Spelling mnemonic: Jimmy’s a vile man

There’s only one l in Savile and that’s how to remember.

Every day brings more revelations of vile abuses be the children’s presenter once considered to be a national treasure. And we shake our heads and ask ourselves how this can have happened.

When I was 10 or 11, I went on an Outward Bound course at the centre’s base on Ullswater. I can’t remember much about the week except a vague sense of adventure and fun.

I do remember one of the girls – I think her name was Hilary. She was something of a celebrity in our dormitory having been on Jim’ll Fix It playing a musical instrument – a clarinet if memory serves.

Fascinating. I wanted to know what it was like, who she had met and any other bits of telly land gossip. She wouldn’t be drawn. “It was OK,” was all she would share. I felt cheated. I, among every child in the land, had written and written to Jim to have my dream come true.

Now, though, I wonder if Hilary the Clarinetist had another story she couldn’t tell.

And then when you looked closely, as we all did, do you remember the children’s faces? None of the cheeky animation and lively responses of children on TV today. Down the telescope of time, they all looked a little dazed and wary.

It’s easy now to condemn and criticise, tut and shake our heads. It could never happen now. Or could it?

Of course it could.

In the main it’s unlikely there was a huge conspiracy to protect JS and his unorthodox preferences. Instead there was a jigsaw of people with pieces of information.

Some, the victims, would be fearful of not being believed, of speaking out against such a Good Man. Others may not even have known that what happened to them was wrong, no matter how bad it made them feel. Maybe they blamed themselves or justified it because of who their abuser was.

And the rest? For all the people who knew or suspected something was wrong and tried to do something, there were many others with suspicions or uneasy feelings who put their concerns aside and got on with life?

It’d be fabulous if there a few investigations and some enquiries might make sure it wouldn’t happen again. The real way, though, is to make sure no one sweeps nagging doubts under their mental carpets and any accusations however preposterous get an open-minded hearing. 

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  1. says

    I'm in no way condoning him, but I don't see how drawing conclusions to someone not wanting to draw on their experience on a TV show automatically points to an altogether sinister reason.
    Maybe she was shy, just didn't want to elaborate on a reason? Doesn't mean she was automatically molested, any thinking towards that is mere speculation and should be treated as such.
    Yes, the evidence towards him seems to be overwhelming, but there's also a lot of speculation going on such as these posts and it just leaves a nasty taste as that's all it is, speculation.

  2. says

    Hi Wendy, You're right, she might well have simply been shy. The point I was trying to make was that in general there's a collective responsibility to react when something is amiss, rather than just assuming all is well.

  3. says

    Great post. This whole saga has left such a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I can only imagine, that back in the day, there were less rigorous checks done on these so called celebrities. Even when we are adults, the child's voice inside can still feel so 'powerless' and maybe why there were so many afraid of speaking out against a 'national treasure' while he was still alive.

  4. says

    I met the man. He asked me to sit on his lap. It was in the foyer of a Saturday afternoon disco for UNDER 18s in Bournemouth. He was quite well known locally. He had put an armchair there, had his cigar. There were loads of people about – all YOUNG obviously, but my sister called him a pervert and we moved on. Never thought any more about it until recent events. He was sinister. His intentions were sinister. The whole turning a blind eye fiasco is sickening. That poor girl in your dorm said everything in her nothing, I would bet and you must feel bad too. Like you say, all the little bits of information make a big picture and we should all pay more attention.

  5. says

    I've blogged about this today, but the other thing is we must teach our children that no matter how famous someone is, or how nice they seem, or what they give you, you must tell, you must speak out if something isn't quite right. That its not just strangers who can hurt you.

    Thank you for writing about this.

  6. says

    I'd say if Clarinetist didn't personally experience something, she most certainly witnessed it. From all accounts if you follow the story closely he was prolific. Read today's Guardian column, by Suzanne Moore and listen to the soundcloud that is in it. I did not realise there was only one L in Saville. That means my blog post today is wrong. Or are you saying he should be stripped of an L, like he should be stripped of his Sir (although they can't do so posthumously apparently).
    Liska x

  7. says

    Ellen, I'd be really interested to know what your opinion is on people joking about this subject matter? Do you think I was wrong to tweet the tweeter who joked about it (likening it to Ceefax being dead and having its own BBC caravan). Was I challenging his free speech in challenging his tweet, like HUN just told me in my comments? Or was I just trying to ensure this subject matter is given the respect I think it deserves….? Liska x

  8. says

    I think jokes about serious stuff are unavoidable, whatever you think of them. In every serious situation, it's usually a matter of hours before the first bad taste joke appears. Must be human nature and there's nothing much we can do about it, apart from ignore it.
    I also think it's perfectly possible to have all the appropriate responses to something awful and still see a dark bit of humour.
    For example there was a debate on Radio 4 one evening about the whole Jimmy Savile affair and one of the speakers kept using the phrase 'as it happens'. It made me laugh.
    If you're annoyed or offended by something, say so after all you have free speech to, but you can't expect people to stop.

  9. says

    If you are a regular radio listener (?) like me, there are many people saying why didn't they come forward before now, and if they are going to go legal and get compensation, are their claims genuine…. Also Wendy on here wanted to believe your Clarinetist was shy, when I doubt that was the case. There's of course also people like Peter Ripppon who say things like “they were not that young”, and “only the women”…
    Liska x

  10. says

    Oh I simply love your reply. Me and @HimUpNorth just exchanged a great deal of tweets on the subject and he said I was hypocritical for objecting to the joke, whilst me myself believing in freedom of speech. I then reminded him that freedom of speech applies to the audience as well as the speaker, to which he said it is a circular argument – which indeed it is.
    Anyway, as per the tweets I included in my Savile post, the tweeter took my objection in the right spirit and our tweets concluded beautifully.
    I was glad he saw my point without getting mad at me for raising it.
    And I know what you mean, as I remember all of the Lady Di jokes etc… but these seem slighly more distasteful, although I found one this morning by a spoof Prince Charles account that I DID find very funny.
    Liska xx

  11. says

    Post right on point – I definitely believe that we need to change the culture in which those in power are to be believed over those without or with less. It is harder than we think it should be to just say no to someone who is doing something to you when you trust them or are not in a position of power. I just blogged a out exactly that.

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