Mark Mason

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…

Fighting talk — but little action — from Ernest Hemingway

29 April 2017 9:00 am

On 11 May 1937, at the Gare St-Lazare in Paris, Ernest Hemingway said goodbye to a friend who was leaving…

Confess your guilty displeasures

14 May 2016 9:00 am

It is now entirely cool to adore the uncool. But what about the things we can’t admit to not enjoying?

The Heckler: love your music, Macca, just not sure about you

7 May 2016 9:00 am

It’s slightly galling, after years of sticking up for Paul McCartney, to read a new biography of the bloke and…

The famous rip tide in French Pass, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Across the river... and into the trees

30 April 2016 9:00 am

Water accounts for 70 per cent of your planet, and 60 per cent of your body. Yet when do you…

How baby names got so weird

23 April 2016 9:00 am

How Wolf and Skylar pushed out John and Mary

Keith Moon’s wedding-night abseil and other marvellous false memories

27 February 2016 9:00 am

False memory disasters, from Keith Moon’s wedding-night abseil to Sophia Loren’s peanut addiction

Girl about town — on a bicycle

23 January 2016 9:00 am

The old ditty got it wrong: it should have been ‘Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner that I love…

Nessie’s enduring attraction

12 December 2015 9:00 am

It wasn’t until I drove past Loch Ness a couple of years ago that I realised just how enormous it…

Sir Ian Botham is a hero – and a fool

28 November 2015 9:00 am

In 1981, when I was ten and Ian Botham was 26, I thought he was God. Now, the week after…

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham, from the east, painted by the Flemish artist Jan Siberechts in 1695. In the foreground the D-shaped bowling green sits on a raised terrace with a banqueting house on its southern side

Discover your inner nerd

7 November 2015 9:00 am

There’s a curious thing about the bowling green in my Suffolk village. The footpath running alongside it is on a…

From Spike Milligan — and Marge Simpson — with love, light, peace and great respect

24 October 2015 9:00 am

This book is a serious bit of kit. Its hard covers measure 28.9 by 21 centimetres, and it weighs 1.62…

Why isn’t it creepy when women phwoar at Poldark?

3 October 2015 9:00 am

When women lust after blokes on telly it’s funny, not seedy

She knows who’s next

Six rules for a perfect pub

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Whenever one of those news stories appears about how many pubs have been forced to close in the last year,…

I’m 43. Why am I still so reluctant to call myself a man?

15 August 2015 9:00 am

I'm 43. Why do I still not refer to myself as a man?

Selling power: a Spitting Image Thatcher puppet

Which political souvenirs are worth hanging on to

18 July 2015 9:00 am

My first reaction on hearing of Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013 was: ‘Great — now my autograph from her will…

Customer surveys: just say no

27 June 2015 9:00 am

Against the customer service Q&A

Would he rather have had the money?

How to buy a father’s day present (if you must)

6 June 2015 9:00 am

No man ever watched a £20 note flutter from an opened Father’s Day card and thought: ‘How disappointing — not enough…

To Land’s End and beyond: footsore but bravely coasting along

30 May 2015 9:00 am

It’s a real skill, writing about a journey where nothing ever happens. We shouldn’t be surprised that Simon Armitage is…

How your funeral director is ripping you off

16 May 2015 9:00 am

Funerals are a rip-off. But you can do something about that