Unless you've been living under a rock at the bottom of a lake, you know that yesterday Christopher Hitchens lost his long battle against esophageal cancer.
Better writers than I have paid tribute to the great man already, and many more words are to come. All I will say is that although I disagreed with Hitch on some points, I respected him more than almost any other prominent atheist. His intellect was remarkable, his wit unmatched, and in his final days his courage, humility and dignity were inspiring. Hitch faced his approaching death as a simple, common and unavoidable side-effect of having been alive, and focused on making his last few months count for all he could. According to Vanity Fair, the day before his death he sat in a wheelchair in the intensive care unit, ferociously writing to provide 3,000 words for a deadline.
Hitch fans all over the world are raising a glass to him; it seems an appropriate salute, and I will be taking a moment this weekend to drink a glass of Johnnie Walker and find inspiration in the recollection of a life lived with more enthusiasm, more fire and more humour than most of us can hope even to aspire to. In the meantime, I can think of nothing more fitting than this speech by the man himself with which to pay tribute to Hitch. He will be sadly missed, but such a truly rare human will not be forgotten.