Jimmy Saville: Undiscovered Creep

The void that Jimmy Saville left behind…

Note: the opinions expressed below are my own, based on what I have read and seen and presently understand. I’m not a child-abuse expert, lawyer or psychologist, and I don’t claim everything I say to be 100% right. In some cases, I may well be wrong. Either way, I’m interested to hear what other people think.

A comment that poet/author Benjamin Zephaniah made on Newsnight the other day is still irritating me, and I wish it wasn’t. I’ve always liked Zeph’s endearing casual attitude (we’re not on first-name terms by the way, I just like calling him Zeph). Much like his wild explosion of Jack-in-a-box hair – a white-middle-class assault in itself – I’ve always felt that his signature, outspoken, not-arsed-what-you-think attitude is a welcome addition to any debate where an ounce of common-sense and rationality is required. But to say, like he did, that he’d always known that there was something a bit wrong with Jimmy Saville? I understand what he’s getting at, but I’m not sure what to think about that. Well actually I am slightly sure, as it would have been pretty pointless beginning this blog post with no idea, but what I am more is conflicted. Disappointed, too. The man has always struck me as open-minded, yet I struggle with this idea that someone could have always known. Let’s be clear on this: excluding the possibility of mysticism and some omnipotent power, nobody can know something without being privy to indisputable evidence and information. Otherwise, it’s a lucky guess. What Zeph is really saying, I suspect, is that looking back at Jimmy Saville now, with all this new information coming to light — some of which actually isn’t that new, and has conveniently been ignored by much of the media up until now — he’s not at all surprised that Saville was doing the things that some people claim he has done. And Zeph’s got a point, of course. That much is certain. When you think about it, everything about Jimmy Saville looks a bit dodgy now…such as the following things which I’ve randomly chosen to state here:

1: Everything about his appearance – the gold chains, the crazed hair, the worrying obsession with track-suits and cigars (the last two being a highly flammable combination, before you even take into account the kindling-quality of the wispy white hair).

2: His immense, almost inhumanely vast dedication to raising money for charity.

Now, you might think me stupid, but years ago, I never thought there was anything that dodgy about Jimmy Saville (I’m well aware that this might cause a wave of disbelief to rise up in you. It’s actually doing the same thing to me right now. Let’s both take a few minutes to get a handle on ourselves). I thought he was a bit weird, odd-looking, alien-like and eerily unable to keep his mouth shut for more than three-seconds at a time, but I never remember thinking that he could be some kind of sex-abuse monster who preyed on innocent teenagers and children. My reasoning for this is extremely simple: at the time, like lots of children, I was a child – no shit. I was yet to see the double or sometimes triple-meaning in things, and when Saville first appeared on the screen I was a while away from working out what all this girl-fuss was all about. Which might explain something about Zeph’s remark. While Zeph was some 20 years older than me and almost certainly more than slightly intrigued about what all the girl-fuss was about – indeed, that may even be putting it lightly, I don’t know – I was clueless and prepubescent. Back then, I had no idea what girls found enticing about track-suits, and to be honest, now I’ve been through puberty and come out the other side, I still don’t.

Something else: before anyone gets their knickers in a right old twist, I’m not defending Jimmy Saville. Even more so, I’m not suggesting that these sex-abuse cases brought against the now-deceased Jimmy Saville are bullshit and that it wasn’t sex-abuse, it was just young girls being tempted by fame and money and now they’re much older, they’re cashing-in on it. What I am saying, though, is that it’s very hard for anyone to tell the difference if that is the case, which it very well might be. I’m no expert, but I think it’s fair to suggest that where money is involved, some people are willing to do and say almost anything in a bid to be able to buy the newest iPhone. The obvious problem, then, is working out who the genuine victims of all this are — and abuse crimes associated with other celebrities — compared to the teenagers that knew what they were doing and entered into some kind of sexual consent naturally (or as naturally as anyone could with Jimmy Saville…). Add this to the problem of how attitudes change over the years and you have all kinds of trouble. For example, some people may only now be realising that what happened to them was actually abuse. History is overflowing with cases where we look back in time and cast a dim view on sexual practice between adults and children, yet you hardly ever hear a historian saying how appalled they are. Mostly, if they’re Fiona Bruce, they just smile and say it was part of that period and it was OK back then. Which makes things murky. Very, very murky.

I remember a popular saying back when I was young. It was play the white man. It cropped-up every now and again, and at the time, with a very basic social compass and little life-experience, it seemed to make sense: act like the white man and you were good. There were very few ethnic minorities around when I was growing up, so this saying didn’t seem racist in any way, it seemed entirely fair and normal. Now I look back, I realise a few things I didn’t understand back then. One of them being that the people who said this didn’t believe they were really being racist – they just didn’t know any ethnic people and that knowledge bred an innate disliking based on instinct and falsehoods which they believed to be fact not open to debate. Racists were people who killed the blacks – but these people who said these sayings? They just didn’t really like the blacks and that was an entirely different thing. In some ways, I think hearing things like this did me a kind of favour. It slowly introduced me to the worrying fact that adults can be as ignorant as anyone, and that class and education doesn’t necessarily mean someone can have a broad and informed knowledge of the world around them. Even the smartest people are capable of thinking total bullshit, and, as in all cases, the smartest people are the most dangerous individuals of them all.

In my mind, one thing with the Saville – and other cases – is clear: years ago, like it or not, we as a society just didn’t think of abuse in the same way as we have come to now. Abuse of the most sordid kind was taken more seriously, but otherwise, it wasn’t always considered a big deal. Years ago, people were convinced that if you went out with wet hair, you were extremely likely to catch a bad cold or maybe even worse. In the same way, for a lot of people, child-abuse was something so grim that it just wasn’t talked about or discussed openly. In fact, some people probably questioned if it was even real, since paedophilia has long been classified as a mental illness and for a long time, the validity of mental illness has in itself been incredibly disputed, even amongst the so-called professionals. I get the feeling now that if I’d been an adult back then and my child had come to me and said his or her teacher had been touching them, I’d have been pissed-off. That would have been the first thing. But take it one step further…If they’d had the bravery to tell me how they had been raped by an exceedingly popular television presenter, I’d like to think that I’d have listened and really taken it in, but I can’t be sure I would have, can I? Especially if I mentioned it to a friend and they said, confirming my thoughts and bias, that the whole thing was ridiculous and my child was making it up. Some perverse charade. The very last thing I may have thought was that they were being brave in coming forward. The sad truth I don’t want to admit is that it’s more likely that I would have behaved in such a way. A way that horrifies me and goes against my better judgement. It’s disgusting to imagine yourself as acting in a way which might perceivably damage your child, maybe even irreversibly — this, on top of the initial legacy of already-inflicted damage — but in many ways it may also be essential. If you don’t accept it’s possible to be wrong then you’re ignoring the problem…the horrible truth that anyone can ignore despicable crimes if everything around them tells them not to believe what’s blatantly in front of their own bloody eyes.

For me, another massive problem with the reports that are circulating is that, unlike in many cases, where a case is put forward and then some months elapse until the case closes and the assimilated information is processed, the Saville case seems to have gone from 0 to 60 in less than 2 weeks. Firstly, very little detailed information about the girls has come about, enabling a frenzy of misdirected speculation. The media so far has largely presented these girls as vulnerable and young rather than young and prepubescent – one of the defining things which would make it paedophilia rather than straight-up abuse of power over a minor (by the time I post this that may well have changed as more information comes to light). Rape is, yet again, something which many people understand as one of several slightly different things, and now we have various papers making various claims, just to sell copies, just because they can. Additionally, when reports first surfaced, the now-deceased Jimmy Saville was accused of a broad spectrum of crimes but the accusations were cautionary and speculative at best. Yet in the last few days the tone and the language has changed and shifted, both in the papers and on the TV. The reports no longer speak of alleged crimes. Now, it’s all about crimes which definitely took place, as if a large number of people coming forward means that someone is guilty, irrelevant of the status of those claims, and whether or not the claims all contain similar characteristics which help prove them valid, or as close to valid as is possible. As that is (arguably) the case, I can’t help but think that several major investigations into Saville started many months or years ago and that what we’re seeing now is some kind of conclusion to a much bigger story that’s been hidden (some papers reported that investigations started years ago, although the validity of this is, quite rightly, something which needs to be questioned in itself). The thing is…if that’s the case, why are the BBC and other authorities reportedly investigating it only now? So many things just do not add up, and in too many instances, we’re treated like babbling, ignorant fools.

As for the truth ever really coming to light on who allowed the abuse to prosper and continue, I somehow doubt that it’ll ever happen. Personally, I can no longer trust any of the reports that come from the BBC or other sources, and I’m also finding all the latest news of people coming forward and admitting they knew something – yet didn’t do anything about it for alleged good reason – to be difficult to believe. It all seems like too many people covering their own arses now that society has finally dumbly realised/admitted what actually constitutes child-abuse — something which should, surely, have been really quite clear all along. The biggest shame, for some, is that we’re not advanced enough yet to dig Saville up, reanimate him and question the man ourselves, as some people would no doubt do in a minute while recording the whole sorry-thing on smartphones: a whole different moral and ethical debate in itself and one which I’m not convinced would even begin to untangle the whole confusing argument that currently shows no sign of slowing down.

The next installment of this story is here.

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13 comments on “Jimmy Saville: Undiscovered Creep

  1. miksmith says:

    Extremely well-written piece Chris! I have been thinking much the same about all of this myself.
    The Saville case has also reminded me of just how powerful the Press really are here in Britain.
    Put a dead man on trial, find him guilty and execute him; all within a matter of days…
    I think it’s safe to say that Mr Saville was involved with SOMETHING dodgy (and the permanent gold jewellery/tracksuit look was a big clue here…) but just how many horrid crimes did he REALLY commit??? My guess is that we will never know for sure.
    It’s also a bit strange how NOTHING was ever mentioned whilst he was still alive. I mean, the guy’s only been dead for a relatively short space of time….
    All in all, this story is something else to knock the innocence out of my 1970s childhood memories.
    If it IS true then it is very sad indeed – and it casts a nasty, dark shadow on the not-too-distant past.:(

    Like

    • chrispink says:

      Hello Mik! Ah, thankyou. Appreciate that 🙂
      Yeah, it’s all very murky and difficult to get your head round. I can only assume that the papers have long known more than us. Discovering just how widespread this all was will be tough, seeing as so many people are looking to protect their own interests…it’s bound to take years. There will BE court cases to come I think! Actually, I did some research and found that Saville was linked to abuse a lot in the past, even in the news. It seems that nobody wanted to take it seriously. Also, I assume that Saville’s Estate played a big part in banning certain accusations, but I could be wrong.

      It’s a bummer when those memories get spoiled…Mik, hope you and S are well. Catch you soon buddy 🙂

      Like

  2. deb says:

    I think you are an extremely clever writer! Very intelligent and the best i have read on this subject, tell me what is the difference between statutory rape and abuse ? Love to know your opinion.

    Like

    • miksmith says:

      That is a dead nice comment to get from someone on your blog!
      It’s nice to know that your work is properly appreciated by people Chris:)

      Like

      • chrispink says:

        Hey Mik! It is, it really is. I’d write this blog even if nobody read it, but it’s always good to know it’s of interest. In touch soon 🙂 Chris

        Like

    • chrispink says:

      Hi Deb, thanks for your comment — very good of you to say. Much appreciated 🙂 I’m a bit pushed for time right now but will do my best to try and answer your question in the coming days. Chris

      Like

    • chrispink says:

      Hi again Deb,
      Now to answer your question: an interesting one, this. Seems quite simple on the surface, doesn’t it? Yet it definitely isn’t, from what I have read. In my opinion, there is no one answer to your question. For one thing, a lot seems to depend on the offense specifically (whether it is a stand-alone offense or part of ongoing abuse) and for another, a lot more seems to depend on the victim’s ability to supply a dependable statement. In Jimmy Saville’s case, it seems like a lot of the victims were troubled, making them untrustworthy in the eyes of the law. And then it gets even more complex when you consider that memory can be easily distorted with bias, not to mention that the very definition of ‘troubled’ has changed considerably over the last 30 years. To me, all this seems to be underpinned by the basic fact that even the so-called experts don’t all agree on what mental illnesses are…this makes it very tricky to work out the discernible differences.

      Hope that helps! I realise that’s a bit of a politician’s answer, but I do think that in this case one answer does not fit all. Chris

      Like

  3. Doc says:

    Hi Chris,

    Really well written piece – exactly my thoughts!

    Cheers,

    Doc.

    Like

    • chrispink says:

      Hey Doc,
      Well, that’s pleasing! Thanks for the comment. Great to hear from new people as ever. Have a good one,
      Chris

      Like

  4. Moor Larkin says:

    Interesting, and sometimes open-minded blog. Your modern notions of “play the white man” are a little off the mark. It was never used as some kind of “anti-black” rhetoric. It stemmed from the “innocence” of the British Empire idea that we had a British civilisation based on law, order and rationality; rather than closed-minded superstition of the ancient “black magic” ideas of Justice, as perhaps practised by the Spanish Inquisition. At the time of their Empire the British thought such “primitivism” finally was restricted to undeveloped non-whites, as Europe was “civilised”. WW2 and the Jewish Holocaust was a long way off.

    It quite possibly also relates to Rudyard Kipling’s ideas about the unwritten rules of cricket marking out the honour of the “white man” (British). “Sledging” in the modern game shows how outmoded that idea is too.

    Kipling also wrote of the “white man’s burden”, but this related to the responsibilty upon the “white man” to bring the peoples of the Empire into modern ways of thinking, rather than that black people were some lead-weight on the back of the white race as someone might want to spin it nowadays.

    Spin-bowling is of course another old cricketing trick that has led to notions of people being bamboozled by variation in direction – the art of Spin -. The Indians are now the masters of cricketing spin just as the West Indians became the masters of speed; and so the media balls fly about the airwaves and we who are left at the crease must do our best to keep a straight bat.

    The Umpires have left the field of play in Savile’s case, and we are back to Shakespearean notions of “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”

    If you can keep your head whilst all about you seem to have lost theirs, then you shall be a man my son.
    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/if/

    Like

    • chrispink says:

      Hey, thanks for your comment. Very interesting reading, and lots of stuff in there worth pondering, so I appreciated the history lesson. As far as my notions being a little off the mark, re-reading the article, I can see why you came to this conclusion, although I would have to say I disagree. All my observations were based on experiences with people who I knew were using this expression with racist context in mind. So I think to say that it was never used as some kind of “anti-black” rhetoric is wrong. No one person can speak for everyone and their intentions. Surely, thoughout history, people have used sayings and expressions in whatever way they see fit, as the people I knew did. The expression may not have started like as an explicitly racist statement, but I believe that it is still racist by default. My thinking is this: by suggesting someone is not playing the white man, you are implying, however indirectly, that they are not doing things properly as someone other than a white man. It may have started as a saying, but it’s still words. If I was black, I’m almost certain I would find it racist.

      Thanks again for your feedback. Chris

      Like

      • miksmith says:

        A very well-worded answer I think.
        I too have always heard this adage used in a ‘teetering-on-racism’ manner and I also feel it is a rather draconian phrase that no longer has a place in our society.
        Although, I’m sure that any black people with an extensive knowledge of the works of Kipling will totally disagree with what I say!
        Peace:)

        Like

      • chrispink says:

        Why thankyou Mik 🙂 Couldn’t have said it better myself.

        Like I said, I shall be in touch, just a bit swamped right now! Hope you’re keeping well Mik.

        Like

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