Journalist Christopher Hitchens was a fellow guest of the Sydney Writers Festival last month, and we shared the same hotel, the Sebel Pier One. The establishment offered us guests a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning ’til 10 am, and one morning, just after ten, I was leaving the restaurant to see Hitchens coming in. He looked the part: puffy, rumpled, slightly hung over.

Even though the kitchen staff were putting away the food, much of the spread remained, and Hitch busied himself putting a plate together. The maître d’ ran over. "Sir, sir! Breakfast is over!"

Hitchens paused for a second and eyeballed the maître d’. "No, it’s not," he declared, and he went back to loading up his plate.

"No, sir," the maître d’ huffed. "Breakfast service ends at ten o’clock. It’s after ten. Breakfast is over."

Hitchens gave him another look, served himself some eggs, and chuckled. "You’re going to have to work a lot harder than that to keep me away from food." And with that, he found a table and began eating his breakfast.

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