Christopher Hitchens wins friends and influences people at Hay-on-Wye:
“Female audience member Excuse me. I’m not usually awkward at all but I’m sitting here and we’re asked not to smoke. And I don’t like being in a room where smoking is going on.
CH (smoking heavily): Well, you don’t have to stay, do you darling. I’m working here and I’m your guest. OK . This is what I like.
Ian Katz (moderator) Would you just stub that one out?
CH No. I cleared it with the festival a long time ago. They let me do it. If anyone doesn’t like it they can kiss my ass.
(Woman walks out).”
She should’ve stayed around long enough to see Christopher and his brother, Peter, bond:
“Ian Katz: Are you two friends?
Peter Hitchens: No. There was an old joke in East Germany that went, Are the Russians our friends or our brothers? And the answer is, they must be our brothers because you can choose your friends.
Christopher Hitchens: The great thing about family life is that it introduces you to people you’d otherwise never meet.
IK: One last question from the audience.
Audience member: You’ve been casting furtive glances at each other throughout the whole event but you’ve never yet made eye contact. Would you for this final moment, look each other in the eye?
CH You don’t know what we’ve just been through. We were asked by James Naughtie to do an on-radio handshake, [and] I thought it was a handshake made for radio.
Audience member So will you do it?
[CH and PH look briefly at each other]
PH They want everything to be all right.
CH They want a happy ending – that’s their problem.”