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. When we went to have a nosey, there were no heavies in bomber jackets guarding the site. In fact, there was not a soul to be seen, not even wandering in ghostly torment for their misdemeanours in this world.

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.

Further prejudicial idiocy, as discussed on the excellent blog ’10 minutes hate’ (happy birthday Julia!) about the already-serving-a life-sentence killer John Venables, from Britain’s Brightest Tabloid ™ The Scum today.

I don’t know if recalling someone to prison as part of their sentence actually counts as post-judicial, but bear with me. I sat reading their headline on the paper opposite me all the way to work on the Tube, and I couldn’t fathom it.


OF 1 TO 5,




Apart from appearing to be a direct attempt to bring back my oaty breakfast with its bilious tone and suggestive imagery, I hit a snarl after the number 5, and could not work out what it might possibly mean. Venables Child Porn Rated 4? What the fuck? Do they mean they asked him about child porn and he rated it 4? Or is it Venables making porn with children? Porn of Venables AS a child? (Swift sidebar to Rule 34) Rated 4? By whom? On what scale? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO MY BRAIN AT 08.34 ON MONDAY MORNING, FUCK ME UP FOR THE WEEK?

HAVING – sorry, having had chance to peruse the wild allegations behind the sensationalist headline, it emerges that the issue was one of a missing apostrophe. The story explains that there may have been claims of suggestions of a possibility that former child killer Venables might have had images of child porn on a laptop in his house, rated ‘4’ on the scale drawn up to arbitrate such matters.

Imagine, a mere 17 years later, that someone who helped torture someone to death aged 10, was in prison for eight years, and has gone around with all that since, might be a bit fucked up in the head. I can’t imagine how fucked up that would be, and I have a fairly vivid imagination.

I write ‘former child killer’… Venables (or whatever he is now called) is formerly a child, and a killer, and a child killer, and all the moral-bamboozling semantic ambiguity one might muster from just starting to think about those facts. The implications of the labels we slap on people for convenience have been widely discussed. Speaking eloquently as usual, wordy writer Will Self on BBC’s Question Time had another attempt at trying to go beyond good and evil last week.

The Scum‘s website relating to the same article which has so exercised me all morning has the slightly less syntactically stupid but still ambiguous headline HOARD OF HORROR, which is at least clear in its deranged terms of reference (specific details of which the paper headline assumes an intimate familiarity with). It is the language of true crime books, of reports of horrible activity rendered with a lingering and nauseating attention to the detail of every eyelid burned open with a cigar. ‘Hoard of Horror’, this fairy tale invocation, a trove of wickedness… that’s something that I can’t – well, let’s be clear, I do not LIKE to imagine, because it makes me feel queasy, and not at all good about what it implies about humanity in general.

However, as a phrase it is designed to appeal to a certain type of person, the kind of person who CAN imagine it, does imagine it, perhaps likes to imagine it, sees the pitchforks being wielded, relishes the destruction, pain, unpleasantness and likes to get geed up for the gallows party.

Perhaps we need to confront our dark hearts more… but. Pushing pictures of an abused child in my face and telling me it is disgusting will not make that kind of action go away, and my response would be the same as if you had offered me a cigarette. “Child abuse?” “Thanks, I don’t.”

Are we trying to make people ‘better’, as Julia suggests on 10mh, or can we not be bothered? “Back to the trees, everyone, this running water and books thing was a shit idea.”

If we have not proceeded any further, morally speaking, than the 14th century, and the ritual disembowelment, quartering and displaying of Jon Venables’ charred remains on Westminster Bridge is what it will take to shut up the witchfinder pursuivants howling at the door, perhaps we should just give in and let them have their bonfire. Here is a discarded tabloid newspaper for kindling. I will be stood at the back pressing a pomander to my nose and weeping.