Blog

An indoor marathon

An indoor marathon
By Mark Mason on 03-08-12 10:49. Comments (0)
The Olympic event I'm looking forward to most is the marathon - the women's one takes place this Sunday (5th August), the men's a week later. Having hobbled one myself, in over twice the world record time of 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds, I'm constantly amazed at the effort it takes to run that fast for that long. The other reason I love the marathon so much is it reminds me of one of my favourite bits of bizarre London history - the indoor marathon staged at the Royal Albert Hall in 1909 ...

At sixes and sevens - where truth becomes cloudy

At sixes and sevens - where truth becomes cloudy
By Mark Mason on 30-05-12 15:31. Comments (0)
I recently wrote about the disappointment you feel when you discover that a favourite piece of London trivia isn't true. Peter Watts has mentioned this on his blog too (concerning the claim that Phyllis Pearsall walked every London street to compile the A to Z). And yes, it can be disappointing to see a much-loved ‘fact' come tumbling down. But perhaps help is at hand from our old friend coincidence ...

A Beatle at the Burlington

A Beatle at the Burlington
By Mark Mason on 17-05-12 11:53. Comments (0)
It's horrible when cherished bits of trivia turn out to be untrue. The web has recently been fizzing with pieces pointing out some famous London facts that aren't facts after all. The ever-excellent Londonist had this list of impostors, while Peter Berthoud has debunked the ‘cells under the Viaduct Tavern' story. Well, I'm afraid I've got another one for you - BUT the reason for the fact not being true is just as delightful as the fact itself. Actually you could say it's even more delightful. It concerns the old custom that you're not allowed to whistle in the Burlington Arcade.

State Opening of Parliament - the rehearsal

State Opening of Parliament - the rehearsal
By Mark Mason on 08-05-12 12:12. Comments (0)
Tomorrow sees the Queen popping down from her home to the other famous palace in SW1, the Palace of Westminster. Yes, it's State Opening of Parliament time. Black Rod knocking on the door, the Lord Chancellor walking backwards and all that. (Unless you're Ken Clarke a couple of years ago - he forgot to walk backwards, and therefore turned his back on the Queen. Oops.) All very silly, and not really that interesting. What I found fascinating, though, was watching the rehearsals for the State Opening, which took place in the dead of night last Friday.

Acting up - why Parliament relies on goats

Acting up - why Parliament relies on goats
By Mark Mason on 01-05-12 12:10. Comments (0)
It's comforting to know that in these days of tweeting MPs and office-hours sittings, Parliament still has a few of its quaint old traditions in place. Perhaps the quaintest of all is the custom of printing each new Act passed by MPs and Lords on parchment. These are then rolled up and stored in the Parliamentary Archives, housed in the Victoria Tower (the one at the far end of the building from the Clock Tower, aka Big Ben).

How beer shaped the Eurostar

How beer shaped the Eurostar
By Mark Mason on 26-04-12 12:37. Comments (0)
The reason London continues to be such a great city, the reason it still captures people's imagination, is the way it marries the new and the old. A perfect example of this is the story of how the Eurostar boarding lounge at St Pancras station owes its layout to Victorian beer barrels ...

Showing 11 - 16 of 16 Articles

< Previous 12 Next >
 

Other pages in this section...

Books


Read more...


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.
Read more...


Quizzes

Tailor made quizzes
Read more...


Podcasts

Aural delights from the world of trivia
Read more...


Content

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower grows by 7 inches in summer. Again, a lovely way of bringing to life what could be a very dull statement in a physics lesson. (In this case - metals expand when they are heated.)