Oscar, 20, is woke. He’s also broke. He needs cash for a trip to Croatia with new friends from Cambridge, but his parents – both journalists – insist he get a job. And so, despite deploring extra tuition in principle (Oscar didn’t need help getting A*s), he signs with private tutoring agency SuperTutor.co.uk. His first employer – a sought-after dermatologist whose daughter is failing history GCSE – recommends him to all her clients. Within weeks, Oscar is working for a London-based oligarch. So begins his summer of helicopters, staff and sessions on communism at 30,000ft on a private jet.
His charge, Alexander, is the kind of teenager Oscar despised – only three years ago – at school. Cocky, lazy and irritatingly tanned, he spends their sessions with one eye on his phone, which Oscar doesn’t have the nerve to confiscate. The swagger Oscar recently acquired at Cambridge deserts him the moment he and Alexander are alone. Still, the gig is anecdotal gold. The swagger returns, amplified, at house parties when Oscar holds court on Ikea sofas about his grossly rich employers. His best story involves a kennel refurb for a cockapoo, complete with mini rainforest shower.
Finally, Oscar gets a chance to put Alexander in his place, when they reach a module on Marxist theory. He makes the point, sipping on his second espresso from a maid, that privilege is “by definition unfair.” Getting into his stride, he hears himself say, “I mean, all this – me being paid hundred of pounds an hour to guarantee you an A, man – it’s kind of obscene, when you break it down, no?” Alexander’s gold-flecked eyes flutter fully open. “But didn’t you go to private school?” he guesses, correctly.