WELL, he kens noo. I hope that the deceased, unbelieving English man of letters Christopher Hitchens has discovered that God is not only great but merciful too.
[Now, when Christians say that kind of thing in pious tones, you know they are lying. May all my enemies go to hell, Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel]
I had taken a self-denying ordinance over his demise at the weekend from osophageal cancer on the grounds that one should not speak ill of the recently dead and there would be nothing good to say about him considering the circumstances.
Two things forced me to shorten my purdah. The first was the way in which almost every one of the eulogies and profiles, in which I had declined to be represented on grounds of taste, nonetheless managed to attack me in the process of praising him.
[Oooh George – I've read loads of these, and y'know, you're not mentioned THAT much. The American ones don't mention you at all. But of course if your google alert says "George Galloway" – and I'm sure it does, not out of mere vanity though yours should never be underestimated, but for litigation opportunities - that's how it must seem to you.]
The second was the sight of his friend Tony Blair, his voice catching with emotion in the "death of Diana way", telling us what a great man he was.
This canonisation of the departed by some of the worst hypocrites operating in the English language must be halted before it slithers any further.
[Weel, I'd be very careful of the "h" word if I were you.]
Hitchens was the only-known case of a butterfly changing back into a slug.
He wrote like an angel but placed himself in the service of the devils.
He was a drink-soaked former Trotskyite popinjay, the Englishman in New York who discovered there were large bundles of right-wing dollars available for apostates like him. If they were prepared to betray their friends, their principles and sell the soul he didn't believe he had in the first place.
[And I'm sure your work for Iran's Press TV is done for a small pittance, barely enough to keep you in cigars. Also the "popinjay" – which one is the dapper little chap and which one the untidy handsome guy out of you two? And though it's the season for recycling, couldn't you have at least come up with some new insults?]
Easy. As Groucho Marx once put it: "These are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others."
Thus, the man who once praised Saddam Hussein in adoration and opposed the first Gulf War when the Iraqi tyrant was still occupying Kuwait, was transformed into the main literary cheerleader for the second war.
[Ah, well you would know about "adoration" of Saddam Hussein, not to mention his rapist offspring.]
And he was still blowing the weapons of mass destruction trumpet long after its tinny notes were discredited.
The man who once championed the Palestinian cause became a little echo for Benjamin Netanyahu, denouncing the 10 Turkish dead on the ship Mavi Marmara as "Hamas-sympathisers" who got what they asked for.
[Do you mean that they DIDN'T sympathise with Hamas? I'm shocked. And – get your little head around this – it's possible to champion the Palestinian cause and not become a pimp for what Hitchens would call "gaunt fascists with an Islamic face".]
Sure his ditties were witty, his parsing precise and, if you like your men drunk, slurred and slobbering, he could be charming no doubt.
[You really know you were outclassed on all fronts – "ditties were witty", "parsing precise" – is that your way of showing you can do that writing thing as well?]
But when you're slobbering in support of the re-election of George W Bush for his catastrophic second term, or backing Bush's handling of the clean-up operation after Hurricane Katrina (where he was the only man in the country other than Bush who thought the Federal Emergency Agency was doing a "heck of a job") and you have written the script for the most disastrous massacre since Vietnam, I'm afraid literary pretence must be put in its proper place. Down the lavatory.
Hitchens and I shared the ring in an epic "Grapple in the Apple" back in 2005 in Manhattan.
Thousands of people queued around the block for ringside seats paying top dollar for the privilege. You can watch it on YouTube or wait for the DVD, with commentary and my updates, which I will produce shortly.
[My dear, plug your work in the visual media as you will, your most popular appearance on YouTube will continue to be pretending to be a cat in a red leotard.]
Ultimately, the real reason for the tear-stained eulogies from the British media commentariat for the late Mr Hitchens is that, by and large, the writers and editors are weeping for themselves.
They share his guilt over the Iraq War and deep inside they know it.
But all the salty tears in the world will not out that damned spot. The next reason is class.
Hitchens was a toff, a Lord. And the English-speaking world, it seems, still likes to love a Lord.
[Admiration undeservedly won, nothing to do with talent of course. And congratulations for about the best example of resentful envy and self-promotion incompetently disguising itself as principled opposition I've seen in a long while.]
A silence here because on Boxing Day the pipes in the upstairs flat burst, and as well as trashing my bedroom, bathroom and hallway, destroyed my modem. So I have no internet access, and have been busy waiting for insurance companies to answer my phone calls (it took me five days to speak to someone) and sorting out my goods. Today a bloke came round and waved a wetness detecting meter over my wall.
I only keep a few books in my bedroom, so there were not many damaged, but the first one I saw on the window sill was Primo Levi’s The Drowned and the Saved.