If you're rich and famous with spoilt teenage children who hate schools, perhaps what you need is Topes Calland. The 27-year-old is one of a new breed of tutor who teaches the offspring of the super-rich. Known, inevitably, as "super-tutors", he and a handful of others like him are hired by wealthy parents to give their children academic instruction and mentoring, with lessons often taking place beside a swimming pool, on a beach, or in the cabin of a private jet.
Nice work if you can get it up to a point anyway. Calland is well paid, with what he calls "the occasional windfall". Last year, he told Barbara McMahon of The Times, he was given £10,000 for ten hours tuition to help the son of a member of Asian royalty prepare for his Oxford interview. Usually he is paid a lump sum and expenses to travel with his charges.
Born to a single mother, he grew up in Merseyside and attended the boys' day school, Merchant Taylors, where he picked up the nickname Topes, short for Anthony. He found school boring, but "jumping through academic hoops pretty easy I could doss around, but when an exam was coming up, I'd pull out the text books and cram it." He ended up at Oxford.
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"I just rocked up and had the best years of my life so far," he told McMahon. He left in 2008, with a 2:1 in history and French, and spent a year in Europe, skiing, climbing and "messing around".
He got into super-tutoring after an Oxford friend, Malachy Guinness, set up an agency called Bright Young Things Tuition. "I was in London, having a pint with Malachy, when he got a call from the frustrated assistant of a notoriously volatile celeb." The rock star's 15-year-old son had walked out of school, saying it was boring and he needed a tutor.
"The dad wanted an Oxbridge, received-pronunciation-speaking, clean-living tutor, whereas the son wanted a party animal drop-out. Malachy's response was: I think I'm sitting opposite the only person in the world who fits both bills'." In the end, Calland spent months with the boy, travelling round the world with him on a kind of modern Grand Tour and teaching him maths, English, Spanish and history five hours a day in hotels, under palm trees, wandering round "amazing old ruins".
But being a super-tutor has its drawbacks. "Some of the kids I've worked with have grown up too fast," says Calland. These "too-cool-for-school celebriteens" often have serious behavioural problems. One 14-year-old son of a British celebrity tested what McMahon calls Calland's "easy manner" to the limit.
While they were together in Thailand he took a sledgehammer and smashed down two walls of an artist's studio. (The artist was a friend of Calland's.) Afterwards, the boy said to Calland: "I guess you want the driver to pick me up now, right?" Yes please, I'd have replied. Calland, however, stuck it out and still sees the boy.
His dream is to open a small school on a beach somewhere, teaching teenagers who don't do well in classrooms. "I'd be the world's most unlikely headmaster of the world's most unlikely school," he laughs. I still don't envy him.
Tabloid money Let's rid ourselves of these Marxist Arch Druids
Unelected bishops in the House of Lords sabotaged a £26,000 welfare cap for being "too harsh", says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. "Millions of Sun readers would give their eye teeth" for £35,000 before tax. Priests, "poor as church mice on £22,000 a year", also ask why their prelates are "so generous" with taxpayers' money.
Ex-Archbishop Lord Carey denounced the bishops for rewarding the "irresponsibility" that's made welfare "a huge factor" in our debt crisis. Under "Marxist Arch Druid Rowan Williams", the Church has also deserted the "ecclesiastical battlefield", leaving it open to "muscular Islam". Why should taxpayers be dictated to by "irrelevant...religious relics"? Let's "rid ourselves of these turbulent priests".
The government has spent £26,000 on Olympic beach volleyball tickets for civil servants, says Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. "No prizes for guessing why they are all well-versed in watching the bottom line fall out of everything."
How can an oil refinery go bust? asks The Sun's Jeremy Clarkson. At £1.34 a litre, petrol is too cheap. But after the garage takes 4p, the supplier 2p, the VAT man 22.3p and the taxman 58p, only 47p is left. It's not easy to find oil, drill it and ship it to Britain all for 47p a litre. "Milk, meanwhile, comes out of a cow and goes straight into your mouth. And that's 89p a litre."
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