in Vienna prison, 2006. Posted here Monday, October
THERE was another diary
entry on February 19, 1968 which gained in
significance as the years passed; at the time it
had seemed merely amusing.
Kimber, my first publisher] had invited me
into his office for the habitual cup of pale China
tea. It was about six months after he had lost
The Knight's Move [published as The
Destruction of Convoy PQ17] to Cassell
& Co., and he was still sore about it.
"I think you are in for
more than a spot of trouble, David," he purred, in
his urbane way. "I was at the Garrick two night
ago," he continued, referring to a well-known haunt
of the literary and legal professions. "I couldn't
help overhearing a conversation between two members
just behind me in the club room. "
He had turned round and
found that one of the speakers was Lord Justice
Winn, the former naval Intelligence officer
Rodger Winn, brother of the famous
homosexual columnist Godfrey Winn. I noted
the words in my diary that same day. Kimber had
told me, I recorded, that "Winn [had said that
he] was going to ruin me. 'With Irving there
can be no compromising.'"
"I pricked up my ears of
course," Kimber added. "Then later on I heard them
agreeing that the best way to do so would be by
contriving a libel action against you, and one of
them even recommended the name of David
Hirst, QC, as the ideal man to carry the attack
I noted this down at the
time in my diary, though I misspelt the name as
BEFORE we learn further and
better particulars, as they say, of what became of
their Lordships' cunning plan, I may digress
briefly on the London Club. Hearing what Kimber
regurgitated of these overheard remarks, I entered
into a silent compact with myself never later to
apply for membership of the Garrick, if it was the
kind of club where at the summit of my
accomplishments I could not sit in peace with my
fellow Queen's Bench judges, resplendent in silk
breeches, blousy shirtsleeves and the rest,
plotting the nemesis of some oily little creep of a
historian, without being accidentally overheard by
that creep's own publisher seated behind us, taking
in every word.
That went for the Reform
too: thirty or forty years later Lady M. would
phone me in a froth of totally misguided PR
pleasure: "Wonderful publicity in today's
Standard, David. The Londoner's Diary has a
headline about you -- IRVING
BLACKBALLED BY THE REFORM."
It was libelous of course.
I had not even applied, and -- the Reform! Now,
White's, or Boodle's, that would have stung, or at
least prickled. The truth will not therefore shock:
I am not a mason or member of any London Club.
I did not even know where
most of them were. Few of them had brass plates
announcing their existence. Once, I bumped into
John Betjeman standing right outside the
Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall. Looking
distracted, he gasped, "The RAC -- which one?" I
pointed at the door behind him.
Official historian M. R.
D. Foot (The SOE in France) invited me
to lunch at the Savile one day. I was as ignorant
of its location as the great poet had been of the
RAC's. Standing in Grosvenor Square, round the
corner from our home of thirty-five years, I
flagged down a cab that was about to vanish into
"The Savile, guv?" the
driver said, a whit perplexed; he cocked an
appraising eye down Brook Street, and decided he
don't seem like a tourist but it's worth a try.
After a brief but
convincing dip into an A to Z, he cruised
for thirty minutes past Hyde Park Corner, Harrod's,
and Victoria Station before swooping back into
Brook Street and drawing up outside the Savile, a
hundred yards from where he had picked me up.
"I take it you won't expect
a tip," was all I could bring myself to say,
through teeth that can seldom have been more
2008 Copyright David Irving / Focal Point
V Jones refers in his memoirs to how Mr Irving
held the secret
David Irving's prison memoirs, publ. October