Milton Jones looks back: 'I remember making a dog-food sandwich and taking it to school for him' | Life and style - petsitterbank

Milton Jones looks back: ‘I remember making a dog-food sandwich and taking it to school for him’ | Life and style

Milton Jones and his brother Andy in 1966 and 2022
Milton Jones and his brother Andy in 1966 and 2022. Later photograph: Pål Hansen/The Guardian. Styling: Gemma Hansen. Archive photograph: courtesy of Milton Jones

Born in London in 1964, Milton Jones is a standup comic and recurring face on Mock the Week. Known for his striking hair, Hawaiian shirts, and unflinching expression, he won the Edinburgh Perrier award in 1996 with his sharp, pun-based one-liners. He has since had a prolific career creating standup sets, BBC Radio 4 shows and books. Now living in Richmond upon Thames, Milton has one brother, Andy, who works in travel technology, and is married with three children. Milton Impossible tours the UK and Ireland throughout 2022.

Milton Jones

My brother is one in this photo and I must be two and a half. I presume we were given toy cars to calm us down – my parents had hired a photographer to take pictures of us while we were in Belfast at my grandparents’ house. It looks like we’ve been posing for too long, I’ve clearly just had a haircut and we’re a bit miserable. But we were on good behavior. We were on good behavior a lot of the time, really. Convicts together in a pushchair.

Coming from quite a serious Christian home put me on the outside looking in. We didn’t have a television until I was eight. We weren’t allowed to go to birthday parties on a Sunday. We mixed happily and got on with other children, but there was always a sense that we were different. Luckily, Andy and I had each other.

Our parents were very conservative, cautious and introverted. Having older relatives, and us being the only children, we were quite often wheeled out as entertainment. For example, if we’d been to see the changing of the guard, we’d reenact it for them.

I was incredibly shy, but when we used to play football I could be robust and shouty. One day someone kicked Andy on the pitch and I lost it. There’s something visceral about being a big brother. I was in such a rage I didn’t even kick the right person back, which was a shame.

I was not a rebellious teen. The most disobedient thing I did was cycling home from youth group without bike lights. Because my dad was a scientist, it seemed like academia was the way forward – until I found more artistic interests. I started going to concerts and seeing bits of theatre, and realized there was a new way of doing things.

To some extent I learned about standup – or rather standing up and being silly – in church. I’m not one of those people who everyone huddles round to listen to in the pub. I met someone I went to primary school with recently and they said: “I remember you – you didn’t say much, but when you did it was quite funny.” That’s pretty much what I do.

There’s a saying about acting being the shy man’s revenge, and you could probably apply that to my career. Andy would often come and see my early theater performances. He’s always had a way of balancing out compliments. I was doing Shakespeare in college and his feedback was: “I thought you were very good, but when you walked across the stage you did it like a footballer.” Recently I went on Richard Osman’s House of Games – I thought I was a quizzy sort of person, but I came last. I told Andy that and he just started laughing. It’s quite handy when someone loves you and laughs at you, and I’d do the same to him.

I’m very proud of the way Andy has turned out: he’s presentable, charming and coherent. He’s become himself in spite of growing up in a family of introverts. He can make me laugh like no other, and I’d like to think that I’ve brought him some joy, too.

Andy Jones

This was a very formal old sitting room in the heart of Belfast before the Troubles started. A few years later we were visiting when the whole thing kicked off and we got stuck at our grandparents’ for two weeks: we saw fires going off, and Milton and I were fascinated. It was a bit frightening, but quickly became normal.

Milton was an amazing big brother. He was really kind, and quite shy, to the point where he didn’t go into a newsagent to buy sweets. Instead he’d stand outside and point at what he wanted. We went to the same school, but because we were so different it was only in the last year our headmaster put together the fact we were related.

We always got on growing up, but would occasionally torment each other. I remember making a dog-food sandwich and taking it to school for him. He picked it up and then, to my horror, ate it. He soon got his revenge. Mum would put chocolate desserts in the freezer so they would keep longer. Milton took a container, filled it with water, and put it back in the freezer. The next day I took it to school and by break my lunch box was swimming with water, with a note in it that said: “Haha.”

I find it painful to see Milton perform, and my wife will often ask why I’m not laughing. But it’s just not relaxing for me. He’s always funny, but I get too nervous, wanting him to succeed. Before he won the Perrier award, he’d considered giving up, but Milton had a real gift. As well as talent, you’ve got to be a bit lucky and determined to go to small pubs around the country with audiences giving you grievance – and he persisted. Our parents didn’t want him to go in the comedy direction – they thought it would be a one-way ticket to not doing much – then suddenly he did really well. They were unbelievably proud of him.

Dad died about five years ago, and the hardest thing now is that our mum is in a home with Alzheimer’s. Milton has been incredible – he takes most of the brunt of looking after her. He is the most patient person ever and slowly giving. You could see those qualities when he was young – he’s got a heart of gold.

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