Max Mosley remembered: His mother nicknamed him ‘The Determined One.’ We called him ‘Golden Balls’
Max Mosley in 1961 when he was a Union Movement election agent legally responsible for a pamphlet circulated in Manchester that claimed ‘coloured’ people brought disease, crime and poverty with them into the United Kingdom.
Max Mosley would have been 82 on April 13. Trevor Grundy knew him for a short while when they were both teenagers in London and in 1958 was invited to the Mosley home outside Paris, a place called The Temple of Glory. He remembers the night he met the privately-educated teenage aristocrat who went on to become one of Europe’s richest and most influential men, the holder of the Legion Honneur in France and the boss of Formula One. It was a cold, windy, wet night in October 1956, and the Soviet Union had just moved tanks into Budapest to end a student uprising in Hungary. The night the two sixteen-year-olds came across one another, Max Mosley made it crystal clear that he wasn’t going to let anyone shine a light into his face or let anyone examine his closely guarded private life without permission. He never changed.
We were both 16 when we met that night in North London.
The Russians had invaded Budapest and a group of working-class teenagers – me one of them – decided to paint the Union Movement flash and circle symbol on walls to show solidarity with students with stones fighting Russians with tanks.
Oswald Mosley said the sign stood for the flash of action in the circle of unity. Jews in the 43 Group said it summed up Mosley – a flash in the pan.
I had the bucket and it was full of white paint.
Next to me was a boy I’d never seen before.
He had the brush.
When we finished painting a huge flash and circle on the wall of a building close to where Bell Street meets the Edgware Road in north London, I heard footsteps and a voice
‘What the fuck are you two little sods up to then?’
The boy with the brush turned and spoke to the policeman as if he was an errant waiter who’d brought the wrong bottle of wine to the table.
‘Don’t you shine that light in my face,’ he said.
The policeman lowered his torch and shone it into mine.
Where I came from, you didn’t argue with the police.
The boy in blue jeans and and black leather jacket with the upper-class voice explained that we were British students showing solidarity with Hungarian students fighting Russian brutality in Eastern Europe.
The policeman said, ‘Well, that’s alright then. But bugger off. I don’t want to see you on my beat again or else there’ll be trouble.’
Relieved, I turned to talk to my newfound companion.
But he’d already slipped away.
On the way home, I asked my brother-in-law, another public school educated Mosleyite – ‘Who was that I was with?’
‘Don’t you know?’ he said. That’s Max Mosley. Tough little bugger. Speaks fluent German, climbs mountains, disappears for weeks on end with ponies in Ireland. Strong and determined like the Old Man but looks just like Lady D. People at 302 (302 Vauxhall Bridge Road was Mosley’s HQ) call him Goldilocks. But I wouldn’t call him that to his face if I were you.’
Max Mosley committed suicide at his Chelsea home
Earlier this month, we learned that on May 24, 2021 Max Mosley committed suicide, knowing he only had a few weeks to live because of cancer.
The boy I had most envied ended his life at one of his many luxury homes. It was in Chelsea close to where his wife, Jean, lives and not far from where his talented son, Alexander, killed himself with a heroin overdose in 2009.
At the time of his death, Max Mosley was one of the most reviled men in public life.
Like his father, he was detested by nearly all sections of British life, especially the media which, after a tabloid exposure in March 2008 that he was a S&M enthusiast, he did his best to control by trying to force newspaper editors to erase from the record books anything they had on his private life.
Anyone reading this will know why.
- Allegations by the ‘News of the World’ in March 2008 that he paid five prostitutes £500 each to beat and whip him in a Nazi-themed S&M orgy.
- Claims made by several British newspapers in 2018 that he had been a teenage racist who visited Dachau with fellow neo-fascists and who was unable to say ‘sorry’ to millions of non-whites who, when Max Mosley and I were young, were referred to as ‘coloureds.’
Max Mosley tried to protect his father at the start of a Union Movement rally in the East End of London in 1962. In front of Oswald Mosley is Peter Dawson, one of Union Movement’s leading Jew-haters. Max had just left Oxford University with a degree in physics. He was active in his father’s 1959 campaign in North Kensington to return to Parliament on a Union Movement ‘stop more immigration’ ticket. He came bottom and lost his deposit.
At the height of a campaign to block Max Mosley’s bid to control the media, I was asked many times to write about him when we were teenagers.
One newspaper offered me a considerable amount of money if only I could ‘remember’ him coming to my fascist parents’ home in Marylebone to teach working-class teenage boys how to do the Hitler salute and how to chant anti-Jewish slogans.
Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Believe it or don’t believe it.
When Max Mosley was in his late teens, he conducted a one man campaign to rid his father’s Union Movement of anti-Semites.
He was instrumental in appointing a confused young Jewish boy to be the head of the Mosley Youth Group.
Max Mosley made it clear that Union Movement should expel all anti-Semites because they were ‘misleading’ his father and hindering Oswald Mosley’s attempt to be seen as a sort elder statesman who had experienced democracy and fascism and who rejected both in the interests of a United Europe which he hoped to lead.
Soon after my 17th birthday, I was asked by Jeffrey Hamm, the Welsh secretary of Union Movement, to make the opening speech in Trafalgar Square.
Mosley, we were told, would not be in London because he was busy organising a pan-European conference at a place I’d never heard of, the Lido in Venice.
Whether there were more pigeons than people in the audience one Sunday afternoon in mid- April 1957, I cannot remember.
But it resulted in me being tipped as one of UM’s future leaders.
After that, Max and Alexander took a great deal of interest in me and because they were Mosley’s sons, I was flattered.
Max and Alexander became regular visitors to our house in Blandford Square, behind Marylebone Station.
Both were fascinated that my parents had hosted some of the children of top Nazis in the mid and late 1950s, a time when young girls with blonde hair and young boys in leather shorts speaking German turned heads in Central London.
Mosley paid for them to come here to learn English and and spend time with his supporters.
Visitors to our house included Hans Ulrich Rudel, Hitler’s most decorated Stuka fighter pilot; Gudrun Himmler; the daughter of Otto Skorzeny, and the son of Walter Naumann who was number two to Joseph Goebbels.
Sidney Grundy, my father who spent the war in prison because he would not fight against Hitler, had a lease from the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and rented most of it out to tenants who were delighted to pay low rents and live close to the heart of a city being re-built after so much damage during the war.
None of them complained about the records he played at night – the Horst Wessel Lied sung in German his favourite.
Bernie Ecclestone with Max Mosley – FI made both of them rich beyond words
The Mosley boys were always short of money and my father coughed up when they were broke. He also cashed their quite small monthly cheques which they picked up from Alf Flockhart and his successor Jeffrey Hamm as secretary of Union Movement.
Max 17 and Alexander 18 spent large amounts of time talking to my parents about how and why they joined their father before the war.
Above all, they asked, why they were still with him and what they expected him to do now that he had moved ‘beyond democracy and beyond fascism.’
They both wanted to know all they could about the veteran Old Members. Did they really believe that one day their father would gain power and unite Europe and turn Africa into a European empire?
What my father wanted to know was when Mosley would let members do the banned Roman/Mussolini/Hitler salute again and wear black shirts.
Max had an acid tongue and told me that I was an idiot spending time standing on soapboxes on Saturday afternoons in Praed Street opposite Paddington Station ranting about brave men from previous centuries going out in small ships to build the British Empire when some of the best-looking young girls in London walked past laughing.
At that time my father was a telephone operator at Paddington Exchange.
He was on the night shift and during the day did The Knowledge, cycling around every street, nook and cranny in one of the world’s largest and busiest cities to gain his taxi black cab badge and earn some decent money for the first time in his life.
But often he would come home to find that my mother’s food cupboard empty. Max and Alexander had been round to see us and were always hungry.
‘They’re the Leader’s sons,’ my fanatically anti-Jewish mother would say, ending further discussion.
But it didn’t take long to discover that both Max and Alexander Mosley really despised their father’s Old Members.
One night Alexander, probably speaking for his brother who wasn’t there because he spent so much time in Soho listening to singers like Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard, said that ‘Old Members and Old Wrecks’ were, once again, destroying their father because of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
Max often said that his father had never been anti-Jewish. It was his followers who had misled him.
Union Movement, Max said time and time again, should try and recruit Jews.
All anti-Semites in Union Movement should be given the boot. And if that included my parents, all well and good.
When Max found out I had grown up close to a boy whose father was Irish and whose mother was Jewish he encouraged me to introduce him.
A few weeks later Max said that this boy should be appointed leader of the youth wing of Union Movement and that the ‘Jewish Chronicle’ should be told that Oswald Mosley was on a drive to recruit Jews and end any ‘misunderstanding’ that had arisen in the past.
Alexander was more open, more honest.
He told me his father was spending a fortune on a useless organisation out of loyalty to his old supporters, money that rightly belonged to him and his brother.
Sir Oswald Mosley with the convicted sexual predator Alf Flockhart, Secretary of Union Movement in the mid-1950s. Some of the most violent men in Europe were regular visitors to Mosley’s homes in Ireland and then France after the war.
Oswald Mosley was notoriously un-generous.
For several reasons, he starved Alexander of the money he needed to pursue an academic course at a quality British university.
Alexander’s step-brother, the novelist Nicholas Mosley, chipped in and helped him get to America where he enrolled at a university and studied philosophy and history.
He was popular with young Americans who knew nothing about his background or his fascist father.
Max was different.
He knew how to handle his parents.
His mother used her charm and contacts to get him into Oxford University after he failed the maths entrance examination.
His father helped him become a barrister in 1964.
Soon after he got what he wanted – money, a wife and acclaim he fixed his eyes on Bernie Ecclestone.
He waved goodbye to his father’s rough-necks but did manage to persuade his Oxford University pal Robert Skidelsky to write a book about his father which many critics said smacked of hagiography.
‘Oswald Mosley’ by Robert Skidelsky (Macmillan, London Ltd, 1975)) failed to mention Oswald Mosley thanking Julius Streicher for praising one of the British Fascist leader’s more outrageous anti-Jewish speeches.
Max Mosley said the book was magnificent and dismissed claims that his father should be known as not only the Great Pretender but also the Great Forgetter.
The last time I saw Max Mosley was in the summer of 1964.
I bumped into him in Chancery Lane where I worked as a junior reporter for the Middle East News Agency (MENA) owned by the Egyptian government.
One of Lady Mosley’s gay pals who helped me get three A levels so I could go part-time to a college and learn a bit about economics and politics, introduced me to Egyptian journalists in London.
My quasi-fascist background was known to them and was a help not a hindrance.
Some of Sir Oswald’s top advisers, nearly all of them upper middle class homosexual Oxonians, worked on the anti-Zionist magazine in Cairo called the Arab Observer.
I was told by my Egyptian boss, Mahmoud Amr who went on to be the official spokesman for the Egyptian Government, that if I worked hard and learned Arabic I would one day get a chance to work in Nasser’s Egypt and use my pen to help overthrow Zionist rule in ‘Occupied Palestine.’
That afternoon in ’64, Max Molsey looked like a film star on the loose.
Tall, handsome and beautifully dressed in a blue wool coat, his Oxford University tie peeping through and telling anyone of value what they needed to know.
It was as if we’d never met.
I did the talking.
He never once asked if my parents, who had fed him, looked after him, cashed cheques for him and made sure he was warm, safe safe and happy, were well.
It was as if he had put memory on hold.
When I mentioned names from the past, he looked down at me as he had looked at the policemen with the torch that night in October 1956.
There was an ice cold look in his eyes and a ‘who the hell are you’ tone in his voice when he decided to say a few words.
But he grew bored. Spotting some of his lawyers friends, he turned and walked away just as he had walked away that night the Russians took over Budapest.
It was if the world he had known briefly in his teens had never happened.
Max Mosley went on to achieve greatness in the motor racing industry.
He joked and pretended he’d done that to escape his toxic family surname.
In 1966, I fled to Africa and didn’t return to Britain on a permanent basis for just over thirty years.
In Kaunda’s Zambia, Nyerere’s Tanzania, Kenyatta’s Kenya and Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1996, hardly a soul knew anything about my past.
Like Max Mosley, I put memory on hold. Or thought I had.
Oswald Mosley was never a big deal in my life, I said to myself until I met my wife who finally persuaded me to say goodbye to Africa, stop pretending, return ‘home’ and write about my childhood which I finally did in 1997.
Whoever really said ‘the Truth shall make you free’ didn’t get it wrong.
Eleven years on, Jane and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary in Prague to visit the top-floor window at Prague Castle where in 1618 three Catholic officials were hurled to the ground by irate Protestants, kicking off the Thirty Years War.
In a restaurant we pretended to sign our own Treaty of Westphalia.
After a day walking around Kafka’s Jewish Quarter, we spoke about my childhood, Oswald Mosley and the Jews.
I told her that everyone I knew who’d been associated with Mosley had their life damaged so badly.
Jane wondered if Oswald Mosley broke their wings, or if the birds were damaged before they flew towards him.
I remember saying that the only one of us who’d got away Scot free was ‘Max Bloody Golden Bollocks Mosley.’
She said I should lower my voice because people could hear.
Jane asked, ‘But how do you know he escaped with nothing happening to him? He might be damaged in a way you will never know about. I mean, Mosley and his wife had half the survivors from the SS trotting in and out of their castle in Ireland after the war when Max was a child. What might he have seen, what might he have heard? So much violence in the air.’
We returned to Kent and I when I got home, I switched on my laptop and saw a note from an old friend in Johannesburg. Tony Koenderman, one of South Africa’s best respected financial journalists. He was one of the few I’d ever spoken to about bits and pieces of my childhood in England.
On the screen it said – ‘Get hold of the ‘News of the World.’ You can take the man out of the Nazi but you can’t take the Nazi out of the man.’
I hadn’t a clue what he was on about.
Puzzled, I walked to the local newsagent.
There was one copy of the paper left.
After reading it, I opened a bottle of wine and sat for a while floating on a sea of memory.
And then came news that on the night of May 24, 2021 after a quiet final meal with his wife of sixty-one years, Max Mosley, a shotgun between his knees and probably a well of loneliness in his heart, pulled the trigger.
Trevor Grundy is the author of ‘Memoir of a Fascist Childhood’ published by William Heinemann in 1998 and by Arrow Books in 1999.
‘I wish all those who are inclined to underrate the corrupting influence of Fascism could read and digest this.’ – Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury (2002-2012).