MILES KINGTON, the much-loved humorist, musician and broadcaster, died of cancer in January 2008. This series of letters from him to his literary agent – ostensibly proposing a stream of increasingly absurd ideas for books he might write about his illness, but in reality simply a brilliant vehicle for his characteristic humour – shows this inventive and very English writer at the height of his craft.
As he confronts his fate with understated but unflinching courage (“what’s the point of just writing it down as life? Any writer worth his salt improves the story until it is worth telling”), Kington’s mischievous wit never falters: “I’m afraid this wasn’t an idea for a book after all, only an idea on how to spend the royalties…” Wry, poignant and deeply moving, these letters are above all very, very funny. Every word is vintage Kington.
Miles Kington began his career at Punch, where he wrote the column that later became his bestseller Let’s Parler Franglais! After six years at The Times, he wrote a regular column for the Independent from its earliest days until the week he died. He also wrote a column for The Oldie. Regular topics in his columns included Albanian proverbs which appear profound at first glance but are actually meaningless, and things for which there is no word!