Saturday, March 28, 2009

A treat for all Nick Cohen fans

He's sometimes referred to as the former left-wing journalist Nick Cohen on account of his heresies on notable subjects such as the Iraq War and grammar schools. I think the pugnacious Cohen actually delights in his ability to disgust the comrades. I would say that like Christopher Hitchens on whom he self-consciously models himself, he's always up for an argument. But for all that he enjoys causing controversy he's less inclined than his journalistic hero to debate his views; Cohen usually gets bored with an argument within a minute or so and stalks off back to the comforts of the bar. I don't want to sound too critical of him; when he's on form, Nick Cohen can be damn good company. He's witty, erudite and has an incredible ability to infuse conversations with atmosphere, peppering them with historical references and literary curios. He is, like me, a fan of that master storyteller, Isaac Bashevis Singer. More importantly, despite the carping of his detractors, Cohen remains one of the best columnists in British broadsheets today.
Anyway, here he is, causing a bit of a rumpus at the recent Orwell Prize. Notice, as the camera moves direction, the strategically placed bottle of wine on the table in the foreground. At some point, Peter Hitchens, who's clearly been twitching with annoyance throughout, intervenes from the audience with some cutting remarks. This isn't quite Nick as we all know him and love him; by his standards he's really quite restrained. Enjoy!

Hat Tip: the excellent Splintered Sunrise (there must be something in Ulster water, Norn Iron seems to produce some of the most consistently brilliant writers on the blogosphere).

BTW My fellow left-footers - and yes, that includes you, Joanna Bogle - should check out Splintered Sunrise's elegant post, Department of the Bleeding Obvious


Blogger Voltaire's Priest said...

I tend to agree with Mr Sunrise about this: what he actually says is just how saddening it is to see Cohen's evident decline. That's certainly not the first time I've thought Cohen was "tired and emotional" giving a platform speech, as Splinty puts it. The other was a couple of years ago at an AWL event when I found myself questioning my own sanity as I watched him get his arse kicked by Sean Matgamna, both in terms of style and substance. I suspect that wouldn't have been the turn of events had Cohen been firing on all cylinders.

It's not an amusing, extravagant display of rhetoric - it's rather pathetic and sad.

3/29/2009 2:30 AM  

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