Deborah Ross: 24-hour hotline for middle-class emergencies

If you ask me


If you ask me, I am most saddened that my game for first-year university students – PHONE YOUR MOTHER EVERY NOW AND THEN, IT WON'T KILL YOU – does not appear to have been taken up with any zeal whatsoever (not even a text!). However, I did hear from one mother who said her son had called her once, from a Sainsbury's, in something of a panic, to ask for the ingredients for risotto and, as she emails: "I actually found myself saying: 'Make sure you get Arborio, darling, and not ordinary rice...'", which gave me another and perhaps even better idea for a 24-hour hotline for middle-class emergencies able to advise on any of the following:

Help, I'm a young mum and I nearly went out yesterday in shoes other than Converses, am I losing my mind?

Help, my son went on a playdate and drank Sunny Delight and now I think he might die.

Help, I have a small telly and lots of books but kind of want a big telly and fewer books even though I know it is wrong.

Help, they've made changes to Radio 4 and I like them and I'm not minded to write an enraged letter. Is this class betrayal?

Help, I've located the "essential" balsamic vinegar in my local Waitrose but not the "essential" saffron. How so?

I think we will be busy...

Help, do I tip the Ocado man?

Help, I feel so guilty about having a cleaner I pay her double, make her lunch and overlook the fact she is useless. I wonder if I have any right to call myself middle-class at all?

Help, I have sent my son to school in a Technicolor dreamcoat for the past six weeks but still don't know if he's going to be cast as Joseph in the school play.

Help, I'd like to name our new puppy Killer or Razor or Tyson rather than Oscar and don't know what's wrong with me.

Help, I put a recyclable container in the normal rubbish and suspect I'm in for it now.

Help, I always fall asleep during The Review Show, as if it might be boring.

Help, my son has gone to university and doesn't call and now I'm scared he's going to use the wrong rice for risotto and not put the top back on the jar of pesto properly and use farfalle when conchiglie would be more the thing.

Help, help... Although the middle-class emergency hotline charges the premium rate, 10p from every call will be donated towards the welfare and rehoming of retired car roof boxes, which would otherwise be put down).

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