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Mark Mason rss

00/05/1974. CANNES: FESTIVAL DU FILM

What’s wrong with sunglasses

26 July 2014

A question to ask yourself on sunny days: are you, as you conduct your conversations with people, trying to convince them that you are Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix? You’re… Read more

A Pearl by any other name: the Rosewood hotel

From prisons to offices to police stations – London's turning everything into hotels

21 June 2014

The test of a truly great city is reinvention. Does it have the courage to change? London holds a PhD in meta-morphosis — just look at the buildings it converts… Read more

Frank Keating with cricketer Ian Botham Photo: Getty

When Geoff Boycott was a DJ in a Sydney nightclub

21 June 2014
The Highlights Frank Keating

Guardian Faber Publishing, pp.336, £17.99, ISBN: 9781783350193

Sport isn’t about putting a ball into a net or over a bar or into a hole. It’s about the people who are trying to do those things. Frank Keating,… Read more

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You're never alone with a Kindle

14 June 2014

The Kindle has changed reading in so many ways. A library in your pocket rather than the hulk of a hardback. Uniform pixels where once dust motes rose from an… Read more

C.B. Fry of England Photo: Allsport/Hulton Archive

When the English cricket team toured Nazi Germany – and got smashed

7 June 2014
Field of Shadows: The English Cricket Tour of Nazi Germany, 1937 Dan Waddell

Bantam, pp.272, £16.99, ISBN: 9780593072615

Why have the Germans never been any good at cricket? This entertaining account of the MCC’s 1937 tour to the Fatherland gives some clues. Any country po-faced enough to have… Read more

'The Great Escape' Film - 1963

Subterranea is sexy

26 April 2014

‘Sometimes when I’m down here,’ says Harry, ‘I get them to stop the train in the middle of a tunnel. Just for a minute or two, so I can savour… Read more

Campbell’s Platform, a private unstaffed halt on the Welsh narrow guage Ffestiniog railway

The train stations that don’t really exist

26 April 2014
Tiny Stations Dixe Wills

AA Publishing, pp.352, £16.99, ISBN: 9780749575618

In 1964, as part of his railway cuts, Dr Beeching ordered the closure of Duncraig, a small, little-used station in the Scottish Highlands. The train drivers working the line simply… Read more

Local bomb squad checks the wicket area for land mines, Baroda, India Photo: Getty

Mortar fire, weddings, camels, the French revolution: all kind of things get in the way of cricket

5 April 2014
Elk Stopped Play and Other Tales From Wisden’s Cricket Round the World Charlie Connelly (ed)

Wisden, pp.140, £9.99, ISBN: 9781408832370

It isn’t just the elk, either. Also bringing proceedings to a halt in this wonderful anthology are camels (Bahrain), cows and donkeys (Botswana), unexploded landmines (Rwanda, silly mid-on), people learning… Read more

The actress Bessie Love, whistling while cooking

Whistling is a bloody nuisance

29 March 2014
A Brief History of Whistling John Lucas and Allan Chatburn

Five Leaves, pp.196, £9.99, ISBN: 9781907869884

Paul McCartney says he can remember the exact moment he knew the Beatles had made it. Early one morning, getting home from a night on the tiles, he heard the… Read more

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What other job lets you swear in front of your parents?

15 March 2014
Odd Job Man Jonathon Green

Cape, pp.336, £17.99, ISBN: 9780224097581

There aren’t many jobs that allow a nice middle-class Jewish boy to say ‘fuck’ in front of his parents. But Jonathon Green found one: compiling slang dictionaries. This memoir of… Read more

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The comedy club theory of dictatorship

8 February 2014

Have you ever wanted to know how dictators stay in power? Try visiting a comedy club. I went to one the other night. The acts varied in quality. No one… Read more

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Eton gets the reality TV treatment

30 November 2013

These must be strange times for Eton. You spend centuries building a reputation as the school for the nation’s elite, only to see ‘elitism’ become a dirty word. Famed as… Read more

(Photo: Hal Jeayes)

Through It All I’ve Always Laughed, by Count Arthur Strong - review

16 November 2013
Through It All I’ve Always Laughed Count Arthur Strong

Faber, pp.328, £16.99, ISBN: 9780571303380

Fans of Count Arthur Strong (and yes I know he’s so Marmite you could spread him on a cheese sandwich) love the failed performer because he does what we all… Read more

Arsenic and old lace

When 'drop-dead gorgeous' women actually dropped dead

19 October 2013
The Antiques Magpie Marc Allum

Icon Books, pp.224, £12.99, ISBN: 97819848316034

No one watches Antiques Roadshow for the antiques. Instead we’re hanging on the punter’s reaction to his three-grand valuation. ‘It was very precious to Aunt Mabel; we’d never dream of… Read more

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Chaps, if we want grandchildren, we need to stop the skinny jeans fad

5 October 2013

Are you a man? Do you have legs wider than the average pipe cleaner? Then this article is for you. You’ll need something to read as you sit at home,… Read more

Ruin near Kelso, Mojave Desert, California

Walking in Ruins, by Geoff Nicholson - review

5 October 2013

Geoff Nicholson is the Maharajah of Melancholy. The quality was there in his novels, it was there in his non-fiction book The Lost Art of Walking, and it’s there in… Read more

Dan_Hillier_Mother

A modern take on Victoriana

28 September 2013

Britain is still an essentially Victorian country (see Daily Mail for details). So it’s no surprise that we keep returning to the period for inspiration. Victoriana: The Art of Revival… Read more

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Is the City of London really turning into Manhattan?

21 September 2013

The Square Mile is turning cubic. The sky above London’s financial district has already been scraped by Tower 42, the Gherkin and the Heron, while next year the Cheesegrater and… Read more

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In defence of binge drinking

24 August 2013

Such an ugly word, ‘binge’. Why can’t we talk about ‘spree drinking’ or ‘frolic drinking’ or ‘extravaganza drinking’? But no, it has to be ‘binge drinking’, a term loaded (pre-loaded?)… Read more

It's not just about the bike. (Photo: Phil Walter/Getty)

Land of Second Chances, by Tim Lewis - review

27 July 2013
Land of Second Chances Tim Lewis

Yellow Jersey, pp.304, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224091763

This is a book about Rwanda. It’s a book about cycling. But it’s not, in the end, a book about Rwandan cycling. Well, it is. Tim Lewis gives us the… Read more

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Last orders at the Death Café

20 July 2013

The coffee and walnut cake was excellent. As was the chocolate cake, and the tea and biscuits. The conversation was wonderful too. We talked about death. We were here, we… Read more

AuthorsXI

The Authors XI, by The Authors Cricket Club - review

13 July 2013

We were never going to get ‘come to the party’ or ‘a hundred and ten per cent’ from The Authors XI by The Authors Cricket Club, with a foreword by… Read more

Replacement-Connors

The Outsider, by Jimmy Connors - review

22 June 2013

As a teenager in the 1980s I liked Jimmy Connors. This meant parking my not inconsiderable jealousy that he’d once had Chris Evert as his girlfriend. Magnanimously, I agreed to… Read more

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Men who propose in public should be shot

1 June 2013

Never mind all this gay stuff — when is parliament going to get on with the marriage legislation we really need? I’m talking about the law banning men from proposing… Read more

A Sting in the Tale, by Dave Goulson - review

25 May 2013
A Sting in the Tale Dave Goulson

Cape, pp.255, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224096898

We need more conservationists like Dave Goulson. Cack-handed animal killers, that is. As a child in the 1970s Goulson tried to dry out some ‘bedraggled’ bumblebees which had got caught… Read more