Matters related to the late Sir Jimmy Savile have occurred at pace this week. It has now been established that Savile, fundraiser, DJ, larger-than-life TV persona, ‘was a predatory sex offender’, according to
a judge who has assessed all the evidence in court Commander Peter Spindler, Head of Specialist Crimes Investigations with London’s Metropolitan Police.
The fact that Savile is dead seems to have a lot to do with the speed with which allegations have been established as fact. On the balance of the testimony so far presented, it seems a pretty inescapable conclusion. The only surprise to me seems to be that such comprehensive allegations took so long to emerge. Most people I know who grew up watching his shows were under no illusion that there had to be some Faustian aspect to his Fix It largesse, if not perhaps expressed in those precise terms. He spoke funny, wore odd clothes and had a massive gift-from-Freud cigar permanently at hand. He never married and loved his mum, much like Norman Bates. And he worked almost exclusively with young people.
Yet we coveted the Fix It badge. Metaphorically, this was perhaps what was happening at the BBC. Some BBC presenters old and new have felt released to relate their own experiences. They reveal an environment where oikish behaviour, clear-cut incidents of sexual harassment and rampant egomania were rife… but it paid the wages, so no one said anything.
It appears these ‘bad apples’ were known, tolerated, joked about by colleagues. Note the plurals. What are we to make of the unseemly implications of BBC employee Esther Rantzen’s claim that the ‘jury is no longer out’, when there was no and never can be a jury for Savile? This was not just at the BBC, of course. We can expect further revelations of “establishment cover up”, to no surprise or consequence whatsoever.
And, as the allegations against Savile continue to emerge, now what? With Savile, I mean. The options for redress, given his inconvenient demise, are limited. I happened to be in Scarborough last week, and the local press had a front cover picture of the defaced plaque on his old house. Someone had added ‘Paedophile’ and ‘Rapist’ to it. The newspaper said that ‘security had been increased’ at his grave, also in the town. A bottle had been lobbed at it, we were to understand. This was what the gravestone looked like:
“It was good while it lasted” indeed. Shades of Savile in the reflected clouds were a particularly comical detail for us. The memorial was of the same artistic standard as Princess Diana plates and those t-shirts with wolves on. The Helen Steiner Rice-William McGonagall school of versification on the left was similarly heartfelt. The subsequent removal of the headstone at the behest of the relatives, in the dead of night, spoke of a desperation to make this now thoroughly embarrassing aspect of the family just go away.
For with Savile really all we can be left to do is speak ill of the dead. A resort to gallows humour is always my first step. I must confess to being rather disappointed at the complete absence of a baying mob proceeding with torches to the cemetery in Scarborough, making haste to dig up Savile, decapitate him and stuff him full of garlic, before melting down his gold coffin and selling it, the proceeds to Stoke Mandeville. Perhaps there is time to toss out some Viz-style spoof tabloid articles interviewing swivel-eyed susceptibles concerned about his unmarked tomb, overlooking a school and hospital, being a source of ghastly emanations, the sound of gold chains rattling beyond the grave. Jingle, jangle, jewellery.