Nick Foulkes: Deck shoes ready, Boden Man is on the march

He is Saturday morning man, in khaki trousers and deck shoes


David Cameron may be the elected member of Parliament for the safe Tory seat of Witney, but his real constituency is the nationwide one of Boden Man. Boden is the smart-casual catalogue outfitter by appointment to the disenfranchised middle-aged, middle classes. He is Saturday morning man, in moleskin trousers and scuffed suede ankle boots, or khaki trousers and knackered deck shoes, a zip-fronted piece of mail-order knitwear flung hastily over a T-shirt. You will see him pushing an expensive, all-terrain pram, furled Saturday paper and cappuccino jammed under his left arm. Recently you may have seen him, harassed, rushing in late to the school carol concert, just in time to brush away a manly tear as one or other of the offspring acquits herself as a soloist in "Away in a Manger".

In today's shiny Blairite Britain, the aspirational totems are holidays in Barbados with millionaire friends, gaudy showbiz parties and a taste for fusion food. Boden Man knows this is the modern world, but can't help thinking that things are, to use a favourite expression of his, "out of whack". He remembers when Elton John was a naff, balding, bespectacled has-been; and fears that this description might now apply to him. He has suddenly woken up to find that he is trapped inside the increasingly corpulent body and thinning hair of a middle-aged wage slave ... living in a world where nobody cares which school he attended.

He does not watch Emmerdale, has no idea who Myleene Kass is, but, as a former public-school punk rocker, he is aware of bands such as Franz Ferdinand. His is a world of gastro-pub lunches, hearty weekends on the beaches of Norfolk, one week's skiing and a fortnight in colonial-length linen shorts and Panama hat, accessorised by yesterday's English newspapers while sharing a villa with an identical Boden family.

The thing is that, while he has a pretty wife (in a velvet-trimmed-cardigan-bought-at-a- Cirencester-boutique sort of way), three adorable children he truly loves, a large, impressive mortgage, and a job (usually finance, maybe law or marketing) at which he is very good, he has the nagging feeling of being left behind. He was at home at the Oxbridge, Durham or Bristol drinks parties of his university days; and he enjoyed drinking too much Chilean "claret" in his Fulham years, but he feels awkward in today's social situations; upstaged by strange-looking Prada-wearing men in their late twenties who have made a couple of million in the "new economy". Boden Men are not necessarily red-faced hoorays. Rather, they are caught between the Charybdis of the affluent world he grew up in but can no longer afford and the Scylla of 21st-century life. Beneath the over-confident "joshing", the cheerily casual chinos, and the jolly, untucked checked shirt, Boden Man cares. He once voted Labour (never again). He is getting concerned about the environment. He worries about the world his children will grow up in. He opposes the war in Iraq (although his father was in the Life Guards). He has mixed feelings about immigration (he can't reconcile media horror stories with his cheery, industrious Romanian cleaner, or the efficient Polish builders who did his side-return kitchen extension).

And then, a little like the Angel of the Lord, David Cameron descended, deus ex machina, at the Tory conference. Cameron is what Boden Man wants to be; he feels as if he knows him. Funnily enough, last Christmas he bought his wife a Smythson handbag designed by Cameron's wife. At last. Boden Man has a stake in political life, a man who talks his language.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture