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Tony Grist

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Remembering Jimmy [Nov. 19th, 2012|10:28 am]
Tony Grist
To be honest I thought he was naff but not exactly monstrous. I watched Jim'll Fix It because everyone did.  It was the kind of TV show you forget as soon as you leave the sofa. I thought he was merely an entry in the bizarre history of taste- a thing cultural historians of the future would scratch their heads at and wonder. 

Now I lie in bed at night and ask what the hell was going on. He wasn't talented. He wasn't funny. He had an instantly recognizable schtick but it wasn't particularly entertaining. Most of the people who rubbed up against him found him creepy (or that's what they're saying now). So how did this strange, empty little person get to be such a power in the land? For as long as he was alive he remained untouchable. He may not have had personal friends but he had plenty of establishment ones- the BBC, successive Prime Ministers, politicians, police chiefs, health chiefs, religious leaders, Prince Charles. He had the entree to any institution he wanted. He garnered two knighthoods- one from the Queen and one from the Pope. How did all that come about?  Were all those good people fooled, corrupted or compliant? How does this scandal relate to all the other scandals that are mushrooming up in its wake?

I need to know. I need to find out what kind of a country it is I've been living in these past sixty years. 

[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-11-19 11:34 am (UTC)
He did raise a lot of money for charity throughout his career, right from the start. I believe that's why he received the honours. I can't remember whether it was on your LJ that I mentioned my mother telling me how two nuns had come into our shop in Manchester, enthusing over how Savile was coming to open their fete? They knew that having a real celebrity (he was only on Top of the Pops in those days, but that was enough) would draw the crowds and ensure better takings for their charity. Of course his "in" with the pop stars, the real big names, would have been the bait he used to entice young girls into his clutches. :(

What I can't understand is how he squared his sexual predation with his charity work. Was he actually cynical enough to use the charity work as cover for his evil doing? Or did he have some warped idea of atoning for his sins by doing good?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-11-19 01:24 pm (UTC)
I've no idea how he squared things. If he was a psychopath- as I suspect he was- questions of conscience wouldn't have arisen.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2012-11-19 03:56 pm (UTC)
I actually don't think he was a psychopath. It's nice for men to think that he was somehow intrinsically different, but as rosamicula puts it so eloquently, he was only different in scale, not in what he did. Lots of older men are attracted to girls of 14-15. Girls of 14-15 are often desperately trying to look older than they are and prefer a relationship with an older man. The older man, being in the position of responsibility, should resist temptation, but many don't.

I actually don't like the mixing up of the Savile case with the abuse of young boys at children's homes. I'm not condoning what Savile did, but it's not at all the same and, again as rosamicula said, was part of the celebrity culture of the time.

I personally can't remember being sexually propositioned as a young teen, but I was very aware of the possibility and you learn to be on your guard at all times.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-11-19 04:23 pm (UTC)
I think you're going easy on Savile. A normal man might take opportunities as they came up, but Savile seems to have organised his life so as to have had access to kids- not just teenage girls but little boys as well. He wangled his way into Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville, Leeds General and various other institutions. He invested a vast amount of time and energy into his predation. It went far beyond taking advantage of groupies.

I don't think he can be linked to the North Wales children's homes, but we know he visited Haut de la Garenne on Jersey. There are rumours that he pimped HdeG kids to his estblishment friends. I don't know what weight to accord these rumours, but they exist.

Edited at 2012-11-19 04:23 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2012-11-19 01:04 pm (UTC)
I don't think he was a 'friend' of powerful people. It was just like the Cool Brittania bollocks when Blair came into power. Politicians thought he was popular with the hoi polloi, so fraternising with him made them look good.

With the TOTP stuff, he was doing what everybody else in the business was doing, and shagging 'groupies'. In the seventies/eighties he persuaded/coerced a fifteen year old autograph hunter old into bed, the reaction was more likely to have a been a mild ' dirty old dog' - just look at the reaction to Bill Wyman taking up with Mandy thingy or the later countdowns in the tabloids showing ever-more-revealing pictures of 15 year olds till they hit their 16th birthdays and got their tits out (can't link: at work). Attitudes to that kind of behaviour and perceptions of what is appropriate - and for whom - have changed markedly.

The abuse of children in care homes and hospitals is of a different order and would have been a career-killer even then (cf what happened to the chap in Corrie who fondled two kids in a swimming pool).

I think he got away with it because half of what he did was considered more-or-less normal. As for the rest, the individuals he abused and the nurses, porters whatever didn't speak up because they didn't think they would be believed. The more he got away with, the more he could get away with. He seems creepier in retrospect than he did at the time; we've don't accept eccentricity in mannerism, look and dress in the way we used do, hence the freakshow element of the rise of Susan Boyle.

Children in care had even less of a voice than they have now, though now they are just as vulnerable to abuse and even more likely to fall foul of bureacratic ineptitude. Look at the organised gangs of abusers in Rotherham(?) and Bradford and how easily they got aware with abusing girls in care.

I don't hold with the idea of an establishment conspiracy of monstrous paedos, however reassuring that might seem copmpared to the idea of a rape culture, even one that's managed to get a little less rapey about children over the last few years. He was just doing, on a much larger scale, what an awful lot of men have always done and what a lot of 'heroes' - footballers, pop stars, TV presenters - let alone all the boring teachers, scout masters and priests could (/can) do with even more impunity.

You're a white, sixty year old, reasonably affluent man. The chances are you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times in your life you have been sexually harrassed/ propositioned/followed/pestered. When I was in my teens (and comparatively vulnerable) I'd expect something unpleasant to happen on a weekly basis or more. It wasn't just strange pervs in macs in shady alleyways, it was friend's dads giving lifts home in the dark putting trying to put their hand up your skirt. Only the stupid hair, clothes and catchphrases make Saville different form your average creep; that and the way he was able to capitalise - and expand - the opportunities available to him.

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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2012-11-19 01:25 pm (UTC)
Agree. For most women, this behaviour from a wide range of men is expected at some time of their lives. If they are also vulnerable, it becomes 'normal'.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-11-19 01:52 pm (UTC)
You're right. Savile was able to hide in the culture. The difference between him and all the other guys is he was abusing on an industrial scale.

There are allegations he was active at Haut de la Garenne and pimping kids from there to powerful paedophiles. I've no idea how much weight to give them. Haut de la Garenne has been well hushed up. Savile denied any connections to the place but there is at least one photo that proves otherwise.

I think the goings on at a high level go beyond generalized rape culture. There are indications that some of the people who have been mentioned in dispatches like to hunt in packs, that their tracks have been covered up and witnesses made to go away. Does the name Bob Boothby mean anything? We can discuss him freely because he's dead. He shared reform school boys with the Krays, had a long-running affair with MacMillan's wife and won a libel action against the Mirror when it tried to expose him. He was protected by big names in both parties. That has a whiff of conspiracy about it to me. That was then, this is now. Have things really changed?

You're right. I've led a comparatively sheltered life. I've managed not to think about this stuff too much. Well, I'm thinking about it now and it's doing my head in.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2012-11-20 01:26 pm (UTC)
I visited the UK for the first time in the 1970s and saw Jim'll Fix It and all I could think at the time was "Ewwwww". He truly gave me the creeps, but everyone thought I was the weird one for saying so.
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