At the hotel later that evening, I encountered Christopher at—where else?—the lobby bar. He was limping and bore some visible scratches on his face. “What possessed you to deface a political sign in Beirut, of all cities?” I asked, incredulously. “I have a rule regarding fascist insignia, my dear boy,” he replied. “It must be taken down.”
Christopher is largely being commemorated for the things he hated—religion, Saddam Hussein, Bill Clinton—and he was certainly the best takedown artist in the business. But I will most remember him for being uproariously funny. Last year, I interviewed him for a gay magazine about two same-sex trysts he claimed to have had as an Oxford student with future ministers in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet. “I guess I should say that screwing the Tories is an across-the-board thing with me,” he said. Aside from nasty limericks, literally dozens, if not hundreds of which he had managed to store in his memory, Christopher specialized in long, drawn-out jokes. Sometimes, he would build up with 20 minutes of exposition before delivering the gag. No subject was too sacred. I don’t recall ever laughing harder than after Christopher delivered the unprintable punchline to a yarn about Robert Kennedy’s last words on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel.