The grown-up kid who gets paid to play Lego all day

My Week

five days in the life of mark campbell, 34, a lego demonstrator at hamleys in london. This week, over 80,000 customers visit every day. mark, a design graduate, has worked there for seven years. he lives in forest hill, south london, with his wife monique


People say I've got Peter Pan syndrome - that I'm a boy who can't grow up. But this truly is the best job in the world. I get paid to play with toys all day. What could be better?

I wasn't even on the rota today, but I popped in to say hello and help out with some new Lego Mindstorm games which we've got in. I only meant to stay an hour, but as soon as I walked onto the shop floor I was mobbed. People realise you're a demonstrator and suddenly you're surrounded by customers with their questions.

I did some last-minute Christmas shopping in the afternoon, and went back home to put my feet up.


The day started just like it always does with a coffee at Charing Cross Station. The guy at the counter knows exactly how I like it - vanilla and sugar - and it sets me up for the morning until the tea break at 11.30.

Today was mayhem. Some days you understand what it must be like to work in MacDonalds: it's nine hours of constant noise, kids, pandemonium. I have this trick to keep me calm - I force myself to smile for 10 seconds, even if I'm feeling miserable or stressed. Those 10 seconds usually give me just enough time to mellow out again.

A sweet Oriental woman came in wanting to exchange some toys. She just kept saying "I no want", over and over again. It turned out the goods weren't even from Hamleys, they were from Harrods. I was shouting "Harrods" at her. She was shouting "Hamleys" at me. "You go Knightsbridge," I said. It went on for ages, but in the end we sorted it. Loads of the customers don't speak English. You get very good at miming what you're trying to say.

People ask the most daft questions. "Where's the fourth floor?" was today's classic.


I came in early at 8.30am to tidy up the floor after the hysteria from the day before. During the night, people come in to re-stock the shelves, but there's usually stuff that needs to be tidied up.

You'd be amazed at the mess people leave. They'll tear open a box, have a look at the toy and if they decide they don't want it, just leave it lying around.

I spent the rest of the day showing people how all the new Lego games work. I used to work in the skate department - my job was to skate around the store all day. When they put me on to Lego, I wasn't sure what I was in for. I thought Lego was just boring red and white bricks. But nowadays you can get amazing things - interactive Lego; Lego which links up to your computer. The next big thing is going to be Star Wars Lego to tie in with the prequel next year. We've already had people ringing up about it.

Anyway, today I was on my hands and knees showing people how all the stuff works. A seven-year-old kid came up to me and said, "I can do it better than you", which was a bit humiliating. We also had this Dutch guy who bought eight Lego Mindstorms for his staff. At pounds 160 each, it was the best sale of the day.

Loads of men in their thirties come in and ask about the Lego. I've even served men who look like 50-year-old bankers in suits. Sometimes, they pretend that their kids are the ones who are interested, but you can tell by the look on their faces that it's really them.

I went to see a heavy metal band called Rob Zombie in the evening. They were playing at the Astoria club and they were great. You can't turn up to a gig like that in your Lego T-shirt, so I got changed at work into "normal" clothes and went straight from the store.


Today was Furby day. We got a delivery, and by the time I was in at 8.30am there were already dozens of people queuing up outside. Some of them had actually stood out there all night.

We'd tried to keep everyone calm by handing out tickets, and explaining that customers were only allowed one Furby each, but when it came to it there was just over-the-top insanity wherever you looked. People running into the shop shouting "I need a Furby!". I was even offered money by one bloke who arrived after we'd sold out.

It amazes me how passionate people get. You'd think the world has gone mad. But, on the other hand, these people just want to buy their children exactly what they want. It's Christmas, and nothing else matters.

By the end of the day, my feet really ached. You're supposed to wear smart polished shoes but sometimes I'll wear Doc Martens instead. When you're standing up all day, your feet feel like murder by the time you get home. I was exhausted when I got in, so I watched an Eddie Izzard video on my new wide screen television. I'll always watch comedy if I'm feeling stressed out. It usually does the trick, and I'm in a good mood again.


We started getting calls for F117 fighter plans today, and B52 bombers. It took a few seconds to catch on to why, but kids had seen stuff on television about bombing in Iraq and suddenly they get it into their heads that they want to act out what's been happening.

It's been really busy over the last few days on the Lego floor. Last week we took pounds 46,000 in the Lego department alone, and it looks like we'll match that this week too.

In the evening, Monique and I went to see Boy George and Culture Club. I was a bit embarrassed to admit to people that I was going - "It was my wife's idea" I kept saying. But I was amazed. I had a really great time.

Interview by

Louise France

Arts and Entertainment Musical by Damon Albarn


Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment


film review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'