Who needs school? It's the gigolo life for me

10th April 2009 at 01:00

It cannot take long to retrain as a gigolo. Surely it's as easy as learning how to teach? And at least one definite job opportunity has recently opened up in the industry. Switzerland's leading exponent of the art, Helg Sgarbi, has just been put away for six years for blackmail.

Sgarbi accumulated millions of euros simply by escorting a series of European multi-millionairesses. He could have been one of the most successful Swiss gigolos of all time had he not gone on to swindle and blackmail millions of additional euros from some of those women. His reputation has now taken a steep nosedive.

When he is eventually released from prison he will - quite rightly - be severely disciplined by the professional body which all gigolos must join: the General Escorting Council. This organisation is committed to raising the status and standards of the profession, and Sgarbi's transgression of the moral code of conduct (including claiming to have filmed intimate scenes with a BMW heiress) should rightly see him struck off the gigolo register for life.

I was taken aback when I first saw news footage of Sgarbi after his sentence. I had first heard the story on the radio and had assumed that he must be uniquely handsome and charming. Not so. In fact, I think he is rather peculiar-looking, especially when giving a ridiculously prolonged smirk in front of the world's press photographers. For the first time it dawned on me: any male teacher is capable of doing his job.

So why not leave teaching to all those brilliant incoming bankers and move on to pastures new? Rich pastures too. Leaving aside his illegal earnings, Sgarbi must have been making in just one evening what many of us are paid for a year's work.

The gigolo does not possess some unique talent born to just a few. The only thing you have to be able to do is to find a few rich, vulnerable, gullible women upon whom to pour your affections. Plenty of those around.

Admittedly, it must get a bit tedious doing all that wining, dining and sweet-talking with bored and boring rich women. (One of Sgarbi's dates was old enough to be his grandmother.) But it surely beats marking books and writing reports night after night.

Yes, newly qualified gigolos might find the work challenging at first, but after sufficient placements, with suitable time for planning and preparation, they would become inured to it.

I gather the General Escorting Council is committed to zealously rooting out incompetent gigolos. This can only be a good thing. There is nothing more distressing than the thought of a cohort of keen, elderly women being inadequately entertained by some useless practitioner in the art. However, I am confident most teachers would prove satisfactory or better in an Ofstud inspection.

A teacher's skills are famously transferable. We would continue to plan carefully and imaginatively; we would be very client-centred in our approach; we would employ a wide variety of resources. And - like our educational leaders who think teaching can be taught in six months - most of us have a fine facility for making it all up on the hoof.

Stephen Petty, Head of humanities, Lord Williams's School, Thame, Oxfordshire.

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