Mark Mason

Photo: Chris Jackson (Getty)

Spectator books of the year: Mark Mason discovers the royal family’s ‘Marmite strategy’

20 November 2015 15:00

Royalty Inc. by Stephen Bates (Aurum Press, £20) is a superb account of how ‘the Firm’ (Windsors rather than Krays)…

(Photo: Getty)

National Busking Day is an insult to real buskers

16 July 2015 15:53

This Saturday is National Busking Day, a series of events across the country proving that Britain’s arts establishment just don’t…

Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC at Wembley Stadium.
Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

‘A lot of bands know how to rock. Not many know how to roll’: AC/DC at Wembley reviewed

6 July 2015 18:10

The main thing that strikes you as you watch AC/DC whip 70,000 people into a frenzy at Wembley stadium is,…


If you like The Godfather, you’ll love this

9 December 2014 16:32

There can’t have been many trumpet players more nervous about their solo at the Albert Hall than the one who…


I’m a middle-aged man and I love colouring books

25 November 2014 18:45

A few years ago, you may remember, the distressing news went round that George W. Bush’s library had burned down.…

First editions of Conan Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet, which are on show at the Museum of London. Photograph: Museum of London/EPA

This new Sherlock Holmes exhibition will have Cumberbitches salivating

23 October 2014 17:57

Have you ever experienced the joys of Jawohl, meine Herr’n? If not I strongly advise an appointment with YouTube. The…

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…

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…


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…


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…

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…

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:…


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 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…

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…

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…

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…


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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…