A minor Hitch anecdote having nothing to do with salami

            Everyone is offering his Christopher Hitchens memories today. I had only one face-to-face encounter, after he gave a lecture at the Greek embassy about the Elgin Marbles (he argued passionately for their return to Greece). Some of us retired to a restaurant afterward, and the proprietors must have known him well because an enormous tumbler of Scotch, filled to the brim, arrived as if by magic, before the menus, water and the bread basket. It disappeared almost as quickly and was replaced at least once more and probably twice (I don’t remember very well). He spoke of the novels of Mary Renault, which I said I loved, and he said deserved a better reputation and wider audience. At one point he was trying to remember the name of a critical battle between Ancient Greece and Persia and I tentatively offered an answer, Salamis, which unfortunately I pronounced a bit too much like the Italian meat product. He raised his hand, and said impatiently, “No, no, no.” He thought for a moment, and then said, “sal-uh-MEES.” He was right, of course.

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