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Motorway Madness by Miles Kington












Le Bumper Book of Franglais 
Old Street 2010
Illustrated by Wendy Hoile; introduced by Ian Hislop


101 columns written after the famous four Franglais books were published introducing Franglais fans, both old and new, to a wonderful fresh dose of hitherto unseen absurdities.

“Kington was a true comic genius, and Franglais is the defining achievement of his career. It’s so simple and so brilliant – and anyone can speak Franglais no problem in a couple of minutes…” Ian Hislop

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The Best By Miles. 
Publishers: Old Street 2009
With an introduction by Joanna Lumley


A treasure trove of writing including some previously unpublished material, setting the observational comedy of his articles for Punch, The Times and The Independent alongside the descriptive beauty of his travel writing, and the innovative, hilarious Franglais. A wonderful mix of the subtle, skilful and irreverent.

How shall I tell the dog by Miles Kington
How Shall I tell The Dog? 
Profile Books 2008

(The last book Miles wrote)

In the few months before he died, Miles wrote this series of letters to his friend and agent, Gill Coleridge, ostensibly proposing a stream of increasingly absurd ideas for books he might write about his cancer. Wry, poignant and deeply moving, these letters are above all very, very, funny. Every word is vintage Kington.

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Someone Like Me, 
Publisher: Headline 2005


Under great pressure, Miles sat down to write his autobiography. But his sense of the ridiculous prevailed and this book is the result. A wonderful parody of an autobiography in which everything has been made up and nothing can be trusted. Filled with tales of Dadaist dog training, fictitious maids, a mother who regularly rehearses her death scene, a father full of beguiling but useless inventions, and an older brother who sets out to murder the baby Miles in his pram, it is one of the funniest and most original books you'll ever read.

Someone Like Me by Miles Kington

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The Pick of Punch (ed)
 The Folio Society 1998


Miles edited or contributed to a whole selection of Punch collections. This one, for the Folio Society, was one where his input was considerable and he was really pleased with the publication.  A beautiful book, with contributions from such luminaries as John Mortimer, Anthony Burgess, John Betjeman, Barry Humphries, Gillian Reynolds, Stella Gibbons, Joanna Lumley, T.E.B Clarke, Patrick Barrington and, of course, Miles himself.

Cartoons from the very best of the bunch including Anton, Albert, Ffolkes, Hoffnung, Larry, Pont, and Lowry.

Jazz, An Anthology (ed)
 Publisher: Harper Collins 1992


Jazz (said Miles) is undeniably the liveliest, most mysterious, warmest, most unpredictable music to be born in the last century – it is also the most elusive. More than a collection of fascinating pieces on jazz, this book is a key to another world, with its own traditions, code words and protective humour, a treasury of remarkable writing, remarkable talking and remarkable lives.

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Motorway Madness
 Publisher: Harper Collins 1998
Illustrated by Michel Streich


The ultimate 70 mph zone companion which includes an essay on The Art of Overtaking; How a Motorway is named, ‘Not a Mile More, Not a Miles ReadLess’ –a short story by G. Archer; Prayers for use on the Motorway, a Grand Quiz, and Motorway’s Ruthless Rhymes…

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Steaming Through Britain
Publisher:  Unwin Hyman 1990
Photography by Alain le Garsmeur


A labour of love, the nine steam railways are the stars of this book. Miles describes the special qualities of the individual railways and the people who have shaped them and Alain Le Garsmeur's photographs are wonderful.

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Welcome to Kington
Publisher:  Penguin 1989

A collection of some of the best pieces from the first two years at The Independent. Including ‘The Family Debt’ in which, on the advent of his departure to university, Father assesses how much the young Kington owes for his upbringing; the revelation that, overdosing on years of chemicals and fertilisers, British fields have become junkies; a murder mystery involving a dead body that has slipped through a time-warp, and Albanian Proverbs, which sound as if they are making a deep comment on the human condition but mean nothing at all: “In the country of the flip-flop the shoe-shine boy eats poorly.”

The Franglais Lieutenant’s Woman
Robson/Penguin 1986
Illustrated by Jane Ryder

Miles spent the best years of his life (1985-6) reducing these forty or so masterpieces of world literature to a manageable size, then translated into Franglais with a large dose of Kington humour and a twist of garlic. Here you will find Jane Austen’s only football novel: Northanger Abbey v Mansfield Park; War and Peace reduced to one page; an unmissable Jeeves and Wooster story, Mills and Boon, Metamorphosis and many other miniature masterpieces.

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Great Railway Journeys of the World
E P Dutton 1981

Miles and six other distinguished writers, Michael Frayn, Ludovic Kennedy, Michael Palin, Eric Robson Brian Thompson and Michael Wood, were commissioned by the BBC in 1980/81 to travel on some of the world’s greatest railways and to write about their experiences. Miles’s own adventure took him on the highest railway in the world, in Peru, and ended in a military coup in Bolivia. A book for anyone who appreciates the best of travel writing. 

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See Archive TV film


Great Railway Journeys of the World

Nature Made Ridiculously Simple
Publisher:  Penguin 1983
Illustrated by Tim Jacques


An alternative guide to the countryside and all things in it. Unencumbered by academic jargon, the nature-lover is free to roam unfettered through such genera as: Things That Can Swim a Width Underwater; Motorway Nature At 70mph; Jetsam, Flotsam, Etcsam; Fuzz; Country-Lovers.

(A huge favourite with the BBC's Natural History Unit )

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Vicarage Allsorts
Publisher: Michael Joseph, London: 1985


A wonderful collection of witty, sometimes bizarre paintings by James Grainger featuring vicars – sitting on sheep, being tossed like a caber, morris dancing on the top of a Morris Minor, pig racing, juggling hedgehogs, and much, much more. With the suitably surreal text provided by Miles.

Moreover, Too…
Pub Penguin 1985


How do trolleys marked ‘Not to be removed from Paddington’ end up in Ostend? Why do you get nine socks out of a washing-machine when you put in only eight? And why did nature give the wood-louse streamlining and an average speed of less than 1 mph?

A collection of Moreover columns from The Times which are an antidote to doom and destruction, with their irreverent, absurd and sometimes surreal attitude to life.

Miles and Miles 
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton 1982


A collection of forty-eight pieces from a variety of different publications.  Varying madly in format, from a complete Mills and Boon novel in two pages called “She Hated His Guts” to an account of a visit to Peru, from an analysis of women’s humour to a blow-by-blow account of the Scottish character. (Reprinted by the SNP as an example of racialism.)


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Pub: Penguin 1982

(The first ever collection of Miles's columns from The Times.)

Portraits of Winston Churchill as bricklayer, complete novels by Barbara Heartland, an appeal to eat grit instead of fibre, a study of Ronald Reagan as poet, the life-cycle of the burglar alarm – nothing is too trivial or unlikely to attract his attention. This isn't the way the world is, says the author modestly, but the way the world should be.

Let’s Parler Franglais One More Temps
Pub: Robson/Penguin 1982
Illustrated by Merrily Harpur


Pour le quatrième (4ème) volume, les titres sont toujours difficile.
Préfèrez-vous ‘Grand-son de Let’s Parler Franglais’ ?
Non ?
Mais non plus.
Brahms, probablement, avait la même trouble avec sa Symphonie No 4…

Let’s Parler Franglais Again!
Pub: Robson/Penguin:1982
Illustrated by Merrily Harpur

Franglais !
Plus facile que l’Espéranto…
Beaucoup plus facile que le Français…
More fun que yoga ou karate, et absolument painless…
Un passeport au success social…
Apprenez le Franglais en 10 secondas !

Parlez-Vous Franglais?
Pub: Robson/Penguin 1981
Illustrated by Merrily Harpur

Le Francais, c’est difficile. Difficile? C’est impossible.
C’est maddening. C’est une peine dans le neck.
Mais le Franglais est un doddle!
C’est une des grandes mixture de l’histoire, comme gin et tonique , oeuf et bacon, ou les deux Ronnies…


Let’s Parler Franglais
Pub: Robson/Penguin 1979
Illustrated by Merrily Harpur

Parlez-vous franglais?
C’est un doddle.
Si vous êtes un fluent English –speaker,
et si vous avez un O Level français,
Franglais est un morceau de gâteau….



The World of Alphonse Allais
published 1977
later re-published as A Wolf in Frog’s Clothing 1983
pub: Chatto & Windus/Methuen

Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was a French humorist and one of the prime influences on Miles’ development as a humorous writer. In his lifetime he founded the satirical magazine Le Chat Noir, was a columnist for Le Journal and edited Le Sourire. Part of the vibrant late nineteenth scene in Paris; he painted the first ever totally abstract painting - a large completely black rectangle entitled ”Negroes Fighting in a Cave at Night”.

Allais’ reputation did not survive his death. Neglected and almost completely unknown in France let alone England, Miles fought a lifelong campaign to try and redress that oversight. He translated a selection of his short stories with an extensive introduction, presented a programme on Allais for Radio 3 (after the BBC offered him a slot, he said, to talk about anything he liked as long as it was something obscure. Allais fitted their bill) and endlessly wrote or talked about him. This book is a brilliant introduction to Allais’ writing.


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