Everything you are about to read is true. And when I say ‘true’ I mean ‘intellectually true’ rather than the ordinary, mundane, factual sort of ‘true’.
Until this morning I had not met Johann Hari*. When I encounter him** he seems subdued***.
This, clearly, is a chastened man. A contrite man. A man who has felt the rage of the Twitterati. “I can never quite forget,” he coughs, “That there are vicious hordes of prepubescent girls across Britain who would gladly jolt me aside with an electric cattle-prod and trample over my smoking corpse just to be standing here.”****
I feel the urge to reach out and touch him, to grasp his clammy hand to mine. The coffee shop we are sitting in***** is garish and strident in the claims it makes for its beverages. I’m sure the irony of this won’t be lost on him.
“It’s almost over. I can’t take any more of this.”****** The scourge of Kenneth Tong, and the Boswell to Busted’s Johnson has had enough.
Had there been any way of doing it, I would have offered him some comfort. Still, I restrained myself. To take his head into my lap and stroke his hair would be of no help now. Even if it were physically possible.
As I get up from my chair******* his words hang behind me in the air. “Every word I have quoted has been said by my interviewee, and accurately represents their view. I hope people continue to hear their words.”********
And that’s as true now as it ever was.
* I still have not met Johann Hari.
** ‘When’ can refer to the future as well, you know. I’m only using the present tense to heighten the immediacy and intellectual truth of the scene.
*** In my mind.
*****An archetypal coffee shop.
******* The chair I am in now, writing this.