Christopher Hitchens, like Winston Churchill, prided himself on being able to do both. He laughed about his drinking, claiming that it never impaired either his thinking or mental agility in debate. His “amber restorative”, he said, never caused a slur in his speech which, he added, would have been picked up by super-sensitive sound equipment. (It was.) He was kidding himself, of course, as most heavy drinkers do. We were all embarrassed by the famous video of him stumbling on stage smashed, his articulation audibly affected, his (evitable) cancer not yet visible in its inevitable effects but almost predictable, given his daily intake of uncounted cigarettes and his quasi-constant frequentation of his friend and favorite, Johnny Walker Black. (Personally I was shocked to hear him admitting that he laced his (blended) Scotch with Perrier, and to see him imbibing the unpardonable mixture with a straw ! Not exactly your most sophisticated connoisseur …).
But his legacy, his lucidity and his legend will continue to inspire lesser defenders of atheism. The battle against obscurantism, fundamentalism and plain old credulity will continue without a Hitch. We will never forget him. We have even forgiven him for the rare occasions at the podium when he exceeded his limit. Other writers, speakers and artists have found their fuel, if not their inspiration, in what wowsers call “the demon drink”. In this respect his was an example to be eschewed. But he will remain a model for everyone convinced and committed to convincing others that religion poisons everything. A pity he allowed the grog to poison him.
P.S. This is the 201st post on this Blog. The milestone-plus-one deserves a toast (it’s as good a pretext as any) to honor present and future readers. So break out the Badoit – or the mineral water of your choice (even Perrier, without the J.W. Black) – or, if you prefer, your favorite beverage with a little more punch to it. Easy now : two’s the limit, three’s a cloud.)