The Importance of Being Trivial

The book that gave this site its name

An examination of why so-called ‘useless’ information fascinates us so much.

The Importance of Being Trivial
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John Lennon’s first girlfriend was called Thelma Pickles ... an HB pencil will draw a line 35 miles long ... Hull City is the only one of England’s top 92 football clubs whose name contains no letters you can colour in ... For years this sort of trivia floated around my brain and peppered my conversations. Why, though? Why was it such a crucial part not just of my life, but of all my friends’ lives? (All right, all my male friends’ lives.) I resolved to find out.

The search took me to pub quizzes, to the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and to the foot of Big Ben with a portable radio. (Yes, this was the book that had me testing the ‘Radio 4’ fact.) I ended up speaking to Britain’s leading expert on autism, the people behind QI, and Chas of Chas ‘n’ Dave. (He revealed how he, and indeed Dave, ended up playing on an Eminem record.) Writing this book taught me a lot about the human mind, and about the differences between men and women. It also taught me that 3 of the first 5 US Presidents died on July 4th.


‘Lovely and wonderful - full of humanity.' BBC 6 Music

‘I loved the book - this is quality trivia.'
Richard and Judy

‘Rigorous analysis, plus the author's amiable personality ... a bridge back to proper reading for those who have become unhealthily addicted to the likes of Steve Wright's Further Factoids.'
Sunday Telegraph

‘Mason's personal odyssey has an irresistibly hapless charm.'

‘Every pub should have one.'
BBC Radio 3

‘Charming, very well written and works like the best of such titles, taking us on a personal excursion ... This is no simple collection of facts, although you will be amazed by the stuff you find out - it's much more than that, it's an explanation of fundamental human behaviour.'
Popular Science

‘If factoids thrill you, this book explains why.'
London Lite

‘Discusses the role of (arguably) useless facts in today's society and along the way delivers fascinating nuggets of interest.'
Scottish Daily Record

‘A treat.'
The Sun


London Bus

A London double decker bus can lean further from the vertical without falling over than a human can. What a great way of learning about centres of gravity. The reason a Routemaster can lean so far is that there's a great long strip of pig-iron welded to its base, keeping you top-deckers safe as you go round corners. If you want reassuring photographic evidence, click here