Thursday, March 21, 2013


    We were in The Sussex one evening when two fascists came in, one of them tall and thin and tough looking; the other smaller, with only one arm and an empty sleeve pinned up to his shoulder.  Both of them were quite young and they both wore black shirts.  The taller one had a black raincoat over his shirt and was carrying a big bundle of newspapers under his arm.  He put these down on the counter and said to the barmaid:  ‘Two halves of bitter, please.’

    The tall fascist leaned across the counter towards me, tapping the bundle of newspapers with his finger.  ‘Have you seen these?’
    ‘What are they?,’ I said.

    ‘Today’s papers.’

   ‘I’ve seen some of them, yes.’

   The tall fascist nodded to himself.  He looked at me searchingly and then nodded again, as though satisfied. 

   ‘Did you know that most of the newspapers in England are owned by Jews?’ he said.

     ‘No, I didn’t.  Are they?’

     ‘Of course they are.  Haven’t you ever thought about it?’

    ‘I can’t say I have.

      ‘Well, it’s a fact.  The Jews are getting control of the British Press.  They’re a menace!.’

    ‘In what way?’ 

   ‘In every way!’ shouted the tall fascist.   ‘How can impartiality and freedom of speech continue to exist when our press organs are controlled by an alien race?  I ask you that!’

   ‘I can’t answer it.’

  ‘Of course you can’t,’ the tall fascist said.  ‘There is no answer, that’s why.  It’s unanswerable. ‘  He looked at me with sudden suspicion.  ‘You’re not a Jew, I suppose?’

    ‘No,’ I said.  ‘Why?  Do I look like one?’

   ‘You can’t go by looks nowadays,’ the tall fascist said.  ‘It’s difficult to tell them, they have ways of disguising themselves.’  He turned for confirmation to the smaller, one-armed fascist, who nodded, drinking his bitter.

  ‘A disguised Jew is the most dangerous kind!’ the tall fascist said, staring at me.

  ‘Well, do you think I am a disguised Jew?’

  ‘No,’ the tall one said, finally making up his mind.  ‘You’re dark and you’ve got curly hair, but on the whole I think you’re an Aryan.’

    ‘Come to that, you have dark hair yourself.’

  ‘Ah, but being a fascist I am above suspicion.’ 


Excerpt from short story originally published in Better Than A Kick In The Pants, London, Lawson & Dunn/Hyperion Press, 1945.

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