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Doing English

Forgetting English Isn’t Your First Language

All through my childhood, I loved art.

I didn’t like school much, and I got terrible grades. Especially French – our second language. It was all boring grammar explanations that I didn’t understand. Copying from the blackboard and translating sentences word-by-word using a dictionary.

I spent most of my time reading science-fiction novels hidden in my textbook, praying the teacher wouldn’t call on me.

Unsurprisingly failed French.

I just wasn’t talented at languages, I decided.

For me, art was the exact opposite of French. I loved the subject and did really well. I got great grades and went on to study at university. I did pretty well, even putting my work into international exhibitions.

I worked hard but had a lot of fun.

Then, all too quickly it was over.

A few months before the end of university everybody was looking for work.

Nobody that I knew were looking for work in the art industry. One of my friends went off to work in an office pouring coffee and making photocopies. Another one of my friends went to work in his father’s DIY shop. Nothing to do with art.

I didn’t want to do this.

I didn’t want to get a boring, mundane job in some office. But at the same time, I didn’t know the steps that I should take to work in the art world.

Working in art just didn’t seem realistic.

I knew how to paint… but I didn’t know what to do beyond that. If I could go back and do it all again, I’d skip university and study marketing instead, alongside doing art.

That’s why I ended up going to Tokyo.

I met my wife in England, and she was planning to go back to Japan for a while. So after university, I followed her there.

It was the easy option and saved me having to think about my future.

I managed to get an interview for a job working in a gallery in Harajuku, a fashionable part of Tokyo.

I thought this is it.

THIS is what I would do. THIS is the life I was going to live.

Four months later, I was on the plane.

But I didn’t get the job.

I had everything they wanted, except one thing.

My Japanese wasn’t good enough.

I met someone who was working for a famous artist. I was shocked to learn he had no qualifications or even experience with art. But he got the job because could speak Japanese at an advanced level.

I couldn’t do that!

I felt totally lost and didn’t know what to do.

Then, before I knew it… everything suddenly changed, and my chance to be a part of the art world disappeared.

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