The Ten Most Middle Class Things Ever

The Ten Most Middle Class Things Ever

Once, whilst visiting a popular picnic spot with my brother, he felt the need to pause a conversation mid-sentence and gasp in awe at a seemingly very ordinary group of people making their way across the immaculate lawn.  An army of green canvas folding chairs, wicker picnic hampers and Prosecco bottles crossed in front of us, eyes on a secluded spot where they could lay down their wares and crack open a bottle of Waitrose’s Finest.

“That is…the most middle class thing I have ever seen,” he spluttered, admiringly.  “I love it!”

The British are well known for an obsession with class.

I would like to say that as a liberal, left-wing Guardian reading anarchist member of the bourgeoisie, I am not even remotely interested in such anachronisms, preferring instead to live on a hippy commune in Somerset with thirty five chickens and a couple of goats.

But that would be lying.

I am obsessed with class.  I love it.  And what I love the most is my own self-important sense of middle class righteousness.  The middle classes are right about everything, all of the time.  There are no social problems in middle class households.  No middle class person ever got drunk on anything other than wine (or maybe gin), no middle class person ever shouted at their errant child in public.  And if they did, I never got to hear about it.  The middle classes are strictly sensible, strictly quinoa as the preferred grain, and strictly come dancing rather than X Factor.  To cut a long story short, my single greatest aim in life is to be considered middle class.

In celebration of the middle classes, I have compiled this list of the Ten Most Middle Class Things Ever.  You’re welcome.  Picnic hampers not included.

1.) Waitrose.  The original, and still the best.  I’m pretty sure the basics range includes such dietary staples as harissa and pomegranate seeds, but don’t quote me on it.  They might not be posh enough.

2.) Naming your child a class above.  Are your children called Sebastian and Harriet?  Tristram and Crispian?  Is your daughter called India in remembrance of that gap year you spent in Kerala in the nineties?  If so, then you are officially Middle Class.

3.) Holidays in Center Parcs.  I know dahling, it’s just so much more civilised than Haven.  There’s woodland you know, and the log cabins are just to die for.  So much more aesthetically pleasing than those common caravans.  And you can hire bicycles for the whole family, which is always good for the waistline.  Obesity is the scourge of the lower echelons.

4.) Breton tops.  Are your entire family dressed in them?  Mum, dad, children, grandparents?  It’s just the classic look.  A little bit French chic, a lot practical school run.

5.) Pretending to be religious to get your child into a better school.  Come on, we’ve all done it.  It’s a dog eat dog world out there.

6.) Conservatories.  No one working class ever had a conservatory.  Only middle class gardens offer sufficiently pleasant viewing over breakfast.

7.) Skiing.  Just expensive enough to price out the proletariat.

8.) Land Rovers.  Perfect for storing the folding chairs and gazebo for those impromptu picnics in the suburban wilderness.  And they look so country-casual on the school run.

9.) Colour co-ordinated Christmas decorations.  Nothing looks as tacky as colour clashing tree lights or (gasp) those giant inflatable Santas tacked to the side of the house.  And God forbid anything flashing.  The baby Jesus would be spinning on the Virgin’s lap at such a monstrosity.

10.) Red wine.  Who would go into a salty local pub and order a red wine?  No one.  Only the middle classes have the sophisticated palate required to discern when there’s a “full-bodied field of flowers” or a “hint of saddle.”

So based on this tongue in cheek and dare I say it arbitrary list of criteria, are you middle class, or am I alone in being the one giving a gasp of astonishment when Tesco turn out not to stock pomegranate molasses?  I knew I should have stuck with Ocado.

I’ve seen you in those Breton tops.  Don’t try to deny it.

When You Just Can’t Think of Anything to Write

When You Just Can’t Think of Anything to Write

I once read an interview with the great Caitlin Moran, where she said that she found it easier to write when she had a number of different writing projects to complete than when she was writing one 800 word column per week.

Now I am not about to compare myself to Caitlin Moran (OK, I am), but I think I know how she feels.  In the past few weeks life has filled up with other tasks, and blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

I have watched as other bloggers seem to churn out posts day after day, whilst maintaining their profile across countless social media channels and still inexplicably having time to raise their children.

And I don’t know how they do it.

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A Little Visit From The Parenting Police

A Little Visit From The Parenting Police

M’am,

We dropped in to see you earlier, but it appears that you weren’t in.  Probably out working, I imagine.  Shouldn’t you be at home like a proper mother?  Oh no of course, we forgot, you are a single mother.  We wouldn’t want the likes of you eating up the welfare budget with your fecklessness and irresponsibility.  Some of us had the good grace to do the right thing, you know.  We don’t see why the state should be sponsoring your ignorance of contraception and inability to hold down a relationship.

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What I Have Learned in One Week of House Hunting

What I Have Learned in One Week of House Hunting

As the old adage goes, it’s better to have the worst house in a good street, than the best house in a bad street.

Your garden might be full of what the council terms “bulky waste,” and your doors may be falling off their hinges, but you’ll have the best schools, the best parks, the best wine bars and the most perfectly spiffing neighbours.

I wonder if this is true.

Is it really better to punch above your weight in the more middle class environs, or should one up sticks to the city limits, to have a better chance at a decent sized house (or a house at all) but take your chances with the local primary and just hope that your child doesn’t make any unsavoury friends?

And can one even voice such concerns legitimately without being shouted down on Mumsnet and accused of sounding like Katie Hopkins?

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Boys and their Toys

Boys and their Toys

I had high hopes for my son.

I imagined that he would be the next John Stuart Mill.

Studying the classical languages by the age of three, and a master of the ancient Greek philosophers by eight; most importantly he would be a visionary, a man ahead of his time, a frontrunner in the fight for gender equality.

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Ten Weird Things About Having a Newborn

Ten Weird Things About Having a Newborn

Ah, the newborn stage.

Fluffy booties, scratch mittens and squidgy babies sleeping with their arms above their heads.  Congratulation cards, helium balloons and fussing relatives.

Blind panic, sleepless nights and soreness in areas you never knew you had.

We all know about these things, the hallmarks of a new baby.  We all know it’s not all actual Hallmark.  But there are some things no one tells us about.  Some things that are just, well, weird…

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The Grass Is Always Greener

The Grass Is Always Greener

One of the main perks of being a working parent is the cherished opportunity to talk to other adults about things other than teething and infant sleeping patterns.  I call this “water cooler conversation.”

This morning’s water cooler conversation, so called because it took place next to an actual water cooler-albeit one that is not currently operational-was a massive feminist rant about a song I had never heard sung by a band I had never heard of, being a parent whose repertoire of popular music now consists solely of the theme tunes to children’s television programmes and the occasional enthusiastic rendition of Wind The Bobbin Up (Piglet can totally do the actions.  I am SO PROUD).

“Ooh!” I cried happily as I filled up my enormous maximum strength coffee cup, “this sounds like an interesting conversation!”

Before long I was spouting what I considered to be the Manifesto of the Feminist Revolution in my Head.  This feminist manifesto is basically an extended whinge about why everyone except me seems to be a stay at home mum these days and whatever happened to the sisterhood.  Weren’t we supposed to be tearing down the fabric of the patriarchy or something?  What happened to us all?

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Single Women: Bitter and Lonely?

Single Women: Bitter and Lonely?

Miss Havisham has a lot to answer for.  Ever since the 1860s-and probably before-the stereotype of an unmarried woman of a certain age has been one of pity, scorn and the assumption of a certain type of jealous bitterness.

How this relates to my son having a tantrum may at present be unclear.  However, as anyone in possession of a toddler will undoubtedly recognise, meltdowns are a familiar part of life; especially when in a public place.

My son had one such meltdown today.

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Going to a Blogger Conference?

If there is one picture that sums up my experience with blogging conferences so far, let it be this one.

conference

That’s what blogging conferences are for, right?  An opportunity to revisit one’s pre-motherhood wardrobe, designer stilts included.  After all, there be no baby in the vicinity.

If you are looking for tips on attending a blogging conference, you will find none here.  I am the woman who wore these shoes to Mumsnet Blogfest in November, and almost lost the will to live by the time I got to the long trudge home.  Note to self: smuggle a pair of flats into the goody bag next time.  Also, this picture was taken at 6am.  SIX O CLOCK IN THE MORNING PEOPLE, and I was already at the train station, waiting to board a train.  It was inhuman.

That’s why this time I’m staying the night.

So, without further ado, after a lengthy preamble, I present to you the long-awaited Single Mum Speaks “I am going to Britmums and this is what I will look like” post.

My name: Min, ancient Egyptian god of fertility and lettuce.

Two things here.  Firstly, you do not want to know the story of how I came about this name, as it is very long and tedious, but let’s just say I was a girl in search of a pseudonym, and I wanted something fertility-related.  Lettuce was just a bonus.  You can say what you want about those ancient Egyptians, but they knew how to make a good salad.  Secondly, this is not my real name. My real name is top-secret classified information that I may reveal if I happen to meet you at Britmums, but then I will have to kill you.*

My blog: This one, obvs.  Single Mum Speaks.  I would say it’s the “ramblings of a mum, addicted to cake,” but although this would be true, it would also be painfully unoriginal, so I’ll stick with the official tagline: Single mother by choice, aged 35 and back living with my mother and sleeping in the bedroom I last shared with my brother in 1985.

Find me on social media at:

Twitter @babyorbankrupt (long story about the name again, sorry for the confusion)

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/singlemumspeaks 

Instagram http://www.instagram.com/singlemumspeaks

Also I’m apparently on Pinterest but like, facepalm.  This is what I’m going to Britmums for, right? The Numpties’ Guide to Pinterest?  Please tell me this is one of the sessions.

How I look: I have recently had my hair cut off, which means nothing to any of you as you’ve never met me.  I’m also very small.

Is this my first blogging event: No.  Please see above.  I was also at Mumsnet Blogfest, and Funfest last year as well, but not been to Britmums before.

I will be wearing: I will not be divulging this information, mainly because I haven’t decided yet. Hopefully something clean.

What I hope to gain from #BML16: The ability to pepper my speech liberally with hashtags, overnight fame as an internet sensation, a book deal, a decent sized helping of cake, a lengthy stay in the champagne tent and of course the opportunity to meet the #tribe, including the fabulous Mumzilla, Island Living 365, Justsayingmum, Katie Tutu and Occupation Mother, all of whom I will be referring to by their online pseudonyms throughout.

My tips for a great conference: Wear pink and black polka dot fur, don’t engage in any vlogging if you don’t want the results to haunt you forever, smile and enjoy yourself.

*This is obviously a lie.  I will not be revealing my name.

ethannevelyn
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
I Am Not A Strict Parent.

I Am Not A Strict Parent.

Before having my son, I didn’t give much thought to what kind of parent I wanted to be.  However, there was one thing I knew for certain.  I was going to be Strict.

Nine years of being a secondary school teacher, and observing countless children-and therefore the long-term consequences of the actions of countless parents-and I knew Strict was best.  I once asked the parent of a particularly pleasant child how she had managed to raise such a wonderful daughter, and although she didn’t actually say the answer was Being Strict, I was sure that was what was behind her success.

Fast forward almost two years into my own parenting journey, and I am not so sure.  Not only am I not particularly inclined to start setting boundaries for a baby, but when said baby does do something that probably shouldn’t be encouraged, I find it hard not to laugh.  Especially when he is laughing too.

This is yet another source of disagreement between my mother and I.  Mother believes that the reason that meals with Piglet frequently result in dropped food is because he is undisciplined and, with yours truly for a mother, has become accustomed to running riot.  Conversely, I believe it is because he is a toddler, and such is their wont.

However, recently there have been some worrying developments (clearly the fault of my louche parenting style), including throwing things at people, as opposed to merely throwing things around indiscriminately without any particular aim.  Today, it was a piece of banana.  Tomorrow, who knows?  A toy car?  The kitchen crockery?  A molotov cocktail?

I enjoy my civilised* meals out with Piglet.  I enjoy the one-to-one mother and son bonding time, and the intellectual conversation and debate (the latter is something I’m still working on, but I have managed to get him to say two more words “adder” as in the variety of snake, and “Adele,” as in chart-topping songstress Adele.  The fact that both of these sound exactly like his default sound “A-da” is neither here nor there).  I also enjoy the indulgent looks of the other diners as they gaze at Piglet adoringly, enquire about his age and give knowing looks when he does something cute that they recognise from when their own children were small.

I don’t think they will be looking indulgently for much longer if Piglet persists in throwing pieces of food around.  And this time, it’s personal.  The food in question is not merely being thrown to the floor, it is being aimed squarely at other people.  For the moment, Mummy (with an occasional side order of “Granny”) seems to be the main target, but who knows where this could lead?

He has started to literally pull his arm back and take aim.  Today the missile was a bit of half chewed banana, which I suddenly found being launched at me as if from a catapult.  The banana bounced off my face, and landed underneath another child’s high chair (always good to be able to pin the blame on somebody else).  Piglet then burst into peals of laughter.  Watching Mummy humiliated is always a good sport for a child.

banana
Try not to trip on this one, fellow diners.

The trouble is, I wanted to laugh.  Like I wanted to laugh the time a group of Year 11 boys smuggled one of their friends from another school into the classroom and tried to pass him off as a Dutch exchange student with a dodgy accent; and like that was probably bad teaching, laughing at the flying banana was probably bad parenting.

So what to do?  Do I hotfoot it to the library in search of the Gina Ford Book of Really Strict Parenting?  Or do I keep muddling along, hoping that a combination of love, laughter and civilised mother and son intellectual conversation will see us through?

In a few years time, I want it to be me that my child’s teacher is asking for tips on How To Raise The Perfectly Behaved, Well Adjusted and Motivated for Learning Child.  I don’t want to be the one being called in for countless meetings at the school, and being told that it would probably be for the best if I quietly withdrew him from full time education.  Home schooling is all the rage these days, you know.

Perhaps I am over thinking it. As I keep reminding my mother, he’s not even two, and there will surely be many more opportunities in the future for confiscating mobile phones, shutting off the internet and grounding him indefinitely.  For now, I’ll just stick to trying not to laugh.

*They aren’t very civilised.  Unless “civilised” means eating straight off the table and throwing anything you don’t want over your shoulder.  I’ve heard that was the kind of civilisation that went down at a medieval banquet, so I’m claiming it.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
ethannevelyn