The day of a PA starts bright and early, or half way through the afternoon depending on which shift they are working. Some are woken by the sunshine and the melody of the morning birdsong performed for them as small woodland creatures help them get dressed and prepared for the day, others are woken by the cry of their alarms only to skulk out of the dark comfort of their duvets at the absolute last possible moment. Some of the PAs take the time to make breakfast, others treat themselves to a bacon and brie ciabatta from the café, a few subsist on the free tea and coffee alone.
Once they have fuelled up, the intrepid PAs must venture into the depths of the Engineering department, Pembroke, and King’s. They go forth armed with projectors and laptops to bring light and technology to the rooms that will soon be inhabited by students and lecturers eager to learn and discover. Like shadows, the PAs move from one room to another before retreating into the PKP office until the changeover.
The PKP office itself is a mysterious setting. A large room with many computer screens to hide behind, the PAs are able to lose themselves in the detailed administrative details of their roles. The roles are assigned before the programme begins after a lengthy, gladiatorial games-style contest which can leave the losers unhappy (see P stands for Post for an example) while the victors are crowned with responsibility and purpose. This purpose might be the organising of exams, the writing of the weekly bulletin, or simply the counting of the beans representing house points. Whatever the task, it must be completed with care and devotion in order to ensure the smooth running of the programme.
Far and above these tasks, however, is the most important part of being a PA, the aspect of the job which is their raison d’être, the facet that bestows upon them their sense of identity: Activities.
The running of activities is not for the faint-hearted. It takes time, energy, risk assessments, enthusiasm, dedication, passion, and perseverance to create and run a truly successful activity. The inspiration for such activities often comes from the PAs wanting to share their loves with the PKP students; comedy nights with the jokers, music with the musicians, languages with the linguists, Potter related trips with well, everyone because that’s our generation.
Around noon the PKP office doors close and every PA comes together to share tales of the day, of their successes and failures, of problems that have arisen and solutions that have been found. Then the morning shift goes home and the afternoon shift takes over until the evening comes and the activities once more begin.