What Happened When I Introduced Hitchens to My Then-Boyfriend Martin Amis

A wartime lexicon.
Dec. 17 2011 7:28 AM

How Silly—and Happy—We Were

What happened when I introduced Hitchens to my then-boyfriend Martin Amis.

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The late Christopher Hitchens

Photo by Getty Images.

See Slate’s full tribute to the life of Christopher Hitchens. Read Slate’s complete collection of Christopher Hitchens' columns.

To be boring and conventional, which Christopher never was, I am going to start  out with my first clear memory of Christopher. Walking down a mossy, medieval alley in Oxford, dressed in preposterous hot pants and high heeled suede boots (don’t ask, it was 1969) with my then-boyfriend, Martin Amis, we ran into two men I vaguely knew—Christopher and James Fenton—coming toward us. We stopped, I introduced them to Martin, we chatted briefly, and we all moved on.

I like to think that was the beginning of the deep, enduring friendship—actually more of a love affair—between Martin and Hitch that was to last 42 years, longer than either of their marriages.

My next memory takes place in New York, where I’d moved the year after I married my husband, Peter Foges. A charming duplex in a brownstone in the Village had come with his job at the BBC (those were the days) and since we had a spacious guest room (and no babies yet) it only made sense that Christopher should come and stay with us for about six months when he moved to New York in 1981.

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In those long lost days, when we were young and childless, we often went out to parties together in a kind of gang, and I remember one evening when Martin, Christopher, and my husband and I all arrived—possibly after one or two cocktails—at some upwardly mobile soiree given by Arianna Stassinopoulos (not yet Huffington) in a hideous apartment in one of those white bricked buildings on the Upper East Side.  Why I can’t quite recall now, but Christopher and Martin took it into their heads to start chanting, ”Fuck pigs frolic in a fountain of jizz.”  I think this catchy phrase might have come from a headline in Screw magazine—hey, you can’t say that those hacks don’t have a way with words—and we all laughed so much, while never letting go of the chant, that we were soon, unsurprisingly, asked to leave. Christ, how silly—and happy—we were.

The last time I saw Christopher was in July at a party that Anna Wintour gave at her house in New York when my book was published.  I don’t think any of us expected him to come. He was already very sick and he wasn’t going out so much, but as he put it to me when he arrived, “There was no fucking way I was going to miss Anna’s party for you, so here I am.” With his beautiful wife, Carol, surrounded by friends—James Fenton, Steve Wasserman, Martin and his wife, Isabel—he sat in the garden, drinking whisky, smoking and talking, talking, talking in that beautiful, unmistakable voice of his.

After dinner, there was of course no question of going straight home. Instead we all went off to Da Silvano for more drinks and cigarettes and talk. It must have been way past 2 in the morning when I kissed him goodbye. Forever.

See Slate’s full tribute to the life of Christopher Hitchens. Read Slate’s complete collection of Christopher Hitchens' columns.

Gully Wells is the author of The House in France: A Memoir.

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