So gratified am I by your kind comments to previous post I am tempted to elaborate on this theme (I also have chores and looking for any excuse to avoid them).
Way back before anti apartheid put paid to international sport in SA I applied for the position as ‘seketry’ to South Africa’s own ‘Mr Tennis’. It involved no less than three interviews but I persevered and was rather chuffed when I landed the job, albeit with a three month trial period.
The salary was not enticing but the job offered frequent opportunities to waft around on a cloud of perfume wearing a large hat (or so I was told) in addition to rubbing shoulders with the good and great. Boss man not only promoted tennis, but ice hockey, and my absolute fave, international equestrian events.
The office premises were wonderful – A Victorian pile, perched up on Parktown Ridge, called ‘The View’ and built by ‘Rand Lord’ Cullinan (think diamond). This house has the reputation of being one of the most haunted dwellings in the country, but although it pains me to admit it, despite frequently working late into the night, I never saw a spook of a day old.
The job turned out to be hell. And Mr Tennis himself turned out to be a very odd customer indeed. For one thing, each morning his desk required dusting then setting up with a slide rule – pens, pencils, paper, blotter etc. etc. all had their designated positions, down to the last millimeter. Something like laying the place settings for a royal banquet.
He would never, under any circumstances, answered a telephone unless it had been caller checked. As to why rapidly became clear. He was loathed many many people. I have had the dubious privilege of being verbally abused and even sworn at by Arthur Ashe, and that actor fella, Charlton Heston, who starred in Ben Hur. (This had something to do with tiger fishing, but I forget the details.) Many people were extremely rude to me, when with fingers crossed, I would politely advise that Mr T was unfortunately unavailable to take their call. Merely answering the telephone became an ordeal, requiring deep breathing and nerves of steel.
Mid summer with the heat in the high nineties and Mr Tennis decides it’s way too hot to work from the office. He dictates letters whilst clad in a speedo, and floating on a lilo on his home swimming pool, I meanwhile perch precariously on the edge of a deck chair, out in the burning sun, dressed in stockings, high heels and appropriate business suit, (there is a dress code for us exec secs, you know), attempt to take dictation whilst blinded by sweat and stricken with heat stroke.
It took two straws to break the camel’s back. One was slaving for a month arranging his annual birthday bun fight, involving a cast of thousands – the flowers, the caterers, the hundreds of guests, the cabaret, which included a huge troop of Zulu dancers. Did I get an invite? Not a damn. Not even permission to lurk at the tradesman’s entrance observing proceedings. So much for ‘wafting around on a cloud of perfume etc.’
He then ‘loaned’ me to Taubie Kushlick, a theatrical personality of note, for a week, and a right old harridan she turned out to be. She never bothered to find out my name and referred to me as ‘Hey, you’. Not remotely surprised she needed to borrow staff, the old bat.
With my three month trial period up, the honour of permanent staff status was graciously bestowed, to which I replied – “You must be joking – I’m out of here”.
And off I went happily to explore pastures anew.