A Very Brief Memory of Christopher Hitchens

by Clifford D. May

A few years ago, I was privileged to be part of a group of whisky (not whiskey) aficionados invited to tour some of Scotland’s best distilleries. Christopher also was a member of this band of booze-loving brothers. 

He would start drinking earlier than the rest of us (a glass of Lagavulin 16 by about 11 a.m. was his custom), do less spitting and more swallowing at the distillery tastings where we were selflessly studying the finer points of single-malt production, then continue imbibing over dinner and well past midnight.

Throughout these long and arduous days, he was, unfailingly, a sparkling conversationalist and a formidable polemicist. Drinking wee drams into the wee hours, he would debate into a corner me and anyone else willing to step into the ring.

It was more fun to argue with Christopher than to agree with a dozen people. As Ron Radosh and David Frum have pointed out, though Christopher always saw himself as a man of the left, he was hardly doctrinaire. More importantly, perhaps, he was not reflexively hostile to conservatives — as so many on the left tend to be. He could recite from an astoundingly large repertoire of limericks (e.g. “The Anglican Bishop of Hong Kong, had a schl…”), tell jokes (rude ones, mostly), and display his erudition in a remarkable number of other ways.

I plan tonight to have a wee dram of Lagavulin 16 in his memory. Maybe more than one.

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