I am currently presenter of the afternoon show on BBC6 Music with Stuart Maconie and the Folk Show on Radio 2. I also present some stuff on TV including the Glastonbury Festival. For many years I was on Radio 1 as the ‘Mark’ half of Mark and Lard. I’ve written four books and spent a lifetime playing in bands. I’m currently drummer in the seven-piece pirate themed folk-rock outfit Galleon Blast. I was born in Bolton in 1958 and currently live in Knutsford, Cheshire.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
I was at Bolton School from going to Park Road at the age of eight right through to completing my A levels in 1976. I was vice-captain of Lever House and also a prefect! My name is up in gold leaf on one of the boards outside the Headmaster’s study. My sister Jaine attended the school too up to A level. My brother Joe left at 11.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
My favourite school memories are being one of a team who put together an alternative school magazine called ‘Public Convenience’, watching bands at the discos held in the undercroft, hanging out in the art rooms making posters for our gigs on the old printing presses and messing about in the music room hitting all the drums and generally making a racket. Mr Mace was an eccentric but benign enabler.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
Charles Winder absolutely made me appreciate the power and beauty of words, particularly Thomas Hardy and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and this has stood me in incredibly good stead throughout life. He really believed in me as an English student too and that belief was really empowering.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
I really enjoyed my time at Bolton School and I think it just really taught me that you didn’t have to be a total rebel to express yourself. I think of myself as a pretty conformist kind of guy really because my flights of fancy and creative streak have been escape enough. Bolton School nurtured that spirit I think.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today?
I don’t feel really able to give career advice as mine has been a series of happy accidents. There has never been a plan. When I went to see the career’s officer at school I said I wanted to be an astronaut or a poet and came out with a pamphlet for the Royal Navy! So, what do I know? I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left university, let alone at school, but I thought it would be cool to do something involving music. So far so good. The only thing I would say is that it’s great if you can work in an area you enjoy rather than chasing money. If you can combine both, great. But you’ll be working your whole life and so it’s common sense to avoid doing something you might hate.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
Any worthwhile institution has to have people from a mix of backgrounds. You may well feel a sense of privilege being at Bolton School, and you should, but it’s important to know that it’s an opportunity granted to as wide a range of people as possible. When you leave school you will find the world is actually like that and so being educated amongst people of identical background and wealth has to be a negative.