22nd November 2010
Last night I decided an early night was called for. To catch up on my reading. Several part-read books decorate my bedside table and floor.
Then the tail-end of Radio 4’s Something Understood, Living in the Mind caught my attention as my arm moved robotically after switching on the midnight news.
Engrossed I placed Christopher Hitchens on top of Tony Blair, head to head; their memoirs – Hitch-22 and A Journey. On top of at least two other current pieces of life and literature, all only partly read. And I wondered how people have time to read or write novels when there is so much in real life than can be imagined, living, dying in the mind.
And I thought a little more of those two memoirs by those two political writers. Especially when they are about to, as my father used to say, draw their swords and shoot each other, next Friday in a head-to-head on religion.
Famous atheist Hitchens’ book’s first chapters are dominated by death – his mother’s suicide and even his own death. I do not know if he wrote these chapters before he knew he had cancer. I found it unexpected, at times depressing, though not wearing. His writing style and command of language and mood are lip-curlingly entertaining. Perhaps he added the death-absorbed parts just before publication this year.
Then there’s Blair’s book where he says he was once advised that if attacked, don’t go down, thinking, hoping they’ll stop. They won’t. They’ll just kick you to death. He has strong religious convictions, formed at Oxford in his early twenties. They were famously on show in his early days as prime minister when he took the koran in his holiday suitcase, as well as the Bible.
Neither of them is ready or at least willing to die. But death figures highly in different ways in both their stories.
So, figuring and sincerely hoping that their time is not yet nigh, I stood both books up on their end and leant them against the table leg.
Hitch’s cigarette smoke seemed to waft from the cover picture, so I could almost smell it. His eyes looked downwards.
Blair’s blue eyes, like his long-dead mother’s in a picture inside the book, gazed earnestly ahead, lips parted in that Blair way.
Then I scribbled this out with a blunt pencil and blunter still poetic ability. I tried to get back to sleep, but after another hour or more pondering as to why I don’t write a formulaic novel instead of concerning myself on “issues”, I decided to get up and tap it out on the black stuff.
I’m no good at early nights anyway, even when early mornings beckon.
Ode to Hitchens and Blair
Don’t kick, kick, kick the politician to death,
Even if you can, Mr Writer.
Even though death is nearby, in some form.
In many forms.
Ready and waiting.
It’s only about religion, God and death.
Like life and love.
Don’t kick, kick, kick the writer to death,
Even if you can, Mr Politician.
Even though death’s half-closed eye in some form.
In one form.
Is waiting and willing.
It’s only about religion, God and death.
I don’t know who I’ll be rooting for when they cross swords next week. My own beliefs, or lack of, suggest Hitchens. And yet, and yet…
I have added the bitter Alibhai-Brown below here for the flavour. If, like me it is not to your taste, spit it out. You’ll probably sleep better. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Blair-Hitchens head-to-head is just another reality show (independent.co.uk)
Has this woman any idea how crazy she sounds with this combination?[My numbering is added to highlight why]
“Religion can be a force for good if it is internalised and divorced from politics and power[*1]. As a flickering flame within, it stops you from becoming hateful, careless, self-aggrandising, grabbing and too materialistic[*2]. It has its place, must have its place. Blair and Hitchens are fundamentalist gladiators, performing for entertainment, just another reality show. [*3] They mean nothing to the millions of us sustained by delicate, fragile, whispered, unspoken, doubt-ridden faith.”[*4]
It’s shot through with envy, judgemental misleading comments, which belie the evidence[*1], self-serving & superior and vain untruths[*2], utter nonsense[*3], but of course so self-absorbed is she that she has no idea.[*4]
- Christopher Hitchens: ‘The righteous will evidently never tire of the pelting and taunting of Tony Blair’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Be it resolved that religion is a force for good in the world… (thebrightlibertarian.blogspot.com)
It seems you will need to pay to watch the streaming of the clash of the Titans – Blair & Hitchens. Roughly £3 (GBP).
At the Munk Debate website apears the information below. In Toronto 7:00pm (EST) is midnight here in Britain.
Or you can always save your three quid and leave it until you wake up on the Saturday morning. The verdict will be all over the place by then.
The Munk Debate site says –
DUE TO UNPRECEDENTED DEMAND TICKETS TO THE LIVE EVENT AT ROY THOMSON HALL ARE NOW SOLD OUT.
Please consider purchasing the live-stream for the Munk Debate on Religion, featuring Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens – the only remaining way to watch the debate live and archived online.
The debate will be broadcast live on the Internet in streaming video starting at 7:00 pm EST on Friday, November 26.
The cost is $4.99 CAD.
For Toronto-area residents we have also organized a live-simulcast overflow event at the Toronto Reference Library.
Tickets for the overflow event are $18. To purchase tickets click here.
To sign-up for the live-stream and post-debate archive access you must be logged in as a member.
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
“All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”
And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”
AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”
AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”