William Hanson, a man so posh his official job is a tutor for the international protocol and hospitality consultancy firm ‘The English Manner. He often appears on shows such as Good Morning Britain to tell why you should never cut your scone with a knife and what days it is socially acceptable to have decorations up. He also does courses on etiquette, such as his “Afternoon Tea Etiquette Course” with prices from £410 for one person, and is held at either the Ritz or Fortnum & Mason.
What does this man feel you shouldn’t have in your home for fear of exposing yourself as lower middle class? (Because he can’t seem to imagine a lower class than that.)
1. Mug Trees
“Owners of this piece of far from kitsch kitchen clutter clearly did not pay attention at school during Biology. Fruit grows on trees. Mugs do not. For a start, you should not have that many mugs in your house that you need a mini-hatstand for them.”
Seems like this guy doesn’t have friends and family over very often. I wonder why.
“Tea and coffee should be drunk from fine bone china cups and saucers, not something thick, clunky and mass produced you were given by the local commercial radio station. (Trust me here, tea and coffee taste so much better in a more delicate vessel.)”
They don’t, I assure you. Does anyone else get that weird feeling when they’re drinking from really delicate china and they want to bite down on it?
“The British lower middle class are known for their over-prissiness and nothing embodies this character trait so well as the coaster. Entering a sitting room – or, as the LMC would call it ‘a lounge’ – and seeing neat little matching discs purposefully placed at regular intervals, territorially marking out where each guest is supposed to sit is the Antichrist of social class.”
Coasters are usually put on side tables or coffee tables next to sofas, that’s not marking out where each guest is supposed to sit so much as it is assuming they’ll sit on a chair or sofa.
“Teacups (not mugs) have a built-in ‘coaster’ of sorts; you can pop them down anywhere and not worry about marking your ‘precious’ furniture. (You bought that black fibreboard coffee table for £37 in Ikea: it’s hardly an antique in need of careful preservation. Don’t kid yourself.)”
Okay guys, no more taking care of your belongings unless they’re antiques, anything less is garbage and deserves to be covered in little ring marks.
Also what if you’re drinking wine or juice? Neither goes in a teacup and both are likely to leave a mark if you spill any.
3. Air Fresheners
“The best scent any house can have is fresh air, not something that plugs-in and promises to fill your ‘front room’ with ‘vanilla dreams’.”
If you live in a city or any remotely urban area then opening your windows is more likely to make the place smell worse. People with indoor pets might not want to open windows in case they get out. I love the vague sense of disgust he gives off at calling a living room a front room.
“Similarly, cans of air freshening spray positioned in clear view of your loo’s guests for their post-poo pleasure aren’t doing much for your social cachet, so put them away.
I’d rather have a bathroom that didn’t stink.
“If you really must have an artificial scent (perhaps for that bathroom with no windows) then a reed diffuser is now more or less acceptable, but other than that it’s a no-go when it comes to fake fragrance.”
Reed diffusers don’t overpower any existing scents and don’t work well in larger rooms.
4. Loo Mats
“While we’re talking toilets (or, as upper middle class folk will correctly call them ‘lavatories’), a word on loo mats.”
Does someone want to sit this guy down and tell him about dialects? Lavatories are no more correct than Toilets or Loos or Bathrooms.
“Lower middles are usually so fussy when it comes to dirt and germs, which is why it’s so surprising that many of them (usually older, admittedly) have matts hugging the bottom of the cistern. Think of what’s tinkled on to that! Even for hardier, less twitchy folk this is where the line is drawn.
Do you just piss around the base of your toilet? Also “lower middles” I’m gonna puke.
“Whip it away, wash it, and then chuck it out. Even your bin men will blanch.”
Ah yes, my bin men who look through my trash and judge me for the things I throw away.
5. Matching Chairs
“Anything that is termed a ‘suite’ in the shop should be avoided. If you are terribly taken with the fabric or colour of one of the items then ask – no, beg – the shop to let you have just one of the parts of this ‘suite’.
“Do not return home with something termed a ‘three piece suite’. Your furnishings should not match – although invariably do in LCM ‘homes’.”
This is actually pretty interesting because apparently if you’re upper middle class you can’t have matching furniture, you probably have a mismatched jumble of things that have been in the family for years.
If you’re lower middle class you’re more likely to buy matching furniture because it’s financially reasonable and also helps your room look coherent.
then if you’re lower/working class you probably have mismatched furniture that’s cheaper second-hand stuff.
6. Napkin Rings
“The thought of re-using a napkin for a second meal is beyond reproach. Although the British aristocracy do like being as thrifty as they can, there are limits. Endlessly washing napkins so you and your guests always have fresh ones is entry-level when it comes to social climbing. Napkin rings, where people mark out whose is whose so they know whose to reuse, are not needed in quality houses.”
Cloth napkins that can be reused are way better for the environment than either paper napkins or buying cloth napkins to throw away which I assume is what he does?
7. Square Plates
“A square of chocolate. A square root. Sloane Square. We have plenty of perfectly lovely, quality squares already, so who on earth decided that we needed square plates? Lower middles do like to over-gild the lily and think that a square plate is the height of sophistication and turns their nice Surbiton semi into some Soho brasserie. It does not. Round plates are the past, present and future of correct dining.”
Square plates fit better in cupboards, look better and chip less easily. Round plates are only the standard because they’re easier to make on a wheel.