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Why I Should Be Jermain Defoe's PA and Save Him from a Life of Extreme Sadness

The Sunderland striker posted a ludicrous job advert online cos he needs a new PA. I could be that PA.

Jermain Defoe stands on an arid landscape with Sky Sports News transfer klaxon Dharmesh Sheth, looking a little lost

One of the greatest tweets of our time was by Jermain Defoe. I'll set the scene: it's August, 2014. The weather is dusky, and it's about 8.16PM so the sun, most likely, is setting. Jermain Defoe takes a delivery to the door of his Toronto mansion. Inside: three tins of custard, two litre-cartons of custard. It is a semi-substantial amount of gratis custard. Jermain Defoe was expecting a delivery of new football boots or something. He was expecting his advance copy of FIFA. This is a box of custard. "Do I have to do a tweet?" he's asking. "Are Ambrosia a sponsor or something?" He does have to do a tweet, yes. And so: the least convincing "Wow." in human history; a thumbs up weaker than those demonstrated by dehydrated prisoners hauled from lethally dark pits they have been buried in for months; a shredder, plugged in to a distant socket, hovering in the background. This is the clinging, gnawing despair of the Englishman abroad in one painful image. This is a man with diamond earrings worth more than your car being forced to hop and clap like a circus bear as thanks for his Ambrosia delivery. This is Jermain Defoe saying thanks for his personalised tin of custard:


Wow. Just got a surprise delivery from — Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe)August 22, 2014

If you agree that tweets are the primary communication of our time and that in years to come stand-out tweets will be ushered into the literary cannon, that 50 Cent taking his grandmother's garbage out will one day be considered as important as, say, Ulysses, then arguably, yes: this Jermain Defoe tweet feigning excitement about three tins and two cartons of custard is his own personal "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn".

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But, right, listen: would Jermain Defoe have tweeted this picture of him posing unconvincingly with some custard had he had a responsible adult around? A little hand around the shoulder to say: "Hey, Jermain, shh. No. Shh. Don't tweet the Ambrosia, mate. You look really sad. You look really sad at custard." A friend, you know? A protector. A guardian. A PA.

Reader, I could be that PA.


Jermain Defoe is looking for a PA. Here's the advert, on a funly-named secretary website called "Secs in the City". You, like me, are probably screaming right now, "MY HEAD IS A WHIRL! I MUST BE JERMAIN DEFOE'S PA!": buddy, I get you. But let's step back and pick some topline thoughts, some assorted highlights:

— The underlying, unwritten context to this job listing doesn't seem to be "Jermain Defoe would like to pay you to do these extremely basic tasks for him"; the underlying context is "Jermain Defoe is unable to perform these extremely basic tasks, for reasons, and so is proposing to pay you money and have you on call 24/7 so that you can do them". Do you think Jermain Defoe knows how to get a shirt dry-cleaned? Do you think Jermain Defoe knows how to buy a sofa? The social events calendar responsibilities include "Thatre, Concerts, Cinema, Musicals". Did Jermain Defoe, locked in the prison of a professional football academy from the age of 15, ever learn how to phone up and book four tickets to see Wicked? I would put it to you that he did not;


— The main thing I love about this job listing is how it spirals from the usual PA specialisms ("Have the highest level of office duties including managing emails and dealing with all incoming telephone enquires") through to more niche stuff ("Select and Organise wardrobe with specific designers for special events/appearances i.e. Oswald boateng, Harrods, ZAP etc") through to just straight up mad shit ("Create his own clothing line/Fragrance for e-commerce on his website"). It's a hundred jobs at once, a million jobs at once. Essentially, you are organising every single aspect of Jermain Defoe's life for him, and then developing a clothing line on his behalf – AND A CHARITY:

For £50,000–£59,999 per annum rate dependent, you can live Jermain Defoe's life in his place;

— One of the jobs – again, the same person who is wiping up dog shits and organising family outings to the cinema but also liaising with adidas and creating a clothing line and charity – is "Producing his own iphone apps". To which the question is: who is going to download a Jermain Defoe app? Who is going to download multiple Jermain Defoe apps?

— Another component of the role is "Writing minutes and taking dictations". What is Jermain Defoe dictating? Jermain Defoe, in a tracksuit and hoody, pacing his kitchen. "Scored goal at weekend. Header. Hoping for a few more." Do you have to type that up? Who is going to read it? Is being Jermain Defoe really such a big business that it requires notetaking?


— Here is a documented list of all the special occasions Jermain Defoe needs help planning throughout the year: "Mother's day, Fathers Day, Easter, Black history month, Bonfire, Christmas, New years etc." Here's how you cope with those events, Jermain Defoe — Mother's Day: buy a card. Father's Day: buy a card. Easter: buy some eggs. Bonfire: go to a bonfire. Christmas: buy some presents. New Year's Eve: have an underwhelming night at the same pub you always go to but somehow tonight you have to pay £20 to get in. But squint your eyes and look past that to this: Black History Month. How hard does Jermain Defoe go in on Black History Month? I mean, is he celebrating it every single day? Are you, the PA, expected to organise 30 separate BHM events, to be enjoyed alone at home by Jermain Defoe, sad but reverent in his pyjamas, watching MLK documentary after MLK documentary? Jermain Defoe, in bed, reading a biography of Mandela? What, exactly, are the expectations here?


In life we must ask ourselves difficult questions, such as: do I want to be Jermain Defoe's PA? I have thought about it for upwards of 45 minutes and decided that yes, I want to be Jermain Defoe's PA. Critics will say: well, your skillset in your job at VICE leaves you entirely unprepared to be Jermain Defoe's PA. I mean you don't even do your own transcription, the critics are saying, you get the interns to do it. A valid response. But Jermain Defoe doesn't need a PA. He needs a saviour.


The Jermain Defoe of this PA job listing is some sort of magnificent idiot, good only for sidefooting easy balls into the nets of bottom-ten football clubs then speedily peeling away to celebrate, good only for posing on or near some custard and taking penalties. The man cannot even get himself to the cinema without paid assistance. Jermain Defoe needs to pay someone to talk to the gardeners for him, the gardeners who are also paid. He is paying people to talk to each other about his garden. Is Jermain Defoe happy with his lot in life? Look again at the Ambrosia photo. Look deep into those eyes.

He is not.

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My worry is that Jermain Defoe is not capable of living without paid assistance. My worry is the future of Jermain Defoe. Jermain Defoe is 32: there's only so many years he can continue to tonk in ten goals a year in the Premier League. Then the MLS beckons, or Qatar, or India. And then what? Jermain Defoe, the only man on earth to have ever downloaded the Jermain Defoe app, sitting quietly alone in his kitchen, unable to comprehend how to care for his dogs. Jermain Defoe, stranded in a colossal Teeside mansion, unable to organise a ticket-for-one trip to the Odeon in his post-career, post-PA world. Jermain Defoe, not knowing Oswald Boateng's phone number, driving trouserless to Lee Cattermole's wedding. Jermain Defoe eating a cold tin of custard.


Can I save you, Jermain Defoe? I do not know. I am not an organised man, nor a particularly hard worker. But get me in on a trial day, mate. Let's have a kickabout in your garden, which I imagine has tiny practice-sized nets in it, and assorted well-inflated balls. I imagine you fully celebrate every goal you sidefoot past me on an 8' x 8' pitch. I'll let it happen. We'll go inside and make strong squash and talk about football. I'll teach you how to tuck the wires on your shredder away so they don't look so unsightly. We'll go and see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. together. Then, slowly, you'll do things for yourself: pick up a dog shit, type an email, decide that maybe a Jermain Defoe app is one of the greatest examples of hubris in human history and quietly scrap it. And then, with the freedom of owning the multitude tiny chores that make up your existence, you will start to truly live. Let me help you, Jermain Defoe. Take me by the hand and give me £59,999 per year and let me teach you how to be you. You do not need a PA, Jermain Defoe. You do not need an app. You need to start living.


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