Quick – fetch the decanter!
Want to keep up with the Joneses? Follow our guide to middle-class cheating
Are you concerned that you can only afford to go on holiday to Bognor Regis? Give a richer friend your Facebook log-in details so that they can update your status from Tuscany.
Don’t forget to polish your automated out-of-office email. “I’m currently away on annual leave; please contact my secretary” doesn’t really cut the mustard. “I’m currently on annual leave in Tuscany; please have a look at my photos on Facebook” is much more like it.
Get really good at Photoshop.
Embarrassed by the blue-and-yellow cabin-approved bag you bought from Ryanair last summer? Jazz it up by tying a stolen Virgin Upper Class label to the handle.
Do: use a car-sharing club, such as Zipcar, allowing you to pass off an Audi A3 as your own.
Don’t: get caught swiping the windscreen with Zipcar’s card.
Casually drop into conversation that you had a lovely weekend on the estate. Don’t let slip that the estate in question is the nearby council estate that you hurry through after dark.
Tell people how much you enjoy the shooting on the estate.
Does the fact that you can’t afford more than one pot of Oval Room Blue, Vert de Terre, Breakfast Room Green, Dorset Cream, Rectory Red or Manor House Gray make you weep? Don’t worry: Dulux is a lot cheaper than Farrow & Ball. Just make sure to leave the right colour chart lying around your kitchen.
Rightmove lets you search over a million properties for sale. But if you’re going to scan the website at work, remember that no one walking past your desk will be impressed unless you put in a suitable minimum price. Houses costing up to £1.5 million should do the trick.
Can’t afford to move home? Why not change its name instead. It’s relatively simple, involving letters to your local council, the Land Registry, the Electoral Roll, your mortgage lender, your doctor, and anyone else who writes to you. So take the plunge and change your address now to: “47c Smith Street, The Old Rectory, Hull.”
If you live in London, remember that every area has two names: the actual name and the one the estate agents call it. Always use the latter. It’s not Battersea; it’s South Chelsea. It’s not Maida Vale; it’s (very) North Notting Hill.
If in doubt, use “village” as a suffix. As in: “Yes, I live in Peckham Village – very up and coming.”
And if you bump into a casual acquaintance on the Tube journey home, impress them by getting off in zone one – and then walking the final eight miles to your flat in zone four.
Are you a middle manager in charge of a team of two and a budget of £10,000? No, you are what your business card says you are: “Vice President, Marketing (UK, Europe and Middle East)”. Make sure everyone sees it.
You’re not “between jobs”, “taking some time out” or, God forbid, “unemployed” – you’re on “gardening leave”. Yes, you are gardening the solitary pot plant in your tiny kitchen. It requires a lot of attention.
Do say: “I dabble in a spot of consultancy on the side. It’s all about portfolio careers these days, isn’t it?”
Don’t say: “My job only lets me into the office three days a week, so I spend the other two in my pants at home watching Neighbours.”
Can’t afford boarding school? No problem. Simply send your children to stay with their grandparents at weekends and pretend they’re at Radley.
Annoyed that your daughter narrowly missed out on Oxford – perhaps because you couldn’t afford to offer to renovate the college library – and is going to Durham instead? Just tell everyone she’s off to Doxbridge.
Embarrassed by the mongrel you picked up from Battersea Dogs Home? Save hundreds of pounds by forging your own five-generation pedigree certificate.
Struggling to keep up with Bupa premiums? Lots of NHS hospitals have private wings attached, so you can still enter by the appropriate door – before scuttling down the corridors to where you belong.
AT THE SHOPS
Make sure your credit card looks the part. If in doubt, colour it in with a black felt tip and write “American Express” on the front.
Looking for a Savile Row suit on the cheap? Pick one up from a charity shop, cut out the label and sew it into a suit from Marks & Spencer.
Never accept a Sainsbury’s “bag for life” when you can take your own Waitrose bag to Sainsbury’s instead.
As above, substituting Lidl for Sainsbury’s and Sainsbury’s for Waitrose.
Join a public library, if you can still find one, and borrow all their impressive‑looking books. Forget to return them.
Tell anyone who’s interested that the reason you bought standing tickets at the Globe has got nothing to do with the £5 price tag and everything to do with getting close to the action.
As above, for the National Theatre, remembering that standing tickets are at the back and therefore you have to say that you prefer the wider angle on the stage.
Always remember to invite people for “kitchen suppers”. Then they’ll never discover that you don’t have a dining room.
Refer to “the old Aga”, even if your cooking device is a camping stove.
PG Tips tea bags can be taken out of their box, unstitched and put into biodegradable Teapig tea temples.
Buy a wine decanter.
Remember to throw away the three-litre, £13.29 Lidl wine-in-a-box from which you decanted the wine.