Bill Maher likened the far-right agitator to one of the finest writers of recent times. He isnt even close Yiannopoulos is a boring narcissist

The sheepish pratfall of far-right narcissist and man-boy love enthusiast Milo Yiannopoulos was the more embarrassing for having been preceded by a cowbell clang of hubris. He had appeared on TV last Friday, where his complaisant interviewer Bill Maher compared him with a young, gay, alive Christopher Hitchens Excuse me? Compared with Hitchens, who once confessed his looks had declined to the extent that only women found him attractive, Yiannopoulos is dull, suburban and straight. Do people really think this guy resembles Hitchens?

Hitchens left us in 2011, and there isnt a day goes by when I dont miss him. I had got to know him a little in the 1990s and like so many, fell under his spell in my case after a lunch with him in that venerable restaurant the Gay Hussar and like so many, parted company with Hitchens over Iraq and his inability to admit he had got it wrong. But his writing was and is glorious. Read any review, any essay by Hitchens, and you see him meet the mighty on equal terms. Where most journalists, however grand, are scribbling away up in the bleachers, Hitchens strides out on to the field and confronts his subject a player. He was a writer who was never a provocateur for its own sake. He was interested in books, ideas, people. Even Yiannopouloss reedy voice is nothing to Hitchenss basso profundo. Actually, Maher got it right earlier in the interview: he compared Yiannopoulos to Sacha Baron Cohens gay Austrian fashion model Bruno. Yes. Minus the laughs.

Brawl the rage

I am late to the party here, but I find myself incessantly watching the YouTube footage of last weeks notorious Wetherspoons brawl in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, after which a shocked spokesperson announced solemnly: The pub has never encountered an incident like this. The entire screen is filled with people fighting. You almost expect to see Hieronymus Bosch in the corner, periodically looking out intently from behind his easel, and frantically painting what he sees.

When I was growing up the barroom brawl scene was a staple of comedy imported from western drama serials on TV. There is a ripe one from John Waynes British-set film Brannigan from 1975. One guy usually takes offence, throws a punch that comically connects with the wrong party and the jolly general fight commences. The hapless hero might hilariously crawl away from the harmless melee on his hands and knees and watch it from the sidelines. But this was nothing like the zany playground free-for-all of old. Just ugly chaos. The Wetherspoons incident proves that life, unlike art, is messy.

Where theres a Wilbert

thomas
Stormy weather forecast for Sodor Island? Photograph: Alamy

Storm Doris is on its way, and it would be nice to think that this was named after the Nobel laureate Doris Lessing, whose autobiographical novel A Ripple from the Storm reflects the authors personal and political tempest. Actually, the names are chosen by the Met Office from those sent in by members of the public, sifting through suggestions in such a way as to head off any possible Stormy McStormface calamities. They alternate between male and female, and forthcoming storms are: Ewan, Fleur, Gabriel, Holly, Ivor, Jacqui, Kamil etc.

Not a list over-concerned with diversity, of course, but then associating natural disasters with ethnicity could create a problem of its own. My main worry is W. Thats Wilbert. Wilbert? Storm Wilbert sounds like hardly more than a sunny interval. Who is called Wilbert? Theanswer is the Rev W (Wilbert) Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine. When Storm Wilbert arrives it will be the most English outbreak of inclement weather imaginable.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/22/christopher-hitchens-milo-yiannopoulos-bill-maher

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