It’s funny the little memories that stick with you and then one wonders why they resonated so much as to be stored and occasionally recalled. My dad switched from being a Guardian reader to the Independent (it must have been in 1986 or just after as that was when the paper started) and he was very impressed with the column by Miles Kington (who sadly died in 2008 and who I still regularly confuse with Nigel Rees who sadly still lives - only joking). Miles wrote a humorous, maybe 500+ word article every day and my dad couldn’t believe that this was even possible, but was more impressed that he kept the quality of the writing and humour at such a high standard. I am sure that as an arrogant young aspirant comedy writer I poo-pooed the column at the time and yet my dad’s admiration for Kingston and this, I now admit, pretty unbelievably impressive achievement, (having to write just one humorous newspaper-quality article a week is incredibly difficult and hard to maintain as anyone reading the Metro this coming Wednesday will realise) stuck in my mind. It just popped in there again today and for the first time I wondered if my father’s quite awe at Kingston’s prodigious output is ultimately responsible for what I am doing here. Is Warming Up just a subconscious attempt to gain my father’s approval? Dad was impressed by Kingston writing five (or maybe it was six) columns a week, week after week for years and here I am writing seven blogs a week, without even taking time off for holidays or Sundays or feast days (I suspect Kingston didn’t write his pieces when he was on holiday or he wouldn’t really have had a holiday). I am not saying my blogs are to the same standards, because they are not. They are hastily dashed off, unedited and first drafts. Occasionally they come out pretty well first time, but it’s very rare that if one of them contains an idea that it doesn’t require a fair bit of reworking if I am going to put it in the paper or make it into a stand up routine.
I certainly didn’t start Warming Up with Kingston in mind (consciously) and I don’t know if I imagined that I would still be writing it 13 years on and never have missed a day (though a few early entries were short enough to scarcely count), and neither do I have any conscious desire to get the approval of my father, who I mainly just take the piss out of and/or am rude to, but who knows how our brains work.
It’s odd that I remember such an offhand conversation and then odder still that I have attempted something a little bit similar. And that I also wrote a parody of Instant Sunshine (Kingston’s mildly smug musical comedy ensemble and radio show) for On The Hour (it was one that was unusually executed quite lazily by the team, who just chanted the words, when I don’t think it would have taken very much time at all to compose an Instant Sunshine harmonious rendition with accompaniment as they were very open to parody) which went (from memory)
“We like pineapple
It’s like a particularly fine apple
Offer us oranges, we say no,
Bananas and pomegranates don’t us them show
We’d rather have a (something- heart attack?) than your man-go.
Because we like pineapple."
Did this come from a disdain for the lightness of Radio 4 comedy or from an inner fury that Kingston had the approval of my father, which I would never have?
I don’t think so. But I may be wrong.
I owe my father much and many of my attributes both good and bad have come from him. My work ethic, I think, is probably down to him and though I have rebelled against it in many ways, a sense of fair play and decency have also slipped through. Not always to my advantage, it has to be said, as my business really operates on selfishness and oneupmanship and taking opportunities that you sometimes don’t deserve. Because of my dad I have an innate belief that if I work hard and have the talent eventually people will realise that and I will get my just rewards. Ha, what an idiot! Networking like a mofo and telling everyone how amazing you are is the only way to make it. Also to be actually talented.
Anyway, my dad was right. Miles Kington was a legend. Un legend totale. Reste dans paix.