Yes, Christopher Hitchens could be infuriating. I was a major Dianaphile. Yet, no more than about a year after her death, Hitchens had a programme on British television that ran against the mood of the time.
Unlike Camille Paglia's reverential, icon-making 'Diana Unclothed' aired before the death of the Princess of Wales - Hitchens tore Diana to shreds. He didn't stop there; he poo-pooed the outpouring of grief of the British public over the late princess as one of the embarrassments of the age, a new low in the culture.
Here I was watching this while still wearing my cloak of mourning for Diana. I couldn't believe it. I saw Hitchens' programme as one of the first strikes in the Diana Demystification project that held sway in British society in the years to follow, a not entirely unsuccessful one.
We were subjected to the revisionism that would have Diana's adoring millions believe that their affection for her was grossly misplaced. Dianaphiles became muted voices, the way was paved for the grudging acceptance, or indifference to Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana had gone to her tragic grave. The world moved on.
But watching Christopher Hitchens marshall his argument all those years ago, I was astonished at the gall of the man. He even had the Bee Gees' song 'I Started A Joke' play in one segment. Diana started the world laughing, then crying; oh if only she knew that the joke was on her - was the point. What about respect for the dead? I kept wanting to ask.
Oh but the brilliance with which he argued his case. I hated Christopher Hitchens' argument, but I loved the way he argued it; and watched, riveted, to the end.