It’s a must-read on literary depictions of that lowest of occupations, the journalist. Hitch cannot avoid some nostalgia for the old days:

Yes, the suicidal imbibing in the King and Keys, or the Punch, or El Vino. Yes, the demented whims of the latest proprietor. Yes, the overflowing ashtrays and the pounding of ancient upright typewriters. Yes, the callousness and gallows humour. (“Shumble, Whelper and Pigge knew Corker,” as Waugh describes a hacks’ reunion in Scoop. “They had loitered of old on many a doorstep and forced an entry into many a stricken home.”) And yes, it’s true that the most celebrated opening line of any Fleet Street war correspondent was that of the hack in the Congo who yelled: “Anyone here been raped and speaks English?”

How Hitch turns stuff out of this quality and quantity is a mystery to me. It must be alcohol and nicotine and raw, insane talent, I guess.


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