Christopher Hitchens – The perfect running companion

One month in and nearly every resolution I made on New Year’s Eve has been broken. There’s half a bottle of red wine by the fridge and the chocolate cake that was supposed to last the week had gone by the start of the ludicrous and dull Birdsong. 85kg on the scales became, momentarily, 82kg post the Country to Capital, but like Greece in crisis, the ballooning continues unchecked.

There is one resolution that has passed into week 4. As Mrs H and I heaved another load of books into the study I promised her I wouldn’t buy a new book all year. An odd, and rather dull resolution that serves little purpose, it has proved the hardest to keep to, especially since we are both in the business. But now that We, the Drowned (you must read it) is on the shelf, down has come The Art of Fielding – Chad Harbach’s proof that sport and fiction can co-exist, as well as George F Will’s Men at Work – also about Baseball. I may not be able to tell you when my next run is, but I’ve got my reading mapped out for the next eight months already, or at least until the next series of The Killing comes out.

The richest treasure though was taking ownership of The Story of Swimming, which I had swapped with a duplicate Christmas present. That and the late Christopher Hitchens’s collection of essays Arguably have been taking up the hours between episodes of Borgen. Give a man a rocking chair and page after page on the solitary pleasure of wild swimming or the Hitch on Dickens and peaceful silence ensues. Hitchens said the closest he came to sport was a game of tennis with Martin Amis 40 years ago, and he certainly never saw the point of it, or its literary merit. What he would have made of The Art of Fielding one can only guess – but I could think of no better companion on a 12 hour yomp than someone who wrote more in one week than most people read in a lifetime, (Arguably is available as a download), and the world is a much quieter place for his passing.


About Robin Harvie

I have been running marathons for ten years. But when I couldn't around faster than 3 hours 12 minutes, I decided to see how far I could run before I keeled over. Turns out pretty far. In September 2009 I took on the Spartathlon - 152 miles from Athens to Sparta. Non stop. Why We Run is about that journey and about why we run at all.
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1 Response to Christopher Hitchens – The perfect running companion

  1. Peter says:

    I suspect he’d have called out “Fileding” for what it is: a literary trollop, an over-sexed, over-hyped, over-decorated thing trying just too hard to be the new decade’s most remarkable. And I liked it!

    Now, if there’s a book to bridge the time between runs, it is by far and away: The Thousand Autums of Jacob de Zoet.

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