Sharing an office with Hitchens

This is how the average day proceeded: I’d arrive in the morning around 9-ish. The phone would soon start ringing—with calls for Hitchens. I’d tell the callers he was not yet available, and they would leave messages: “Tell him, that was a wonderful dinner last night.” Or, “Mick was so pleased to meet him.” Or, “We may all get together again this evening.” Within an hour or so, the nature of the messages would shift to cover plans for lunch that day: “Tell Christopher we’re all meeting at the Spanish place.”

About this time, Hitchens would saunter in. He’d say hello, turn to the pink slips I had placed on his desk, and return the calls. Did I say this was a small office? We each could hear everything the other said on the phone. He’d first phone his compatriots from the previous evening and review what had transpired. He then would talk to his lunch-mates for the day and arrange the details. Then it would be time … to leave for lunch.

While he was gone, calls would come in for him with invitations for afternoon drinks. (In those days, youngsters, late-afternoon drinks were practically obligatory in certain journalistic circles. Think of it as Manhattan teatime.) After a, shall we say, longish lunch, Hitchens would stop back in the office and return the calls regarding the pending drinks. Then it was, ta-ta, once again.