Because I needed something bizarre to cheer me up:
Vidal Sassoon, who threw down with British fascists in a series of bloody street fights.
Yes, that Vidal Sassoon. Only one year after World War II ended in Europe, a group of British fascists, led by Oswald Moseley, attempted to rebuild their political movement by spreading fear of “aliens” — code for refugee Jews living in the U.K.
The famous hair stylist, then a teenager, was part of an underground movement of British ex-service members who grabbed knives and razor blades and punched, kicked, and slashed Moseley’s thugs on the streets of East London until they gave up and crawled back down the hole they slithered out of.
That Vidal Sassoon brand shampoo that’s been sitting, half-full, in your downstairs shower? That’s right. That’s the shampoo of justice.
More (boldface mine):
Sassoon was a teenage member of the 43 Group, an organisation formed in 1946 by Jewish ex-servicemen who returned from the frontline only to discover that Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists and an admirer of Adolf Hitler, was spreading his message of hatred on the streets of London.
Mosley and his wife, Diana, one of the Mitford sisters, were interned during the war and released in 1943. His supporters continued to regard him as a hero and urged him to resume his political activities after the war, holding a series of public meetings in his name at which they spouted anti-Semitic propaganda.
The 43 Group was dedicated to breaking up meetings of these “Mosleyites”, through violent means if necessary, and a 17-year-old Sassoon was an enthusiastic street-fighter.
The hairdresser, now 80, grew up in the East End and was a trainee at a London salon when he joined up.
He told the programme how he once turned up to work with a black eye after a night of fighting.
“I’ll never forget one morning I walked in and I had a hell of a bruise – it had been a difficult night the night before – and a client said to me, ‘Good God, Vidal, what happened to your face?’ And I said, ‘Oh, nothing, madam, I just fell over a hairpin‘.”
Sassoon said of his fellow 43 Group members: “I was 17, these were all ex-servicemen at least five or six years older than me, and many of them won medals. I was a private.”
Armed with knives and razor blades, the group fought pitched battles with Mosley supporters – many confrontations taking place in Ridley Road, Hackney, east London, which had a large Jewish community.
My concerns about Trump are existential, not policy (though the policy, on its own, will be awful enough). It might just come to this.
I take hope in the knowledge that fighters against authoritarianism come in all forms.