Now that Jimmy Saville has been exposed in the media for sexually abusing several young women, I feel motivated to come forward and tell my mother’s story. She would want to testify if she were still alive. She would be glad that this story is out in the open now.
Despite Jimmy Saville being acquainted with our family (specifically, with my grandparents), my Mother couldn’t stand him. As a child, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t share our enthusiasm for ‘Jim’ll Fix It’. Particularly, as she said, he had visited her parents at their house in Teignmouth, Devon, on more than one occasion, when he was in the area doing gigs in Torquay, I believe.
Years later, she told me her reasons. From what I gather, he came to see her father. I’m not certain of the basis for these visits – or why he was a ‘friend’ of the family – but somewhere in the attic, we have photos and even cine footage of him playing swing ball in my grandparents’ garden. This must be in the 1960s.
After he had visited her parents, my Mother would drive Jimmy Saville to his local gig. While they were in the car, possibly even when she was driving, he would put his hand up her skirt and grope her. I’m not sure how far this went, or how many times: perhaps it was the motivation behind his visits. I have began talking to other family members / friends of hers who may recall further details.
The investigations into Jimmy Saville’s misconduct have only just emerged, as victims have gained the confidence to come forward following his death. Although I was aware of my Mum’s feelings towards Jimmy Saville, it did not occur to me to do anything about it until now. She never reported her experience: it wasn’t the ‘done thing’ back then. He got away with it because of his status. Now, it appears, my mother was one of many who had to put up with his unwanted attentions. My knowledge of the abuse she experienced may be classed as ‘second hand evidence’ but my mother cannot speak for herself. Therefore, I am driven to speak on her behalf. Jimmy Saville isn’t alive to defend himself and, sadly, my mother’s case can’t be heard either because she’s dead too. However, I feel it’s important that I tell the story for her.
Ahead of tonight’s documentary on Jimmy Savile. I now have 1st hand evidence on my Mum’s encounter with ‘the nation’s favourite nonce;’ from her best friend who was also involved in “one of the incidents” when he tried it on with them. It was the 1960’s, they were teenagers, but had turned eighteen.
Savile had been to my Mum’s house, visiting her (disabled) father and so they were giving him a lift back to Torquay, most likely to be in the days when he was a club DJ.
My Mum’s best mate recalls that, regrettably, Savile was in the passenger seat, and my Mum was actually driving when the creep started to put his hands up her skirt (quite a way up) she adds.
After shouting to her friend to “tell him to stop” he realised he didn’t stand a chance with my Mum and so “turned round and started” on her friend in the back. She said. “If we’d known what he was like, we would’ve put him in the back” then adds, “why we didn’t just kick him out of the car I don’t know, I suppose we were a bit scared of doing that.”
My mum and her best mate didn’t see themselves as victims, they were “quite capable of defending themselves, she writes, “at least he DID stop, when he realised we weren’t having any of it”, and therefore they don’t join “the legions of vulnerable teenage girls who were abused by him”. What’s shocking is that he was so blatant, it was virtually part of his media personality, from the girls he squeezes that bit too tightly on Top of the Pops to the general camaraderie he used to groom underage girls as he trawled around the country, taking them for trips out in his Rolls Royce, it was all part of the ‘fun.’ As my Mum‘s friend says, “he seemed to think it was all a joke. the horrible, disgusting, dirty old man.”
The current media spotlight on Savile’s inappropriate behaviour suggests that although his sleazy antics were quite obvious, it was all part of his media persona, this was show business and he was ‘the don. He got away with it. Thinking he was God’s gift to women and what with his do-gooder facade and wacky personality, he could be as sexist and downright rude as he liked. Furthermore if he tried it on with so many and it was just considered his way, some girls might have been aware this was wrong, but it seems he preyed on the more vulnerable teenagers, for every few that said no, and fought off his predatory advances, there would be the ones who were more naive, who thought it was expected of them, who were too shocked to do anything, or where it happened so quickly. I assume a pervert like him saw his foul behaviour as a case of “how’s about that then!”, some you win, some you lose.
Basically he was allowed to get away with it back then, he was ‘a ladies man’ It’s still common place now, decades later, he’s not the only man in show business to exploit his celebrity status for his own sexual gain, one of the perks of the job, in which ‘having a fondness for the ladies’ is still considered an acceptable trait of countless other media personalities. The TV and entertainment world has clearly got a long way to go before the era of sexist smoozing on air, nevermind off air, comes to an end. As the acceptable façade of television filters through to the media consuming masses, it’s no wonder sexism is still rife in the everyday world, on the street, in the workplace, if these are ‘the chosen ones.’
Jim’ll Fix It was a children’s programme for God’s sake! Surely he couldn’t be that blatant. The dirty old man with the wandering hands, not only bigged himself up to a cringe worthy degree, but eluded an almost saintly shield from those around him. But what about all those children he got to sit on his lap. Gross! The nation’s favourite nonce.
As young, hip, pretty young women, it was the sixties and they wore miniskirts but they certainly weren’t ‘asking for it,’ it was the fashion, and yet even now, 5 decades later, if a women wears a mini skirt, it has been assumed to signal the go ahead for a grope. It has happened to me twice. Once at a gig, in a crowd, turned round and of course I’ve no idea who did it. The other time I was stood in a pub garden in broad daylight, with a group of friends, when suddenly there’s a hand up my skirt, belonging to a man I’ve never met, who then just ran away. I ran after him and kneed him in the bollocks, and that was that, but I couldn’t believe the cheek of it. I’d like to think feminism has come a long way since the sixties, but sexism is still rife, derogatory comments continue to objectify women on a daily basis. Some are still flattered by the single minded intentions of some men, it’s classed as being chatted up, and it can lead to confusion, when the man’s advances turn physical.
Like many others, she is glad it’s all coming out now, and only wishes he was still alive to know it. Because as it stands he died knowing he’s got away with it: rape and sexual abuse of young people. In this day and age, no one should get away with this full stop. It certainly shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet, just because they do a lot for charity and are on TV. Never turn a blind eye to abusive behaviour, no matter who they are.
My Mum and her two best friends were ‘groupies’, they were teenagers in the sixties. They idolised the pop stars of the day, and got to hang out with some of them. I believe my Mum snogged a member of Slade. I want to hear more now, the stories, the hysteria, the obsessions and encounters. I know they’ve got some great tales to tell from those days. I see this as the beginning of recording these anecdotes, not only to hear about my Mum but because it interests me how attitudes have changed, or have they? and how did the celebs of the day treat them, what were their views on being women, how were they treated in general, do they think times have changed?……