It used to be a bit of sport for local hacks or random members of the public to tease politicians on the election trail about their ignorance of the cost of everyday grocery items. Prospective candidate clueless regarding the price of a pint of milk, the headlines would cry, keeping schtum about the fact that most of us couldn’t actually give you that information off the tops of our heads either. Be honest, who wastes their time remembering the price of milk? You have to buy some, so you do. Besides, it’s quite likely to change three times before you next go shopping.
Being completely clueless as to how much you need to pay for a ski holiday is actually less understandable, since it’s something you don’t have to buy on a regular basis, and there’s a huge range of possibilities (not so with milk, which is mostly …… well, milk).
“Unlike the prime minister, I am not going to demonise the dinner lady, the cleaner or the nurse, people who earn in a week what the Chancellor pays for his annual skiing holiday!”, trumpeted Ed Miliband at the chimpanzees’ tea party which is prime minister’s question time yesterday.
I assume Mr Miliband woke up this morning to find every last one of the UK’s wintersports enthusiasts camping on his doorstep and demanding to know exactly where you can get a week’s skiing for £243,20, which is what you earn doing a 40 hour week on minimum wage. You’d best tell them Ed, because with finances the way they are, they’re not going to go away. The more things go TU the more we all want to leave it all behind and have fun, and the less we can all afford to.
To be fair, it’s probably possible to get yourself a flight, transfer and accommodation for that sort of cash as long as you’re not picky about dates, airports or whether or not your tour op will still be in business by the end of the week. So you could do a week’s self catering in Serre Chevalier’s three star Alpaga apartments with Thomas Cook for a mere £199 as long as there are seven of you prepared to fly out of Birmingham at five in the morning in the middle of January and spend the week squeezed into a hamster cage.
Unfortunately that price doesn’t include your six-day lift pass (205€) or equipment hire (another 100€ more or less, if you book online), which brings your total cost up to around £450. That puts the cleaner’s wage up to about £23,000 pa, something with which I’m sure she’d be absolutely delighted.
While I know people who would bite Mr Cook’s hand off to get at that sort of deal, they tend to be fit bearded Berghaus-clad types who have nowhere to sit down at home because every available space is taken up with skis, ski books, ski videos, ski gear, ski workbenches and the odd snowboard. Not pasty-looking old Etonians charged with important high-flying jobs like mismanaging everyone’s fiscal affairs.
Now, I have no idea whether or not George is a skier. He doesn’t look like one, but then neither does Boris Johnson, who apparently does it quite often. But I doubt if Boris slums it on rock bottom self catering deals to non-U resorts, and I can’t see George doing that either.
No, George looks much more like your Scott Dunn punter to me – condescending, over-entitled and unable to talk about anything other than house prices and their kids’ schools. Loudly, as a rule. (Hint to British middle classes – we don’t give a rat’s ass how much you paid for your house or where Jack and Oliver go to school. You can shut up now.)
Assuming he’s relatively modest in his requirements and goes for one of their mid-range Premier chalets, George is looking at a guide price for a low season January week in Val d’Isere of just shy of £2000. This might sound a tad extortionate, but remember he’s not having to cook his own dinner on two hotplates and sleep within half a metre of someone with whom he is not necessarily sexually intimate. Or not at the beginning of the week anyway. No, not only will he have his own room, he also gets a properly qualified chef, champagne and cocktails on tap, and tea in bed of a morning. It might be pricey, but you get a lot of service for your money chez Scott Dunn, it has to be said.
So where does this leave our hard-working cleaner? On a tad over £100,000 a year, by my calculations (which may very well be wrong, as anyone who knows me will tell you – feel free to work it out for yourselves). Change of life plan here – I’m off to the UK next May for a cleaning job. I’ll only need to do it for three months and I can come home again and loaf around the pistes all winter. Make it four months and I should be able to eat out every night as well. Pass the mop.