Wednesday 7 December 2016

Deeply erudite, surprisingly humble, and with most unusual hands

John-Paul McCarthy recalls a dinner party spent sitting next to the huge intellect that was Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Published 18/12/2011 | 05:00

I was once on the periphery of a dinner at the Randolph Hotel in Oxford, flanking Christopher Hitchens, who died on Thursday.

  • Go To

I remember a polite, if intermittently demanding dinner companion, ever-alert to ideological slackness around the table.

Dinner, like life, was just another forum for confrontation. He was very much as I expected: self-regarding, well read, amusing, fluent. I was surprised, though, to find that he had a sublimated streak of humility when I told him how moved I was by his essay, The Ballad of Route 66, a road trip essay he penned while at the wheel of a red Corvette. Hitchens bowed gently when I quoted my favourite line back to him, the line describing how a modest bathroom in a Memphis motel was altogether "too small for the King's heartbreaking needs". This King, of course, was the bloated Elvis edging towards oblivion in 1976.

Please sign in or register with for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Read More

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice