A rare moment of prescience. In Friday’s Independent, I released a brief but heartfelt cry of anguish about the narcissistic doings of Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Anna Ford, Clive James and any other ageing literati who belonged to an informal dining club back in the 1970s. I mentioned at some point that the on-stage conversation of the two old pals, Amis and Hitchens, at the 2001 Hay Festival was remembered as “one of the most embarrassing displays of mutual brown-nosing in modern literary history”
Two days later, an extract form Hitchens’s memoir, the self-importantly named Hitch-22, appeared in the Sunday Times. The subject was – what else – his old pal, and how brilliant they both were.
After the two met while in their twenties “there began an inexhaustible conversation about womanhood in all its forms.” Example? “The crudest thing which that comes to mind – because it is such a cliché of male fantasy – was our word, annexed from Clive James, for the possibility of enjoying two ladies at the same time. The term for this remote but intriguing contingency, which I still think was at least partially redeemed by its inventiveness, was ‘a car-wash’. “
This is hilarious stuff, with its trade-mark conflation of gamy content with flatulent prose (prostitution in Hitchen-speak are “the unlawful carnal knowledge industry”). Then it is back to yet more public brown-nosing of his old friend.
An altogether better and more amusing commentary on Amis is to be found in Mark Ramsden’s brilliant sax-and- soundbite mash-up Martin Amis Jihad Rap on YouTube.