It's good to have Bryan - aka The Master - back on the blogscape, today filing a fine piece about the increasingly insane brouhaha surrounding the late Sir (for how long?) Jimmy Savile. One of the things that strikes me about the Savile business is that it so graphically illustrates how we (collectively) seem to have lost the useful art of spotting a wrong 'un. It's hard to imagine a wrong 'un much more obviously wrong than Savile, a creepy weirdo and self-confessed psychopath: when interviewed by Anthony Clare for In The Psychiatrist's Chair, he cheerfully admitted to having no feelings, though he did confess to a strong dislike of children, and his deeply weird worship of his mother, 'The Duchess' (yuk), was well known. And yet this man achieved huge fame, popularity and prestige, and moved through the world admired and unsuspected. With a few commendable exceptions, who are only now speaking out, it seems that everyone took him for a thoroughly good egg, if not a living saint. What was wrong with them?
Perhaps we've lost the art of spotting a wrong 'un because we're no longer allowed to act on our instincts about people, but must override such feelings and conform to the rules and conventions - if someone ticks all the boxes, they're OK (though one thing psychopaths are very good at is ticking whatever boxes are required). Perhaps also it is that, increasingly, children are so protected from the outside world that they never develop this useful ability. When I was a boy, in a time when children were free to roam at large to an extent unthinkable today, we all knew how to spot a wrong 'un, someone who might be a danger to us; it was a basic survival skill. I fear it may be dying now - which is good news for the wrong 'uns but not so great for the rest of us, especially as so many of them are attracted to politics. Ask yourself - would anyone in their right mind have appointed Jeremy Hunt to high office? Yet there he is. Not that I'm likening him to Jimmy Savile - there's more than one way to be a wrong 'un.