the chain per year. The national top five: Digestives; Cookies; Jam Rings; Chocolate Fingers; Rich Teas. Back to newspapers, and the data shows Daily Mail readers like a nice Garibaldi, while readers of The Independent prefer coconut creams. Guardian readers have more exotic tastes though, such as ginger and chocolate cookies, amaretti, butter thins and almond florentines. Andre Erasmus, editor of Biscuit World (that’s a real magazine, we promise), said: “This little round entity is a strong cultural identity of Britain, and has been around since the 1600s. The digestive biscuit and the rich tea are both considered as a traditional accompaniment to a cuppa, so it's no surprise to see them in the top five favourites. The jam ring in third spot was more of a surprise to us." He concluded: “Well done the biscuit!”. Yahoo News

Harrods dress code: Jewellery One earring per ear. Pearls or diamond studs preferred. One ring per hand with exception of wedding & engagement rings. No visible tattoos, sovereigns, mismatched jewellery, scrunchies, large clips or hoop earrings. Guardian July 2 2011

I am thinking of trying the discount chains Aldi and Lidl for the first time as I am fed up with paying a fortune to feed our family of four. Do readers recommend them?…I tentatively entered a Lidl store about five years ago. The first thing to catch my eye was a panettone for £2.99 – identical to one I’d just paid £6.99 for in our local delicatessen…. It is noticeable in the last two years or so that there are more middle-class shoppers. Suddenly, it has become acceptable to shop at Lidl. Guardian July 2 2011

[American squillionaires’] lifestyles were bordering on the absurd, according to Gladys Montgomery, author of a new book on the great camps aptly entitled An Elegant Wilderness. She notes that at nearby Pine Tree Point, railway pioneer Frederick Vanderbilt hired artisans from Japan to create Japanese-style cabins and made serving maids wear kimonos. Camps commandeered French chefs from New York's best restaurants for the summer. And at Prospect Point, mining magnate Adolph Lewisohn would bring a valet, a stenographer, a chess partner and his own barber for the season. The Observer on the Adirondacks July 2011

And throughout the book there simmers a kind of misanthropy, even snobbery: a contempt for the kind of people, working-class and middle-class alike, that Fabian types have mocked for decades, sneering at their neat suburban homes and modest material ambitions. These are the people who actually enjoy shopping at Westfield, not because they are corporate drones or have been brainwashed or define themselves purely by consumerism but simply because they fancy buying some new clothes or a better television or even the latest book by Iain Sinclair. Dominic Sandbrook in the Financial Times on Iain Sinclair's Ghost Milk July 2011 (The Fabians were a genteel kind of socialist who thought they knew what was best for everybody. Perhaps they're still around.)

More here, and links to the rest.

Friday 8 July 2011

The Mother-in-law from Hell

We've all heard of her by now. Carolyn Bourne, the dianthus-grower from Dawlish who sent her prospective daughter-in-law a critical email that went viral. Here it is, in case you missed it:

It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.

Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.

If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.

Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:

• When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.

• When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.

• You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.

• You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.

• You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.

• No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity-style behaviour. I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.) If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.

So far, so breathtakingly rude. But what shocks me more is the way some journalists have sided with her. Carrie Quinlan in The Guardian says "God bless you, Carolyn Bourne". India Knight in The Sunday Times joins in, and so does Victoria Summerley in The Independent and Mary Killen in The Daily Telegraph. They were happy, says Tim Black in, to see an adult telling off a graceless youth. And about time too! At least Ms Bourne has proved that class is not dead. One commentator called her "so Dawlish!".

Friday 1 July 2011

More Quotes About Class

As we left [the natural park created out of old railway land] I congratulated myself for not spending any money. But then I went and completely blew it by visiting the Lewes farmers' market. The excellent

The hall-mark of so-called “vulgar people” is unrestricted display of uncontrolled emotions. Emily Post

For this is an ineffably British tale [about Twitter and superinjunctions] that draws together several strands of national character into one inescapable cobweb of farcical confusion. Prurience, hypocrisy, low-level public cussedness towards authority and high-handed authority's disdain for the public all have their part to play. So – as far as the clash between the rights to privacy and free speech is concerned – does the failure to decide whether to be prissily private Europeans or let-it-all-hang-out Americans. Also present are British lethargy in adapting to the implications of new technology, and the gift for conflating the utterly banal into a sovereign point of principle. Where else would tweeting about a shagging sportsman be heralded as a show of mass civil disobedience worthy of Gandhi? Matthew Norman in the Independent on the superinjunction kerfuffle, May 25 2011

Of course, this sort of colour is also designed to indicate social class, which, although we British are far too squeamish to say so, still fascinates most of us.” Re the papers quoting murder victim Joanna Yeates parents’ house price, Sally Baker, Feeedback, Times Jan 8 2011

“Britons always get sniffy about other people getting filthy rich, whereas Americans like to see success rewarded.” David Prosser Independent Jan 2011

“A lady never admits her feet hurt.” Lorelei Lee, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Ottakar's were generally very astute at picking new sites for the bookshops, but they got it horribly wrong with Crawley. I was surprised, as a quick walk around the town centre would have confirmed that this wasn't bookshop territory - it was as if the middle classes had been ethnically cleansed.

More here, here, here and here.