Guy Browning seems quite offended when I suggest that his latest book might have a serious side to it. It’s obviously the worst insult you can aim at a comic writer. “I don’t think so. You point me to something serious,” he challenged. When pressed, he will go so far as to say that it’s his first book of continuous prose.

Many of his previous books are collections of his humorous columns for the Guardian newspaper, a contract he won straight after leaving Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, combining his writing with gigs as a stand-up comedian in the duo Dross Bros with Patrick Marber.

Despite Guy’s horror, I stick to my opinon that Maps of My Life, though packed with funny stories, has its serious side. It starts with his birth in Chipping Norton in 1964 — the subject of one of the best maps, which makes up the cover of the book.

Guy’s father was working at Ditchley Park conference centre, and one of his jobs was to collect high-powered world leaders from Oxford railway station and convey them to Ditchley in top secret. Although his wife had gone into labour, he calculated that he had time to pick up the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, from Oxford. When they arrived at Ditchley, Guy’s mother barged Kissinger out of the way and hurled herself into the car, which was driven at top speed to the cottage hospital.

The map includes a sketch of the combine harvester which held them up on the way, and the spot where Kissinger finished his cigar.

The next map is of Niagara Falls, where the name ‘Chipping Norton’ on Guy’s passport so amused the Canadian customs official that he allowed the British rustic to cross the border to the USA without a visa. Then there is El Salvador, where the family was taken by his father’s posting as a diplomat, followed by Kidlington, which gets star billing as England’s biggest village, and Hampton Poyle, the name of the detective in his father’s attempt at crime writing. After diversions to Wales, Jamaica, Germany, the USA, Italy, France and Spain, the book ends with a bus map of the route from Botley, as he wins a place at university.

His childhood memories are dominated by Long Marches, generally along the banks of the Thames. “When we were on a Long March, we only rested when my father checked the map for possible interesting short cuts or further short cuts to get us back on the right track after our previous interesting short cut.

“We also rested for short lectures on the landscape and the long-term effect of the river upon it, on which my father was a world authority (among a great many other topics).

“Lunch was certainly not something we stopped for, mainly because my father's routes and short cuts were designed to keep us very close to the river and very far from points of culinary or retail interest.

“Also, there was absolutely no need to stop for lunch because we rarely ventured out without the full survival kit of a bottle of squash and a packet of Lincoln biscuits. Even now, the sight of a Lincoln biscuit makes my feet ache.”

Now that he has children of his own, he realises what wonderful child management this was. “We walked at a pace fast enough to make talking not worth the extra breath, so silence generally reigned; we followed tracks that only allowed single file walking, thus further reducing the possibility of bickering; and we walked so far that, by the time we got back, our dearest wish was to go to bed quickly and quietly with very little in the way of fuss or demands for further entertainment.”

Ironically, he says he has spent much of his adulthood running marathons and traning for them, variations on the Long March theme.

Worse still, he admits that he seems to have instituted a programme of Long Marches for his own three children. He has also moved back to Oxfordshire, very near to the Thames at Kingston Bagpuize.

He says: “The River Thames has always seemed to flow through my life. At Botley I could see it from my bedroom window and occasionally it would flood the entire valley below.”

Despite the success of his books and journalism, he has never given up his day job.

He believes his writing was honed by his training as an advertising copywriter, and he runs his own business, Smokehouse, which advises businesses on marketing and communications.

“I wouldn’t want to stop working. You need something to write about and it keeps me in touch with the real world.”

l Maps of My Life is published by Square Peg at £12.99.