Executive perks are not my idea of bliss

Will a pampered CEO take kindly to turning on the tap and finding there's no water?

Share

There are two ways of looking at the survey published yesterday about top company directors getting pay rises six times higher than the rest of us over the last 10 years - that's 288 per cent compared to 45 per cent. There's "good for them, they deserve it, and the sooner we instil the entrepreneurial spirit into our kids the better they'll be", and then there's the "money isn't everything, I'd rather be poor but happy than rich and miserable". Trouble is I know a lot of rich people who are also very happy and a lot of poor people who are downright suicidal.

There are two ways of looking at the survey published yesterday about top company directors getting pay rises six times higher than the rest of us over the last 10 years - that's 288 per cent compared to 45 per cent. There's "good for them, they deserve it, and the sooner we instil the entrepreneurial spirit into our kids the better they'll be", and then there's the "money isn't everything, I'd rather be poor but happy than rich and miserable". Trouble is I know a lot of rich people who are also very happy and a lot of poor people who are downright suicidal.

The obvious solution is to be comfortably off and moody like - well, like me, I suppose, though everyone knows that one man's notion of comfort is another man's nightmare. I say this with feeling because in a moment of wild generosity I put our house on a Scottish island, that is, a week's holiday in our house on a Scottish island, in a charity auction the other day and someone bid £1,350 for it. Naturally I was delighted, it was a good cause, but my delight has since turned to alarm because for £1,350 the high-flying company director who bid for it will at the very least expect spectacular views, hot and cold running water and maid service. How do I know he was a high-flying company director? Because they all were. Who else but CEOs with salaries in excess of a million a year would bid a grand for a cricket bat signed by the England team or £1,500 for a bottle of whisky signed by Tony Blair?

Big earners are big spenders, and holidays are the area in which they splurge. One company director we know thinks nothing of spending £1,000 a day heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies. Another takes his family of six plus nanny and tennis coach to America on Concorde every summer, where they stay in a mansion on Cape Cod originally built for the Rockefellers. Top executives don't seem to mind what they spend so long as they get what they consider to be value for money, which is why I'm getting nervous about our holiday house. To me it's paradise, but to someone who is used to five-star luxury it may be a little spartan.

The spectacular view I can do, no problem, and at a pinch I could put on a pinny and be the maid. It's the hot and cold running stuff that worries me. We have our own spring which produces the sort of water they sell in bottles in supermarkets for a fortune. It's pure, sweet and delicious, but it's erratic until you know the drill. Will a pampered CEO who has bid £1,350 to take his family to a romantic Scottish island for a week (as the brochure said) take kindly to the fact that if he turns on the tap and there's no water, he has to run upstairs and hit the side of the storage tank in the roof three times with a broom handle? Failing that, he should ring the plumber, or at any rate the only person on the island who knows about plumbing, and if it's before 10am there's a good chance he may get him while he's still sober.

From all this you will have gathered that the perks that go with being a megabuck-earning company director or even a megabuck-earning company director's wife are not my idea of earthly bliss. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and a tape of Kathleen Ferrier singing beside me in the Scottish wilderness is paradise enow.

On the other hand, I do slightly envy a friend whose executive husband has just taken early retirement from his multinational corporation. He was immediately taken on by a merchant bank as a non-executive director. His duties now comprise three board meetings a year and two dinners in a private dining room at Claridges. For this, let's call it 20 hours a year if you include travel, his salary is £250,000, plus full-time chauffeur and car. "It was my idea to include the driver and car,'' said my friend complacently. "Peter would have settled for £275,000, but a chauffeur-driven car is so useful in London these days with the congestion charge and everything, don't you agree?''

I'm all for entrepreneurial skills, but not necessarily directed towards a career as a captain of industry overseeing an empire that supplies the world with stainless-steel lavatory brushes. I'd sooner be an entrepreneur like my friend Penny, who has a portable kiln in the back of her car, makes ceramic jewellery and handpainted pots and sells them wherever she goes. The gift shop at the Hilton Hotel in Sharm-el-Sheikh was her last customer. Have kiln, will travel, says Penny. Or better still - have freedom, will survive.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices