RIP Christopher Hitchins 1949-2011.

I feel as a writer and reasonable intellectual a profound sense of loss today.

Christopher Hitchins was clearly a divisive figure. He led a very conflicted life of intellectual study and deep thought peppered liberally with the trappings of the fame and notoriety that followed his success.

From politics to atheism, from Islamic fundamentalism to countries such as North Korea, there were no subjects taboo, no topic that wasn’t worthy of deep insight – or humiliating ridicule.

He was a fantastic writer, one who could dance on words and make them sparkle. Even when you disagreed with him, there was no escaping that profound sense he had thought long and hard about the subject matter – and that, try as you may, he was fully prepared to ensnare you however you tried to wriggle out of it.

And it’s hard to truly dislike a man who stated, “The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”

Truer words were never spoken.

There will never be another like Christopher Hitchins. And, whilst some celebrate that, I think the world will be a poorer place. In a world where too often people are afraid to state their true feelings, or are easily railroaded into a blind alley where freedom of thought is a non-existent entity, he was a breath of stale booze and cigarette smoke who seemed genuinely quite happy to be strong, opinionated and to stand up for himself and his ideals rather than buckling under the pressure of individuals who wanted his thoughts buried.

He championed not atheism, not republicanism nor anything inherently bad – he championed freedom of speech and the freedom of thought, regardless of if you agreed with his views or not (and so often, it must be said, I did not).

And at a time when those freedoms are under siege, to lose one of the brightest lights in the battle against it is a sad, awful day.

Peace my good man, and be happy. There are people who learned from your example – not to copy you, but to emulate your outspoken, free-thinking, outside-the-box approach to subjects. You were not perfect; but that was entirely the point, wasn’t it? You could be happy and imperfect.

Happy and imperfect… what a wonderful concept. I wonder why we don’t hear this more often…

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