Bryan Appleyard on Richard Dawkins

“He is a highly strung, frequently petulant man. I’ve seen him storm out of an amiable dinner because he didn’t like the music and I’ve heard of him muttering to his companion, when a lady cleric entered the room, that dog collars are always a sign of low IQ. But when relaxed, he is charming, deferring politely to opinions with which he disagrees and displaying a conscientious desire to understand.

On these occasions, he has the air of an eager-to-please country vicar, an air enhanced by the discreet serving of tea by his wife Lalla Ward and further emphasised by the large, rectory-like house they now occupy just outside Oxford city centre.

Dapper as ever in jacket, chinos and boat shoes, and looking 20 years younger than he actually is (63), this time he greets me with warm familiarity. Things are looking up. The rectoryness of the house vanishes inside. It is beyond the reach of any vicar I know — beautifully and expensively decorated and furnished with a vast flat-screen television in the living room.”

More here from the London Times.