Another immigrant, the Hungarian humourist George Mikes, wrote a book called How to be an Alien, in which he advised his fellow refugees: 'If you must talk loudly in a public place it is better to speak your own language well than your hosts' badly.' I already knew this from a card that was handed to me and the rest of the boatload of fleeing children as we arrived at Harwich. It gave superfluous advice on how to behave, such as: 'Don't wear 'noticeable' clothes'. But to this day I have never worn Lederhosen or a shaving-brush hat, or done bottom-slapping dances.
I don't know for whom you cheer, Mr Grant, when there's a Test match, but I passed the Tebbit Test long before it was even invented. When England play Austria I have no hesitation about sticking up for my country. With the Austrians I would always want to know what their fathers did in the war.
From all this you may gather that I was brought to England as a child, with 150 other children. We were not exactly taken into slavery, but we too had little say in it.
I know what upheavals and misery the Nazi nightmare wrought and most of my family, even those who survived, had little to be thankful for. But among the nightmares that still occasionally trouble me is one in which the Holocaust never happened and I am still living in a miserable village on the Austro-Hungarian border, having gone into one of the family trades. I imagine that the Spiegls had been driven out from somewhere in the East, doubtless by pogroms in Poland or Russia, and settled across the border. But we improved ourselves by adapting to local conditions. When my parents had the chance to send me to England and safety just before the war they grasped it with gratitude. Later, when I was old enough to ask why they had not been allowed to come too, I did wonder why the humanitarian gesture had such a cruel edge. But it never occurred to me to demand that the British change their laws.
I wonder what would have happened had there been no colonisation of Africa and no slavery. Would you really want to have remained in that continent which cannot feed itself and which, after half a century of decolonisation, has not produced a single democracy remotely like the one in which you now play a part? Do I understand that you are demanding compensation for not having to live in, say, Somalia or the Sudan?
Many years after the Nazis had been kicked out, the Austrians sent me a form to apply for compensation for Studienunterbrechung, interruption of schooling. I replied that it was very kind of them, but really they should have sent me an invoice.
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