Telegraph readers found themselves regaled by such characters as Canon Edward Young, the first chaplain of a striptease club; the last Wali of Swat, who had a fondness for brown Windsor soup; and Judge Melford Stevenson, who considered that "a lot of my colleagues are just constipated Methodists".
The column also made a speciality of tales of derring-do from the Second World War. The foibles of aristocrats proved another fertile source.
The 6th Earl of Carnarvon appeared as a "relentless raconteur and most uncompromisingly direct ladies' man".
The 9th Earl of St Germans listed his recreations as "huntin' the slipper, shootin' a line, fishin' for compliments".
The 12th Marquess of Huntly married a nurse 40 years his junior: "I still have my own teeth. Why should I marry some dried up old bag?"
Part of the fun lay in the style which Massingberd evolved to pin down the specimens on display. Liberace, readers were gravely informed, "never married". Hopeless drunks were "convivial". Total shits "did not suffer fools gladly". Financial fraudsters seemed "not to have upheld the highest ethical standards of the City".
Dec 27, 2007
Man who remade obituary page receives his own
Hugh Massingberd dies at age 60.