Jimmy Savile and me
I was lying in bed when my mum rushed up the stairs, barged into my room, mouthed that it was Sir Jimmy Saville on the phone. I had to shoo her away. I’d met him years ago. I’d acted as a runner on Louis Theroux’s show. An unforgettable experience because I was broke and wasn’t being paid. Jimmy picked up on that. Next thing I was being paid, not much, but enough to get by on. I never thanked him properly for that, because we finished shooting a few days later. I didn’t know what to say to him or what he wanted, but I knew following him and Louis about that you didn’t really have to say anything, Jimmy did all of the talking and most of it straight to the camera. But since there was no camera I asked the question everyone was asking, it was in all the papers and was even mentioned on Question Time, but in a jokey tone, that it would never happen.
‘Hi Jimmy, what’s this about this rumour about you in running for the job of Prime Minister?’ I asked.
He laughed on cue, as if a camera was pointing at him. When you saw him once the image stuck. His trademark sixties peroxide mop, tacky gold chains and endless processions of running shoes and a Churchillian cigar at hand that he didn’t always smoke but left a kind of hanging musty smell. It was difficult to imagine him in the crow-like clothes of the politician and parroting the party line.
‘You’re not the first to ask that question, ya cheeky bugger,’ said Jimmy. ‘All my people, at Leeds Infirmary, at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville, were all ringing each other up saying “Here. What’s wrong with the Godfather?” and the press have been going mad. That’s what I’m ringing you about.’
He talked for a few moments in sombre tones about his triple-bypass operation in which he’d died on the table and been brought back to life.
‘God’s still got work for me here. What can you do? You can’t turn God down. And you can’t hurt me. I’ve broken every bone in my body countless number of times, been given a good hiding by some of the best wrestlers in the business. I mean I’ve done it all. Competed in the Tour of Britain. Had over 300 professional bike rides. Had over 107 professional fights as a wrestler – lost the lot,’ he guffawed. ‘I mean no wrestler wants to go home and say he got beat by a long-haired disc jockey. I mean,’ he paused here, whether there was someone or something he had to do, I don’t know. I thought I heard a child’s voice, but then carried on as if he hadn’t kept me waiting. ‘We had a gentleman’s agreement and I’ve always been a gentleman. I’ve ran over 220 marathons and I’m still going strong. Me – I’m indestructible. It’s quite simple. People like you or they don’t. And people- my people – love me. They can’t get enough of me. That’s the truth and you can like it or lump it. Let me put it like this. People trust you, or they don’t.’
‘So, it’s true then?’
‘Some people have asked me to run because they think I’m the right man for the job. I think outside the box. And after thinking about it for a while, I thought it might be something I could do, something that would be good for the country. I don’t claim to be no expert, or anything, but I’ve been tested, got a genius rating from Mensa, and more importantly I know what folk want. Know what folk need. I’ve been doing it all my life. I know what it’s like running around with nothing, with the arse out of your trousers. But I loved it. And I’m still doing it. I don’t spend two consecutive nights in the same bed. Got places all over the country where I can put my head down. Places I call home. I don’t need luxury. Splashed out on a few Rolls Royce. But I don’t have time to get tired. I’ve got seven toothbrushes and seven phones and that’s enough. And my mum, the Duchess, god rest her soul, would have told you, coming from a family of seven, we always had respect for people. Massive respect. Helping people have a little fun and making a few quid in the process. Look, it’s not a matter of money. I’ve got oodles of cash, and everybody knows how much of my time I give to charity. I’ve always been like that. Trying to help folk out. I see this as another chance, perhaps my last chance, to do something big, before I pop my clogs.
‘And let’s not forget here, when Margaret Thatcher wanted a favour she came to me. And what did I do? I said “Leave it with me, Prime Minister. Just leave it with me.” Next thing she’s on the blower thanking me because I’ve rebuilt Stoke Mandeville Hospital from the ground up. You can look it up in them there papers. I’ll send you copies if you like. Just say the word. Couldn’t get enough me. Called me: “Marvellous. Simply Marvellous’. Nobody else could have done that. And not a penny of public money was used.
‘And I’ve been at the Palace. Let me tell you something.’ He tapped the phone a few bumps, to show this was confidential and lowered his tone. ‘The Queen, Her Royal Highness and Prince Charles thanked me too. I shouldn’t be saying this but, me and Prince Charles –he’s the most caring bloke I know, just unbelievable, well, he’s always on the phone to me, asking if there’s anything I need, but I’m friendly with them all, and I’ve got the last five Prime Ministers on speed dial. ’ He sighed, ‘And poor Lady Di, we talked on the phone regularly. If she came to me, we could have got that stuff sorted.’
But Jimmy doesn’t do sad for long.
‘I’ve got it all there somewhere in a box doctorates, OBEs and all that kind of bumf. And a knighthood from her gracious Majesty. And that was great, taking the Duchess to the palace and meeting another Duchess, because she loved all that kind of thing. But she couldn’t have been happier than the day I got a papal knighthood from Pope John Paul II. The Duchess, she didn’t say much, I wasn’t her favourite by any means, but she was religious, you know made us lot go to mass every Sunday –something I still do to this day - she was all made up. And that was enough for me. The best five days of my life was spent with the Duchess before she died. Then I had her all to myself. Then I got her the best, most expensive casket, pulled by six black horses, no expense spared and made sure her headstone was of the finest Italian marvel. She deserved it.’
Jimmy turned his attention to me. ‘I want you in my team. I’ve been keeping a close eye on you, and what you’ve been up to. I’ve got a couple of young chaps on board. You won’t know them. David Cameron, he’s a bit like a young Tony Blair, not too bad a bloke, and if you point him in the right direction he seems to know what way is up. I’ve took on his other school friend, reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger, hard-headed, not given to too much flannel: George Osborne. You’ll get to meet them later. But to be honest I want to put you in charge, keep an eye on them, because you know a bit more of what’s what and those two couldn’t be left to run a chip shop.
‘I’m sorry Jimmy, I’ve met Cameron and Osborne before. There’s just something about them. They’re just too smarmy for my liking. I don’t think I could work with them.’
‘You might have a point,’ said Jimmy, before hanging up.