Monthly Archives: November 2014

Miles Kington, The Best by Miles

I made a New Year’s resolution for 2008 to read Miles Kington’s column in the Independent four times a week. Sadly, he was dead by the end of January, something which has put me off such resolutions ever since.

Here is a selection of his humorous writings, both verse and prose, English and Franglais. They are needless to say very amusing (the shorter ones more so). Little has dated, though references to things like early-closing days in the earlier columns may baffle younger readers. My criticism of this book is not related to the quality of the material, but to an unevenness in its selection.

I knew Miles’ work through Let’s Parler Franglais! in Punch and later through his Independent columns. He wrote several thousand of the latter over 20 years, which must be about half of his total output. But there are few of them in this collection, mostly accounts of meetings of the United Deities (I’d like to think he’s taking their minutes up there now) and the ‘History of King Tony’. (There is also only one item from his collection Vicarage Allsorts.)

Reading The Best by Miles, you might think that his later work was less funny. Far from it – he was consistently amusing for several days a week, apart from a few columns which made a serious point without using humour. Many of his later columns were not hopelessly tied to then-current events, or to west Wiltshire. I would guess they are less represented because, unlike his earlier work, they were not assembled into anthologies. It’s clear that the compilers have relied on these anthologies for the most part, rather than the original columns.

So I’d suggest to the Independent that it brings out its own Kington anthology, so that this later phase of his output is not neglected. If you own most of Miles Kington’s anthologies already, The Best by Miles will add little, but if not, read and regret his passing.

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Old Street Publishing (2 Oct 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1908699051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908699053
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