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40,000 Coat Hangers

From an fictional story by the late Miles Kingston, humor columnist for the IndependentMiles Beresford Kington (13 May 1941 – 30 January 2008) was a British journalist, musician (a double bass player for Instant Sunshine and other groups) and broadcaster. He was born in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, where his father, a soldier, was then posted. Subsequently, his father ran a brewery. His mother was American. Kington went to school at Trinity College, Glenalmond, a boys' independent boarding school in Glenalmond, Scotland. The school has since been renamed Glenalmond College. He then studied Modern Languages at Trinity College, Oxford.

He began his career at the satirical magazine Punch, where he spent some 15 years. It was during this time, in the late 1970s, that he began writing "Let's Parler Franglais!". Written in a comical mixture of English and French, these short sketches purporting to be a study course which took as their raison d'être the undeniable fact that "les Français ne parlent pas le O-level français" ("the French do not speak O-level French"). They were later published as a series of books (Let's Parler Franglais!, Let's Parler Franglais Again, Let's Parler Franglais One More Temps, and so on). During the 1980s he presented Steam Days, an informative programme about steam trains.

A lover of jazz since boyhood, he first played the trombone, but switched to the double bass at university, and was for many years a member of the cabaret quartet Instant Sunshine. To his regret, he only played in a jazz group for a brief period in 1962 during a summer job in Spain, where he ran into the British politician Enoch Powell, apparently looking somewhat displeased. Meeting Powell years later at a Punch meal, and reminding their guest of the previous incident, he was amused by Powell's comment: "I never forgot a face". Kington moved away from London in the 1980s, remarried, and worked from his home at Limpley Stoke, near Bath.

He wrote a humourous column for the United Kingdom newspaper The Independent, which he joined in 1987 after six years at The Times. He also wrote a similar column for The Oldie.

Regular topics for his columns included
The answers to a Christmas quiz that was never printed
Fictional court reporting
Motorway Ballads
Proceedings of the United Deities
Spot the fictional news story
Things for which there is no word
"Albanian Proverbs" which appear profound at first glance, but are actually meaningless
Letters concerning a recently deceased celebrity's supposed love of cricket
And Here;

40,000 Coat Hangers

A Most Uncooperative Witness:
The following transcript speaks for itself. It is from an English court where Arnold Chrysler was on trial for stealing 40,000 coat hangers at hotels around the world.

Counsel: What is your name?
Chrysler: Chrysler. Arnold Chrysler.

Counsel: Is that your own name?
Chrysler: Whose name do you think it is?

Counsel: I am just asking if it is your name.
Chrysler: And I have just told you it is. Why do you doubt it?

Counsel: It is not unknown for people to give a false name in court.
Chrysler: Which court?

Counsel: This court.
Chrysler: What is the name of this court?

Counsel: This is No 5 Court.
Chrysler: No, that is the number of this court. What is the name of this court?

Counsel: It is quite immaterial what the name of this court is!
Chrysler: Then perhaps it is immaterial if Chrysler is really my name.

Judge: I think Mr. Chrysler is running rings round you already. I would try a new line of attack if I were you.
Counsel: Thank you, m'lud.
Chrysler: And thank you from ME, m'lud. It's nice to be appreciated.
Judge: Shut up, witness.
Chrysler: Willingly, m'lud. It is a pleasure to be told to shut up by you. For you, I would...
Judge: Shut up, witness.

Counsel: Now, Mr. Chrysler - for let us assume that that is your name - you are accused of purloining in excess of 40,000 hotel coat hangers.
Chrysler: I am.

Counsel: Can you explain how this came about?
Chrysler: Yes. I had 40,000 coats which I needed to hang up.

Counsel: Is that true?
Chrysler: No.

Counsel: Then why did you say it?
Chrysler: To attempt to throw you off balance.

Counsel: Off balance?
Chrysler: Certainly. As you know, all barristers seek to undermine the confidence of any hostile witness, or defendant. Therefore it must be equally open to the witness, or defendant, to try to shake the confidence of a hostile barrister.

Counsel: On the contrary, you are not here to indulge in cut and thrust with me. You are only here to answer my questions.
Chrysler: Was that a question?

Counsel: No.
Chrysler: Then I can't answer it.

Counsel: Mr. Chrysler, perhaps you will describe what reason you had to steal 40,000 coat hangers?
Chrysler: Is that a question?

Counsel: Yes.
Chrysler: It doesn't sound like one. It sounds like a proposition which doesn't believe in itself. You know - "Perhaps I will describe the reason I had to steal 40,000 coat hangers... Perhaps I won't... Perhaps I'll sing a little song instead..."

Counsel: Mr. Chrysler, why did you steal 40,000 hotel coat hangers, knowing as you must have that hotel coat hangers are designed to be useless outside hotel wardrobes?
Chrysler: Because I build and sell wardrobes which are specially designed to take nothing but hotel coat hangers.