I moved to France and became an English translator by accident

A letter to a magazine editor in 1997 complaining about its poor translation led to a job offer to do better

Tony Marsden, 66, moved to France in 1997 and fell into translation work after a career in TV and film

I fell in love with France in the 1980s on a tour of Europe with my then-partner.

I had previously toyed with the idea of moving to Germany, having been schooled from a young age in German and Latin by my two older sisters, both of whom were teachers.

At that time, I was working as a freelance film technician.

I had always had a keen interest in both the theatre and electronics, so had started my career in 1974 as an AV technician and photographer at a local college. It was a great job, although sometimes the hours could be unusual.

The equipment was heavy and started taking its toll

Four years on, I joined the staff of the local art college, and as my expertise grew, I also began lecturing, passing on my knowledge to a younger generation of would-be film-makers.

In the early 1990s, I decided to go freelance and began working in film for a range of clients.

It was nice working for myself, but the hours were sometimes long – and without a team of students with me, I had to carry all the equipment myself. In those days, it was heavier than it is now.

Having injured my back in the early 1980s, the job started to take its toll. It was time for a change.

In the mid-1990s, my mother’s health deteriorated. I moved house to care for her but her worsening condition meant she eventually had to live with my sister, and the house was sold.

It seemed the right time to make a change.

I wrote to the editor to point out some poor translation

I bought a property in France, before finally moving over in 1997.

I knew I would have to work, so started a correspondence course with TEFL in preparation.

Read more: What are the options, pros, and cons of teaching English in France?

In the end, I was lucky enough to get some translation work for a property magazine, having written to the editor to point out the poor quality of the current output.

I did this for 11 years and it became my main income.

At the time, the internet was in its infancy, but a friend found some forums for translators online. I joined a few and developed contacts, securing more translation work in the process.

The majority was for corporate customers, translating tender documents, quotes and other business documents. I continued happily until 2016.

I have started translating a novel - a new string to my bow

Sadly, the last few years have been more of a challenge. Brexit put paid to a lot of my income – because of the uncertainty created, there were fewer companies working with the UK and needing documents translated.

However, now I have turned 66, I have qualified for my UK state pension, and also get a small pension from France.

This has helped to top up my income, although I am still translating too. I have recently taken on the task of translating a novel, which could add a whole new string to my bow.

Read more: French writer reveals secrets of translating a great novel

Translation work gives me time and freedom

I love living in France and enjoy what I do, but I miss aspects of my old career too.

It was more stimulating to work with teams of people in the film and TV industry – and sometimes I would have to do something very challenging, such as go down a mine or up a tower. I also got to work with some lovely actors and to film in special places.

However, the translation work leaves more freedom and time on my hands. I have a great circle of friends here and, in the past, I would often be up socialising until 4:00 then, when my friends went to bed, start translating documents to be delivered at 9:00.

Although sometimes it still feels like a recent career development, in reality translating has turned out to be the field I have spent the most time in professionally.

Before moving to France, I would do two years in one role, a year here, four years there.

But I have been translating for 27 years – the longest I have stuck at anything. And it suits me well.

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