Savile’s attacks occurred in hospitals, clubs and the BBC. And it is the latter organization that is coming under considerable scrutiny by the police.
The question is how did the BBC employ such an individual, when there were known allegations against him? And what was the everyday culture at BBC that could allow Savile’s behavior to go unnoticed? Uncommented upon? Even tolerated?
A glimpse of how things were at the BBC can be found in Stephen Fry’s second volume of autobiography, The Fry Chronicles (pages 296-297 of the paperback edition), where he described a meeting with the BBC executive Jim Moir in 1983.
Hugh [Laurie] and I were shown into his office. He sat us down on the sofa opposite his desk and asked if we had comedy plans. Only he wouldn’t have put it as simply as that, he probably said something like: ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ which would have been his way of saying: ‘What would you like to talk about?’ Jim routinely used colourful and perplexing metaphors of a quite staggering explicit nature. ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ might be his way of asking, ‘Shall we work together?’ I had always assumed that he only spoke like that to men, but not so long ago Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders confirmed that he had been quite as eye-watering in his choice of language with them. Ben Elton went on to create, and Mel Smith to play, a fictional head of Light Entertainment based on Jim Moir called Jumbo Whiffly in the sitcom Filthy Rich & Catflap. I hope you will not get the wrong impression of Moir from my description of his language. People of his kind are easy to underestimate, but I have never heard anyone who worked with him say a bad word about him. In the past forty years the BBC has had no more shrewd, capable, loyal, honourable and successful executive and certainly none with a more dazzling verbal imagination.
“There is so much talk about rumours, but I can tell you that neither from external sources or internally, neither by nods and winks or by innuendo, did I receive any scintilla of this story whatsoever, or discuss it or his behaviour with my superiors. There was not a scintilla of this either from Roger Ordish, his producer for 20 years.”
Should we be surprised? Not really. But it makes sense that Moir didn’t hear any allegations when it was seen as okay to use sexist, aggressive and offensive language such as ‘Strip naked and show me your cocks,’ or, ‘Let’s jizz on the table, mix up our spunk and smear it all over us,’ on a regular basis. This kind masturbatory boy’s club culture covers up for a lot of unacceptable behavior.
Quirky early 80s New Wave act Haysi Fantayzee consisted of co-lead singers Jeremy Healy and Kate Garner—who looked like Dickensian “Huckleberry Finn” white rasta versions of Raggedy Ann and Andy—and Garner’s boyfriend, producer/manager Paul Caplin, who had previously been in a New Romantic group called Animal Magnet, but detested performing and preferred to be thought of as the group’s behind the scenes “mastermind.”
They were known as a fashion/dance act and could roughly fit into a grouping of UK acts including Culture Club, Bananarama, Duck Rock-era Malcolm McClaren, Fun Boy Three and Bow Wow Wow, post post-punk pop performers at the dawn of the video age when the visual presentation was becoming as important as the music. Although Haysi Fantayzee will forever be thought of as a fluffy, lightweight “totally 80s” act, their music was actually quite innovative, and wholly original for the pop charts of the era, incorporating country, dance beats, cartoony sound effects, dub reggae and cheeky/childish double entendre sing-song lyrics about anal sex and “chizoola” (I don’t know what that is, but it sounds dirty). I loved them then, and I still think their records sound great.
I can vividly recall one day, just after Christmas of 1983, being in the Fiorucci store in London, on King’s Road—I was the only one browsing in what was a small store—and in walked Kate Garner and Marilyn, the “gender bender” “friend of Boy George” (for that is how he’s always described). Two things: One, they were just laughing hysterically and throwing things on the counter—piles of expensive stuff—without even bothering to try them on (obviously someone else was going to be picking up their tab) and 2.) OMFG was she HOT. If you’ve ever been suddenly confronted by an impossibly gorgeous creature at close range, unexpectedly, and your guts just FREEZE, well, this is what happened to my 18-year-old stomach that day when I made improbable, fleeting eye contact with the delicious Kate Garner. “Good times come to me now…”
Haysi Fantayzee only lasted a couple of years before they split up, leaving behind one album, Battle Hymns for Children Singing, four singles, b-sides and 12” mixes. Jeremy Healy went on to be a well-known producer, DJ and club promoter; Garner—who still looks great—became a top celebrity photographer and Paul Caplin is now the owner of Caplin Systems, a successful financial trading software company.
“John Wayne Is Big Leggy,” a paean to America’s wild west, racism and Greek sex:
Alan McGee is in his den, the large room he keeps as his office at his home in Wales. The room has memorabilia from his past life as Head of Creation Records, when he was manager of the most successful bands on the planet. On the walls and desk are photographs and posters, papers, drawings, his signature hat and glasses. On the floor discs (packaged away), shoes, surrounded by small towers and pyramids of books on the occult, Crowley, Spare, philosophy and music. McGee has lived in Wales since he quit the music business almost a decade ago, but instead of a quiet pastoral life, he is busier now than he has ever been.
‘There’s a lot of stuff going on, Paul,’ McGee says, counting off a list with his fingers. ‘There’s the film Kubricks with Dean, which you know about. I’m in the middle of suing the News of the World, and that’s going to come to court early June next year, with Hugh Grant and a few others. There’s the book, my autobiography which we might call “McGee”, but weirdly, Harry Mulligan, who I’m writing it with, wants to call it “You Cannae Push Yer Granny Aff A Bus”, which I think is funny. It’s the story of how you come from Glasgow, from Mount Florida, next to Hampden and end up in Rock ‘n’ Roll for nearly thirty years, from 23 to the age I am now.’
McGee hardly looks into to his forties, but he recently celebrated his 52nd birthday, a quiet event with his family and friends. At age when most people are thinking of winding down, McGee is about to make his return to the Music Industry with a new Record Label.
Last week the NME reported on McGee’s return to the music business. It was a small coup for the magazine to break the news, but that isn’t exactly how it happened, as McGee explains.
‘They pieced together this interview, bless them, and it was a great interview, except I didn’t do it. The NME just pieced it together.’
Rather than being pissed, McGee finds it funny.
‘The only way people knew that interview was in the magazine was someone did a JPEG on the internet and then everyone passed it around via Facebook. Nobody buys the NME. The problem is the journalists that work there think people read their magazine, but the ABCs are 23,500.
‘No one has any bigger say or lesser say than anyone else. And that’s how it should be.
‘The NME is not the only game in town. I love the NME, don’t get me wrong, I think they thought I was coming back and doing another big Creation thing, but you can’t create the past. Create the future don’t recreate the past.’
So, what brought McGee back to his first love and how is he going to create the future?
‘My Japanese friend Takashi Yano, he had dug me out of Wales, and he brought me on over to Japan to DJ some Primals, and that kind of stuff and I’d known him before, and we became really good friends, and then one day he just said, ‘Look I want you to do this Tokyo Rocks Festival.’ I’d never done a rock festival before, but because it was Takashi, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do this with you.’ I sat down with him, and I found this is fucking enjoyable.’ McGee gives a joyous laugh. ‘I mean every fucker’s been trying to get me back into the music business, and I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no.’ And Takashi has come along and said do a Rock Festival, and we spent a few months kicking about with each other in the summer, checking out bands, and putting the bills together.’
Who’s on the bill?
‘I can’t tell you who they are, they’ll be announced, Paul, they’re names you’ll know, big names.’
The excitement McGee felt over curating Tokyo Rocks made him reassess what he wanted to do with his life.
‘I suddenly realized I’d got my itch back for music. It was kind of like being good at something and then forgetting you are good at it, do you know what I mean? I suddenly realized I was good at it, good at talking to the bands, talking to people, and I’d forgotten I was good at, and I am still good at it.
‘Music hadn’t been a part of my life. I’d been busy with bringing up my little girl and living in Wales, and just living my life, it wasn’t Rock ‘n; Roll, you know. But suddenly it all seemed to fall into place.
‘At first, we thought of calling it Creation, but then you know, I was never that sold on the name Creation anyway. But what became apparent, when we started talking about starting a new label, the thing is you have to find a new way of doing it.
‘The reason we didn’t call it Creation is because, this label is going to be so different with what we’re going to do. Creation was a moment and a time. Maybe the attitude is similar in certain ways, but this is a model that has to work today, and has to work for everybody. Creation worked for everybody and this has to work for everybody, but you can’t use that 1990’s business model for 2013.
‘It sounds a bit crazy, but what we’ve got to do is re-invent the wheel.
‘We want a new way of doing things, we want to work in a kind of partnership with people, which works for everyone involved.
‘I mean we all have different ideas. I’ve got definite ideas what I want to do. There are a lot of new bands I like and that really interest me. I love Pete McLeod, Gun Club Cemetery, this guy Chris Pattemore, who comes form Hay-on-Wye.
‘I’m really interested in doing new stuff, but I’d also like to get a couple of established acts, and not the ones everyone expects who worked with Creation.
‘So, what I’m saying is, yes, we want to have a new label, and yes, we are having meetings with lawyers and people, but this is something we’re working on, that’s moving a long at its own pace. It’s evolving, and to get it right, to get so it works for everyone involved, we can’t force it, we can’t make happen fast, we have to get it right.’
McGee knows setting up a new business structure that works fairly for all is not going to be easy.
‘The music business has changed, it’s not just about record sales alone. The world’s changed. Think back to 1990s, and you and me were probably just getting our heads around computers, and look at us today. Everything is available at your fingertips today. And a music label must work with that, you know.
‘Everything has changed and that’s exciting. I’ve never been afraid of change, I can embrace change, and I’m up for making this new label something really different, and original. But we have to find a way to do it that is compatible for everyone. Find a way to do it that we’re into, that the bands and musicians are into. I think we can do it, I think we can find a way for new bands and established bands.’
There’s a great passion and urgency when McGee speaks. He sees the growth of bland, soulless music destroying what was once a healthy indigenous music culture, running in tandem with the failure of British politics to bring about any real social or political change. The country is still in the hands of a tiny, privileged minority. And as for the wealth of music only a few bands, clubs and DJs are keeping that passion alive.
‘There’s a real malaise of dumbing things right down. People don’t have a choice. It’s a bit like the political system in this country, there’s no fucking choice. There’s no real alternative, no real possibility of change. And something has to be done about that, you know.
‘There are a few people who are flying the flag that actually make you believe that music matters. There’s still a few of the small bands, like you’ve got your Pete McLeods, your believers, your Gun Club Cemetery, your Chris Pattemores, and your Chris Grants up in Liverpool, these are your believers, and I’ll always go with the believers. Fuck the cynics. Fuck the Guardian. Fuck them. I’d rather go with people who believe that music matters and that we can make a difference.
‘You know, that have spunk in their bollocks. Everybody is so wet, so passive, so scared, that you can’t say this you can’t say that, and that’s where it all went wrong.
‘Look I’m a 52-year-old bloke and it would be too snide and too lazy for me to pick on any of these bands, but there is so much music out there that is so fucking passive, it’s like what you play to sedate people. Maybe that’s me showing my age, but I was in Italy, in Bologna, at the weekend, and I saw Noel [Gallagher] and this is not because he’s my friend, but his band played and there were 4,000 people, 15-year-olds, 16-year-olds, all singing Oasis songs back at Noel in between tracks. Music still means something. Even rock and roll can still mean something. And that passion for music gives me hope.
‘Win or lose, at least you’ve gone your own route.’
So, where is Alan’s new unnamed record label going to be based.
‘I bought this chapel in Wales, it’s an amazing chapel. The only things that are for sale in Wales are pubs and chapels. Because nobody goes to church and nobody can afford to go to the pub.
‘I bought the chapel in Talgarth and that is going to be the base for whatever we do. It’s going to be in Talgarth, South Wales.
‘But first let’s get the movies, the book and Tokyo Rocks all finished.’
Virginia Woolf was never sure of Katherine Mansfield. She thought she was a literary rival, someone to be wary of, not quite trusted, and never to be fooled by her appearance, especially those big brown eyes, the severe bangs in a line across her forehead, her school marmish uniform, or the way she sat crossed-legged and drank tea out of bowls. Mansfield frightened Virginia, and it was only after Katherine’s early death in 1923 (a hemorrhage caused by running up a flight of stairs), and the subsequent publication of her journal, did Woolf see that Katherine Mansfield wasn’t a rival but her own distinct and brilliant talent.
Mansfield’s journal contained a heartbreaking tales of hardship, poverty, and debilitating illness. Woolf was shocked that Katherine had achieved so much against such very terrible odds. Virginia noted in her own journal how she would think about Katherine for the rest of her days. She did more than that, Woolf was directly influenced by Mansfield’s Modernist short stories and tried her own hand at Modernism with Mrs Dalloway, To the LIghthouse, The Waves and Between the Acts.
Mansfield’s Journal contained many short notes, ideas, descriptions and oblique details of her life - situations were often ill-defined, people disguised by initials, and important events missing - she destroyed much. Originally, the Journal had been edited for publication by John Middleton Murry, her indifferent husband and part-time lover, who literally abandoned Mansfield at the time of her greatest need. It was for him that she ran up those fatal stairs. Murry was a selfish, ineffectual and weak man, who exploited others to maintain a fantasy of his own genius - his books are lifeless, poorly written and dull. Woolf saw through him, and this may have clouded her judgment on Mansfield.
That’s the unfortunate thing about relationships, too often individuals can be limned by their other half. Mansfield was fiesty, brilliantly intelligent, and a very real talent, compared to Murry’s straw man.
There is a story in the Journal which is heartbreaking, and sad. And though not really about Mansfield, it in part mirrors something about the worst parts of relationships. Where Katherine suffered Murry’s damning indifference and torturous infidelities, the Cook of this tale suffered in a more brutal way.
I want to share it, because I think we can often judge too quickly, and too harshly, without ever knowing how another lives.
The cook is evil. After lunch I trembled so that I had to lie down on the sommier - thinking about her. I meant - when she came up to see me - to say so much that she’d have to go. I waited, playing with the wild kitten. When she came, I said it all, and she said how sorry she was and agreed and apologised and quite understood. She stayed at the door, plucking at a d’oyley. “Well, I’ll see it doesn’t happen in future. I quite see what you mean.”
So the serpent slept between us. Oh! why won’t she turn and speak her mind. This pretence of being fond of me! I believe she thinks she is. There is something in what L.M. says: she is not consciously evil. She is a FOOL, of course. I have to do all the managing and all the explaining. I have to cook everything before she cooks it. I believe she thinks she is a treasure…no, wants to think it. At bottom she knows her corruptness. There are moments when it comes to the surface, comes out, like a stain, in her face. Then her eyes are like the eyes of a woman-prisoner - a creature looking up as you enter her cell and saying: ‘If you’d known what a hard life I’ve had you wouldn’t be surprised to see me here.’
[This appears again in the following form.]
Cook to See Me.
As I opened the door, I saw her sitting in the middle of the room, hunched, still…She got up, obedient, like a prisoner when you enter a cell. And her eyes said, as a prisoner’s eyes say, “Knowing the life I’ve had, I’m the last to be surprised at finding myself here.”
The Cook’s Story.
Her first husband was a pawnbroker. He learned his trade from her uncle, with whom she lived, and was more like her big brother than anything else from the age of thirteen. After he had married her they prospered. He made a perfect pet of her - they used to say. His sisters put it that he made a perfect fool of himself over her. When their children were fifteen and nine he urged his employers to take a man into their firm - a great friend of his - and persuaded them; really went security for this man. When she saw the man she went all over cold. She said, Mark me, you’ve not done right: no good will come of this. But he laughed it off. Time passed: the man proved a villain. When they came to take stock, they found all the stock was false: he’d sold everything. This preyed on her husband’s mind, went on preying, kept him up at night, made a changed man of him, he went mad as you might say over figures, worrying. One evening, sitting in the chair, very late, he died of a blood clot on the brain.
She was left. Her big boy was old enough to go out, but the little one was still not more than a baby: he was so nervous and delicate. The doctors had never let him go to school.
One day her brother-in-law came to see her and advised her to sell up her home and get some work. All that keeps you back, he said, is little Bert. Now, I’d advise you to place a certain sum with your solicitor for him and put him out - in the country. He said he’d take him. I did as he advised. But, funny! I never heard a word from the child after he’d gone. I used to ask why he didn’t write, and they said, when he can write a decent letter you shall have it - not before. That went on for twelvemonth, and I found afterwards he’d been writing all the time, grieving to be taken away. He’d done the most awful things - things I couldn’t find you a name for - he’d turned vicious - he was a little criminal! What his uncle said was I’d spoiled him, and he’d beaten him and half starved him and when he was frightened at night and screamed, he turned him out into the New Forest and made him sleep under the branches. My big boy went down to see him. Mother, he says, you wouldn’t know little Bert. He can’t speak. He won’t come near anybody. He starts off if you touch him; he’s like a wild beast. And, oh dear, the things he’d done! Well, you hear of people doing those things before they’re put in orphanages. But when I heard that and thought it was the same little baby his father used to carry into Regent’s Park bathed and dressed of a Sunday morning - well, I felt my religion was going from me.
I had a terrible time trying to get him into an orphanage. I begged for three months before they would take him. Then he was sent to Bisley. But after I’d been to see him there, in his funny clothes and all - I could see ‘is misery. I was in a nice place at the time, cook to a butcher in a large way in Kensington, but that poor child’s eyes - they used to follow me - and a sort of shivering that came over him when people went near.
Well, I had a friend that kept a boarding house in Kensington. I used to visit her, and a friend of hers, a big well-set-up fellow, quite the gentleman, an engineer who worked in a garage, came there very often. She used to joke and say he wanted to walk me out. I laughed it off till one day she was very serious. She said, You’re a very silly woman. He earns good money; he’d give you a home and you could have your little boy. Well, he was to speak to me next day and I made up my mind to listen. Well, he did, and he couldn’t have put it nicer. I can’t give you a house to start with, he said, but you shall have three good rooms and teh kid, and I’m earning good money and shall have more.
A week after, he come to me. I can’t give you any money this week, he says, there’s things to pay for from when I was single. But I daresay you’ve got a bit put by. And I was a fool, you know, I didn’t think it funny. Oh yes, I said, I’ll manage. Well, so it went on for three weeks. We’d arranged not to have little Bert for a month because , he said, he wanted me to himself, and he was so fond of him. A big fellow, he used to cling to me like a child and call me mother.
After three weeks was up I hadn’t a penny. I’d been taking my jewels and best clothes to put away to pay for him until he was straight. But one night I said, Where’s my money? He just up and gave me such a smack in the face I thought my head would burst. And that began it. Every time I asked for money he beat me. As I said, I was very religious at the time, used to wear a crucifix under my clothes and couldn’t go to bed without kneeling by the side and saying my prayers - no, not even the first week of my marriage. Well, I went to a clergyman and told him everything and he said, My child, he said, i am very sorry for you, but with God’s help, he said, it’s your duty to make him a better man. You say your first husband was so good. Well, perhaps God has kept this trial for you until now. I went home - and that very night he tore my crucifix off and hit me on the head when I knelt down. He said he wouldn’t have me say my prayers; it made him wild. I had a little dog at the time I was very fond of, and he used to pick it up and shout, I’ll teech it to say its prayers, and beat it before my eyes - until - well, such was the man he was.
Then one night he came in the worse for drink and fouled the bed. I couldn’t stand it. I began to cry. he gave me a hit on the ear and I feel down, striking my head on the fender. When I came to, he was gone. I ran out into the street just as I was - I ran as fast as I could, not knowing where I was going—just dazed—my nerves were gone. And a lady found me and took me to her home and I was there three weeks. And after that I never went back. I never even told my people. I found work, and not till months after I went to see my sister. Good gracious! she says, we all thought you were murdered! And I never see him since…
Those were dreadful times. I was so ill, I could scarcely hardly work and of course I couldn’t get my little boy out. He had grown up in it. And so I hard to start all over again. I had nothing of his, nothing of mine. I lost it all except my marriage lines. Somehow I remembered them just as I was running out that night and put them in my boddy - sort of an instinct as you might say.
‘Essentially mixes of music we dig - some of which we are very obviously damaged by, some less obviously so.
‘But I think one is influenced by all music one likes - whether or not that music is not perceived as “cool”. For instance, both Jonny and I spend a lot of time listening to vocalists from the 1950’s - Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Blossom Dearie, Francis Faye, Timi Yuro, Julie London, etc. I think a lot of “hip” people never give that sort music a chance - and they are only doing themselves a disservice by being so unimaginative. Besides - the connections between say, Judy Garland and Bowie or Broadcast or The Moon Wiring Club seems pretty obvious to me.’
01. “Lonely House” - Lotte Lenya
02. “As I Lie In Your Arms” - Little Annie (A.K.A Annie Anxiety Bandez)
03. “Walking In The Rain” - Grace Jones
04. “Skin” - Leslie Winer
05. “Outta Space” - King Midas Sound
06. “Slipping Away (Tick Tock Mix By Chamber) - The Creatures
07. “Sultanesque” - Roxy Music
08. “Tender Talons” - Ladytron
09. “The End” (“Assault On Precinct 13”) Part 1: Disco Version - John Carpenter
10. “Human” (Massey’S Cromagnon Mix) - Goldfrapp
11.“Message Oblique Speech” - The Associates
12. “The Killer” - Pumajaw (A.K.A. Lumen)
13. “Brother And Sister” - Lubos Fisher
14. “The Be Colony”/“Dashing Home”/“What On Earth Took You?” - Broadcast And The Focus Group
15. “World’s End” - Mimi Goese & Ben Neil