I am going to draw on our experience of all the various PA’s that we have had over the years and in a series of posts, present our memories to you. I have ended up coldly pigeonholing them into a type, which I promise is purely for readability’s sake and I hope doesn’t take away from the genuine affection that (occasionally) has built up along the way. The first is:
I’m not going to deign to hypothesise why, but our experience with PA’s would suggest to us that this job particularly attracts persons from abroad. Some are studying English, some don’t need to. But it doesn’t matter how good their english is, there is always something of a barrier which can lead to confusion and keeps things interesting:
- You will never run out of garlic. This is because you send the PA into Tesco to get the ingredients for a recipe that stipulates 12 cloves of garlic (yes that’s right, it’s a curry). And she returns with 20 to be safe, 20 BULBS of garlic.
- You will never run out of tomatoes for the reasons you will never run out of garlic. (I think this PA likes to remain on alert for a zombie apocalypse).
- I could be wrong on this but I’m not sure they have Polo shirts in eastern europe. If SA asks for polo shirt he will get brought various examples of shirty-type garments but not a polo shirt. So he attempts to explain without the ability to point or make a collar shape with your hands, that a Polo shirt is “a bloody T-shirt with a collar!!”
- You will be subject to a regular overview of the contents of your wardrobe because every single item will be paraded out in front of you while you attempt via this third party, to unearth the thing you’re actually looking for. Before finally establishing that the desired shirt in actual fact was in the ironing basket all along.
- Cooking is frustrating when there is a language issue, even more so when your sous doesn’t have any kitchen skills. It doesn’t help that with his patience levels and standards, in the kitchen SA is less of an Ainsley Harriet and more of a Marco Pierre White.
- You send the PA into Tesco for broccoli and she comes back with Brussels sprouts. “The same, no?” (We don’t eat sprouts in my house, but never one to waste anything I hung on to them in the firm conviction that sooner or later I would run into someone who has guinea pigs. Well, they went brown and then eventually went to farty heaven).
- Every phone conversation they have with their friends or family is LOUD.
- When they are emptying SA’s leg bag, they simply don’t laugh when he says “are you taking the piss?” (Maybe that’s just because it’s not that funny).
And lastly, you may find that because they don’t understand, you have the last word of every one of your sentences repeated back to you as an incredulous question, like it’s a ridiculous word. So for example when you ask for the black trainers:
Others heard frequently: