City: I work for Julian Metcalfe

Beaky Evette works for the chairman of the Pret A Manger sandwich company

A year and a half ago I broke my arm and decided to stay off work until it had healed. But my agency rang to tell me that they had a fun, exciting job with a man at Pret A Manger who was quite difficult to work for, and convinced me to go to the interview despite the fact that it was scheduled for 8am.

While the personnel officer was telling me that I wouldn't meet the chairman unless I got through to a second or third interview, Julian himself appeared and dragged me off to his office.

After firing questions at me for five minutes he hired me on the spot. I accepted the job immediately because I was intrigued by Julian's oddness.

I had always thought that successful men wore grey suits and talked business, but here was a man in blue velvet trousers and a Pret t-shirt sampling cheese throughout the interview and offering it to me. I thought I had blown it when I heard myself tell Julian that his vegetarian sandwiches were too soggy. But he instantly reacted, ringing the supplier and shouting "bring me the vegetarian cream cheese". I couldn't believe that I had landed a job which would allow me to be myself.

Julian is the creative force to the company, his partner Sinclair Beecham is the businessman. If you walked into the office you wouldn't believe that Julian was the boss. He wanted to sit on the desk beside mine to be in with all of us, but I persuaded him that as Chairman he needed his own office. Mind you, he still often answers the phone. As the company gets bigger Julian is going to have to stop trying to do things himself. The stationery supplier called the other day, asking for Julian because he thought he was the office manager.

His diary is completely up to me, I book all his appointments, tell him what he is doing during the day, make sure he has his keys and his money for taxis and occasionally buy presents for his kids. Suppliers often send in samples and Julian himself often appears laden with goodies and out comes the Mothers Pride as we make up sample sandwiches. The visits from the cake woman are always looked forward to. What other PA can say that sampling chocolate cake is part of her job?

I'm actually not a sandwich eater myself. Julian jokes that if I had my way we'd be selling peanut-butter and chocolate sandwiches and shepherd's pie. Being a chocaholic I eat Pret's chocolate mousse for lunch - having worked out that the calorie count was the same as for one of our sandwiches. I don't go out for lunch myself, partly because that's when we get the bulk of our telephone calls. Our number is on all the packaging inviting people to call if they have suggestions, so people invariably ring during their lunch hour.

Julian gets quite passionate if a staff member has a problem and will spend hours discussing it with them. I often have to scratch on his window to remind him of his other appointments. I used to find work quite emotionally draining, particularly when Julian was in a bad mood, but since my job is to make his life run smoothly I now know how to calm him down or just to leave him be. He's very apologetic afterwards and his sunny moods make up for the dark ones because he is so enthusiastic and appreciative.

When he's inspired there's no stopping him, I've heard the waves lapping against the boat he was calling me from while on holiday and he has been known to call people late into the night with a brain wave.

If I am out for dinner the conversation always turns to Pret, so I quite often take ideas away with me and give them to Julian next day. His motto is "always exceed the customers expectations" because he's such a perfectionist. One woman even received a silver Tiffany yo-yo from Julian by way of apology. If someone complains I can send them vouchers myself.

A lot of chairmentreat PAs like dirt, expecting you to exist purely for them. Before I came here I thought I was a secretary because I didn't go to University, but Julian's brilliant: if I really want something I can go for it. I recently suggested that I experience other aspects, so now I visit other sites once every three weeks, making sandwiches or coffee and meeting staff.

I can't help but be honest with him: when I rang, too ill from a hangover to come in, I admitted it. Of course he was furious but I think he appreciated my honesty. There's a lot of loyalty among Pret people, if my friends bought coffee or sandwiches elsewhere they'd have me to deal with.

Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'