On Wednesday Christopher Hitchens (ill with pneumonia in Washington, D.C.) was fêted in an event at Royal Festival Hall. Richard Dawkins and Stephen Fry were the hosts, but a gaggle of luminaries weighed in by video. As The New Statesman reports,
Richard Dawkins, Hitchens’s fellow anti-theist, appeared on stage with Fry in London, and Martin Amis, his dearest friend, appeared via video link from New York, as did James Fenton and Salman Rushdie. The line-up also included actor Sean Penn (who Hitchens enjoys pool games with), former Harper’seditor Lewis Lapham and novelist Christopher Buckley, son of the late conservative intellectual (whether there can be such a thing is a subject for another occasion) William F. Buckley, whom Hitchens often debated on US TV show Firing Line. It felt like a hyper-intelligent version of Question Time. . .
. . . But the most significant and poignant intervention came from Ian McEwan, who was watching the event live with Hitchens in Texas. “I talked until late last night with Hitch, we were discussing the non-communist left of the early 50s,” he wrote in an email read out by Fry. “He can’t run a mile just now but be reassured his Rolls Royce mind is purring smoothly.”
Sadly, the Rolls Royce is running out of gas. The Statesman describes the evening, which appears as an elegy/eulogy. I fear it won’t be long now, and when Hitch is gone we have absolutely nobody to replace him. They say that no one is indispensable, but “they” are wrong.
Miranda Hale paid the $7 fee to watch this via computer livestream, and I expect she’ll report on what she saw. I also understand that at least one of our readers was at the event, and if you were there, or saw it, do weigh in below.