The bedmaker who writes crime fiction

For 20 years Mark Nicholls has been a bedmaker at Trinity Hall, cleaning student and visitor rooms throughout the year. His incredible service was marked with a card from the Vice-Master and a present from the College. He joined the College in February 2002 as a bedmaker in the housekeeping team.

Mark, who lives in Waterbeach with his wife Jennifer, started his working life as a butcher, working for local supermarkets.

Bed-making and cleaning rooms isn’t an easy job but it has its plusses, says Mark, who added he’d helped and met many students during his time at the College: “You often have a good conversation with the students. I must have met a lot over the 20 years here. I’m an introverted person but I like speaking to people.”

And working for Trinity Hall is a definite plus: “I just feel comfortable at the College. It’s a very friendly place.”

Marta Janko, the College’s Head of Housekeeping, said: “I would like to thank Mark for all his hard work and look forward to the next 20 years! Bedmakers are vital, keeping the College clean and looking wonderful for guests and students.”

Mark’s hobbies include gardening and walking his three dogs: “I’ve got three Jack Russels! It makes you three times as happy, I always say. They’re called Abigail, Ruby and Pixie.”

Writing is Mark’s great passion however, particularly crime fiction.

“I write detective stories,” said Mark, “Chemistry of Crime is one I have finished. It’s about a counterfeit operation. The members of the crew are newly released from prison, which coincides with a police investigation. It’s set in Cambridge. I have about a dozen stories on the go at the moment. I like the fact I can be in a bar and suddenly something comes into my head and I have to write it down.”

During his time at the College Mark remembers one incident with a rueful shake of the head: “I once threw a bag away that was left by a bin; I’d had a quick look in it and couldn’t see anything so thought it was rubbish. I then had to spend some time digging through the bins to find it again: apparently there was a bridesmaid’s dress in it. Happily everyone was very understanding and forgiving; and I found it!”

What else happened in 2002?

  • The week Mark started saw Timo Maas reach the UK number one slot with the To Get Down.
  • Oscars: A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture and Halle Berry became the first African-American woman to win best actress for her role in Monster’s Ball.
  • Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee was marked around the world.
  • Brazil won the World Cup.
  • US President Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize while Cambridge’s John Sulston won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
  • Crime writer Ian Rankin published the Beggar’s Banquet, a collection of short stories.