:: Article

Behavioural Competencies

By Ben Fergusson.

Seeking an executive family assistant to help look after precious brood (girl 10, girl 8, boy 4) of a full time business woman and recently widowed single mother. This will be a highly rewarding role, based in a large house in rural Buckinghamshire. Car and lodgings provided (the latter in a self-contained flat over the pool house). The role is Monday to Saturday, with Sundays off. Competitive pay and benefits package.

You will be taking over from a previous assistant (deceased) who had been with us for over ten years and you will deal confidently with this transition. You will be sensitive and clear-sighted as you step into her shoes and offer the children pastoral guidance as they adjust to her absence.

A mobile phone will be provided. You may use the telephone for making private calls and sending text messages (no WhatsApp), but due to the profile of the family, you may not maintain a social media presence nor share pictures of the house, grounds, outbuildings or children, including school friends visiting the house.

Because the mother is often absent on business, including a number of nights during the week, it is important that you are able to offer a warm familial presence.

About you:

You are a (straight or gay) woman or (gay) man with a passion for organisation. You are extremely discreet. You are highly trustworthy. You are not easily intimidated. You are naturally distrustful of unfounded gossip.

You are educated to degree level – social sciences a plus, psychology highly desirable. English must be native equivalent and at least one second language is desirable, preferably Scandinavian or East Asian (Korean or Japanese), but standard romance acceptable. No German.

You are not easily offended, you are open-minded, but also not overly PC. You have a deep respect for powerful women, but don’t define yourself as a ‘feminist’. You are able to contextualise extremes of emotion, understand how stress affects people, and comprehend the myriad ways friendly intimacy can be expressed.

You are highly organised and able to provide three nutritious meals a day, taking into account the family’s allergies (kiwi, milk, sesame) and preferences (no lamb, no cooked cheese, no raw brassicas).

You are open to people whatever their background or legal issues that they have experienced in the past. You are comfortable talking to children about grief. In emotional situations, you do not look to insert yourself into the narrative, but offer a shoulder to cry on.

You are skilled in all standard Microsoft packages, understand the rudiments of Rudolf Steiner’s approach to anthroposophic child care and can carry out small electrical repairs. You are an excellent vegan baker. You can keep secrets. You do not have a strong odour and are happy to forego perfumes and perfumed deodorants.

You have a strong stomach. You do not have a phobia of dogs, of flying, of large or small spaces, of blood, of speed, of heights, of water. You are a strong swimmer, even when clothed. You are highly controlled, but you sometimes find it necessary, pleasant even, to be out of control. You are a competent and fast driver with no points on your license. You are not a high-sensation seeker, but you are unfazed by risk. You don’t ask unnecessary questions. You are not afraid of loud noises. You are a good climber and are able to hold your own in a fight. You can fire a gun.

You are strongly opposed to religious zeal, the suburbs, men with long hair, monotony, paedophiles, Saabs.

You are open to people with a complex emotional history, compassionate to the plight of offenders who have served their time, tolerant of misplaced aggression, sexual fluidity, physical pain.

You are deeply loyal and you understand the consequences of disloyalty.

You enjoy (or enjoy the idea of) hunting with dogs, shooting birds, preparing and eating game. You are thrilled by the idea of a fresh kill. You have a deep respect for your prey, but you also understand that necessity of its death at your hands and the honour that the death brings both to you and it. Death and honour are deeply connected in your mind.

You admire the armed forces and her Majesty the Queen. You see yourself, primarily, as a servant.

People with physical disabilities, people of colour and people who identify as LGBTQI+ who can fulfil the above criteria will be given preference if all other qualifications are met.

Photo credit: Charlie Hopkinson

Ben Fergusson’s
debut novel, The Spring of Kasper Meier (2014), won the Betty Trask Prize and the HWA Debut Crown, and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. The Other Hoffmann Sister (2017) and An Honest Man (2017) complete a trilogy of novels set in the same apartment block in Berlin, the latter being a ‘2019 Best Book of the Year’ in the Sunday Times, the TLS and the Financial Times. He lives in Berlin with his husband and son and teaches at the University of Potsdam.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, April 28th, 2020.