The Columnist
  John Cleese
  Tony Bennett
  Melvyn Bragg
  Dick Hyman
  Graham Spiers
  Forbes and Newman
  George Gray
Fr Dilke
  Harold Evans
  Marion Lloyd
  Edward Weston
  George Brock
  Barry Quinlan
  Diane Petre
  Gill Coleridge3
  Germain Greer
  Steve Voce
  Hilary Bradt
  Mme Golaszewski
  Roger Laughton
  Gillian Hush






Fr Dilke,
The Oratory
Apr 9 1986

Dear Fr Dilke,

I have left your letter of Feb 19 unanswered until now for the quite good reason that here is nothing in it that really needed answering and for the even better reason that I had a lot of work to do. If you can call writing daily for The Times work. I actually went to The Times the other day, and a picket shouted at me: “Are you a scab?”

“If a scab is a healthy growth left after a wound has been formed, then yes, I am indeed,” I replied with dignity from my armour-plated London cab.

The pickets then formed into two distinct groups, one arguing that my cab should be rolled over immediately and set fire to, the other pleading that anyone with my care for words should be cheered through the lines, nem con. Luckily, most of them seemed to assume that Nemcon was some sort of print union they had not heard of, and I was allowed in. Later, I left by the little-known Thames exit from Fort Wapping and took a passing lighter back to Westminster. It sank as soon as I arrived. Tragic perhaps, but it turned out to be one of these new-fangled disposable lighters.

You must be a luminary of Brompton Oratory. This was a place that I always wanted to see because George Borrow, one of my erstwhile heroes, was apparently buried in Brompton Oratory. It was not until I arrived in London at the age of twenty and decided to go on a Borrow pilgrimage that I discovered he had actually been interred in Brompton Cemetery. I searched for many years there among the bracken and the brambles until I found his grave next to that of Samuel Smiles, once famous for the Victorian concept of self-help, and now chiefly remarkable for a grave overgrown with hedge parsley. It is for this reason I have never been inside Brompton Oratory. Architecturally I am told that it is magnificent, but that for wild flowers it is poorly provided.

I trust this letter answers none of the points you raise. I only wrote it because you write such a nice letter.

yours sincerely

Miles Kington

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