At the precise moment I was being texted the sad news of Ned Sherrin's death I was not, unfortunately, in the Groucho Club, otherwise a martini, or at least a glass of fizz, would have been raised in his honour.
Ned Sherrin, the gayest blade around town, was not only the brightest performer on Radio 4, when he popped in to the Groucho for a pre-theatre stiffener he lit up the bar with his wit, bonhomie, and general all round charm. He will be missed.
No, I was in my pub in Brighton being told by a piano-playing philosopher Simon Young that "Richard Dawkins is a c***". When I say my pub, I don't mean MY pub, but the pub I frequented when I lived in Brighton which was at its peak then and is now a bit of a hole in the wall. Me and the screenwriter were discussing our script and the philosopher was dying to join in. He showed us his book, Designer Evolution, I think it was called, which was covered in scribbles and told us what philosophers were worth reading ("Aristotle" and two others") and those who weren't. This clearly included Dawkins.
We discussed movies until it became obvious that he wasn't really up to speed, and also that he'd had one or two before talking to us. Nice young man, basically, but his view of Dawkins "fucking nihilist" was getting slightly tiresome the more he repeated it, not to say emphasised it.
Trying to bring the conversation back round to safe territory, I asked the philosopher if he'd seen The Big Lebowski as "the nihilists there were the bad guys".
"They're always the fucking bad guys" growled the young philosopher and we moved back into the danger zone once more which by then included Ken Livingstone (bastard), London (loathesome place), Brighton (full of fucking plebs) all hotels (low life), the Pitcher and Piano pub chain (arseholes) and so on. For such a pleasant looking young man, all floppy hair in a kind of Hugh Grant style, he seemed to have pretty dark opinions about all and sundry.
The screenwriter went to buy a round but came back with the bad news (I should point out that this pub is the tiniest in the world. The actual bar is only three steps from where we were sitting. Actually, make that two steps. By a small person.) The barmaid was not going to serve the philosopher.
"I've already told him he's had enough" she added helpfully.
The philosopher's demeanour changed in an instant when I suggested that possibly he had had one or two more than was necessary. How dare I, he suggested, say such a thing. I said that I'd be glad to buy him one next time he came in, having never seen him in my life before this was a neat way out, but he stated that he would never set foot in such a horrible fucking place EVER again.
We said our goodbyes which included his opinion that we were both C***s because we wouldn't even buy him a fucking drink. "You're all c***s" he offered to the assembled crowd (actually that was the barmaid and an elderly couple sitting silently in the corner).
So there we have it then. Me and Richard Dawkins. C***s.