By Alexander Tyndall (pictured)
If anyone has £34,434 lying around between the sofa cushions, I’d like to conduct an experiment. This might seem like an odd sort of number to be demanding, but there’s a very good reason for it: that astonishing figure is the price of a year’s fees for a full-paying boarder at Eton College.
What am I going to do with this donation? I want to find out just how far the money will stretch.
Why? One reason might be that society mag Tatler recently released its second annual State Schools Guide. “Sometimes, the right choice isn’t the most expensive one,” it says, claiming that more and more parents are abandoning private education in favour of competitive state schools.
So what else can you do with almost 35 grand, other than pay for one of the country’s top boarding schools?
Typing “things you can do with £34,434” into Google threw up a few options, but my five favourites (one for each year boys spend at Eton) are below:
1. Buy a car Probably the most immediately useful option for spending the money. Armed with this plump figure you can take home an Audi A3. If you opt for the most expensive diesel engine, some fancy trimmings and a metallic paint job, this comes in at £34,409 for a road-ready package. Extras on this include warranty, registration, tax paid and half a tank of fuel. The £25 left over can go towards turning that half a tank of fuel into a full tank. Might come in handy for running the kids to their new state secondary.
2. Enjoy the view of London (a lot) For the price of your Eton fees, if you really, really love the London skyline you can take 1,195 Champagne Experience trips on the London Eye, which cost £28.80 each. Assuming you never get off the ever-spinning wheel that’ll take nearly 25 days, and will result in the personal consumption of 278 bottles of champagne. There’ll be no cash left over for souvenir photographs, unfortunately, but after this experience you might never want to look at a Ferris wheel again.
3. Become a cat lover A must for those in need of four-legged friends. According to my back-of-a-napkin mathematics, £34,434 will allow committed fans of God’s creatures to buy, insure and feed 29 pedigree kittens for the first year of their lives. Of course, this option becomes a lot more problematic in year two once the Eton Cat Shelter fund has run dry, the sofa has been clawed to pieces, you’ve forgotten what colour the carpet is because it’s covered in fur and the cats have started breeding.
4. Jump out of an aeroplane 100 times A tandem skydive from 15,000ft costs roughly £330. A whopping 104 skydives after beginning this particular spree you will be thoroughly over your fear of heights. However, you might also have a few interesting new quirks, including an affection for luminous jumpsuits and hairstyles that refuse to respond to even the most powerful of anti-frizz shampoo.
5. Support a new football team Sholing FC, 2014 winner of the FA vase, is currently 17th in the Evo-Stik League South & West first division. That £34,434 will buy you and 228 of your friends a season ticket to the Southampton club, and the extra support of 229 new voices on the terraces could propel the Boatmen to new heights. Today, the FA vase. Tomorrow, who knows, or dares to dream?
The choice is yours: have a lot of fun (?) with my five options, or invest the cash into a child’s education at Eton or one of the several other boarding schools that charge a similar level of fees.
For the super-rich, surely this must be a troubling dilemma.