Name: Marc Stephen Carpenter
Coming from: SouthEast London. Sydenham/Forest Hill area.
Status: Single, young and free
Age: 60
What did you do in England:
I worked since I was 16 years old in the electrical sector, then I went into telecoms.
And what do you do here in Spain:
After 4 years in Gibraltar, maintaining Victor Chandler’s (bookmaker) telephone system, I went back to Estepona and started working in electrical stuff again.
What are your hobbies?
Reading, films. Music: I have a collection of nearly 3000 12 inch Soul disco records. Watching football. Nights out (can that be a hobby?). Art if I am sad.

What did you study?
I started with Electrical trade but changed to Telecommunications, that was the smartest choice in those days, there was more money to be earned in that trade, working up in London “The City” banking area itself. For me to get to London it only took 20 minutes by train,

What kind of work did you do in England?
At the first company I’ve did all sorts of things, like fire alarm systems, burglar alarms, all that sort of things, telephone systems.

I was 16 years old then. And as I got older of course the overtime was unreal. Because I didn’t have a girlfriend and was still living at home until I was 23 years old. So I was just saving money, money, money. I bought my first house being 26 years old because I had enough money saved up to put down as a deposit. I remember one year, I only had two days off and that was Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

And did you like the work?
I just loved the environment, because it was like earning lots of money and then, I mean, I don’t know if you ever been to London? Had you been there back in the 80’s, It was just a different world. Because we knew the traders, they wouldn’t let you buy any drinks. They just run a tab. You just got your drinks for nothing.

How did you end up in Estepona?
Around 1999 / 2000 My girlfriend at the time always wanted to come here and ride white Andalusian horses.

Why Estepona?
Because this girlfriend had two sisters that had been living here since the early 1990’s.

What were your plans?
I had no real plans when I first came here… It was just a very new experience and eye opener. We started living in Estepona twenty years ago on July 26th. And later we had a house in the campo, stables, horses, everything.

Did you also ride those horses?
I used to ride a big brown horse. It was like a cart horse, my girlfriend had a white Stallion.

Did you liked horseriding?
One day we went horse riding in Monda. My horse suddenly took off, oh my God you know, I’m ducking out the way of the branches and who knows what else and I’m feeling like I’m gonna come off. Anyway, it gets to where we’re heading back to, and all sudden the horse slowed down … Later the guy said, ‘I should have told you, he knows it’s dinner time, and he wanted to be back on time…’

A house in the campo with stables, horses and all, that sounds nice?
Yeah, but after a while we were going through a bad spell. We worked in the same office in Gibraltar. So if you were having a bad day you didn’t need to be sitting in the same place, so I decided to hand my notice in and started doing laboring work, but with my  electrical background: ‘Alright, Mark, we’re knocking the wall down here, you know all about electrics, removing this socket and that.’ And then my name just kept getting passed around.

Did you also do other kinds of work?
Oh I used do a bit of  cab driving as well at some point with my own car, bringing people to the airport and collecting them.Yeah, people always want these cheap flights, which means they are coming in late. I’ll be sitting at home couldn’t have a glass of wine you know…no, no.  if you get caught in one accident. There is no way around it. It could really stress me out. So yeah, it was an experience. It’s always good to have these experiences.

Houses in Estepona
When I was with my last girlfriend, we were living in our apartment with three dogs. And she said: ‘Look, I think we need some space for the dogs. There’s no sort of real outdoor space…’

So we bought a villa in Valle Romano, kept the apartment. But we recently split up. I have some  money tied up in there. So there’s no way I want to lose that. Fingers crossed. It hasn’t gone down in value. Valle Romano has changed now, the roads have all been being built.

You used to have dogs….
I was known as ‘the man with three dogs’ because, obviously, the Spanish people didn’t really care much about dogs in those days.

So, I was one of the few people with dogs. I was out for a good hour and a half in the morning and in the evening I used to take them up the very top of Seghers into the grassy area. And I was good two hours up there, just take a couple of cans of beer. I’d lay on the grass, just fantastic.

You came from England to live in Estepona 20 years ago and how did this work out for you?      
Lots of English people want to be more in an English lifestyle. I can’t speak, great Spanish, but I like to move around and try different places, as well on Sunday, if I’m not hung over, I would like to walk into town and you know just see if there’s any little places to just sit and drink a small beer and have some tapas or something like that.

What are you doing, what’s your average daily life?
I am now ‘autónomo’ (self employed), I work as an electrician. I work five days a week if the work is there. It’s a struggle with the added burden of social payments and tax. But I’ve survived until now so fingers crossed. I don’t do big jobs here, but I need it regular. I’m the first sort of fallback.

I’m a very shrewd cupcake when it comes to money I’ll tell you, I don’t like spending it when I’ve got it. But I still like to go out and I’ll spend hundred euros in one night, easily. You don’t realize you’re out there, you’re in the mood then: Let’s go!

Do you have a name of your business?
People call me ‘Mark the Spark’ you see ‘Sparky’ in the UK is an electrician. My ex girlfriend was trying to do cards and flyers for me and I said:´We’ll just put down ‘Sparky Marky’. But she thought that sounded childish, like ‘Coco the clown’.

But how can people find you?
Just word of mouth. People trust you more if someone passes on your name.

Do you speak Spanish?
I know lots more than I think, but should be better after 20 years.

What are you doing about this?
I go to Jackie: one to one, every Wednesday for an hour… I don’t want to go in groups. I’ve got an aptitude for languages but I’ve never been bothered to stick with it. And I try and watch ‘La Vida Loca’, it was on BBC. It’s like a little Spanish series.

Have you made friends yet?
Oh yes! So many wonderful, fun and interesting friends and passing friends. For such a large area. It’s amazing. I have loved that part of living out here more than anything else.

Where do your friends come from?
All over. Obviously the UK. Lot’s from Holland, Belgium, Ireland, France, America, Argentina, Scandinavia and of course Spain.

Do you practice sports or hobbies?
I used to play quite a bit of football up to about 10 years ago. I had to stop though, could not afford the injuries. I would love to play more golf and would love to travel and see more of this area.

Do you ever hike? 
No I don’t. You know I can’t go to the gym. Because I get bored.

There has to be a reason for doing it. I can’t see what the point is walking around looking at flowers, trees, and pretty views unless there’s somewhere to drink at the end of it.

What do you like most about Estepona?
It is probably one of the most friendly places I have ever known and it’s beauty. I have seen it explode since I have lived here and so far it has done so in a pleasant way. Even though I do not have a family, I do love what I see as the family lifestyle out here. I am envious in a way.

What are your favorite restaurants?
I don’t get to go out dining much now…
But two spring to my mind: PlayaBella just outside Estepona near Las Dunas Health Spa. Petit Paris in the port.

Do you have tips for fun getaways?
Benahavís is supposed to be good for restaurants.
Tarifa, Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz.
I would like to go to Sierra Nevada. But the usual quandary is: when people ring you for work, you are needed, immediately, a lot of time. So yeah, so it’s a catch 22 as usual, time to be able to go

Do you ever go on holiday?
Sometimes you do need to be out of this zone to relate to something, because otherwise you’re just constantly in the same environment. But no not a holiday as such.

Art if you’re sad?
Art if I’m sad, sad to say. You know, because when I drew my pictures I’d split up with the girl. Sitting up in the flat I was quite depressed. I always had a good thing for art anyway, I mean, I love Walt Disney stuff animation. I used to just get a bit of paper and it helps you to just take your mind off everything. Just lose yourself in drawing something.

When I was  in Madrid. I went to the Prado Museum, the art gallery. It’s just walking around, but there’s only so many you can see before you start getting bored. There was a program years ago called ‘Joy of Painting’. And there was this guy, he is dead now: Bob Ross. He’s got this technique and he tells you how to do it. So I have a book of him and have tried a few paintings.

What kind of books or films do you like? 
I like reading ‘courtroom’ stuff. I like John Grisham for example. I used to love reading Tom Clancy, got most of his books. And I like books that have got some comedy in it, Did you ever read Bill Bryson’s? He’s got a very witty sense of humor. It’s hilarious! Love most films but now days I like films that have a bit of truth to them, Bios, Historical etc.

What annoys you about Estepona?
Bureaucracy can be a pain!
But mostly the problem is not enough live music!

What would you change if you were the mayor?
I would allow more entertainment, within reason, add a cinema, and bring back the football team.

What are your plans now?
To survive and enjoy life here in Spain… Possibly find a partner in crime, sorry love. For the future: I don’t expect to receive a lot pension from the UK. But even if I am up to 70 and I can still move around, I will still do some work, plenty of time for laying down when I’m dead. It’s better for you, to keep on going.