Saturday, 13 October 2012

Fixing It For Jim

Just like everyone else suddenly, I never liked Jimmy Savile. I was always mildly upset each week it turned out he was hosting Top of the Pops when I was a kid - the hair, the specs, the faux good humour...I was never into Glam Rock and to me he epitomised its shimmering nonsense, its near-pantomime-like quality.

I remember him as well on Jim'll Fix It - for those too young to recall a programme where kids (usually) wrote to him and asked him to fix their dreams - driving a bus, feeding lions in a zoo, meeting Gary Glitter, that sort of thing. And how innocent it was sold as being. Occasionally someone's Gran got in on the act, being suitably patronised by the Great Man, who usually gave the old lady a peck on the cheek as she cooed about how lovely he was and how much work he did for charity.

It is of course being suggested that it was his charity work that protected him from the allegations now swarming around the British media, one year on from his death, about his being a serial child abuser and rapist of vulnerable young women. Not only did he use his celebrity status to overawe (and over-power) too-young fans; he also used it as a means of deflecting claims that he physically forced himself on scores if not hundreds of women, and at least one man, often people in hospitals or wheelchairs who could not possibly fight back. As one person who was in Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital when Sir Jimmy groped her has pointed out, no one in a mental health unit is believed at the best of times, let alone if they made a complaint against a national icon - a British treasure as one middle-aged man told me when I discovered he was on his way to Savile's funeral in his adopted home of Scarborough.

The claims against him are deeply disturbing - the people he assaulted have been silenced victims in some cases for four decades and even with the catharsis of disclosure, they may never completely get over what he did. Possibly for many the sudden exposure of his activities now may create new traumas as they relive what happened - in their own memories even if they decide not to come forward to the glare of the public and the prurient media so apparently ready to "sympathise" with their plight.

And yet...

Was this media not the same one that built him up in the first place in spite of, we are told now, many, many people in the BBC and other parts of the media being very aware of, at least, rumours if not outright accusations of misdoing by Savile? We are supposed to believe that, when some newspapers were ready to expose the claims against him, he would threaten to stop doing his charity work and that would damage the reputation of the newspaper - which has to be one of the most spuriously tenuous lines of defence ever offered.

Let's suppose that Savile did get away with groping and raping to his heart's content through the 1970s and early 1980s because, as we have heard, attitudes were different then. Yes, they were, and rape victims especially had to fight to be taken seriously. Many lies about male "needs" were accepted then where now they would not be given a second of credence.

The great and not-so-good
This may well have been the case in 1977 - was it still so in 1987 or 1997, or in 2007? The fact is that there was a revolution (albeit it still unfinished) in attitudes towards women's rights, child abuse, rape and protection of vulnerable people during that time. Yet Savile died, undisturbed and unquestioned about his deeds, in 2011.

So why the silence? So many people apparently knew at least something, but did nothing - or worse, they even passively colluded by allowing him to carry on unfettered. Was it really because they didn't believe the rumours or the handful of accusations that were made but dismissed out of hand? Were hard-bitten journalist hacks really cowed by his threats to stop working for the very charities whose clients he was abusing?

Or was it more a case of our Establishment not wanting to expose one of their own? Of worrying that if they had to own up to their mistakes with him, their own authority might be questioned? Given we are told everyone at the BBC and elsewhere knew, while you might forgive his OBE in 1972 before the rumours became widespread, what is the story behind his knighthood - granted in 1990? Or his admission to the Order of Saint Gregory the Great by Pope John-Paul II in the same year? Possibly an insurance policy for him, and perhaps a hope by others of letting sleeping dogs lie - yet it seems he was far from asleep as the last alleged assault took place in 2006.

So, more sociopathically, did some take the view that vulnerable people in hospitals and asylums didn't really count against Sir James Savile OBE, KCSG, friend of Royalty and Popes, and Maker of Dreams? After all, if these women were needing mental health treatment at 14 and 15, well, perhaps they didn't really matter and certainly why should anyone bother with their hysterical ramblings? Pop them another pill and tell them to shut up.

Even if there was no grand conspiracy, no meeting of some secret Masonic Lodge to sanction Savile's protection, the whole issue reeks of the stench of moral decay that lies at the heart of our civic life - a strand in the thread of corruption that winds its way protectively through our political class, our bankers, media, "celebrities" and the increasingly obscene wealthy. I've seen it asked before - if he had been plain Jim Savile, Lollipop man at the local school with an over-fondness for "helping" children cross the road, would he have been as fortunate as Sir James? Or would the tabloids have rushed to out him as a "nonce" complete with his address and photos of him running from a baying crowd before the police had even laid a single charge?

The answer goes without saying. But there again, perhaps that's what they hope. Who fixed it for who?

1 comment:

  1. I am seriously thinking of withholding my BBC license fee which is coming due in November.