Mark Wakefield

Born in Sutton Coldfield in the Midlands. Since then have lived in Knowle, Olton, Earlswood, Lapworth, Weymouth, Moseley, Perry Barr, Handsworth, Antibes (France), Edgbaston, Tamworth, Tanworth in Arden and Worcester.
Where’s home? Well all of those formative years (and school) were spent in and around Solihull. But it’s changed now – for the worse. Part of me will always be in the South of France. The rest of me calls Worcester home. It’s been good to us.
My Dad was the sales director for my Grandfather’s steel fabrication company but his passions always lay elsewhere. His hobbies were all-consuming. First is was ham radio and our spare room was filled with all his radio equipment. As I recall he just used to listen – as you needed a licence to transmit. Then his attentions turned to body-building. The radios went and were replaced by weights, benches and tins of powder that helped to bulk him up. After a while that was dropped in favour of tropical fish. He went on to become one of the country’s experts in breeding discus fish. Sadly he now suffers with dementia and is in a nursing home in Lincoln.

My mother was 11 years younger than my Dad. She was just 20 when I was born, which seems really quite young by todays standards. She had worked at ShellMex & BP before leaving to have children. I remember her being at home with us all the time until we went to school but then she wanted more from her life. She opened a shop in Knowle called Tots to Teens selling children’s clothes and school uniform. It was successful but small so she sold it and bought a larger shop in Greet near Birmingham which sold ladies wear. Sadly this shop was not successful (the previous owner had lied about the takings in order to sell the business). My mother tried hard to make it work but the location was poor. She held a fashion show at a village hall but all the stock was stolen after the show. The shock of this was devastating. Shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had an operation followed by radiotherapy (chemo hadn’t been invented yet). The radiotherapy worked but it also took it’s toll (it’s probably a lot less damaging these days). After she recovered she decided to go back to college. She studied interior design, then (after taking some A levels) she decided to go into full-time education at Trent Poly. Effectively this ended the marriage. She qualified with a degree in Fashion and years later became a lecturer in fashion at De Montford university. She now lives in Claines, Worcestershire.

[divider]At school I wanted to be a racing driver, then pop star, then radio DJ, then (as I had to get sensible) architect, then top business manager, then music producer, then web designer, then entrepreneur, then record label owner and band manager, then marketeer. What’s next? Maybe photography, maybe writing, maybe I’m never going to find what I’m looking for.

[divider]After leaving Solihull School with 4 mediocre A levels and 8 o levels I managed to get a last-minute interview at The Birmingham School of Architecture and scraped in. As it turned out I was one of only 3 school-leavers. Everyone else had been working in architects offices so had far more experience than me. My designs were a bit wacky and fanciful but seemed to go down well on the whole. Unfortunately my finances were in poor shape and when my girlfiend of 2 years went off to Oxford university, met someone else and dumped me I decided to make a clean breast of things and left the course. On the same day I started work in a factory – with a broom. I did that for 3 months before leaving and moving back home to lick my wounds.

[divider]Shortly after my schoolfriend Mark Baughen called me and asked me to move down to Weymouth where he was on a new course called ‘media studies’. I went down, got a job in the local Debenhams as a ‘handyman’ and spent several happy weeks there. There were a number of girls. I was was the sole male dressed as John Travolta in Grease on a carnival float with about 12 girls from the college.

[divider]Just prior to going to Weymouth I had applied for a ‘proper’ job at Birds Eye / Walls in the computer department of their new office in Solihull. While I was in Weymouth I was offered the job but turned it down. Birds Eye / Walls increased the salary offer and in the end I felt I had to take it. So I moved home again and started work there. It was OK. It was shift work 6am to 2pm one week then 2pm till 10pm the next. After a year or so I was bored. I was offered promotion but it meant moving to Harlow in Essex. Didn’t fancy it so after agreeing with one of my oldest friends Guy Wardle that he we do it too I resigned.

[divider]Guy and I then packed our rucsacs and went off round the world. Well – that was the plan. We got as far as the South of France and I couldn’t imagine anywhere else could be better so we stayed and had lots of fun (worked on boats, met lots of women, drinking, parties etc).

[divider]Eventually, due to bad toothache, I decided to come home again. At first I was going to get the tooth sorted and go straight back but I was enjoying being back home. So I stayed. Over the next few weeks my parents sold the house as they had decided to split up. I moved up to Lancaster to live with a girl I had started going out with. While I was there I heard that Guy had returned from France. So I moved back down to the Midlands. I had nowhere to live so Mr and Mrs Trigg kindly let me stay at their house for several weeks until Guy, Andrew (Trigg) and I found a flat (with the help of Guy’s Dad) in Edgbaston. We moved into the middle floor. Guy’s Dad got him a job managing a cafe in Birmingham. Andrew and I were signing on.[divider]