He tells a good story against himself. He confides to Anthony Thwaite that having persuaded Larkin to write a review of Cole Porter’s collected lyrics, a coup, he much later found a reference in Larkin’s published letters to being unable to take up an invitation because “I’m busy with a blasted book review for Punch”. Kington’s taste in music veered closer to Larkin’s than to the modernists. A very long letter to the musicologist Hans Keller, six pages in print, offers the best introduction to jazz and its practice I have ever read.
Unsent or unreal letters can still be funny. I mean, we used to lark about in the office making up rejection letters to famous poets (“Dear Fr Hopkins, Thank you for your sonnets, but I’m afraid your label for them is accurate. They’re terrible.”) Some things are funny because they’re made up, such as Kington’s “Albanian proverbs” (“Lives there a piano mover who does not hate music?”). Other things are funnier because they really happened. Kington tells a story of an examination hall with lighting controlled by a motion sensor, which meant a man had to be employed to walk up and down clapping his hands every few minutes to stop the candidates being plunged into darkness. He adds: “This is true.”