Forget schooling and background – it seems social pursuits now define what class you are.
It is said that Britain has a preoccupation with class, and if the past two weeks are anything to go by, that would appear to still be true. The BBC’s Great British Class Calculator was launched on 3 April and at the time of going to press had received over 4.8million unique visits. Notwithstanding the fact that everyone loves a quiz, its popularity is down to the fact it’s created seven new categories in which to place ourselves from ‘Elite’ at the top to ‘Precariat’ (precarious proletariat) at the bottom.
Indeed, its spread on social media has been as rapid as its more tongue-in-cheek cousin #middleclassproblems – where the tech-fluent post knowing complaints about their comfortable lives and aspirational pastimes.
This has all made one thing very clear; the criteria by which we judge our class is no longer formed around family, wealth and education. How we choose to spend our spare time (at the latest Tate exhibition or arthouse movie) and spend our money (Ottolenghi rather than Tesco) means we can be separated into several tribes of Middling.
We asked authors of The Middle Class ABC, Zebedee Helm and Fi Cotter Craig, to create a questionnaire and put it to four members of the Stylist team to see precisely which middle-class tribe they now belong.
1. You’re throwing a dinner party for some friends you’re hoping to impress. What do you serve them?
Amy 'Northern middle class' Adams: Something Ottolenghi. I’d shop online and panic when they replace a pomegranate with plums.
Debbie 'Lower middle class' McQuoid: My husband spends loads on this Tom Aikens risotto – £15 for a handful of girolles – and will drive to a farm shop for ‘special’ beef.
Tom 'Working class made good' Gormer: I would start with a prawn cocktail. Main would be a chicken pie and jelly for pudding. After Eight mints would also be served.
Natasha 'Bang in the middle class' Tomalin: Gruyère and watercress soufflés followed by herb-crusted lamb with potato dauphinoise and passion fruit crème brûlée.
2. A holiday is in order. Where do you choose to go and what’s on the agenda?
AA: Somewhere like Portugal so we can combine a city break with beach time. Though I’d plan a stop too many to relax.
DM: We like a driving holiday with a mix of city and countryside. We’ll do some research and then turn up with no map and wing it.
TG: Maybe Berlin or New York. I would plan lots of amazing things, but then I’d walk around, get bored and go back to the hotel for a nap.
NT: I have just booked a holiday to Istanbul where I shall be soaking up the culture, food and drink. And of course, sunbathing.
3. An old friend has arrived to stay with you. They want to see a bit of London. Where do you take them?
AA: Brixton Village for brunch, a walk in Brockwell Park, and negronis at Frank’s on top of a multi-storey car park. Peckham glam.
DM: Tate Modern or the National Portrait Gallery. Although the last time an old friend visited, I took her to Brent Cross Shopping Centre.
TG: Columbia Road, although it’s touristy. Cheap flowers and the best pub – The Royal Oak – in London.
NT: I would take them to Shoreditch to some pretentious bar and pretend we were in New York.
4. What’s in your spare bedroom?
AA: My husband’s desk, because it doubles as his office. We also have a tall shelf full of books and CDs. Remember them?
DM: We’ve just moved so there are a lot of cardboard boxes full of magazines and books as well as our old bed and a few lamps.
TG: Hahahahha hahahaha hahaha.
NT: What spare bedroom?
5. What paint did you use to decorate your house?
AA: Dulux White Chalk throughout, though we branched out in the bedrooms with a little Crown Old English White.
DM: We picked colours from Farrow & Ball, then went to the Builders Depot and got them mixed up in Dulux.
TG: As if I own a house!
NT: As I live in London I’m afraid I cant afford to buy my own house. Thanks a bunch British government.
6. What percentage of your DVD collection are foreign language or documentaries?
AA: I don’t own many DVDs but looking through my recent LoveFilm titles I’d say roughly about 25%.
DM: Perhaps only 2%. It’s mostly films I loved from my childhood like The Princess Bride or Ghostbusters.
TG: I like a good documentary (Spellbound, The September Issue, the one where the man is eaten by bears) but I don’t own any.
NT: City Of God is probably in my top five films and Werner Herzog-directed documentaries feature quite heavily.
7. What type of dog do you/would you own?
AA: I grew up with two wayward retrievers, so something smaller and more manageable.
DM: We had a springer spaniel growing up. She was the runt of the litter so I would probably repeat this.
TG: A whippet.
NT: A sausage dog
8. What’s your guilty food/drink/TV pleasure?
AA: Takeaway curry (anything with paneer) and Crabbies Ginger Beer. TV is New Girl. In my house at least, I’m alone in finding it hilarious.
DM: Super Noodles and Heinz Ravioli. I love The Biggest Loser USA, but only the weigh-in episodes which usually make me cry.
TG: I love pasta and pesto. Also jelly. Homemade chips. For TV, The Big Reunion might be the greatest TV show ever made.
NT: I LOVE Domino’s, could easily drink pints of Guinness and watch Friends on repeat when I’m bored at the weekend.
Zebedee Helm and Fi Cotter Craig tell us just how Middling we are...
Amy Adams: You had us at Ottolenghi, which is lucky because we are busy planting heritage potatoes. With your trendy brunches and car-park cocktails you put the Class into Middle and the Fun into What Fun! Classic urban Middling.
Debbie McQuoid: You’re Properly Posh And Pretending Not To Be. You nearly fooled us with your girolles and faux Farrow & Ball. But only the Properly Posh would want a Spaniel and think Brent Cross was the perfect day out. Posh Middling or Piddling.
Tom Gormer: We think you too might have something of the Posh about you. You have a series of HaHas in your spare room. Normal posh people have these in the garden. Is there something you’re not telling us… Your Highness?
Natasha Tomalin: You should clearly be a celebrity chef or a member of the WI. Your fixation with food is admirable. Even your dog is a sausage! We declare you a Gastro Middling of the highest hors d’oeuvre.
The Middle Class ABC by Zebedee Helm and Fi Cotter Craig (£14.99, John Murray) is available now