wearily and say, I don't know you, but
allow me to wish you Welcome to Madrid and
Have a Nice Day.
19, 2007 (Thursday)
(England) -- Madrid (Spain
A FRIEND has written from
Hungary: "We're about to watch the film of
Hitler and Speer. ... It's very
strange to listen to his children's opinion about
their father and his life. It seems that they're
not proud of him at all!"
I reply: "All these children have been subjected
to sixty years of brainwash. I have written in my
memoirs about my father (whom I hardly ever
saw) and mother only the best things. I have the
most wonderful memories of both of them. I held my
father's hand all day on the day he died. When
I have typed up my pages about Speer I will
mail them to you."
A BAD day for rudeness. Starts well enough; I walk
with the suitcase a mile up to the German embassy
and I am there at 8:50 a.m. I get the necessary
signature notarized, and there is a £15 fee to
pay. The cashier, a half-caste, snarls accusingly
in German, "Don't you say Good Morning then?"
Taken aback, I reply: "Für die deutschen
Behörden habe ich heute morgen wenig Sympathie
übrig." He repeats, "Good morning!"
in a threatening way, and waits.
I say quietly: "Just give me the change and
receipt please." "Good morning." Silence.
"GOOD MORNING!" he shouts. I
suggest he ought to behave better as a guest in
another country. Turns out he is English. Hey-ho
I walk back to Sloane Street and pick up
Jessica, who has not slept, she says. So excited.
At Heathrow I snap a photo of her, at fifty yards'
range. There is a man with wrinkled features half
way between us. He storms over to me and hisses,
"Did you just take a photo of me!" I reply wearily,
"No, of my daughter" -- who rejoins me at that
white blouse, she's entering the duty-free store;
click on the puzzled pedestrian for enlargement.
Who is he? Anybody
Shaking his head in bafflement, the man moves
off, and I think I have seen the last of him. Wrong
-- we are seated in seats 12D and E of the Airbus
to Madrid; he is in seat 12A. Hey-ho again. He
glares, and says nothing.
The flight is nasty, the flight attendants aged
and superannuated slatterns, there is no food, not
even a snack on the two-hour flight (unless you pay
for it: two pounds for a cup of Nescafe, the
cheapest item: no more Iberia for me).
As we arrive at Madrid's Barajas field, we fly
over the military airstrip -- Torrejón de
Ardoz, I recognise it: it's where I used to work as
a young clerk stenographer for the US airforce
("PEACE IS OUR PROFESSION"
was stamped across my ID) nearly fifty years
At the airport -- a fine new building, very
impressive -- our baggage comes; Paloma is waiting
outside. We hurry off to the car park. On the
moving walkway, three adults, standing astride the
width of the walkway, block my way. "Excuse me," I
say, or perhaps the equivalent in Spanish. Nobody
moves. I cough. The man turns round, and it is
Wrinkle-Face again. "I know you," he snarls, and I
courteously doubt it.
"It's David Irving, right!?"
I agree that he has identified me correctly, but
say: "In Spain as in England we still stand on the
"You're a despicable liar, nothing but a
Despicable Liar!" he shouts.
Offhand, I would not have taken him for Jewish
until now. I smile wearily and say, "I don't know
you, but allow me to wish you Welcome to Madrid and
Have a Nice Day." I leave him behind, still
screaming Liar after me. Madrid never used to be
of The Times (right) is sending out abusive
messages to people who write him perfectly cogent
letters on the subject of
Kurt Vonnegut and myself. One
correspondent who wrote him forwards to me one such
reply and comments, "It seems we are getting under
20, 2007 (Friday)
I TAKE Adam to school in Paloma's car; Madrid's
roads are a lot more crowded than they were in the
1950s. Bring back Franco! Prices have
certainly ballooned since I was last here too.
We get hopelessly lost on the new freeways. For
a while we find ourselves on the motorway heading
to Valencia, then back toward the centre past the
airport twice, and at three pm I park in Don
Ramón de la Cruz, and walk with Jessica down
to No. 53 where I stayed in the 1950s. This area is
unchanged. I sit in the next street, Lista (now
Jose Ortega y Gasset), for fifteen minutes outside
what used to be my favourite café, and I
tell Jessica of the film I made here of Josephine
and Beatrice two score years ago with the
THEN off to the Prado with Jessica. There is a big
Tintoretto exhibition, but we will not have time
for that; we take in Goya, Velazquez
("Excuse me sir," objects a short fat Colonel Klebs
look-alike woman, "this is a private guided
"), Poussin, Reubens, Van Dyck; in
the cafeteria afterwards I challenge Jessica to
name the artists we have seen, and she recalls five
or six, at one euro each, not bad.
The Velazquez portraits all seem almost
grotesquely out of proportion, with dinosaur-small
heads on tall, gangly bodies; the Goya females are
beautifully painted, but the faces are almost
cartoonish -- as if added afterwards in
Jessica wants to see the Picassos and what she
calls the "Melted-Clock" artist, Salvador
Dali. But they are in a different museum, the
Reina Sofia, and I think the clock is in The Tate,
which we shall see next, God willing.
At 6 pm we are back at Paloma's
apartment. Paloma is waiting outside, just coming
or going, with her motorbike. Seems very risky to
me. Her great business venture, the math school, is
opening next week. Over supper last night she
revealed she does not know what pi, π, is. I
laugh: "NEW MATH SCHOOL OWNER,
DAUGHTER OF HOLOCAUST DENIER, IGNORANT OF
PI. That's what the press will say if they
"Something you eat?" She suggests. She is the
partner controlling the administration, however,
not the teaching.
download: "Apocalypse 1945: the Destruction of
Columnist Robert Kamm writes
Vonnegut obituary: Satirical
novelist captured absurdity of war in