Friday, February 01, 2008

I'll miss you, Miles

From the Guardian ArtsBlog.


Miles Kington

Miles Kington, who died yesterday aged 66, was my second favourite prose humorist, and I don't think he'd mind me saying so. While never in the Woody Allen league for surreal hilarity, his daily columns in the Independent guaranteed a good laugh, without being precious about his skill.

His columns were written with a light touch, letting the jokes fall where they might rather than dragging you along to a punchline. He apparently also took this light approach to filing his copy. Talking to one of his old colleagues a while ago, I was told that Miles could easily leave the house on the way to the office without a column and by the time he got in, it was written.

Turning to Miles' page in the Independent - he was hired at its launch to give the paper a sense of humour and was quite possibly the only truly funny thing in it - you never knew whether you were in for free-form memory-recollections (boules in Bath, a café in Paris, double bass at a jazz gig) or one of his many common themes (tales of courtroom antics, nature rambles with know-it-all kids Robert and Susan or meetings of the United Deities where gods of all stripes would make fools of themselves over current affairs). One of his favourite tricks was to break the fourth wall (as it were) and have readers' letters objecting to the piece interrupt the piece, the sort of surreal touch which gave his humour an extra dimension.

Miles Kington was a rare bird, a humorist who could make you laugh without needing to mock or harass or heckle or deride. He used his fertile imagination to profoundly funny effect and I will miss him greatly.

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