Mark Mason

Why I love a bit of death on a Sunday night

9 November 2019 9:00 am

There’s nothing like a nice bit of death on a Sunday evening. Radio 4 originally transmit their obituary programme Last…

The unlikely beauty of urinals

2 November 2019 9:00 am

In 1966, just as he was becoming famous, Michael Caine met John Wayne. The Holly-wood veteran offered him some advice:…

An ‘I’ for a ‘my’: why we’re terrified of getting our grammar wrong

26 October 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Agnew recently described off-the-record interviews as those where you agree that it’s ‘between you and I’. Last month, Jess…

We have the French Revolution to thank for Ordnance Survey maps

28 September 2019 9:00 am

You could say it started because of the French. The turmoil caused by their revolution got the British military worried…

The motorway that contains 2.5 million Mills & Boon novels

13 July 2019 9:00 am

The first one was too straight. In the absence of a speed limit, early motorists on the M1 used the…

The retiring Brian Bilston.

The great anti-hero of our time: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Brian Bilston’s life is summed up perfectly by the incident with his neighbour’s dog. The annoying Mrs McNulty comes round…

From Amazon to Waitrose: how do companies get their names?

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Poor Mr Bergstresser. He put up the money to start the financial reporting company but his name wasn’t as snappy…

Stop going through the motions – committees are a waste of time

27 April 2019 9:00 am

God save us from committees. They’re an increasingly outdated way of getting things done. But there’s a certain sort of…

Is British food really still wodges of stodge?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

‘You are what you eat.’ The old phrase always reminds me of Denzil, John Sparkes’s character in the comedy sketch…

Celebrities, cars and chickens: Inside the Connaught hotel

13 April 2019 9:00 am

You may have noticed the Connaught a little more since 2011, when ‘Silence’, the steamy fountain by Japanese ‘architect philosopher’ Tadao…

Divine comedy: Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy

The best tribute possible to the greatest comics ever: Stan & Ollie reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

You mess with Laurel and Hardy at your peril. Their fan base is essentially the entire world. Samuel Beckett adored…

Can men call women ‘girls’?

5 January 2019 9:00 am

Talking to someone in her mid-twenties recently, I mentioned someone else of the same age. ‘She’s a really talented girl,’…

Light fantastic: Shirazeh Houshiary’s east window

St Martin-in-the-Fields: the ‘Church of the Ever Open Door’

8 December 2018 9:00 am

St Martin’s really did once stand in the fields, just as nearby Haymarket was a market selling hay. But the…

Tricks of the trade…

Notes on Davenports Magic Shop, an emporium for serious conjurors

20 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s a very fitting place for a magic shop. Hidden away in the maze of pedestrian tunnels that lead from…

Pete Conrad, one half of the second Apollo 12 team, on the moon in 1969

Second best: Why runners up are more interesting than those who come first

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Who was the second prime minister? Everyone knows Robert Walpole was the first. Firsts get all the fame and glory.…

Breaking the bank: The impregnable BoE

How easy is it to break into the Bank of England?

21 July 2018 9:00 am

‘Safe as the Bank of England.’ So goes the old phrase. And yes, with walls 8ft thick, the Old Lady…

Why will the myth of the yeti just not go away?

Climbing Everest with Brian Blessed is the nearest anyone will get to encountering the yeti

16 June 2018 9:00 am

In 1969 the body of an ape-like creature, preserved in ice inside an insulated box, came to light in Minnesota.…

Pace and quiet: walking can be therapeutic

The highs – and occasional lows – of long-distance walking

14 April 2018 9:00 am

Long-distance walking is all the rage these days. There are all-nighters staged by charities, for instance the annual MoonWalk in…

A nose for trouble: the beagle

Playful, adorable – and with a real nose for trouble: In praise of the beagle

3 February 2018 9:00 am

Harvey’s finest moment, he would tell you, was the chicken kiev. I’d just made the garlic butter and inserted it…

Compulsory subtitles? I read ‘em and weep

6 January 2018 9:00 am

Subtitles are taking over the world. It’s increasingly rare these days for a video clip to be free of those…

Much fun: Usain Bolt and Wenlock the mascot

Which town directly inspired the revival of the Olympics? Clue: it’s not in Greece

18 November 2017 9:00 am

There were two mascots for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. One was called Mandeville, obviously because Stoke Mandeville’s games…

The great unknowns

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Have you heard about the invention that cures your smartphone addiction? Whereas normally you can’t go more than a minute…

Tales out of school

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1952, the five-year-old Michael Rosen and his brother were taken on holiday along the Thames by their communist parents.…

School of thought: the site of the first college in Bishopsgate

Gresham College

23 September 2017 9:00 am

How many people need to gather together before it becomes more likely than not that at least two of them…

Diary

12 August 2017 9:00 am

No sympathy from me for the Brits stuck in the European heatwave. I’ve never understood people who go abroad for…