Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Monday 1 October 2012

Blinded by the obvious.

THERE are some types of news which are not news at all.

The pictures of entirely normal weather for the time of year, for example - lambs in spring, sunbathers in summer, and today a house covered in creeper that's (gosh) changing colour, just like it did last year.

Then there's the revelation that the wife of the teacher who ran off to Bordeaux with a child has dumped him. Perhaps some of us were wondering what she'd do but there can't have been many who'd expect her to be thrilled. Finding out she's chucked his stuff in the street is not news so much as an entirely-predictable annotation to the text.

And let's not forget the 'shock' that Liberace was gay, something which millions claimed to have been inexplicably unaware of and is a prime example of how people can be blinded by the obvious.

And today there's something new for us to get our heads around which frankly pretty much everyone already realised: Jimmy Savile was best avoided.

Perhaps there was one person out there who knew only of his charity marathons and jangly jewellery who still had Sir Jimmy at the top of their dream babysitter list.

One person so naive they could see a man who made a habit of plying strange children with gifts, seeking out the places children would be found, and puffing cigar smoke in their faces, and think that it was all perfectly fine.

But aside from Esther Rantzen, is anyone that surprised to find out Jimmy Savile OBE was pretty vile when he thought no-one was looking? Clue was in the name, if you looked.

But then being a little peculiar doesn't necessarily equate with child abuse, or every eccentric egomaniac with unfortunate taste in leisurewear would be locked up on the nonce's wing.

So what would equate with child abuse?

Well, being friends for 25 years with Jonathan King, a man who was found guilty of abusing five boys aged 14 to 16 in the 1980s and whose defence in court included claiming it was unfair that it was illegal.

(A man later invited to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and moan about how he was abused by the Press, thereby turning a reasonable investigation that had merely been badly-executed into a disgusting farce, but that's a different diatribe).

Defending Gary Glitter for "doing nothing wrong" in downloading 4,000 child porn images "of the worst possible type" involving children aged from two to 10, and what's more saying so a year after he was deported from Vietnam for sexual abuse of girls aged 10 and 11.

Or maybe the fact being being subject of allegations made to police in 2007, or a two-month Newsnight investigation which was spiked in part because it clashed with a Jimmy Savile tribute show.

Perhaps the reports in 2008 linking him to Jersey children's home Haut de la Garenne, then being investigated by police over historic allegations of child abuse and which has since led to convictions of a former member of staff. Not that a report 'linking' someone is proof of anything; but that Jimmy at first denied ever having been there despite a picture of him playing on the lawn.

If you look at all those things with a critical eye and an inquiring mind, the fact a man has hung around pubescent and pre-pubescent children his entire adult life starts to take on a different tone.

In fact once you take all that into consideration the fact Jimmy Savile offered relationship advice to Prince Andrew and got Frank Bruno to shake hands with the Yorkshire Ripper is frankly small beer, even if Randy Andy is friends with a paedophile and not many people take tea at Broadmoor.

So it's not that much of a surprise to know several women have come forward to say they were groomed and attacked by Savile from the age of 12 having been selected by him from audiences at children's TV shows, discos and a home for emotionally damaged young girls.

Because the allegations have been made a year after his death there are plenty of people who will say they're made up. Maybe, but the accounts have too many consistencies to be entirely fictional.

So why say it now? There are three reasons to expose child abuse - to bring the perpetrator to justice, to stop him doing it again, and to give the victims a say.

As Savile is cold in the ground the first two are moot points and as for the third, well, that's up to them. If saying it makes them feel better, if it exposes anyone else who knew and did nothing, or if perhaps it tells a child today that what is being done to them is also abuse, then it deserves shouting about.

But what will only be whispered is that the real reason Jimmy Savile never faced these allegations when he was alive is because we didn't want him to.

The girls who say he attacked them, the television companies which employed him, the producers who saw goings-on in dressing rooms, the journalists who heard rumours but didn't put enough effort into substantiating them, and yes you too, the audiences and fans who didn't want to look at him too carefully and even now are thinking it's not true on the grounds you used to like him - there was, in every instance, no appetite for finding out more.

We all liked him as he was - the eccentric man in a tracksuit with the funny catchphrases who made children's dreams come true.

Every single one of us ignored the obvious clues because it suited us, and the chances are that once the documentary is aired we'll excuse him again or presume the worst of those girls telling their story, for the same reason.

Because if we look too closely at him, we have to look at ourselves too.

And ask why we didn't realise that some children have very bad dreams indeed.

Nothing good ever came of yellow spectacles.