I first became aware of what he was all about when I read “God is not Great.” While I didn’t agree with everything he said (mainly because too many things have happened to me that can’t be explained. See my very first blog in May last year – “The Ghost who Tried to Shag me” – for details), I did enjoy his perspective. I absolutely agree that there is so much bullshit wrapped up around religion, and after a thoroughly Catholic upbringing + education, I’ve spent the next 20 years trying to work out what I actually do think about this stuff. I have to say that I definitely think there’s something unexplained out there in the universe, it’s just the “facts” I was bombarded with in my youth that don’t sit well with me. Hitch certainly grabs hold of the bollocks that is the world’s religions.
I enjoyed “God is Not Great,” however I couldn’t bring myself to read another of his books where Mother Theresa was the evil one. I actually got to meet that tiny amazing little woman when travelling through Calcutta in 1995. I also witnessed for myself the work the nuns were doing and it would take an amazing person indeed to convince me otherwise. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t agree with her opinions on divorce, abortion, or pretty much any of her faith based statements – hey she was an old lady from conservative Poland, existing within the Catholic Church and her religious dogma was hardly surprising – but there was great work being done for people who couldn’t help themselves. I spent a day cleaning out the intellectually disabled adults’ dorm and was very grateful that a facility like this existed for them. That’s how I remember Mother Theresa – for the real impact she made on people who needed it. Life as an intellectually disabled adult on the streets of Calcutta would not be very pleasant that’s for sure. So Hitch, not with you there.
But getting back to “Hitch 22.” His childhood was very interesting for me because it was so completely different from mine. Brought up in a conservative family who loved things like literature, Shakespeare and poetry, along with a Mother who gave up everything to ensure her children had the best education possible, the Nett result being the Christopher Hitchens we know today. A man of incredible intelligence, wit, and a wonderful ability to put the shits up people who think conventionally.
My childhood had no Shakespeare, poetry and only my sister, Phillipa, was interested in this side of life – I just couldn’t be arsed with it when I was young. I wanted to be outside, climbing trees, and being free. Christopher Hitchens was definitely more the book worm than the sports nut and his youthful antics made for interesting reading. Especially his boyhood snogs with fellow classmates. Always a curious thing: boys fondling boys within the English private education system?
Parent’s are interesting things and a great memoir is going to entertain you with someone else’s perspective plus make you think about your own. For example, while I didn’t get an amazing education like Hitch, I am very thankful to my parents for many reasons.
I’m thankful to my Dad for being curious about the world and anything not Australian – he gave me my passion to travel. My Mum for always standing up for herself and never letting anyone tell her she couldn’t do something because she was a woman – my feminist leanings definitely come from that. To both of them for never making me aware that being a woman meant I was any less – and I wholeheartedly agree with that, obviously. For my Dad’s love of sport and the fun things I got to do, like body building and cycling – the kind of sports women rarely do and I’ve always enjoyed being a physically strong woman. For my Dad’s love of fantasy books – the gift of imagination – I still read anything in the fantasy section and love it. For Mum having the guts to go on strike for over a year to gain a better deal for some very valuable professionals in our world – I’ll always remember the nurses strike in the early 80s. It was a SHIT year for us – we were destitute – but I learnt that there are things worth fighting for.
So I enjoyed the part about his childhood for many reasons.
He also talks about communism, fascism, totalitarianism and socialism – all of which he pretty much experienced firsthand. He came of age at a very interesting time in this world and experienced many major events that happened before I was even born. His chapter on the second Gulf War was interesting. An advocate of the war, much to the dismay of the anti-war movement – his former fans – he was definitely right that Saddam had to go. It was just the way it all came about that I can never agree with and the disaster and devastation that followed these decisions. Can 119,000 dead with 68,000 of the dead non-combatants ever be justified?
There you go. One of the more interesting yarns I’ve read in a long time but be warned, if you’re not so hot with words, you might want to read this book with a dictionary. It’s a superb book by a great mind, who I hope survives his current health woes and is around for another decade or more. I’m sure he adds some spice is some pretty boring places and just hope he doesn’t turn into a grumpy old bastard, as he’s often witnessed, if he does get old. No need for that sort of nonsense.
Yours, without the bollocks