Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I've Never Read a Book - but I'd Run for Prime Minister

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I've Never Read a Book - but I'd Run for Prime Minister

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW BILLEN

Even his mum admits it. Dominic McVey, the 16-year-old scooter millionaire from Leytonstone, could be the boss from hell

THE worst job in the kingdom? Leading the Conservatives, obviously. But being Dominic McVey s career master must run it a close second. Dominic, who is 16 and taking his GCSEs even as I write, wants to be a pop star, a policeman, a fire-fighter, a stand-up comedian, a concert promoter, Mayor of London and, in due course, Prime Minister. But you wouldn t dare discourage these ambitions and suggest something nice and sensible, like three years higher education, for the very good reason that, two years ago, while following a hardly less incredible career trajectory, Dominic became Britain s youngest self-made millionaire businessman and you re muddling along on a teacher s wage.

Dominic made his fortune importing those collapsible silver scooters that one day did not exist and the next morning were squashing the toes of pedestrians from Soho to John o Groat s. The deal was made on the internet, so the American manufacturer, Viza, did not know it was dealing with a 14-year-old schoolboy who had raised his capital by charging [pound]5 entrance fees to parties.

Now his empire, which already extends to an advice column for teenage entre- preneurs in J17 magazine and a flurry of websites, is to expand into Japanese gaming machines called Pachinkos (the chink, presumably, being the sound of coins landing in his bloated piggy- bank) , squirty bidet-loo combos and a pop concert on Hackney Marshes in August. Soon McVeys will be a nationally known brand for teenage entrepreneurs.

Is it all really going to happen, I ask him for preliminary calls to Hackney Council and representatives of his putative star draw, Damon Albarn, suggest the Garage Picnic concert is news to them. I wouldn t be surprised, Dominic says. I don t say, I would like to do something. I often say, I will. I am not an I Would person. I m not one to say, I d love to paint that kitchen, but ...

This slightly terrifying conversation is happening in the homely, bookish surroundings of the McVey drawing room, in leafy but unfashionable Leytonstone where the family has lived for decades. The front room is disputed territory. Partly it belongs to his parents as signified by the cat paintings owned by his mother and his musician father s drums and piano and partly it has been seized by McVey Enterprises as a scooter showroom.

We might have talked in his bedroom cum office but Mrs McVey has banned us on public-health grounds; last time she entered she found a glass of orange juice encrusted with three inches of mould. (You may glimpse these domestic arrangements on a documentary featuring Dominic and other rich kids, Teenage Kicks, tonight at 10.30 on Channel 4.) Christina Wright, Dominic s manager, calls him half Richard Branson and half Kevin the Teenager. I d say the proportion is nearer 70-30 in Branson s favour. Nevertheless, today he is in his school uniform and looks like many a 16-year-old schoolboy, slouched, adrenaline-slim and with a sawn-off haircut. He has a 16-year-old s complexion and a 16-year-old s lazy contempt for exams. Back from his English literature GCSE this morning, he predicts he has gained a B grade without having troubled to read the set texts all the way through.

His father is Tony McVey, currently principal percussionist with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican. Mum Valerie, a youthful 55, sits next to Dominic on the sofa, listening rapt as he lays down McVey s Way. Now and again she has to leave to answer the phone, which rings often, and always for him.

It s a gentleman called Dominic from Upgrade, she says, returning.

What s Upgrade? her son asks. I don t know. Take his details. I ll call him back. Can t take calls at the moment. Until he reaches his majority, Mrs McVey is technically his managing director. …

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