Monday, 8 February 2010

Ça plane pour moi.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

I came across the piece below in a July 1965 copy of The Daily Mail. It was written by Peter Black, one of the newspaper's television reviewers. You could easily subsitute the name Savile with that of any number of modern day Aunt Sallys; Jedward, John Terry and Chris Evans spring to mind. Their chosen occupations seamlessly mirror that of Savile in terms of endless, effortless, irritation; "popstar", footballer and, errr... disc jockey. Stick a few obscenities in there and a reference two to casual ultra violence and we could be looking at something disturbingly Brookerish...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

The first time I saw Jimmy Savile I observed in quite a neutral way that he wore a blond wig (actually it's his own hair).  The notice brought me a letter from a friend of his, saying Savile had been struck all of a heap by the ferocity of my attack.  It is strange that a man so sensitive to ridicule that he where it isn't should go out of his way to excite it.  The B.B.C.'s documentary about him, The World of Jimmy Savile, was well worth doing.  Most of us are shockingly ignorant about these disc jockeys, who are as meaningful in our times as frozen food and all-destroying insecticides.  I cannot help seeing his professional personality as an embodiment of everything I most detest about the Pop cult.  Nothing personal Jim.

What does he do?  He introduces gramaphone records.  What's so special about that?  He does it in cowboy boots and a Little Lord Fauntleroy coiffure.  Anything else?  He has a quick, crude and ready tongue.  For this he picks up £1,000 a week, mainly from Radio Luxembourg shows, plus occasional gifts from interested parties.  "If a geezer wants to make me a little present of course I'll take it.  He buys me a few smelts.  He's going to make £20,000 out of a song..."  It seems the total triumph of a gimmick.  The idea of him is so unpleasing that had only to present himself as a reasonably nice person to seem a positive ornament to society.

This entertaining film (by John Robins) showed the jockey in various aspects: telling his beads, doing the rounds of an old persons' home, being nice to his mother, introducing records in a weird mix of Yorkshire and West End American, driving his £11,000 Rolls up for a snack at Fortes on the M1, being chucked around the wrestling ring by Gentleman Jim Lewis.  Evidently, he is nicer, tougher, and more intelligent than one might think.  He is a genuine eccentric show-off who really likes people.  He is not a butt as he showed in his talk to medical students, admittedly no severe intellectual challengers.  The film could not explain why these humble virtues earn so much money.  His appeal to the rich, ignorant, bamboozled teenage market remains a total mystery.
 Alas, I couldn't find a sniff of the original documentary. Instead, here's a British Rail advertisement from the 1980s. Apologies also to anybody expecting to see Plastic Bertrand.

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