Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Jim'll Fix It


Why do Americans always live in ridiculously numbered houses? I’ve just sent a Requiem CD off to someone who lives at number 8337! Why do the Yanks never live at number 11? Do streets start at one thousand in most American towns? Is it a status thing, I wonder?

I find myself deeply troubled by the allegations floating around about Jimmy Saville, as I always am when someone posthumously goes through the mangle. Quite why none of these whistle blowers emerged whilst he was alive, I've no idea. It's interesting to note that Saville's "victims" are still entitled to compensation. Surely this news will bring one or two people out of the woodwork with suspicious motives? I'm also not sure why the first people who came forward took their beef to a TV documentary maker instead of the police, which begs one question. Were they subtly primed? This all feels like a case of trial by media.

Look, I think it's clear that Jim'll was a little unsavoury, as many men of that period were. An ever-shifting code of appropriate conduct has been forming over the years, and as it stands in 2012, anyone behaving like Jim'll did (and that includes his slightly weird on-camera demeanour) would instantly be reprimanded and taken off the air. Let us not forget, however, that in the 1960s, all bosses slapped their secretaries arses, all uncles were creepy and all gay sex was illegal. Our standards and morals have changed.

Pop music attracts teenage girls who are impressed by celebrity and excited by the prospect of attention from a famous person. A man who finds himself surrounded by younger people will often start to identify himself as one of the gang. We all descend to the level of those we find ourselves working with. I’ve always felt, for example, that Michael Jackson felt like a child, so his inappropriate behaviour with children needed to be viewed through that particular lens. Saville, without question, took advantage of his position, but the TV exposé last week showed girls who had repeatedly chosen to visit a man that they’re subsequently claiming to have been systematically abused by. Others are coming forward saying they knew abuse was happening at the time, but didn't act because "Saville was an amateur boxer." Surely the truth is that they didn't come forward because his behaviour wasn't considered to be a big deal in those days? A bit weird, maybe, a little unpleasant, perhaps, but not necessarily illegal. The world has changed much in the last 50 years.

The other thing we must all remember is that Jimmy Saville raised millions and millions of pounds for charities and was an iconic presenter who meant a great deal to many of us as children. So perhaps instead of stirring up hatred and vitriol, the British press should let Scotland Yard investigate the matter with a lack of bias, and allow us to maintain an open mind.

350 years ago, Pepys awoke in Puckeridge and rode to Cambridge. The poor man was forced to buy a pair of old shoes from the landlord of his guest house because his feet had swollen on account of their being stuffed into a pair of new riding boots that were too tight. Fortunately the Great North Road to Cambridge was in a good state, so the journey was relatively smooth, but for a little rain.

4 comments:

  1. Duh...because their streets are very long

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  2. That doesn't explain why no one ever lives at number 11!

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  3. Hi Ben

    I have had a think about this post and as it is still niggling at me thought I should comment. Having picked over the JS case in the last week it seems that many people along the way did speak; this is partly why he was dogged by rumors that Louis Theroux addressed in his TV show. However, because of his status and his general persona as a good guy and other people’s unwillingness to be the first person to shout ‘The emperor has got no clothes’ he managed to (if all the allegations prove to be true) continue his systematic abuse of children.

    I also think it is also not unusual for people to hide sexual abuse and rape from other people. It is a generally known statistic that many more people are raped and abused than ever testify or go on record. Partly because if you do it is incredibly difficult to get to trial and the treatment of the victim is generally terrible (full sexual histories of the victim being revealed to the court when previous offense of the perpetrator couldn’t be etc…).

    I don’t think it matters how it came out TV, Police, newspapers, we expect investigative journalism from TV and newspapers so we can’t then lambast them when they do dig up something nasty and jumping on the story. For me the question here should be more what took them so long.

    I know you talk about shifting standards and that he would be taken off the air but I wonder if he really would have if he was that famous now or would he be slapped on the hand, told to sort it out or would they have squashed the victims voices as they did then. Think of Chris Brown who beat Rihanna to a pulp – he is still singing his way across the airways and selling thousands of CDs. I find this astonishing, but maybe it is just me.

    Anyway I guess why this really got me thinking is that you are right, the world has changed towards women, gays and children in the last 50 years, but looking around me it’s still not enough to make me happy.

    Thanks for making me think.

    Claire

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  4. Dear Claire,

    I think everything that you say here is both thought provoking and true - and I have to say that in no way do I belittle what probably happened to these young people.

    My only worry is that the trial is taking place very publicly - and in the media - and this encourages all manner of people to get in on the act. We have a legal process, which can occasionally throw up bizarre results, but they're something we need to defend and accept.

    Regardless of what the truth is in this case, we're now in the middle of a witch hunt, where no one, it seems can speak or act without a great amount of hysteria (hence Savile's family putting his gravestone on a skip.)

    I agree that the question we all need to ask is what took them so long? But this question needs to involve the "holier than thou" people who are stepping forward to say how sickened they were by watching what Savile did. They were accessories to a crime, and the sooner we confront this, the sooner we'll stop the silence.

    Yes it is true that no one likes to be a whistle blower - and when I blew the whistle on some (not dissimilar) seedy practices at a theatre company I once worked for, no one took me very seriously... But I find it hard to believe that, for example, when the Jonathan King business emerged - long after Savile had lost his golden crown, but crucially whilst he was still alive - this whole sordid business didn't emerge.

    I suspect we'll never really know the truth... but we must try not to panic.

    The world is changing for the better. We're slowly getting there... but you're right, the wealthiest get away with blue murder (look at Michael Jackson), and I suspect they always will.

    Thank you for making me think as well. And for being so considered in your response.

    Regards

    Benjamin

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