The coalition guide to a middle-class lifestyle.


I’m not political, in my game you have to deal with all sorts, I even work with lawyers. However, now that the Right Honourable Dave Cameron has declared himself middle-class and what with him having £70m in the bank and a Baronets daughter for a wife, it seemed to me that those of us who thought we were middle class had better up our game.

I have been deep undercover (Sloane Square), to bring you the guide on how to move undetectably through the ranks of the coalition babes. It’s never been more important to have a middle class home and lifestyle. Here’s my guide to what’s in and what’s out. All hail Sam Cam.

What’s in?

Boris bikes. For when you don’t want to get the brand new Range Rover Sport out, nothing shouts ‘I’m coalition middle-class’ better than one of Boris’ bikes.

Audi R8 . drive it round Notting Hill streets dead fast, especially when you’ve got nowhere to go.

Staff. Yes, you can call them that again. even though last year you called her an au-pair. Make sure they’re multi-lingual but preferably Mandarin speaking, East European is so last year. In addition, a Filipino maid sleeping off the kitchen is the pinnacle you should aspire to.

Ballerina flats. Blue for Waitrose, Red for the school run, (so the  Mums think you’re racy), and Animal skin for Kir Royales with the girls.

Byrons Burgers. Posh burgers and Boris’ favourite family watering hole. There are no plastic gifts for the kids which is obviously a  good thing.

Brio. Wooden toys for the kids are de rigeur. They won’t play with them but that’s not the point. They cost a bomb and they’ll look fab on the shelf

Laduree macaroons. Five quid a bite.

Chandeliers in the kitchen. Yep, I know, how d’ya get the chip fat off all those dangly bits?  Please! That’s the Filipino’s problem.

Lacanche. French range cooker. Get the blingiest one you can, the more gold the better. Stretch yourself and go for the £37k one.

Dyson air multiplier, only for show, who needs a fan in the UK anyway but they are expensive and everyone knows that, so perfect.

Daylesford organic, favoured watering hole for Yummy Mummies. Eight quid for coffee and a cake shows everyone you have money to burn, which is the point, innit.

Festivals,  Pricier, colder and far more miserable than a week in Barbados but you’ve gotta be seen there. No tents, it’s got to be a Yurt or a Winnebago. It’s all about ‘Glamping’ these days.

Flat White. Cappuccino’s and lattes are so last year. The flat white is the only one to order, it’s erm, not frothy man.

X Factor. Simon Cowell is rich, he’s blingy and he’s unrepentant. Your perfect role model, watch it.

Apropos glass box extensions. Bolt them onto your Edwardian semi for that contemporary feel of space and light. Ignore the soaring temperature and the green slimy roof you can’t reach to clean.

Harrods. Trust me, Qatari’s are much cooler than Egyptians… Watch out Selfridges.

Kiehls moisturisers and shaving stuff for men. Just make sure your purchase comes in a Harvey Nicks bag for perfect metrosexuality. Less than 16 squids on shaving foam? Shame on you.

Baby names. If it’s a boy, name it after a pet. Felix, Oscar, Buddy. For girls name it after a place. Florence, Sienna, India. I shall gloss over the fruity ones thanks Gwyneth Paltrow.

Monmouth coffee. Never heard of it? Tsk.. it’s the only coffee to have in your skinny flat white.

Garden office. Insulated, heated, and painted in one of the latest ice cream coloured pastels. Gingham curtains and you’re all set for that ‘Calamity Jane does the coalition’ look.

Skandium. Scandinavian furniture. Sorry, Scandinavian furniture that’s even too expensive for the Scandinavians, so they sell it in Knightsbridge.

Divertimenti. When you’ve been in Skandium pop down the Brompton Road and buy all your kitchen stuff here. No, £35 for a melon baller is not too expensive.

Superhuman. If you don’t have this bin, the two compartment recycling one,  your truly middle-class guests will truly gasp in horror.

Google Street view on your car Sat Nav… OK, it only comes on the new Bentley Continental, but whats wrong with that? Just make sure it’s Azure blue.

iPhone 4, iPad, anything Apple. Obviously.

Photo volcaic anything. Inefficient, expensive and ugly. Attach to the roof to make sure your neighbours can see them, they shout ‘I’m rich, so can afford to look green’.

Sub-Zero. The only fridge freezer to have. Ten grand, don’t argue.

M&S frocks, befriend the chairman to have a bespoke one made. Ideally it should have a pussy bow for that real Tory wife style.

Wellies. Jimmy Choo or the latest Hunters are the only ones to have. Multi-coloured Cath Kidston-esque ones are only for Chav’s. There.. I’ve said it.

What’s out?

Aga. Not blingy or expensive enough. As for the Emma Bridgewater spotty one, it was never in.

Cath Kidston, at blo*dy last. Seeing her oven gloves on the reduced shelf at T.K. Maxx made my 2010.

G-Wiz. Apart from looking ridiculous, owners are discovering the £3k cost of a new battery. Coming to a tip near you soon.

Henna Tattoo’s. Embraced your ethnicity?… No of course you didn’t look patronising and silly.

Prosecco. It’s the real stuff or nuffink.

Cupcakes. So last year sorry… it’s all about Macaroons for you now.

Fairtrade. ‘Fraid that’s a bit last year what with all them air miles. Supporting the Cotswold smallholder who hand washes his fake parma hams is much more Dave.

Green and Blacks chocolate… they sell it in Somerfield for God’s sake.

Prius. Laughing stock, don’t do it.

Au Pairs. See ‘staff’ above. ‘Au pairs’ doesn’t work anymore. Kerry Katona has one.

Nespresso. The beloved ‘pop it in’ plastic coffee maker beloved of Journo’s and Foxtons receptionists is out. Simples.

Feature walls. How long could anybody look at cerise and silver peonys the size of your head anyway.. good riddance.

Just when we’d learned to drink Prosecco instead of Champagne and almost felt good about driving a Prius, we now need to up the ante on overt consumption. Just think 1980’s. If your Mother says it’s a waste of money, you’re right on the money, because the ‘innest’ thing of all is CASH. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.


A middle-class home.. The sequel.


As I am well known as an aficionado of all things interior design and good taste, my mate Kevin, called me asking for help. Kevin is a bit of an Essex barrow boy and a city trader. The boy done good. ‘Would you do me a favour Trace? My sister Michaela wants you to cast your eye over her pad. See if you can give her some tips on making her home a bit more, well, a bit more… Middle-class’

So up we rock to a block of flats, I think I’ve seen it on the Bill.

Kevin throws a quid to the boys leering at the Porsche. ”Another five when I get back, watch the motor” Can’t help thinking they should put it towards jeans that cover their arses.

We head off into the block and up the stairs. Best not to take the lift, Kevin says, holding his nose. The stairwell hasn’t seen Febreze for a while either.

Along the open walkways to Michaela’s front door. First part of educational mission accomplished, it’s not a Farrow & Ball red, (I know their Incardine when I see it). In fact all the apartment front doors are red. No doubt a conservation area and it all has to be in keeping, despite the F&B faux pas, I like that.

We ring the door bell, one of those stick on jobs with a rubber button, eww. Lots of barking, lots of yelling at the barking thing and we’ve woken the baby.

Michaela seems like a nice girl. Hair scraped up in a top-knot and some very large hoop earrings. She’s obviously into keep-fit. The pink velour hooded track-suit, sparkly boob tube and the Adidas trainers are the giveaway. Although the packet of B&H in the bum pocket ruins the lines.

I’m in the hall. Stairs to the left. Ooh, fabulous, it’s a duplex.

Laminate flooring in the hall, what a shame, a few thousand quid more and she could have had solid rainforest-free mahogany. A dado rail runs down the corridor. Striped rhubarb and custard wallpaper below. Rag-rolled effect paper with gold stars above. The hall window has the matching festoon blinds. I am trying to remember which Colefax and Fowler range, but it has me stumped.

The knotty pine kitchen units are a make I’ve never heard of, Hygena, very retro. The latest Danish design perhaps, I must keep up with Wallpaper magazine.

Worktops are Formica with wood trim edges. Hmm, it’s got be granite or zinc and those tiles will have to be replaced with green glass splashbacks.

A Smeg fridge, it’s Katie Price pink. Should be black and shouldn’t be Smeg. Also, where are the magnetic letters making motivational quips? and the Nespresso machine?

We are kindly offered refreshment. Michaela is out of milk and has nothing herbal, so Diet Coke from the can it is. Although we could have had Stella.

I am given a guided tour.

Lounge … no it’s not a reception room. Crittall windows. A good start- they’re coming back. The bottom half is meshed glass, just like school. I can’t fault the retro vibe.

The ceiling is artexed – I avert my eyes. There is just a ceiling pendant. Lighting should always be on three levels. A trip to Kartell or Christopher Wray is in order.

The focal point (every middle-class home should have one), is the 50” Plasma screen with Hollyoaks muted. It needs to be built into the wall – with walnut surround or possibly birds-eye yew for a lighter touch.

A large distressed rococo mirror leaning against the wall would help to add depth and light. And it needs loads more accessories, an Ikea vase with a plastic Gerbera doesn’t cut the mustard.

Oh dear a cream DFS leather sofa, reclinable – just because that blonde from Changing rooms advertises them.. never mind, down to Graham and Greene for a velvet chesterfield pronto.

The boyfriend is here. Vest top, shell suit bottoms, gold chains. Adidas shod feet up on one of those Moroccan leather pouffes, I’ve seen them in Harvey Nicks, excellent, bang on trend, this Moroccan theme should defo be encouraged.

The fish tank, just like the TV really ought to be built into the wall, this will add ‘atmosphere’, very important.

Jason is friendly, as is the Staffie he is petting. Not convinced the crystals are genuine in the collar though. I’m starting to question if Michaela has ever even been to Selfridges Wonder room.

Onto the first floor, the stair carpet does not have brass runners and is neither sisal nor 100% wool. Hmm.

The family bathroom is the only bathroom, I find that confusing. All white, very good but the tiles are square and matt. They need to be brick shaped and glossy. A bit of limescale and mould remover wouldn’t go amiss either. They need to lose the shower curtain and gain a creative toilet seat. I’ll send my wet-room team in.

The master bedroom is shocking. This should be an oasis of calm, with a soupcon of sensuality. A harmonising of colours and textures. Not this blast of primary colours. Shiny sheets are in, but not in red, please. A steel Brabantia laundry basket rather than the floor would help lots.

And so to the report. ‘Michaela’, I say, trying to hold her gaze. ‘To achieve a middle-class home you need to focus on certain things. Texture, lighting, atmosphere, focal points, iconic pieces. Think clean lines, think modern materials, think accessories. She looks puzzled. I try to make it simpler for her.

‘Darling, bedlinen should be from The White Company. Accessories from Lombok. Everything else, Graham and Greene or John Lewis.

I’m getting into the flow now.

‘For Gods sake you’ve got nothing artisan, let alone crocheted. No sniff of a feature wall and Sweetie, really, I shouldn’t have to tell you about Cath Kidston. It really is all about statement florals these days.

Plus, (I pause for effect), ….your soap is Imperial Leather.

She is looking at me vacantly, clearly, she’s just not getting a handle on all this, which perplexes me. What the hell did they teach her at that free school?

…. all fur coat and no knickers. A Penthouse fit for who?


I often have to try and wheedle out off-market properties for my clients looking for something a bit special.These properties are not be in found in the usual places. Tesco’s/Haarts, in these cases, don’t deliver. The people in the know for these properties rarely have any property background, they tend to fall into the ‘I know a bloke’ category. As such, the leads can sometimes lean towards spurious.

A current client is looking for a classy central London pad, he has quite a bit of cash to splash, well, to be honest, a heck of a lot. I want the right address and I want it downright classy.

I received a well timed call from a contact whose profession is best described as ‘let me know if you want something.. anything’.

” ‘Ere Trace” is the opener .. ”got anyone who wants a stunning penthouse in that posh new place, Building X?” .. ”bloke needs to sell, so it’s a steal at £22m”

If there are two things assured to get my attention, they are ‘bloke needs to sell’  and anything in Building X. They just do not come up and certainly not at ‘deal’ pricing. The use of ‘stunning’ for the thousandth time this week, I ignore.

The viewing takes a bit of organising. Apparently there will be a few ‘representatives’ looking on behalf of VIP bosses and I can tag along.  I am told I have to pretend I am a secretary-my contact feels this brings me respectability.

I meet my client in building X.  ‘Swish’, doesn’t do it justice. The concierges are Armani clad,  the water feature atrium won a prize at Chelsea and a Man United footballer wandered past and smiled.  The building is all I expected and if the price is what they say, I am convinced my client will jump at it. The day is going well.

We sit and wait for the contact .. and wait. Calls are made, seems we are awaiting third contact flying in with the keys. Eventually two blacked-out Mercs.  glide to a stop outside. Four burly men in shades pour themselves out. One at least has a suspicious bulge under his armpit. Their rubber-soled shoes more for quick getaways than fashion I suspect.

Introductions made, only first names of course, then ‘Follow me’, says the lead ‘heavy’ and we leave Building X and cross the road. We head towards a manky Mansion block. A steel gate covers the entrance courtyard and after a bit of railing rattling and bell ringing, we gain access to the central courtyard. We brush past the skips, and up the steps into the chip papered ‘common areas’. In relation to expectations, never has that description been more apt.

The three man lift was not designed for me and two hairy mammoths but we ascend directly into the penthouse.

Much kerfuffle as we are made to remove shoes and place blue plastic bags on our feet. Those rubber soles not much use now I think as the heavies grunt & winge. At least one has odd socks.

I am struck by how tall the windows are and how high the ceilings are. Hang on, something’s not right. The ceiling is glossy black lacquered panels – the windows are reflected to double size. The ceilings are low- creative interior design, hmm.

Colour scheme discussions will be short, the floor is black. The curtains are black. The dining table is black. The soft furnishings, umm, black. Accents of ‘colour’ are restricted to silver curtains and Swarovski knobs.

This is a big, big place. The dining table will seat 30. The bar area with Swarovski inset into the granite has a dozen ostrich skin bar stools. The cinema room is, how can I put it, a cinema.

We all know about dressing homes for sale but this one takes it to the next level. Aside from the Tom Ford coffee table book (black), the Christies Impressionist Auction catalogue and the biggest piece of Lalique I have ever seen, pride of place is given over to a Grand Piano. Slightly worn around the edges it sits a little incongruously in this shiny, sparkling, perfect environment.Then I spot the provenance discreetly engraved on a brass plate ..’owned by Elton John’

God, I’m looking forward to the Master bedroom. It delivers. An oasis of white and the carpet as tested by toes through my plastic bags, is silk. The bedspread is white.. mink.  Now, I am used to seeing tea trays on beds with cup, saucer and plastic flower, this had something a little different. Laid out across the bed, La Perla bra, G string and white stockings. Size zero by rough estimate. I have to confess, a titter did come out and it was audible. I was shot a glance my lead Heavy, which put me firmly back into my secretarial box.

I rattle through the rest of the place including the six bedrooms. SIX bedrooms? ‘Who wants six bedrooms and one reception room?’. I whisper to my contact. A man of the world, he looks at me knowingly and just shakes his head.

We all gather back at the bar and the inevitable ‘Whatcha think?’ question is asked by the key holder. A shiny-suited chap for whom ‘Man at C & A’ would be a sartorial compliment.

‘Bloody fantastic’ says one of the Heavies.

‘Lovely’ I say.

It’s not.  It’s vile. Completely vile.  I cannot imagine who would want it. Well, maybe I can.

The chap with the odd socks is in the corner on his mobile, it sparkles. Clearly a Selfridges Wonder Room purchase.

‘Hey, John’,  he says. ‘How long will it take you to get ‘ere from Cobham?’

Authors disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any real person, any real property, or any real taste is wholly coincidental.