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    Helen Simpson

    Editor, translator & writer

    In 1981 the all-time champion of soul music, Marvin Gaye, took refuge in Ostend, a small city on the Belgian coast. His decision to lay anchor in Ostend was totally unexpected, not to say incredible. But it was where he would reconnect with his musical soul. The same goes for English editor and translator Helen Simpson, who also crossed the sea to follow her heart.

    What is your story?

    I was living in London and working for the Hayward Gallery when I was sent to Paris to see a David Tremlett exhibition. At the opening, I met a very nice Belgian man, Lieven, who had been living in Paris for twenty-three years. We had this incredible connection, fell in love, and conducted a long distance relationship for four years, shuttling back and forth between Paris and London. It was great. We didn’t have kids. We lived for the arts, but after a while we said: it’s either got to be one place or the other.

    I grew up
    by the sea
    in England
    I can always go
    for a walk in Ostend,
    a magical antidote
    to the stresses and
    strains of the day
    Knit cardigan
    No85 / Collection one
    Show details
    What made you choose Ostend over Paris and London?

    Lieven suggested that we move to Belgium. He wanted to come back, and we thought about Ostend because it was affordable back then. We both wanted to live by the sea. I grew up by the sea in England and he’d always wanted to retire to the coast. We moved twelve years ago, and my children were born here. At first I worked for the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, but through learning Dutch I discovered an aptitude for translation work. Now I run a full-time business. One of the nice things about Ostend is the proximity of the sea. Sometimes I get caught up in my own little world, but I can always go for a walk and there’s the sea, a magical antidote to the stresses and strains of the day.


    With your home as your office, work never stops.

    People think I have a relaxing lifestyle, but I’m always working and I’m very strict. I’ve got office hours and I’m constantly behind my desk. I’m working hard all of the time. The life of a freelance translator is quite secluded, reclusive sometimes. But my job suits me perfectly. I love going back to England because of my family, and as a translator and editor I can take my work with me. All I need is an Internet connection, my phone and my documents. After all, I am mobile.

    Shirt
    No32 / Collection one
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    It's nice to wake up,
    get dressed and put make-up,
    perfume and jewellery on
    When you look good, you
    feel much more professional
    Do you get dressed up in the morning?

    Yes, nearly always. It’s nice to wake up, get dressed and put make-up, perfume and jewellery on. When you look good, you feel much more professional. It’s not the same when you’re wearing pyjamas. Sometimes clothes do make a difference. Because when you’re struggling with something and you’ve got a lot of work to do, and then you put a fantastic outfit on, you feel much stronger and in control.


    How would you describe your personal style?

    Eclectic. I like investing more money in something great that I will wear over a longer period of time. And as I’ve got older, I appreciate colour more. I used to wear black all of the time, but colour is more enlivening. Furthermore, I am a huge fan of knitwear. I’ve got a lot of jumpers. Knitting is my hobby. That’s what I do when I’m not working. I have a knitting club called Breien in Oostende. Every first Sunday of the month we come together at Vrijstaat O, here in Ostend. You should join us.

    Knit cardigan
    No85 / Collection one
    Show details
    My personal style
    is eclectic
    I used to wear black
    all of the time, but colour
    is more enlivening