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Lennon and McCartney - the 60th anniversary

Lennon and McCartney - the 60th anniversary
By Mark Mason on 05-07-17 16:23. Comments (0)
It's 60 years since John Lennon and Paul McCartney met each other. On July 6th 1957, at St Peter's church fete in Liverpool, the 15 year-old McCartney watched the 16 year-old Lennon play with his band The Quarrymen. He soon joined the group himself, and nothing was ever the same again. Here are eight facts about the pair's relationship:

Walking the walk

Walking the walk
By Mark Mason on 04-02-14 11:55. Comments (0)
As the Tube strike looms, I've been reminded of my District Line walk. Its second day coincided with a strike by Underground workers, so I was far from the only one treading the pavements. In case it provides any inspiration for those of you lacing up tomorrow, here's the relevant section from the book ...

How Chas and Dave ended up on an Eminem track

How Chas and Dave ended up on an Eminem track
By Mark Mason on 30-10-13 11:56. Comments (0)
Some sniffy reactions to Chas and Dave's appearance on the Today programme this morning, but I don't care (I don't care, I don't care if he comes round here …) The doyens of pub rock can do little wrong in my opinion. And if you don't trust that, maybe you'll trust the opinion of Eminem. He sampled their work for his first hit ‘My Name Is …'

The best Boat Race story ever

The best Boat Race story ever
By Mark Mason on 31-03-13 11:30. Comments (0)
So there's another change to London's sporting calendar - this year the Boat Race is on a Sunday rather than its traditional Saturday. Never mind: the history's still there to enjoy. Everything from the race originally being from Westminster Bridge to Putney Bridge, through Hugh Laurie being one of the Cambridge rowers in 1980, to the event's role in Cockney rhyming slang (‘go wash your German bands, your Boat Race too'*). But surely the best story is the one about John Snagge and the flagpoles ...

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Books


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Walks

Inspired by my book Walk the Lines: the London Underground - Overground, each of these trivia-packed walks uncovers London’s history by following a section of a Tube line ... at street level.
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Quizzes

Tailor made quizzes
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Podcasts

Aural delights from the world of trivia
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Content

Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.