I read all the time in the newspapers about hyperactive gun-zheong parents who subject their kids to extra tuition. Maths, fencing, Chinese, English, piano, ballet, swimming. Before school. After school. On weekends. Anything to give little Madeleine that extra edge over her equally obnoxious class-mates.
As someone who was made to sit through long painful hours of algebra with my patiently suffering tutor, Mrs Chiang, let me tell you, dear parents, that it’s all a complete waste of time. I literally spent months learning how to solve a quadratic equation and to this day, no one, not even my father who had to write out a sizeable monthly cheque to Mrs Chiang, can explain to me the point of solving (x+2)(y-6)=76.
Really, who cares what x and y solve to? Nobody. You will never need this. Ever. You will never, unless you’re Russell Crowe who’s being paid millions for A Beautiful Mind, be put in a situation where your life depends on finding the solution to a quadratic equation. And even if you’re Russell Crowe, need I remind you how that all turned out for him?
Same goes for ballet. I’m always having lunch with someone who’s on a perpetual school run between home and ballet classes. Seriously, does anyone really think that little Annabelle is ever going to be a prima ballerina? All that fussing about with her tutu, hair and shoes - for what? She’ll have no need for a pas des deux at university, and by the time she’s married and with kids, she’ll have lost all flexibility in her joints and she’ll be lucky if she can even touch her toes. Meanwhile, her ankles will be so swollen from water retention and running after Ah Boy that the only reason she would ever do a pirouette would be to kick someone (most likely her husband who’s come home late, looked at the mess in the house and asks, “What have you been doing all day?”) down the staircase.
No. What parents should really be gun-zheong about is finding classes that teach their kids what to do once they’ve left school. Classes like ‘How to deal with the boss from hell’, ‘How to sabo your work colleagues and get ahead without making enemies’, ‘How to be a man and not carry your girlfriend’s little pink handbag in public’, and, my favourite, ‘How to plan for your retirement, especially if it’s a near certainty that when your parents die, they will leave you nothing in their wills.’
I don’t know about you, but no one ever talked to me about retirement planning when I was growing up. Everyone was so busy trying to tell me about the events of 1066 or what happens when I mix two molecules of hydrogen with one of oxygen (seriously, who am I, God? Why do I care?), that they completely ignored the fact that none of this is going to be useful to me when I’m 85, in a nursing home and hooked up to a respirator.
What would be useful is having first class medical care. And to achieve that, I need to make lots of money. And to do that, I need to have a brilliant life-changing idea. Just one. I need my iPad moment.
And I think I got one the other day while sitting on the toilet.
It’s a brilliant idea that’s going to make me the millions that everyone thought I would by knowing how to solve a quadratic equation. I’m surprised no one has thought about it so far.
It’s designer coffins.
And before anyone says, “Choy!”, think about it. The whole world is already so obsessed with Louis Vuitton and Gucci. What would be the ultimate accessory? A Louis Vuitton coffin! And a Gucci shroud! While wearing realistic post-death make-up by MAC! See, I’m so excited by the idea that I’m putting exclamation marks at the end of every sentence!
My company tag line is ‘Who says you can’t take it with you when you die?’ Now, you really can. The permutions are endless. I know, for a fact, that I will clean up in Japan with a Hello Kitty coffin. I’m already seeing the queues clamouring to get into my showroom. My server for the online sales will probably crash too. And my Rolex watch whose hands are forever stuck on the moment you die has genius written all over it.
I’ve been so excited by the idea that I’ve not slept.
This morning, after I’d told her about my retirement plans, Amanda said, “How is this going to make you any money? Wouldn’t it be Louis Vuitton that makes the money from a Louis Vuitton coffin?”
Amanda is so lucky I never learnt ballet.