Interviewing can be perilous.
I was once shown the door by feminist icon Betty Friedan and bawled out by Patricia Highsmith, mistress of the psychological murder.
Yet Auberon Waugh said that my strength as an interviewer lay in my unshockability. It is true that I seldom feel shocked, but there have been occasions when I raised an eyebrow.
Sir Kenneth Dover, the distinguished classical scholar who sadly died three days ago, aged 89, told me how he was so struck by the beauty of the view from the top of a hill south of Mignano that he sat down on a log and masturbated.
But why not, when you think about it?
When I asked Lord Soper, the eminent Methodist, whether he was totally against masturbation, he replied, ‘No. I think masturbation is an inadequate way of fulfilling a genuine impulse, and I’m not going to stand in judgement.’