Personal Assistant to the Reverend [Rated PG]
The the precise nature of the Reverends relationship with his Personal Assistant has often been subject to speculation
A Balm for the wailing and gnashing of teeth.. a handsome man like you.. a Victim of Circumstance..the Orthodoxy of Aunt Constanzia..the Legend of Dirty Dr. Doug.. a Priest of Diana.. the Truth..
My Personal Assistant was weeping again the other day.
I hate it when they do that.
It always makes me feel like I’ve failed them as an employer and that somehow its all my Fault. This feeling is especially intense when they’ve actually assured me that that is precisely the case, and that I am in fact the source, not only of their woes, but of all the Woes of the World as well.
Even more annoying though, are those occasions, such as the present Fit, where the Weeping Spells’ cause is never clearly stated or known. The motives are dark and the only clues are dark meaningful glaring, and self-pitying but knowing snuffling.
Clearly it was up to me to cheer her up, but how?
A long lecture, perhaps, on the Dignity of the Office in
which she had the honour to serve? Maybe not. I sighed. When I first created the position I had no idea that employer/employee relations would end up being so complex..
Well-meaning parishioners in the past have sometimes asked how it is that I remain a bachelor.
After all, the two Churches of which I have the privilege to be Minister, have no strictures against their clergy marrying,
so why then do I not have even a Common Law wife?.
“You’re still a handsome man, Reverend”, the Parish Matchmakers cluck disapprovingly, “is it not meet that you should have a companion? The Lord’s Servant needs a helper. .
unless, of course..?”
The Lords servant needs a helpmeet
Modelling prototype for new Personal Assistants Day Uniform
Reassuring them that, no, I’m not Gay,
(tho I do like to have a Good Time)
I explain how I am in fact, the Victim of Circumstance
and the Victorian Morality of my elderly maiden-aunt,
the late Miss Constanzia Owltrembler.
You see, I would explain, the financial security that enables me
to follow my Religious Duties and Poetic Calling, is provided
by a lifetime bequest, to be paid out in regular amounts as long as I care to continue in the aforementioned religious duties
and Minister to my Flock.
For my late, great-Aunt Constanzia Owltrembler (died Strong in the Faith) had great pride in my Spiritual Calling
and was determined that my Mission on Earth
should not fail due to a mere
lack of material considerations.
Alas, there was a Catch.
My mother, Henrietta Beverley Owltrembler
I should explain at this stage that both Auntie and my Mother
had something of the “dowager Duchess” about them.
But whereas my mother was more in
the Lady Bracknell mold
(see; “Earnest, Importance of”),
Aunt Constanzia alas was definitely
of the school of Miss Havisham.
(see; Dickens, Expectations of )
Perhaps she had known Disappointment in her Youth.
She certainly seemed keen enough to inflict it upon mine.
Great Aunt Constanzia’s control of Family Affairs continued long after her demise.
DIGRESSION; The decayed air of High Culture cultivated
by the Owltrembler Matriarchs, is a curious aspect
of their Personality
for actually, the Family Tree has its roots
sunk deep in the damp bogs of Ireland ,
rather than the gardens of Windsor Castle.
Yet, listening to them pontificate with your eyes closed,
you’d swear you were having high tea on the lawn
with lesser Aristocracy, on the occasion of their return
from the Colonies.
(“No place for a white woman, Pamela”)
Probably they went to the “talkies” a lot as young girls in the Thirties
and picked up the manners of British aristocracy there portrayed.
But after all, back in the old days anyone in Australia with any pretensions to class and culture would consciously ape
the ripe, fruity tones of the BBC announcer.
For I was soon dismayed to discover,
that by the peculiar terms of
Great-Aunt Constanzia’s “Last Will & Testament”,
my allowance was to be made only on the proviso
that I was never to know the joys of Matrimony.
I must continue my Mission,
She determined, undistracted by the
superficial Appetites of the Flesh.
It was a hard decision, but in the end Laziness and Inertia,
as well as my Higher Calling, had their way
and so I made the Supreme Sacrifice and vowed to Auntie on her Death Bed, never to marry,
nor enter into some sort of unwholesome
common law or “de-facto” relationship.
Nigel Owltrembler. Set to inherit the Owltrembler Estate should I falter in my Calling
But in my darkness shone a light. For one thing
she never said anything about “Celibacy” as such. Probably
the thought of non-matrimonial congress never
crossed her consciousness as a possibility.
Perhaps it was an oversight.
At anyrate, it was a loophole thru which
I gratefully dived .
Still, Something was lacking in my Life.
Fortunately, shortly after I had accepted Aunt Constanzia’s terms, and signed all the necessary documents,
the sordid case of “Dr. Doug“came to the Public’s Notice.
Not that he wasn’t already previously well known
in certain circles. For old Docktor Douglass,
or “Dirty Doug” as he was
sneeringly referred to by his shabby clientèle,
(which subsisted mainly of drug addicts, musicians
and prostitutes), was notorious as one of the Town’s
leading, “Dodgy Doctors”. One of that Happy Fraternity
willing to write anybody scripts for anything,
as long as they can pay.
Dirty Doug especially liked the Working-Girls
willing to pay him with sexual favours.
Naturally he had a busy Social Life, what with
balancing his Work/Life commitments and so forth,
and so he engaged the services of a series of young ladies
as live-in “Social Secretaries“.
Generally they ended up ripping him off and fleeing
town and so a natural balance was kept, but
unfortunately the last girl ultimately
Overdosed in his home one day.
This caused a bit of a Fuss
in the local Media, the AMA thought he was
lowering the bar for the Profession a little too low
and so Dirty Doug ended up retiring early
to the Philippines and the arms of a teenage wife,
much to the dismay of his abandoned clientèle.
“..and the arms of his teenage wife..”
“Thats it!” I exclaimed, “that’s exactly what I need!”
The person who’d been relating to me the latest developments
in the Dirty Docktor Doug saga, paused and
looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
“Well not the sexual exploitation or drug dependence bits”
“..the other bit.. about hiring a personable young lady to console me in my Great Loneliness
and help with the paperwork
and answering the phone and so forth.”
“Not a Social Secretary,” I mused,”something more professional..say.. an Executive Personal Assistant“
“Uh huh, and are you going to Advertise?” my friend asked sceptically.
“No”, I replied, with the calm self-assurance
of the truly deranged, “I shall pray and the Good Goddess will provide! The right girl will just walk
through the door and apply for the Position”.
And so it proved to be.
I knew the right girl would just turn up eventually
Though I am restrained from discussing the exact nature and full range of the Duties performed by the
Office of Personal Assistant to the Reverend Hellfire,
due to the many strict and binding
confidentiality clauses that dominate the Contract,
it may be confidently asserted that the financial renumeration
gained from performing these arduous duties,
while adequate to sustain Life, are by no means lucrative.
No, the Riches gained from serving in this Office
are mainly Spiritual and Personal.
“The prestigious Office of Personal Assistant
to the Reverend Hellfire”,
The ideal PA possesses a wide range of practical skills, without losing her femininity.
I meanwhile lectured pompously to the current occupant,
whose sagging morale I was still
attempting to boost with a pep talk,
“is a much hallowed Institution whose Origins
go back to the Dawn of Time!
Somewhere in the Eighties to be precise, as I recollect,
and its Incumbents are accordingly behooved to act
in a restrained and dignified manner”.
Her only response was to sniff self-pityingly,
but I bravely continued..
“Yes, an Institution whose Glorious Tradition continues
on through the Ages,
though the individuals embodying that position
may come and go..
It’s rather like the old Phantom comics
now I come to think of it, old Purple Leotards
who Walks, ey what? Perhaps you should have a Uniform?”
She stopped sniffling long enough to fix me with a basilisk stare,
no doubt imagining the kind of uniform I’d have in mind.
Something in leather with lots of straps and zips probably.
She knew my tastes.
“Anyhoo, the various young ladies who have been chosen,
in the past, to occupy that Sacred Office….”
“Whores and Floozies ” she interrupted.
“Yes, Whores and Floozies though they may have been”,
I agreed smoothly,“who nonetheless established
a tradition of exemplitude..of devotion to the Higher Calling that all served, and pride in the Office they represented.
All achieved a high level of Personal Growth in doing so, and while, yes many have gone mad and run off into the Desert after leaving my Service, others have gone on to win awards and establish successful careers.
One even works as a Sexual Harassment Officer for the ACTU, a career choice I like to think that I influenced in some small way”.
But I could tell she wasn’t listening, no doubt being too self absorbed in recalling the petty power struggles with her immediate Predecessor during the days of transition
leading to Regime Change..
“alas, certain tensions, rivalries if you will…”
Sadly my PA’s churlish attitude to her predecessors
is a not uncommon attitude. Though at times the position has been job-shared, with, as it were,
two Personal Assistants serving concurrently, generally this has not , alas, been a long-term success.
Certain unresolved tensions, rivalries
if you will, have tended, to make the arrangements short lived.
Also, Hostile Outside Forces tended to misinterpret and
mis-represent my employee’s working conditions,
causing them undue stress.
“I may have instigated
the Institution of Personal Assistant,” I reminded her,
“but I am by no means in total control of Hiring”.
“The Fates and the Assistants battle it out amongst themselves
and I humbly accept what I have been given
to work with when the dust settles.”
At this my moody PA merely growled.
Actually, the contentious attitude my Personal Assistants have tended to manifest towards their Sisters
rather reminds me of the Tale of the Priest of Diana..
Look, she just didn’t work out. Lets leave it at that.
Back in Roman times, there was a sacred lake deep in the woods near Capua, and there a lovely, well-appointed Temple to Diana had been built.
Now, it was the jolly old tradition of that particular Temple, passed down through the dim ages, that the chief Priest had to be a runaway slave who had killed his predecessor, the previous priest.
So anytime a slave felt like a career change, he could just run off and kill the head priest at the temple of Diana and take his place. He’d have a nice cushy job for life. The downside is that you’d spend every waking minute with a sword in your hand wondering when the next applicant for the job might pop in. Probably not a lot of restful nights either. But with an average slaves life expectancy around 27
at the time, why not go for it?
I sometimes suspect my Personal Assistants have a very different view of our relationship.
In the end I realised that recalling the glorious exploits
of her illustrious forbears was getting us nowhere.
I sighed heavily. There was nothing else for it;
I would have to tell her the Truth.
“There has never been,”I told her sincerely,” a better Personal Assistant than you.
Your contribution to my work, though mostly unseen, is invaluable. When I’m deep in a project and can think of nothing else, you make sure I eat and take in fluids,
and get up from my chair every few hours
so I don’t get bed sores.
You have bailed me out of the watch-house
with your own funds on those regrettable
occasions when the law and I disagree.
You read every word and edit the final draft
of everything I write.
You are sounding board, secretary, gatekeeper
and advisor, amanuensis and Muse combined,
and I am grateful for everyday
that you continue to grace my presence.
Yes, I am honoured that you think my work worthy
of your continued support, and therefore..”
I paused thoughtfully,
“..under the circumstances, perhaps
you can have Saturday afternoons off.”
The boot she threw was heavy, and her aim was true,
but I was expecting it and happily ducked just in time,
to hear it thud harmlessly into the wall behind me.
There would be other projectiles no doubt,
but I knew they would be thrown with affection,
and didn’t really matter. The important thing was
that she was smiling again.
Helping the Reverend find his car-keys is just part of the job description
The Reverend Hellfire..
too good for this World?