×

Mark Mason rss

Photo: BBC

Good riddance to rhetoric

25 September 2014 16:32

Autumn is here, and so the political classes celebrate the return of Any Questions and Question Time. (The Dimbleby is the only species that hibernates during the summer.) This year,… Continue reading

26 Comments
Bonnie Langford for Rebekah Brooks? Picture: Getty Images

Hacking Trial: the movie

5 July 2014 12:38

We may have had the verdicts and the sentences in the hacking trial, but the biggest question remains unanswered: who’s going to play everyone in the movie? There’s one clear… Continue reading

33 Comments
p021yml5

A novel for men who don’t read novels

2 July 2014 8:30

Are you the sort of man – or is your man the sort of man – who’s always meaning to read more novels but never gets round to it? Proper… Continue reading

29 Comments
tumblr_le5g0f4B3e1qexscuo1_500

Did we know TV was crap in the old days?

4 June 2014 14:54

Here’s a question for those of you old enough to remember 1980s television: did we realise at the time how crap it was, or did we simply not know any… Continue reading

39 Comments
The W1A team

First look at the BBC’s BBC mockumentary W1A

20 March 2014 0:05

So, OK, here’s the thing with W1A: it’s just as brilliant as 2012. So that’s all good. By which I mean the two most memorable characters from the BBC’s Olympics mockumentary –… Continue reading

7 Comments
BBC Three is to be closed as on-air channel, but does it matter? Photo: BBC.

An announcement for Tony Hall: BBC3 was already dead

5 March 2014 17:55

Two words tell you everything you need to know about today’s announcement that BBC3 is to become an online-only channel: ‘spoiler alert’. The phrase is now part of the cultural… Continue reading

41 Comments
FRANCE-INTERNET-LABOUR-COMPANY

Has anything in the recent past had a bigger effect on writers and writing than Twitter?

12 September 2013 9:30

I’ve been trying to think of something – anything – in recent years that has had a bigger effect on the working day of the average writer than Twitter. And… Continue reading

4 Comments
The book trick is so simple, even the late great Tommy Cooper couldn't have made a mess of it.

The best book related magic trick in the world

15 August 2013 11:09

Normally you come to the Speccie Books blog, brainy bunch that you are, for high-minded literary comment. But this is August. Holiday month. A time when you simply can’t be… Continue reading

2 Comments
Would you hide the cover of your book from prying eyes on the Tube?

Would you hide the cover of your book from prying eyes on the Tube?

1 August 2013 9:05

‘Would you mind if I asked what your book is?’ She was in her late-thirties, with dark hair and a serious demeanour. Her reply to my question took a few… Continue reading

3 Comments
Cumbrian Rural Bus Services Faces Cutbacks

The slow slide into senility

18 July 2013 10:16

Senility is a cunning mistress. She’s always finding new ways to twist your melon, man. The latest trick she’s playing on me is Western House Syndrome. I should point out… Continue reading

1 Comment
Andrew Flintoff of England consoles Brett Lee of Australia after England defeated Australia on day four of the Second npower Ashes Test match between England and Australia at Edgbaston on August 7, 2005 in Birmingham, England.   (Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

Why do words and cricket go together?

4 July 2013 9:30

‘Words and cricket,’ wrote Beryl Bainbridge, ‘seem to go together.’ Why should this be? The Ashes series starting next week might not be the most eagerly anticipated of recent times,… Continue reading

3 Comments
849193

The Astronaut Wives Club

20 June 2013 10:25

There I was, slowly and not ungrumpily coming to terms with the fact that there weren’t going to be any more decent books about the Apollo missions. Only 12 men… Continue reading

1 Comment
Visitors At The Hay Festival 2011

A dream come true

6 June 2013 10:03

It only took me twelve years as a published writer to get round to seeing one of my own books being printed. But when it came the experience set off… Continue reading

0 Comments
Dead Sea

Kindling by the pool – the changing face of holiday reading

23 May 2013 7:57

I’m writing this by the pool in Greece. It’s not a pool I own, you understand (though give it a couple of years and we might all be able to… Continue reading

1 Comment
George Lowe at the Depot 700 supply base in Antarctica, during the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, March 1958. Lowe was the last surviving member of Sir Edmund Hillary's Everest team.

George Lowe’s Letters from Everest

9 May 2013 9:35

I was hoping this was going to be a post featuring an interview with a writer. After reading a proof copy of George Lowe’s Letters from Everest, I had the… Continue reading

2 Comments
Charles Moore has written the 'authorized' biography of Margaret Thatcher. Is 'authorized' correct? (PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ize Have It

25 April 2013 10:05

She divided us in life, she’s dividing us in death. Baroness Thatcher was so controversial that a single letter in a single word in the subtitle of a book that… Continue reading

3 Comments
The British Library has been given the right to archive the digital world from today. An estimated billion pages a year will be available for researchers to access through the new archive.

The British Library goes digital

11 April 2013 9:09

If you go down to the British Library today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Because as of last weekend, it’s archiving not just every book published in the UK… Continue reading

3 Comments
Three Mitford sisters in the early thirties. Nancy Mitford (right) pinched 'U and non-U' pronunciation from Professor Ross, author of 'How to Pronounce It'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

How To Pronounce It – U and non-U. A guide for George “innit” Osborne.

28 March 2013 11:38

Sometimes, in the joyous lotteries we call ‘secondhand bookshops’, you find a volume that takes you back to a different era because of its physical appearance. Sometimes you find one… Continue reading

23 Comments
Barnes and Noble’s digital revenue (from its Nook device) has been falling even faster than its revenue from conventional sales. (Image: Getty)

The curious incident of the books on the Kindle

14 March 2013 10:20

If you had a pile of 300 books in your house waiting to be read, what would you do? Would you go out and buy any more books? I doubt… Continue reading

9 Comments
Alfred Hitchcock pictured in Cannes in 1972. (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

The Last Days of Alfred Hitchcock

28 February 2013 10:14

For the last 40 years it’s been impossible to interview Anthony Hopkins without him doing his Tommy Cooper impression. He’s obsessed with the bloke, constantly interrupting Silence of the Lambs… Continue reading

1 Comment
Writing books is about selling books. A book should be judged by its cover; and its index, and its subheading; and typeface; and so on. Image; Getty

Writers are tarts

14 February 2013 13:48

Tarts. That’s what we are, really, us writers. Not just in the general sense of loving attention – also in the more specific, ‘professional’ meaning of the word. Our living… Continue reading

2 Comments
Children at the Natural History Museum. Image: Getty

Childishly scientific

5 February 2013 14:30

2.30pm, Tuesday, the bookshop of the Natural History Museum. Horrible Science: Blood, Bones and Body Bits is being leafed through by one of its typical readers. In other words he’s… Continue reading

0 Comments
Robert Harris, author of 'The Ghost'. Image: Getty

Set down one sentence

17 January 2013 8:36

Warning: this is a very January 17th sort of thought. It’s meant to be comforting, though you may well find it the exact opposite. Try it on for size, anyway,… Continue reading

3 Comments
John Lloyd, one of the QI 'Elves', who believes that there is a future for publishing trivia in the internet age. Image: Getty

The future of the trivia book

13 December 2012 10:19

It is, if Noddy Holder is to be believed, Christmas. And so those of us who pen trivia books listen for the ring of tills or, as is increasingly the… Continue reading

1 Comment
A picture taken from the recent show drawing inspiration from Titian's Diana and Actaeon

Bad Sex Award

29 November 2012 9:53

Loins are girded and members tumescent, for next Tuesday sees the presentation of this year’s Bad Sex Award. The Literary Review’s annual prize for the worst description of sex in… Continue reading

3 Comments