Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My Man Rogers Links My Man Hitch

I could've sworn my school chum Rogers Cadenhead wasn't a Christopher Hitchens fan (not sure why I feel that way, but I do), but he links a fascinating interview with Hitch and his brother Peter, who he hasn't spoken with for four years for this reason:

Christopher Hitchens: When I was at Oxford I had a friend called Fran Hazelton, who was an actress at the time, and she was also a member of the Communist party. When the party split over the invasion of Czechoslovakia, in August 1968, she told me she'd had a row with her father. Her father, who had served in the Communist party, said one should never criticise the party, and she'd said her father had said, 'Prague, I don't care about Prague, I won't be happy till I see the Red Army watering it's horses in the Thames.' In Hendon I think he said, or somewhere like that. And I thought it was quite funny, and must have told it many times, and must have told it in the hearing of Peter, because a week after September 11, when I'm up to here with fuckwits in the United States who are saying Chomskyian things, what I don't need, is to get [in] the Spectator my brother recalling, 'I don't see why Christopher has become so pro-American; I can remember when he said he wouldn't be happy until he saw the Red Army watering its horses in the Thames.' And I thought, well what I thought was 'Fuck you'. I don't need this, I don't need it from [my] brother.

Interviewer: Peter, did you falsely characterise your brother as a Stalinist?

Peter Hitchens: No ... I think that sometimes Christopher is a great loss to the Foreign Office, and he has actually made out that I've withdrawn a statement that I never made. I never said he was a Stalinist. He didn't actually give [the joke] the full delivery today. That evening, in our small house in Oxford ... this is so long ago, we were discussing medium-range nuclear missiles ... the argument was about whether there was any justification for having a cruise missiles base in Britain and my view was that there was such a justification because the Soviet Union seemed to present a major threat to western Europe, which would be neutralised if cruise missiles existed, that was the argument - I'll just give you that as background, nothing to do with Stalinism. It was at that point, when we all get tired of reason sometimes, when were sick of the subject and we don't particularly want to say anything else about it, we still say something that's important. And what he said was, I don't care if the Red Army waters its horses in ... and there was a pause here ... Hendon. Not the Thames, in Hendon.

Kind of a silly reason not to talk for years, but Hitch (Christopher, that is) clarifies, with an alcohol reference (big surprise):

Christopher Hitchens: And what annoyed me, I think, is that I kept reading this reference sourced to blood, a bro, in the reactionary press in the US.

Peter Hitchens: You should have done what you do in almost any other occasion when you disagree with someone, you should have argued about it, and then we would have reached this position much earlier. Silence is never an answer to anything.

Christopher Hitchens: I wanted it to mature in the cask.

Good stuff.


Rogers said...

I was a huge fan of Hitchens. Then 9/11 changed everything. There's a limit to how much you can like someone who believes that you've hopped in bed with terrorists by expressing even a scintilla of doubt about the Iraq war.

I also thought it was strange for him to put the shiv in his friend Sidney Blumenthal's back during the impeachment nuttiness.

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