Runaway Stonyhurst pupils “safe and well” in the Caribbean, we read. Well there’s a relief. Not the slightest bit discomforted by the furore that’s shortened their lovely holiday. If I was the parent of one of these 16-year old lovebirds who bought HK$40,000-worth of air tickets and a five star hotel stay with a credit card I’d trusted them with, I’d be livid. They took a taxi from their Jesuit-founded school in Lancashire, England, to Manchester Airport and then booked into a five-star resort hotel in the Dominican Republic.
Call me old fashioned but…
I would take a very dim view of everyone involved, starting with myself. For trusting them with a credit card and not putting a sensible limit on it. I’d be even madder with the credit card company for not notifying me that a large wodge had been charged to the card. These kids are only 16, after all, and clearly not yet responsible. But then the parents probably don’t know them that well. They didn’t even know the girl had a boyfriend.
England’s only non-curious cabbie
Then I’d be furious with the taxi firm for driving them – in the middle of term – from school to the airport without checking with the school. Then I’d be livid with the airline for not noticing that two 16-year olds had bought tickets – all airlines require passport details with dates of birth, even for online bookings. Then I’d be mad with the school for having such lousy intelligence that no one noticed them being picked up, packing bags, acting suspiciously, missing from meals. Several hours must have elapsed between absconding and take off. Then I’d be incandescent with Dominican Republic immigration for not questioning them on arrival and the five-star Occidental Grand Resort hotel for not clocking their age when they handed over their passports at check-in.
Failure all round
But mostly I’d be mad with myself, for allowing a child free run with a credit card and the school for being slack. What on earth do you pay HK$390,000 a year for? For the school to be in loco parentis and the child not to need anything apart from a few pounds a week pocket money. Of course they can’t watch them 24/7, but someone must have noticed something amiss.
Just a jolly jape
And then the last but not least, I’d be mad with the kids, but hey, they were just keeping up an old school tradition of breaking the rules, we learn. How will they top this jolly jape, I wonder? It seems a pretty poor showing between the parents and the school.
Politically correct Head
The headmaster is being all understanding and droning on about listening to them and hearing what they had to say but if he’d run a tighter ship they would still be in his boarding school instead of cavorting on a Caribbean beach. The papers were all able to publish photos of the truant pair within minutes because - you’ve guessed it - there was a choice on Facebook. But they still managed to be missing from January 13 to 20.
Edward Bunyan and Indira Gainiyeva, aged 16, no doubt think it’s all hilarious and will smirk, roll their eyes and say “whatever” if anyone says boo to them on their return. They are going to get "a welfare de-brief by police following their arrival back in Blighty. Presumably that’s just to check she was on the pill. I doubt it will include the phrase “you stupid little idiots, your parents and everyone involved have been worried sick about you.”
If they’re old enough to abuse credit cards, they are old enough to discover that this sort of antic has consequences. It’s easy to laugh about it from a distance, but if these were your kids, think of the worry. And 16-year-olds would know that. Unless they were deliberately trying to upset their parents, which is also possible.
Police go softly
The police's "priority throughout has been to ensure the safety and welfare of these students" and that after officers had spoken to them, there would be no more "police involvement". Really? Why not sit them down and tell them what selfish little brats they are and how much police time they wasted.
The headmaster said it was "simply too early to speculate about the future" but "discussions" would take place with the students and their families about what happened next. Discussions, yes, on how to stop them selling their story to a tabloid – oops, that’s not allowed any more - and then plastering the saga, with photos, all over Facebook. Because you can be sure they took their latest model iphones with them.
The very least this escapade should mean for these two is a spell away from school and each other for reflection – with wifi switched off – in a cold part of Canada or Span, where his mother comes from and a very cold part of a former Soviet Stan, where she hails from. But it looks like they will return as heroes, unscolded. The girl’s father Ravil has already said she can keep the credit card, because he doesn’t want her to be “forced to be a tramp.” What a peculiar thing for a father to say. I hope the headmaster has the gumption to insist that if she comes back to school, the credit card does not.