The title here is very much self-explanatory. This critic-proof event, the queue of ticket holders awaiting entry stretching well down George Street twenty minutes before the start, entails the eponymous interlocutor and a different guest each day holding a civilised conversation on stage before a audience. Surely the quality of the experience depends greatly on the guest of the day and the mood they are in.
Fortunately the invitee this day was the novelist, Independent columnist, Radio 4 stalwart and quondam teenage table tennis fiend Howard Jacobson. Loquacious and articulate, he needed little prompting from the host to talk and the two of them were soon engaged in a cosy, but not complacent, discourse that took in Chris Hoys (English when he wins) Lycra-clad thighs, F R Leavis, Iraq and Jewish identity, amongst other things.
This format suits James well. Somebody once described him as a counterpuncher and so it proves here as Jacobson does most of the talking and the Antipodean bruiser stepping in under the flurry of words to land a telling shot of his own.
But this is why I only gave four stars instead of five. The nearly full room had come, as had I, to see Clive James. This showed up at the Q and A session at the end where a well meaning and well entertained audience had very little to ask Mr. Jacobson, with whose work I am totally unfamiliar although well aware of who he is.
But if you want to spend an hour drawn into a space where you feel that you would like to pull up a chair, sit down with a cuppa and join in with a pair of erudite and intelligent speakers and laugh along with them, you cannot go wrong here.