I began my working life in the mid-1970s as an apprentice at a machine tool factory
(Wickmans) in Coventry, UK. Meanwhile, I was studying mechanical engineering (HNC)
part-time at Coventry Technical College. I went on to do a BSc Mech. Eng. (sandwich
course) at Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University), graduating in
1981. I did two industrial training periods, the first with British Nuclear
Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) at Sellafield reprocessing plant in Cumbria, the second at
the Rutherford Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
In 1981/82, having moved to the Netherlands, I worked as a designer/draughtsman for DHV, an engineering consultancy in Amersfoort, in the department responsible for water-treatment plants. It was there that I did my first translation work, translating tender documents from Dutch to English.
In 1982/83 I travelled across Africa, from Morocco to Tanzania. I lived in Tanzania from 1983-85, teaching workshop technology and English at a secondary technical school in Moshi, with the Organisation of Netherlands Volunteers (Stichting Nederlandse Vrijwilligers, SNV). My naive idealism had urged me to do something to 'repay the colonial debt'.
After returning to the Netherlands in the almost inevitable state of disillusionment, in the period 1986-88 I worked as a designer/draughtsman at various engineering companies, ending up at ASM Europe, a hi-tech company that built furnaces for depositing layers on silicon wafers for the microprocessor industry. I transferred to the Publications and Training Dept. and became a technical writer of hardware and software manuals, training materials and sales brochures.
In the period 1990-92 I worked as a public relations officer at Utrecht University, producing PR material and press releases on education and scientific research at various faculties, including Physics and Astronomy. I got to interview some fascinating researchers (including 1999 Nobel prizewinning physicist Gerard 't Hooft, who had an interesting but rather tricky theory on time travel.) At the university's Dept. of Internal and External Relations, I worked closely with freelance writers and translators who supplied copy for our PR magazine, and was increasingly drawn to the idea of becoming a freelancer myself and working independently from home.
From 1991-96 I did freelance writing, translating and editing of a wide variety of Dutch and English texts, including, for example: articles and press releases on science and technology; PR brochures for academic and research institutes, museums, private-sector companies and NGOs; programmes for literature and music festivals; and CD sleeve-notes for record companies. You name it, I did it!
From 1992-96 I worked in radio journalism, translating news bulletins and writing press reviews of the Dutch dailies for the English Dept. of Radio Netherlands World Service (Radio Nederland WereldOmroep).
Attracted to the idea of teaching English abroad (the big wide world was calling me again), in the summer of 1996 I did a Cert. TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Inlingua Teacher Training in Cheltenham, UK. I then worked at an Inlingua language institute in San Sebastian, Spain, teaching general English to Basque teenagers and adults (beginners to upper-intermediates), preparing students for their Cambridge First Certificate examination, and teaching an in-company course in 'English for International Trade and Finance'.
In 1997/98, having met some Tibetan exiles and learning about the terrible plight of their country under Chinese rule, I worked as a volunteer English teacher in Dharamsala, where H.H. the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government-in-Exile dwell in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya. I worked for the Save Exiled Tibetan Scholars Association (SETSA) Multi-Education Centre and taught English to teenage and adult Tibetans, including quite a few monks and novices. It was a wonderful experience, and useful: if Tibetan exiles could speak and write better English, they could more accurately and convincingly inform the global community about the appalling injustices they had endured, and their risky escape across the Himalaya to equally risky Nepal, where they were often mistreated again, before finally reaching safety in India.
I returned to the Netherlands in 1998 and edited a PhD thesis on religio-cultural aspects of beekeeping among the Maya of Yucatan, Mexico, for a researcher at the Dept. of Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University. It was a major undertaking that took me a couple of months. The thesis was well thought-out and intriguing. I soon felt as if I had penetrated the magical mind of the Maya. This, then, was my first major editing assignment, which appealed to the pathological perfectionist (perfectopath?) within me.
From March 1998 to May 2002, I taught English at various language institutes in Utrecht and Amsterdam: in-company and in-house teaching of general, business, financial and technical English to Dutch clients and other nationals. For one of those language institutes, Babel in Utrecht, I also worked as a Dutch-English translator.
In the period Sept. 2002 to Nov. 2003, I taught English and physics at two Dutch secondary schools. I started a teacher training course, but only completed the first year. I didn't like teaching adolescents because it seemed to be more about behaviour and discipline than about the English, and the marking and administrative work was a grinding bore.
In the period Jan. 2003 to May 2007, I worked as Chief Editor of external publications for the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), having been hired by its founder and former Executive Director, Scott Leckie, who had been trying to get me to work for the organisation for several years. For COHRE, I did detailed editing and proofreading/correction of publications on regional and thematic aspects of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights and violations thereof, especially forced evictions.
In recent years I have worked as a freelance academic English trainer/coach, mainly at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. I've also edited academic papers and dissertations for researchers at various institutes in the Netherlands. Having graduated in July 2012 from the Nederlandse Academie voor Psychotherapie, I have been building my private practice as an integrative (relationship) counselor/therapist, After much career wandering, I believe that, in guiding clients towards greater happiness and success, I have finally found my true vocation, the "path which has heart" (Don Juan, in Carlos Castenada's books).