Mark Mason talking trivia
I usually arrive at the venue far earlier than is necessary, but this evening I'd just got in my car for the short journey to town when I received a text from the author: "I'm at the library - all dark in there...?"
The library was opening especially for our evening event, and we had allowed ourselves an hour to set out chairs and tables. So Mark was well ahead of time. I met him in the car park and we chatted about James Bond (Mark has written the 'Bluffers Guide to Bond' and the new film 'Spectre' is out next week) until the library staff came along to let us in at the agreed time - an hour before the event was to begin. Mark had driven from Sudbury and said he liked to avoid the rush hour so had arrived in Woodbridge during the afternoon and had walked by the river and enjoyed the coffee shops.
As we set up the meeting room in the library, Mark chatted easily and helped move chairs and tables. There didn't really seem any distinction between the start and end of the presentation about his books, and love of trivia, because he talked freely to everyone throughout the evening. And the facts just poured out of him!
Did you know that the man who wrote the theme tune for the tv series 'Inspector Morse' featured Morse in morse code within the opening bars? Yes? Well, did you also know that as the popularity for the series went on, the composer introduced the morse code for the episode's killer within the theme tune? And then, when people began to catch on, he incorporated red herrings, also in morse code! Oh, and the composer was called Barrington Pheloung and came from Southend! And the children's Saturday morning programme TISWAS stands for Today is Saturday, Watch and Smile.
Mark was joining us this evening to promote his new book 'Mail Obsession' which connects fascinating facts behind the 124 postcodes defining the regions of the British Isles, and delves into the history of our postal service.
The book is receiving lots of attention. It was published this week and ahead of our event he had contributed numerous articles in the national press, talked on BBC Radio Suffolk and Sky News, and is a guest on Radio 4's Saturday Live.
His delight in collecting trivial facts was infectious, even if some snippets of information appealed more to men than women. And there are differences in the male and female brains which mean we do react quite distinctly - he's spoken to researchers about it, and it's true!
We ran slightly over time and could have listened to Mark all night. He was hugely entertaining,and everyone went away buzzing, all quoting some fact that had intrigued or delighted them.
Mark's publisher has invited readers to send in their own facts associated with their postcode (the most interesting ones received will be published in the paperback edition of the book next year), so our audience were keen to share what they knew with Mark. There was a connection with the original residents of Otley Hall and the first settlers in America, and the fact that it was a woman who invented over-arm bowling in cricket (Mark made a note to find out all about that...!).
Plenty of books were sold with a number of difficult-to-buy-for relatives' Christmas presents sorted. And Mark has offered to make a return visit, so we look forward to the theme for his next collection of fascinating facts.