A quarter-century now since I interviewed him in Germantown, Philadelphia.
The guesses will be higher if you mention a big number beforehand
When I first read about Mallory and Irvine years ago — there was a plaque in a church to the latter, and I used to gaze at it as a child — I was fascinated and intrigued by the idea that two people could just vanish off the side of a mountain. The clouds came down, and when they disappeared, the climbers had disappeared too: a ghost story, really.
I’ve read enough about Everest since to get a sense of how unimagineably and breathtakingly vast it is: and now I think what strikes me, really, is that so little does actually vanish. Everything’s still there, of course; but the curious fact is that everything gets seen — it just doesn’t always get reported.
what you mock is who you are
“I’ve just remembered the high point of my career. At the Cities In The Park Festival I was backstage wearing a pinwheel hat (look it up). I was obsessed with pinwheel hats, you see, and had written a piece for Punch about trying to buy a pinwheel hat in New York. As I strolled about, one of De La Soul suddenly gave out an mighty cry and ran up and embraced me. He was, perhaps needless to say, also wearing a pinwheel hat.”
Alternative headline: “I refute it thus” (bah, yes, look that up too).