I work for the editor of `Loaded'

Kate Jacobs is PA to Derek Harbinson
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The Independent Online
I graduated last summer after doing a BA in Classics and an MA in English Literature. I left with the idea of getting into journalism and wrote loads of letters asking for work experience. Loaded magazine offered me a week, and after that some temporary research work. During that time the editor's PA left and I went for an interview. We had this hideous play-off, where two of us were given trials, meaning a horrible wait.

I don't know why they gave me the job, I'm still trying to figure that out! I can't type particularly fast and I don't know shorthand, but I must have fitted in with the office. Some would find the all-man thing a bit stressful, but I went to a boys' school, so maybe that was some preparation. I always have a supply of rubber bands for flicking fights, and when using the photocopier, check behind me for footballs flying over head.

On my first day, it was like "Here's your job" - and I thought, "What the hell do I do now?" I started off tidying and came across a stack of invoices barely knowing what they were, but knowing that it was bad. It was a case of sink or swim.

When I started, James Brown, now at GQ, was the editor. It is such an unusual environment I imagine that James wanted someone who was proactive and could think on their feet, and not ask lots of little questions. The hours are 10 to 6 - 9am would be a bit of a killer having recently been a student.

In the morning I check my e-mails and I liaise with the editor for five minutes at the beginning and end of each day. Quite a lot is finance, like invoices and cost of issue. This is the most daunting aspect, but once you know the procedure it's a refreshing change from complicated student work. It's up to me and only me whether the work is done.

James told me a couple of days before everyone else that he was leaving, although I had a feeling something was going on. Part of being a PA is being trustworthy. There was speculation for ages about who was going to be the new editor. It was a hard time because James wasn't just boss, he had started the magazine.

Luckily it was Derek Harbinson, who was chief sub-editor on the magazine, so I knew him already. He only started at the end of June, so at the moment we're finding our feet. Derek is more reluctant than the others about asking me to do menial tasks, but I am happy to do anything to make it easier for him. They all treat me like their PA in the office, then I see Derek stacking a crate of beer into the fridge which he has received and I am saying, "Stop it, let me do it."

With James, I organised him inside and outside of work. Now I speak to Derek a few times a day, organise his diary, cram all his meetings into one day so that he knows when he wakes up that he will be editing the magazine that day, and not disappearing all the time. I am very protective towards him. Everyone wants a piece of him, so I stand in the middle. There are lots of things that he doesn't need to know. I whittle down the post and make sure phone calls go to the right person. He is easy to work for, more of a friend, and when we socialise it is not like - "Oh God, the boss is there."

Soon after I started there was the Paul Smith/Loaded party in Nottingham, which was my first outing "on the job", and it was great to socialise with everyone. But it would be a mistake to try and keep up with the Loaded boys. I would rather stay at the sidelines. There is nothing worse than "I'm one of you guys", especially as they are very close-knit. People have asked me about whether the high sex content means they are chauvinist pigs, but they treat me with respect. They tease me, but they know I can take it. I just eavesdrop and chuckle at their conversations.

For the future, although I have given myself 101 excuses for why I haven't been writing, I would like to once settled. I do little things for the Loaded Web site, but I don't know if I could cut the mustard with the writers here. Also, being a basic journalist would mean taking a wage cut. My friends have talked about it in psychobabble as the comfort-zone job. But at the moment I am really happy, having fun every day

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