Any great PA needs to be able to think quickly on their feet and find a solution to a problem. Pragmatism, having the courage of your convictions and taking responsibility for your decisions is all part and parcel of the job.
So I want to recount a tale involving an uncomfortable situation I found myself in many years ago involving me and an Ex. I think you will agree it is one of those anecdotes that is so far-fetched it can’t possibly be true, well I can assure you what I am about to tell you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It was whilst I was working as an Assistant in the advertising industry, based in the heart of Soho, all very trendy schmendy although I did not fit into this world full of beautiful people, all image conscious and uber stylish. I was very unhappy in this environment and at the time my life was not going well for me. In days gone by I would cope with unhappiness by eating ……… and eating ……and eating. Hence I could literally put on 3 stone in a matter of a few months. This amount of weight on my small frame transformed my appearance dramatically, I literally turned into a Roly Poly.
One morning I was getting off the bus in Regents Street and headed to my usual cut-through to take me to my office when lo and behold coming towards me in the opposite direction was a recent old flame. What was he doing in Central London when he was ordinarily based in Wapping??? How could this be happening to me??? When we were courting I was a trim figure with no triple chin and extra padding around the middle. I honestly don’t know how I came to take the following action, there was no time for any premeditated thought. As he came towards me he stared familiarly and called my name “Nikki?” I calmly kept walking and as I passed him, I looked him squarely in the eyes and responded in a quasi-French accent: “Non!”. How did I expect someone I had been dating for want of a better term not to recognise me?? The sheer madness of it but I do pat myself on the back for instantaneously thinking of a way to get me out of a humiliating fix.
When I finally reached my desk, I received a text message on my phone asking me where I was 20 minutes previously and what I was wearing that day. Obviously he was not convinced by my portrayal of a foreign national. I replied that I had been at work for hours and fabricated the details of my attire. He then persisted on a daily basis to ask me to meet for a drink. He knew it was me he had seen that morning!! I managed to fend him off for about 6 weeks with one excuse after another during which time I literally went on the craziest diet of 500 calories a day. I hasten to add I DO NOT ADVOCATE such extreme measures in any way, shape or form, but one of my character traits is that I have a determination and will of iron if I really want to do or achieve something.
So finally I met the curly haired beau named Tim in what was then the Soho Brasserie on Old Compton Street. I still remember what I was wearing, a pillar box red blazer, a colour that always fills me with confidence. As he arrived and came towards me, I was already sitting at the table, he took one look at me and mumbled, “no it wasn’t you” ……….and kissed me on the cheek as friends do”.
This tale is known affectionately amongst my friends as the NON (as in French for NO) story and as ridiculous as it may sound, I can assure you this is not a fictitious tale.