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From the memoirs of David Irving

Written in Vienna prison, 2006. Posted here Monday, October 20, 2008

Clubland Fights Back (extract)



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 [William 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 forward."

I noted this down at the time in my diary, though I misspelt the name as Hurst.


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 Brook Street.

"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 gritted.


© 2008 Copyright David Irving / Focal Point Publications


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