Mark Mason rss

Robin Williams as the boy who finally grew up in Hook, 1991 (Photo: Amblin/Kobal Collection

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

15 August 2015

Are you a man? Those of you who don’t fall into the category of ‘adult male’ will clearly answer no — but even those who do might not say yes.… Read more

Selling power: a Spitting Image Thatcher puppet

Which political souvenirs are worth hanging on to

18 July 2015

My first reaction on hearing of Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013 was: ‘Great — now my autograph from her will go up in value.’ This wasn’t callous. It was a… Read more

Just say no (Photo: George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Customer surveys: just say no

27 June 2015

Not long ago, I woke up in hospital, in pain, with a damaged back, but grateful for the sleep that a couple of doses of morphine had secured. ‘Morning,’ said… Read more


Warning: I hate champagne. It's all right to dislike any other drink. But about this one, people have funny ideas

13 June 2015

No one minds if you don’t like vodka. No one throws parties at which it’s the only alcoholic drink on offer, forcing you to choose either vodka and tonic or orange juice.… Read more

Would he rather have had the money?

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

6 June 2015

No man ever watched a £20 note flutter from an opened Father’s Day card and thought: ‘How disappointing — not enough thought has gone into that.’ If you’re a son, you’ll… Read more

Simon Armitage (Photo: Getty)

‘Do you write your own poems?’ and ‘Shall I introduce you again in case people have forgotten who you are?’ — bracing questions for Simon Armitage on his coastal walk

30 May 2015
Walking Away Simon Armitage

Faber, pp.276, £16.99, ISBN: 9780571298358

It’s a real skill, writing about a journey where nothing ever happens. We shouldn’t be surprised that Simon Armitage is so good at it: he’s a poet, and therefore used… Read more


How your funeral director is ripping you off

16 May 2015

They say that death and taxes are the only two certainties in life. But there seems to be a third, linked to death and as painful as taxes. It’s the… Read more

(Photo: Getty)

Monopoly is fascinating – as long as you don’t try to play it

25 April 2015
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favourite Board Game Mary Pilon

Bloomsbury, pp.297, £20, ISBN: 9781608199631

I knew there had to be a point to Monopoly. The game itself is tedium made cardboard, the strongest known antidote to the will to the live. There is a… Read more


Fat, lazy and dangerous: meet the mobility scooter louts

11 April 2015

How many of the people driving mobility scooters these days actually need a mobility scooter? The invention of the vehicle was a great move forward (literally) for those who genuinely… Read more

The writing on the wall: some of the well-preserved hieroglyphs at Karnak

Tourists are trickling back to Egypt – to beat the crowds, go now

4 April 2015

Egypt’s revolution of 2011 didn’t just get rid of President Mubarak: it did a pretty good job of clearing out the tourists, too. The political uncertainty since then has made… Read more


London's new owners are Chinese

28 March 2015

It used to be just the ducks in the windows on Gerrard Street. But now Chinese investment in London is on a whole different scale. And some of it’s threatening to annoy the… Read more

A print of girls in a gym from 1884

2,5000 years of gyms (and you’re still better off walking the dog)

7 March 2015
The Temple of Perfection: A History of the Gym Eric Chaline

Reaktion Books, pp.272, £20, ISBN: 9781780234496

My favourite fact about gyms before reading this book was that the average British gym member covers 468 miles per year and the average British dog walker 676. Eric Chaline’s… Read more


Attack of the personal space invaders

21 February 2015

It’s the shoulders you have to watch out for. If he’s pressing them back as his hand comes out to shake yours, then beware: you’re about to meet a Space… Read more


Soon, parents will stop wanting their children to go to university. And they'll be right

24 January 2015

Could the current generation of parents be the first ones who won’t want their children to go to university? Until now that mortarboard photo on the sideboard has always been… Read more


Check yourself: have you succumbed to this corporate speak epidemic?

10 January 2015

You know how it goes with corporate speak. A strange new habit grows and spreads, creeping largely unnoticed into the language, until one day you hear a sentence so bizarre,… Read more

Incredible shrinking county: the tides at Freshwater Bay

A museum of dirty postcards and Britain’s coolest bulldog: visit the strange side of the Isle of Wight

10 January 2015

Every day the Isle of Wight becomes England’s smallest county: when-ever the tide comes in, the island steals the crown from Rutland, if only for a few hours. Taking the… Read more


Get through airports hassle free

29 November 2014

You know how it is. You’re on holiday in the south of France, soaking up the rays and the fizz, reading all the books you never get round to and… Read more

La Marocain restaurant at La Mamounia

Mark Mason avoids S.A.D. in Marrakesh

29 November 2014

Sorry, T.S. Eliot, you got it wrong — January, not April, is the cruellest month. Post-Christmas torpor mixed with back-to-work blues bring you down, making January the calendar’s Monday morning.… Read more


Did you do something for the last time today?

22 November 2014

The end of the year seems a good time to think about lasts. Not many of us ever do. Firsts are always landmarks: the first time you taste alcohol, drive… Read more

Bing and Bob on the Road to Singapore. One had talent; the other tried harder

Did anyone ever really love Bob Hope?

22 November 2014
Hope: Entertainer of the Century Richard Zoglin

Simon & Schuster, pp.486, £20, ISBN: 9781439140277

Why does everything these days have to be a superlative? Why must writers scream for our attention, yelling that the guy in their book blows everyone else out of the… Read more

Getty Images

The deep Britishness of fish and chips

1 November 2014
Fish and Chips: A History Panikos Panayi

Reaktion Books, pp.176, £18, ISBN: 9781780233611

During the D-day landings, members of the parachute regiment, finding themselves behind enemy lines at night, needed a way of telling whether someone nearby was friend or foe. Their solution… Read more


The five most depressing words in the English language? ‘And now, You and Yours’

11 October 2014
For the Love of Radio 4: An Unofficial Companion Caroline Hodgson

Summersdale, pp.208, £9.99, ISBN: 9781849536424

When you think about it, Radio 4 is mostly a pile of old toss. Money Box qualifies as an anaesthetic, the dramas couldn’t act their way to the nearest street… Read more

Space odyssey: Ed White walking in space over New Mexico, Gemini 4, June 1965 Image: James McDivitt

The images from the Apollo missions will reduce you to tears

4 October 2014

When people ask why I’m obsessed with the Apollo moon missions, I always want to reply using the same phrase: ‘Because they were out of this world.’ I never do,… Read more

Kylie Minogue on stage in Sydney. Image: Getty

Don’t reach for the stars

20 September 2014

‘Meeting Kylie at her intimate gig,’ runs the Mastercard ad. ‘Priceless.’ Wrong: vaguely unfulfilling. And that’s at best. At worst you’ll be cruelly disappointed. Not the fault of poor Kylie,… Read more


Switching on to a new generation gap

30 August 2014

I was recently talking to an intelligent 24-year-old Cambridge graduate. The conversation turned to TV comedy, and I mentioned Vic Reeves. The graduate had never heard of him. Nor had… Read more