About twelve years or so ago, Greg, Kay and I went on a camping trip to Scotland. We were going to try to do the whole journey in one go from London, but got held up in an enormous traffic jam on the M25 caused by an overturned newspaper bale lorry and only made it as far as Northumberland by nightfall. The next day, we carried on through the border with Scotland and got as far as Glencoe before stopping for a lunch break.
We stopped off at a remote roadside cafe high up in the mountain pass just before you reach Glencoe and piled into a warm cosy interior offering warm drinks and light snacks for refreshment. As we settled down at our table and took in our surroundings, the strong waft of cigar smoke and a very distinctive voice reached our senses. It was Jimmy Savile sitting at a corner table with a crew of mountain rescue people, deep in animated conversation. We learned much later that he had a cottage up that way and often helped out with the mountain rescue teams. His camper van was parked outside near our car. Kay, then about 10 years old, was excited that we were in spitting distance of not just any old celebrity, but THE Jim'll Fix It one. We tried our best not to stare at him and left him in peace, as we appreciated what it must be like to be a celebrity and have people clammering for autographs or taking photos, when all you want is a quiet chat with friends and a cup of coffee. It fills me with dread now to think what a lucky escape we had. Kay could have so easily run over to him and got in contact.... in more ways than one.
My reaction when the news about Savile first broke was to think what a shame he was not alive to defend these malicious allegations,but with every person that comes forward to say it happened to them, I now think, what a shame he is not alive to face the punishment for these charges. The NSPCC has been quoted as saying he is likely to be one of the most prolific sex offenders they have ever encountered. It is incredible that for 5 decades nobody had the courage to stand up and report him (from the many child vicitims to the adults who worked with him or for him). It seems everybody thought or was told the same - that he was too big a personality, particularly in the charity arena, for their complaints to be believed. It either seemed too far-fetched or it would damage the donations or salaries he put their way. He used his charity work to gild his reputation, make himself look extremely altruistic, when all along it would seem he was doing the very opposite, creating more opportunity for himself to pursue his own vile interests.
It is sadly too late to get justice from him now, but a lesson to be learned from all this is surely that we should not put any one soul on too high a pedestal that they cannot be knocked off, if need be. Celebrities are but ordinary mortals who just happen to be able to sing, act, tell a good joke or be in the right place at the right time. (Some are even just famous for being famous, although they cannot do anything remarkable to save their lives. They just happen to be the ex or the current squeeze of someone who is famous). We must stop treating them as if they somehow have supernatural powers and are beyond the laws of the land.