Thursday 8 December 2016

Kevin Myers: Hitchens had charisma and intellect in spades

Published 20/12/2011 | 17:00

Newly elected MP for Feltham and Heston Seema Malhotra with Labour leader Ed Miliband in Feltham town centre today after Labour increased its majority in the by-election yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday December 16 2011. See PA story POLL Feltham. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Newly elected MP for Feltham and Heston Seema Malhotra with Labour leader Ed Miliband in Feltham town centre today after Labour increased its majority in the by-election yesterday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday December 16 2011. See PA story POLL Feltham. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The best thing about Christopher Hitchens was that he changed his mind whenever the evidence justified it. He started out on the classical English left, rather like his hero, George Orwell, and when he realised that it was an intellectually threadbare gallimaufry of ego-driven career politicians, cynical or witless trades union leaders, and middle-class emoters, he moved to the position of Permanent Sceptic. This is the only respectable position for any journalist of honour, which was easier to maintain in the US than in ideologically besotted London.

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I first met him shortly before he made that move. I went to stay with an old friend from UCD, the actress and writer, Jeananne Crowley, who was sharing a house in Highbury with several people. One of them was Christopher; he exuded charisma like some sea-creature of the deep, phosphorescing in the dark.

That night, he and I and Jeananne's friend Alan Rusbridger -- now the editor of 'The Guardian' -- and their landlord Bernie Simmonds, (who by an amazing chance had been a prefect in charge of us Catholics and Jews during assembly at my first secondary school, Wyggeston Grammar, in Leicester) drank Bushmills and talked long into the early hours.

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