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Sunday, September 5, 1999

IRECEIVE an e-mail from a BNP member -- not known to me, I add -- in case this "association" is seized upon by Prof. Deborah Lipstadt and her manic army of experts and witnesses as immediate proof of Nazi sympathies.

Today's London Sunday Telegraph, this kind gentleman reports, includes an interview with Prof. Anthony Clare by one Anna Picard. A new series of Clare's radio programme 'In the Psychiatrist's Chair' began this morning, reports the journalist. Toward the end of the interview, she writes these words of undisguised hatred:

...With the notable exception of Paul Johnson, whom he disliked profoundly but refused to go on record as to why, Clare feels a fondness for his subjects -- even if that is rarely reciprocated. "I read things and sometimes I'm thinking, 'I don't much like this person', but you cannot talk intimately to someone without getting a clearer understanding of why they are the sort of person you think they are." 
Even the Holocaust revisionist "historian" David Irving?
  "You got a feel of how little David Irving became big David Irving. It was less of a mystery. That's all you can ask."
  But to be around such misery on a daily basis, and then to compound the stress with interviewing Nazi sympathisers?
[continued]Clare's face became a soft, sorrowful blank.
  "That's the mystery of the human condition. On the one hand we need to believe there are monsters. On the other hand you meet the monster and he or she is a human being. That's the problem. If they were monsters it would be easy, I tell you! In my work you meet monsters, but they don't look like monsters and whole chunks of their lives aren't monsterish. They start the same way as you or I." ...

NOW, Professor Anthony Clare (below), as he likes to be called, is well known to me. He is the BBC's Frasier. Anthony ClareIn late 1982 I was one of the first six personalities whom he invited to sit in his famous Chair to be grilled as though by a psychiatrist (which is indeed his profession); the terms being, "no holds barred" -- one was not allowed to duck any questions.

I was puzzled when I saw Clare's hit-list -- the six names included the playwright Arnold Wesker; George Brown, one of my favourite ministers, later ennobled as Lord Georgebrown, who stumbled out of office having (a) drunk a bit, (b) upset certain people; the failing actress Glenda Jackson, now a notorious left-wing loony and member of Tony Blair's government, and two others equally well known. In fact I was the only person I had never heard of, so to speak.

In the interview I candidly revealed my views and my aspirations for the future, as I then projected them (never dreaming for a moment of the magnitude of the International Global Conspiracy that was even then girding itself to do battle with me). I also spoke so bluntly and, alas, cynically about the female of the species that friends and enemies told me for years afterwards that they used to play the tape at cocktail parties, which I took as a compliment.

Clare however turned out to be an unreconstructed S.H.NUMERO-UNO.T, as my Hitler-respecting friend Alan Clark's delightful wife would have put it.

During the interview, he asked cruel questions about one of my daughters -- one of the heroines of my family who has been permanently debilitated for the last twenty years and is now horribly disabled.

The BBC was decent enough to omit these painful moments.    

When he asked my permission to reproduce the programme in a money-spinning book, I granted it, but only on condition that to respect my family privacy he again omit all references to my disabled daughter; not only did he leave them in -- the book was published in 1985 -- but he added also passages omitted from the original broadcast; and in an Introduction this scholar added the nudge-nudge, carefully-crafted-because-of-the libel-laws wink-wink words: "Finally, there is the issue of Irving's family history of mental illness."

There is no such family history, and under pressure from my lawyers -- Peter Carter Ruck, no less -- his publishers had to excise the odious sentence from all future editions and pay substantial legal costs. So Mr Clare has lost no love over the name Irving since then.

AND what is there to speculate about The Sunday Telegraph, whose Review section published this disgraceful item today? The newspaper was founded in 1963; its editor was Donald McLachlan, a wise and gentle man, a naval Intelligence officer who became a close friend and mentor.

His newspaper serialised my first book, The Destruction of Dresden. Then it serialised my second, The Mare's Nest, about the Nazi V-weapons. Then it serialised my third, The Virus House, about the Nazi atomic bomb project -- still the standard work on that subject. When he drove off the side of a Scottish mountain road his death was a stunning blow to me.

The editor of The Daily Telegraph at that time was one Maurice Green. He assured me a year or two later, during a very public controversy (over a play by my best friend, Rolf Hochhuth, Germany's leading liberal playwright) that he treated all parties in the affair with equal dispassion; a week later however Private Eye obtained and published an internal Telegraph memorandum, which secretly ruled that "the David Irving in the Hochhuth controversy" was on no account to be referred to as "the historian". It was an act of pettiness that I am glad to say has long since been reversed and atoned for by the great newspaper (although I notice that "sneer-quote" marks have re-appeared around "historian" in Ms Picard's article, above).

The Sunday Telegraph's new Literary Editor has, shall we say, a penchant for works about the Holocaust -- a word which did not even exist in 1963; that appears to be the limit of her interest in World War II. When challenged as to why they had not reviewed my last work, after her predecessors had accorded glowing and prominent reviews to all of my thirty books, this lady, Miriam Gross, stated that they would NOT be reviewing any of my works; our staff member who dealt with her noted at the time that she was a haughty C.ZERO.W. I wonder what Professor Clare would have made of that?

[Previous Radical's Diary]

Notes: Alan Clark died on this same Sunday; Josephine Irving died two days later.