Sunday, February 28, 2010
English Mentors: Flogging Brideshead dreams to the foreign rich
Channel 4 TV show The Russians Are Coming introduces me to a charming outfit called English Mentors. Imagine you're a mega-rich Russian breeder with a brat to civilise - how could you fast-track it into an English public school such as Eton or Stowe for all the global advantages that money can buy? Simples. You hand it over to English Mentors.
For a fee so substantial it warrants no mention, EM will billet your kid on an English country house and put it through short "modules" in etiquette, clay shooting, polo, English language, deportment, visits to the Palace of Westminster and BBC studios and other delights that spell Brideshead Culture. EM is purposed to create smart little foreign Englishers who can fit into public school castes.
ON EM's website chairman Field Marshall, Lord Bramall describes these modules as "discreet" and likens them to Sandhurst's officer training course. Key kiddie markets would appear to be Russian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and US. Even the Duchess Fergiana is on hand to sell EM - "I want to give my children a chance, the best possible chance," she says in the backseat of what could be a chauffeur-driven Daimler. "The demand for well paid jobs that are spiritually enriching is far outstripping supply."
Do watch the promo video. It artfully draws in royalty, the military, the English bar, the City... and the better newspapers... as privilege is put up for purchase. And it's all so wonderfully shameless.