Good Morning, Sinners... with Warren Ellis

Jimmy Savile and the Price of Silence

By Warren Ellis

So it's the 1980s, and I'm drunk somewhere. I want to say it was this tiny wood-paneled drinking hole in Westminster, but I could be wrong about that. I was drinking with someone who knew a lot of people. Maybe it's 1990? Maybe not. A lot of those years are kind of foggy now.

Anyway. This person had, I think, just finished telling me about the special Vault kept at The Sun newspaper, where they put all the stuff about "celebrities" that they can't print but might like to use one day. They'd pay off the people who brought these things to them—the one example I remember was a guy who'd bought a flat from a TV host and, upon moving in, found explicit Polaroids of said host stuffed behind a fitted wardrobe, and, like any scumbag would, took them to The Sun to sell—and put the materials in the Vault. The cover story about the Vault was that The Sun was protecting our beloved celebrities from themselves. But everyone knew what the Vault was really there for.

My drinking companion had, I think, just finished telling me about this—unless that was someone else, some other time, because, hey, drunk—and, after another drink, said, "and then there's Jimmy Savile."

Jimmy Savile, later Sir Jimmy Savile, was a radio DJ, television personality, and tireless charity worker, raising many millions for causes like the storied children's ward at Stoke Mandeville hospital. He was still best known for his TV show Jim'll Fix It, where he made dreams come true for kids all over the country.

"Jim'll fuck it," said this person I was with. "Jimmy Savile's a nonce." If you had the misfortune to grow up outside God's Own Country, "nonce" is a term for pedophile.

"Bullshit," I said. "Jimmy Savile's been around forever. He would have gotten caught. Radio 1 Roadshows? Doing Top of the Pops on TV since the dawn of fucking time?"

"What do you think the price of silence is?"

"What? How could he not get caught? He looks like a freak. Dripping in gold chains with his long silver hair and shiny tracksuits."

"Well, of course he got caught. In a manner of speaking. Especially with the dead kids."

"What?"

"Well," this person said, "so the story goes—because I wouldn't want you to think that this is more than a hypothetical that I allegedly heard and etfuckingcetera—special arrangements were made for Jimmy at certain locations. He almost copped to it himself once: some interview where he talks about the special privilege of looking after the dead kiddies. The deal was that they just left him alone in morgues to get on with it."

"Jimmy Savile the necro-pedo. That's what you're telling me."

"I dunno. I think I like 'necrononce' better."

"Why? You're not giving me a reason why."

"I can give you millions of reasons why. He's raised fucking millions for these places. That was the price of silence. He gets them millions. They pay him in kind. Those bastards over the road have been picking the National Health Service apart all decade. Do you think some of these places would still be open, let alone functioning, without huge injections of charity cash?"

"Come on—"

"Go on, then. Now you know about Jimmy Savile. What're you going to do about it? Knowing that you're going to cut off tens of millions to, for argument's sake, a children's hospital if you snitch on the bastard. Ignoring for a moment that he's also probably been shagging kids in a BBC broom closet since 1964 and everyone's been saying 'Oh, that's just Jimmy and his funny ways.' Ignoring for a moment that he did those 'This Is the Age of the Train' TV ads for the fucking government. Ignoring what it'd do to the families of the dead, let alone the alive. Ignoring that he's met the Queen, he's odds-on for a fucking knighthood, he visits Thatcher at Chequers every New Year's Eve, and everyone your age still fucking deifies him because of Jim'll Fix It. The charity work that buys him access to kids alive and dead also saves thousands more kids every year. What're you going to do?"

"That's a shitty argument. There's holes all over it. You haven't said shit about the victims, past and present."

"Lucky that you can't do anything about it, then."

"I would if I could."

"That's what everyone says. Even the people who actually could. Because nobody likes the price. Want another drink?"

So, if you were wondering why it took so long for Jimmy Savile to be uncovered as a pedophile—and perhaps the necrononce angle was an embellishment, and perhaps not—then now you know. Nobody liked the price.

Follow Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis

Image by Marta Parszeniew

Previously - The Valley of Expectations

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