Monday, 31 October 2011

RIP: Jimmy Savile - Now then, now then, now then

"He was wearing a flashy tracksuit, and it looked as if he had redeemed every pledged gold chain from every pawnshop in Leeds and put it round his neck."

I remember the various adverts to try and persuade people to use seat belts. Before the law was enacted, there he was, in public information films, telling us to "Clunk-Click, Every Trip". Those films have become part of a bygone age, and most people have forgotten there was a time when wearing seat belts was optional

I didn't really listen to pop-music, but I did watch Top of the Pops, from time to time. There seemed to be a greater variety, and less manufactured pop-stars than today, and Top of the Pops also had both a dancing audience, some live bands (usually mimed!), and the start of the pop video boom - Abba were particularly notable for synchronised singing and visuals. And, of course, for teenage boys, there was also Pan's People.

Into this melee came various D.J.'s presenting the show. But none was more memorable that the cigar toting, gold chain wearing, shoulder length platinum blond D.J. Jimmy Savile, who would punctuate his banter with an extraordinary yodel.

And then, of course, came Jim'll Fix It. Jimmy Saville in a special chair, with a cigar holder and lighter which came out of concealed compartments in the arms of the chair. Here he was very much a showman, but one who used his fame to bring fun and enjoyment to millions, and special memories to those who had the "fix it".

Reading the obituaries, no one seems to have every found who he was apart from his public persona. I remember my friend, the Reverend Terry Hampton went to a charity lunch in St John. Jimmy Savile was there, along with Eric Morcambe, and Terry said that while Eric was easy to talk to, Jimmy was reserved, somehow distant.

Maybe he just didn't have time for small talk, and was quite shy beneath the outward shell. There is a clip of him pushing a hospital trolley, part of the melange of clips put together for his obituary, and he isn't smiling, showing off for the camera, and his expression is quite sad, almost melancholy; it comes as something of a contrast. I was reminded of clowns behind the makeup.

I think that nonetheless he was a genuine person, who did a lot unseen for charity, and not just charity - lots of people have spoken of his personal touch in their loves. He certainly was one of the great British eccentrics, even if he hid his real self. I hope they show a few Jim'll Fixit shows as a tribute.

A few catchphrases...

"How's about that, then?"
"Now then, now then, now then"
"Goodness gracious"
"as it happens" (pronounced "as it 'appens")
"Guys and gals".

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