Memories of Hitch

Two fragments come to mind. The first is from “Brideshead Revisited,” a book Christopher loved and which he could practically quote in its entirety. Anthony Blanche, the exotic, outrageous aesthete, is sent down from Oxford. Charles Ryder, the book’s narrator, mourns: “Anthony Blanche had taken something away with him when he went; he had locked a door and hung the key on his chain; and all his friends, among whom he had been a stranger, needed him now.”

Christopher was never a “stranger to his friends”—ça va sans dire, as he would say. Among his prodigal talents, perhaps his greatest was his gift of friendship. Christopher’s inner circle, Martin, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, James Fenton, Julian Barnes, comprise more or less the greatest writers in the English language. That’s some posse.

But in leaving them—and the rest of us—for “the undiscovered country” (he could recite more or less all of “Hamlet,” too) Christopher has taken something away with him, and his friends, in whose company I am so very grateful to have been, will need him now. We are now, finally, without a Hitch.