After creating the popular Franglais! series, Miles Kington always had an ambition: to write a book in English as well.
An “endlessly curious and observant hack”, as he described himself, here a gentle wit and wide-ranging intelligence are brought to bear on everything from the curious geography of Jersey to anthropological studies on German prisoners of war; from an interview with the Mona Lisa to why there’s no such thing as a good jazz singer, via an interrogation of Nostradamus.
Originally written for a wide range of publications, these pieces show Kington really letting his hair down, largely on the grounds that he never expected anyone to read them anyway. Together, they form an effervescent collection of light verse, memoir and listicles (yes, he was there first). In Miles and Miles we have a demonstration of a comic master at work, and a testament to the timeless class of one of Britain’s most-loved humorists.
Born in County Down, Miles Kington was one of Britain's most renowned and best loved journalists. He grew up in Wales and was educated in Scotland, which was all a big mistake as he was actually English. He wrote for newspapers including Punch, The Times, The Independent and The Oldie, presented for the BBC and was author of the Franglais books amongst many others.
‘Ridiculously funny’ Joanna LumleyBonjour toutes les personnes! Welcome to the wonderful world of Franglais.
The trouble with French is that there are far too few English words in it. Miles Kington – the critic, columnist, and creator of Franglais – puts that right. His magnificent new language can be understood by almost anyone who failed GCSE French. If you passed GCSE French it could be tricky, but do try anyway.
So achetez! Lisez! Et enjoy! Merci beaucoup.
‘What a truly gifted, consistently funny writer’ Maureen Lipman
‘Utterly charming and extremely funny’ Independent
Miles Kington was one of Britain’s most renowned and best loved journalists. Born in County Down, he grew up in Wales and was educated in Scotland, which was all a big mistake as he was actually English. A presenter, playwright, polymath and wit, he wrote columns for The Times, the Independent, Punch and The Oldie. His other acclaimed titles include Someone Like Me, How Shall I Tell the Dog? and The Franglais Lieutenant’s Woman.
When some people are told they have only a few months to live, they might travel around the world or write their memoirs or put their affairs in order. When it happened at the age of 66 to Miles Kington-one of England's best-loved humorists-he did what he did best, offering sharp, wry, laugh-out-loud observations and ideas about his situation. Following his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Kington proposes crazier and crazier ideas for his next book (what he calls "cashing in on cancer") in a series of letters to his literary agent, Gill.
And what sort of things capture Kington's attention in his waning months? The sudden grimness of those 1,000 Places to See Before You Die books, for example. (What about 100 Things to Do Before You Die, Without Leaving Home?, he suggests. Instead of bungee jumping and whitewater rafting, learn to whistle with two fingers in your mouth, yodel, or steam open envelopes.) The irony that his dog, Berry, will probably outlive him, or the semi-outrageous idea of creating a funeral video:
The answer is quite simple.
Make a video in advance of my farewell speech, to be shown on a monitor, from the pulpit, or on a screen behind the stage, or wherever the best place would be.
I have already visualised the opening shot.
It is of me, smiling ruefully, and saying to camera: "Hello. I'm sorry I couldn't be here in person with you today."
Mischievous and utterly original, Miles Kington's words in the face of death are memorable and surprisingly uplifting.
She’s a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But when a sudden freeway "accident" leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech, she goes from being the beautiful center of attention to being an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge she exists. Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from becoming a real woman, who will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better. And that salvation hides in the last places you’ll ever want to look.
For decades the columns of Miles Kington were a refreshing spot of lunacy in the dull acres of the world's news. From the arguments between gods past and present (as recorded in the minutes of United Deities meetings), to unlikely agony aunts, all-purpose Shakespeare plays, and interviews with ‘sock psychologists’, nothing is too trivial or unlikely to attract Kington’s attention and wit.
Selected here are over a hundred pieces, each a powerful antidote to doom and destruction with their irreverent, absurd and sometimes surreal attitude to life. They are amongst the best journalism and humorous works of the past fifty years. Read on.
‘Every single day over more than two decades, his column [was] witty, topical, erudite, acutely observed...Quite simply, no-one in modern journalism is capable of such an output at such high quality.’ Simon Kelner
‘As with the very best in any sphere of endeavour, Miles’s trick was to make it look easy. His lightness of touch amounted to a kind of genius. But behind the conversational prose lay craftsmanship of the highest order. His standards never wavered.’ Simon O’Hagan