The inquest into the death of a cyclist who died in hospital three weeks after being fatally injured in a car crash in Regent Street is due to be held at Westminster coroner’s court tomorrow.
Michael Mason was an experienced cyclist who had turned to teaching in the latter part of his working life. The Evening Standard news story about his death can be found here: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/family-release-hospital-photograph-of-cyclist-killed-after-regent-street-crash-as-warning-to-motorists-9196427.html
Prior to the inquest, his daughter Anna Tatton-Brown pays her own tribute:
“Mick was born in Newcastle in 1946, the second child to Violet and Alex Mason. He ended up being their only son; he had three sisters- Maureen, Monica and Patricia. He went to school at St Cuthberts in Newcastle where his fellow pupils remember his stylish dressing and hair. He was also very sporty- cycling 25 miles every day from his home in Whitley Bay to his school on the west side of Newcastle. From the earliest time he was also passionately interested in art, architecture and literature. Like his mother he was a real book-worm. After leaving school, he started a degree in architecture at prestigious School of Architecture in Newcastle University. He did one year, failed a minor part to do with engineering and left the course. He was greatly affected at this time by the early death of his father, Alex. This was one of those turns in life which, on reflection, he regretted. Mick and Angie became childhood sweethearts when he was a university student at 18/19 and she was a school girl of 16. This formed the start of a relationship which lasted for over 50 years until their divorce last year.
Having recovered from death of his father he eventually joined Angie at Leeds University. He studied for a degree in English and Fine Art, two of his passions. Whilst at University during the swinging sixties, they became pregnant. After much soul–searching, they decided to have the baby adopted to a family on the outskirts of Leeds. Only 6 people in the family knew about the birth of the child – such was the degree of shame at having a child out of wedlock. A few months later in August 1967 they got married.
Mick left University with his degree and worked for ICI in Cheshire for a few years as a management trainee. But life in industry and in sleepy Chester was not fast enough for Mick. He and Angie moved to London in the early 1970s when Mick began a very successful career in publishing, working for Haymarket. Everybody in those days working for Haymarket had to start off in sales. People joked that with Mick’s soft spoken voice and Geordie wit, he could sell ice cream to Eskimos. Still in publishing he moved to another big publishing company where he became Head of marketing and Promotion, putting himself and the company on the map. He was soon headhunted by another company, Harper and Row. The Americans took over this old established English publisher and mistook Mick’s quiet, understated ways and he left them soon afterwards with his white Alfa Romeo car and a decent payoff. With the money, he decided on a career change from corporate life which he was good at but hated. He trained for a year in design at a London college and embarked on design work – be it graphic or domestic. Eventually, he settled for building design, doing up one house after another. His biggest adventure was an old ruined Georgian house in Hampstead which he rescued and converted into a lovely home which was featured in Good Housekeeping.
A constant thread throughout his life was also his photography; a passionate and talented photographer, many pictures of Mick have him with his own camera draped around his neck. Before the advent of digital photography he had his own dark room and would develop his own images. He made the transition to digital easily though- filling up hard disks rather than boxes with photos and slides. He helped teach some of his students photography and also helped document some of the many events held at Gray Coats School.
With the arrival of his second daughter in 1981 Mick was in his element. Since day 1 there was an unshakeable bond between the two. He loved being a father and at heart was just a kid himself. From her early days, he took her out and about in London on the back of his bike in her white baby chair to visit the gorillas at Regent’s Park Zoo and to exhibitions in central London. She was only 5 days old when she was taken to a gallery. The bike was another regular presence throughout his life. Cycling was his mode of transport- wherever he needed to go to. When he worked at Elsevier, he would think nothing of cycling to Barking and back every day. He was adept at cycling on London’s streets, having done it since he moved here in the 70s. It was also a passion he passed on to his daughter.
He had the most mischievous sense of humour. At one of his daughter’s birthday parties he dressed up as a gorilla in secret, went outside and knocked on the window of the room where the children were eating. There was pandemonium as Mick mimicked the actions of a gorilla. Once he took his gorilla head off and revealed his identity, he had all the children clamoring all over him, wanting him to do it all over again.
It was his ability to enter into the world of children, to understand them, as well as having the patience of Job and good all-round knowledge that eventually led him to change career in his late 50s and train as a teacher. Having retrained, he began working as a cover teacher in Grey Coats School in Westminster where he worked until his death. He was much appreciated and liked by pupils and teachers.
Mick was a quiet, sensitive, unflamboyant man (except for his taste in bright clothes and necklaces, some of which he made himself), but as the old phrase goes ‘still waters run deep’. He was exceptionally intelligent, caring for others and, above all, a man who adored his family and would do anything for them. He was the solid ground upon which we all often stepped. Many of the tributes that have been paid to Mick applaud his good looks and good humour, the twinkle in his eye but, above all, his compassion.”
Pictured: Anna with her father Mick