Thursday 11 October 2012

Spotting a Wrong 'Un: A Lost Art

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.


  1. Saville seems to have started his wrong'un-ing a very long time ago, so the mysterious art must have deserted us in the 1960s. I expect Peter Hitchens would put it down to the 1960s, anyway.

    You're so right about Jeremy Hunt. Why kick off your career as Health Sec in the midst of an NHS funding crisis by opening up a debate about abortion? And why does he grin so?

  2. But in all seriousness, I'll bet most parents who came into contact with Savile wouldn't have left their daughters alone with him. But once he'd climbed to a certain level of power and celebrity he was no doubt able to manipulate and awe people into acting against their instincts.

  3. It seems Savile was less a 'living saint' than a sort of secular fiddling priest. So the BBC now finds itself in a similar position to the Catholic Church...

    Re Hoont, I'm enjoying how the last re-shuffle is playing out. There three main promotions - Mitchell, Shapps and Hunt - and they're all going wrong, with more to come I reckon.

  4. His round Britain run consisted of....jog through the town, nearest layby outside the town's boundary, hop into campervan, dismount in layby just outside of the next town. About as genuine as a nineteen bob note. One notes with some satisfaction that our state broadcaster is learning that most basic of lessons those who live in glass houses..... or is it?

    Regarding governmental stuff, thing is boys and girls, rock-hard place-precipice, we have, as they say, Hobsons choice.

  5. I've never met a single person who thought Savile was anything but a wrong 'un. Has anyone? If you spend any time with those serial offenders who unlike Savile have been put out of action, not that I recommend it, you soon see that these people can be terrifyingly clever and plausible up close and have absolutely no insight into their condition. Beyond "lock 'em up and leave them there", which a civilized society cannot really do, or not at least without best efforts at remedy and reform, I don't think any society has yet worked out how to deal with them. Perhaps no one ever will. In the meantime, as The Master says over on his blog, we all get worked up about something which in the end is insoluble: the question isn't what we feel about them but what we do about them.

    I guess Jeremy Hunt wasn't promoted by anyone in their right mind. That's the whole point. It's a bit of a worry really.

  6. The sentimentality and lack of backbone among the so-called liberal intelligentsia in this country has brought us to this low point. It is not just the BBC and the at-times laughable criminal justice system that is frozen in the headlights - it seems that the whole public administration in Britain has ceased to function in the way that it should - and did in my memory. I read your comments on The Yard's blog - can I put his head on the spike?

  7. Joey Joe Joe Jr.12 October 2012 at 11:01

    ...Not that I'm likening him to Jimmy Savile...


  8. When I lived in Los Angeles I would meet parents who would brag that their child had been invited to Neverland and spent time with Michael Jackson. This was after he had been accussed multiple times of molesting chidren, but the parents were more concerned with thier 'social status' than the safety of their children.

    We can still spot the 'wrong uns. Its just that some parents are willing to sacrifce that knowledge to satisfy their own ego.