i work for ... Jefferson Hack

Suzannah Tartan is PA to the editor of the style magazine `Dazed and Confused'

I have an academic appointment as an English lecturer at a university in Tokyo but during my long holidays I like to experience other work fields. A friend of mine knew people at Dazed and Confused in London and knowing that I liked and admired the magazine suggested that I contacted Jefferson with a view to working for him as his PA for several months during one of my breaks.

During a short trip to London I visited Jefferson at the office. It was a strange interview. He gave me the only available chair before plopping himself down on to the ground, I thought "this won't do" and got down on the floor too. Jefferson asked me what my father did for a living and I answered "he's a mailman." Jefferson replied that his dad had been a cigarette salesperson and a gold prospector in Uruguay. I guess we both thought "you are all right with me".

My first impression of Jefferson was that he looked like a boy. People rarely believe that he's the editor; they tend to come into the office and walk right past him. He's a very mild-mannered person and also one of the nicest people I've ever worked with. There's no sense of his being too cool for his own trousers, just an awareness of his enormous curiosity. He's very interested in plugging into globalisation and was intrigued by the fact that I am American and live in Japan - I very much feel transitional. I think Dazed reflects this growing global community, defined by its take on life rather than its nationality.

I arrived at a very tense time because the magazine was just about to go to print. The office was electrified with an energy that was difficult to pin down and there wasn't much time to integrate a new person. But I realised that there's an ebb and flow to the way the magazine works. Being one of the few independently owned publications, Dazed has a very non-hierarchical setup, which allows an openness and a quirky questioning.

I wasn't very happy for the first week because most of my time was taken up with stuffing envelopes. It's hard to be assertive when you are new to a job, but it certainly paid off because when I told Jefferson that I could be doing more useful things for him he give me articles to write as well as research projects. We are preparing a commemorative issue on 1968, a period which fascinates me and I do a lot of my research on the Net. Anyone who wants to work in publishing these days has to be Net-literate.

By the time I arrive in the office Jefferson is usually off doing stuff, having left a to-do list on his desk. He jokes that I hijack his list; but I can usually tell the things that I can do for him from the things only he is able to do. I often offer to get him lunch because I worry about him getting too exhausted, he can get a pasty-faced look about him, which is when I want to pop broccoli into his mouth.

I admire the women who work here, particularly one very feisty woman. British men are cast to the wind in the presence of a strong woman, you can often see them wriggle. Feminism has penetrated a lot less easily here than in the States.

Many people would find it hard to work in an apparently unstructured environment; one needs to be strong-willed. It can get quite ferocious at times. But Jefferson is quite unflappable, he sits Buddha-like in the midst of it all before meandering around the different personalities, getting them to unite. Once when my computer didn't work I got halfway towards hysteria until Jefferson came over and said: "Suzannah, this is not an emergency."

It is a playful office though, for example Plankin, our publisher, will suddenly appear with his water pistol and start spraying everyone in the office. You can always recognise the visiting rock band members by their funny haircuts and weird-coloured shoes, but no one here is celebrity- struck. The only forewarning we had of Tori Amos's visit was when someone came and removed her picture from the wall before she walked through the office.

I find a lot of women's magazines problematic because they tend to be too prescriptive. I like the fact that Jefferson is motivated by a curiosity in new and radical ideas and wants to know what kids think and do. But the office is certainly not a "cooler than thou", clubby outfit.

I feel like I am learning a lot while I am here because it's a very intellectually engaging place to work. I get to write about things other magazines won't deal with and I was amused when I heard that Miuccia Prada complimented me on an itty bitty fashion piece I wrote.

I think that Dazed is the sort of office that allows someone like me to do her thing, make her mark and then leave having learned and contributed something valuable. I'm certainly going to keep in touch after I leave.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick