The UK police are accused of many things at the moment, and here’s another one: missing the blindingly obvious. Read the just-published transcript of the interview that Surrey police conducted with Jimmy Savile in 2009, and you marvel at the heinous incuriosity shown by the officers, while Savile weasels his way to and fro.
His default position was to maintain that he has “never, ever done anything wrong” in his whole life – a mission statement of self-delusion that should have warned his questioners. Even before the police got started, he blabbed that he’d been accused of “just about everything… I’ve had so much of it in 50 years, it started in the 1950s,” and said the accusations were always “a bit of blackmail”. Might not the cops have spotted that accusation, wrongdoing and guilt were at the forefront of his mind? Might not they have asked, and kept on asking, exactly what he’d been accused of for half a century?
Look at Savile’s reply when accused of asking a girl at Duncroft children’s home for oral sex: “There’s no chance for anything that you described to happen, ‘cos there’s never less than 30-40 people, all milling around, and so you can’t do things like you’ve just suggested.” Could the police not have jumped in and asked, “But if there were fewer people around, you’d have done it?” A similarly direct question scuppered Oscar Wilde at his trial for homosexuality in 1895: when asked if he’d kissed a certain boy, he replied, “Oh no, he was a very ugly boy…” But on Savile goes, insisting he never French-kissed a child – always saying that with 40 people around, it was “out of the question,” rather than saying “No.”
The climax of the interview is a tirade of threat (about how he’s got “friends” in legal circles, how “my people can book time at the Old Bailey”) and of self-justification that sounds utterly threadbare. He blurts out a classic non-sequitur when apparently talking to himself about chasing girls: “No need to take liberties with them, out of the question and anyway it’s not my nature, because all my life I’ve been a semi-pro athlete with 216 marathons, over 300 professional bike races…” And it ends with another classic evasion: “It’s complete fantasy, it really really is, and neither thing was at a place where you could get away with what they said you’ve got away with…”
I know hindsight makes everything clearer, but really. Did the police need a lie detector, a Freudian psychiatrist or John Humphrys to detect that their man was squirming with guilt? Or just special visors to protect against the dazzle of celebrity?
Steve Jobs, a role model no more
“If I look to any company as a role model, it’s Apple,” said Angela Ahrendts, back in 2010. I’m not sure every Mac-user will take company co-founder Steve Jobs as a role model, after the revelations in a new book, The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life With Steve Jobs by ex-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan. It’s not just that he believed he was a reincarnated Second World War fighter pilot (haven’t we all thought that, some time?); what shocks me is his treatment of his daughter, Lisa. He dumped her mother when she was pregnant and for years denied (even in court) he was Lisa’s father. When asked why the Apple Lisa computer was so named, he said it stood for “Local Integrated Software Architecture.” That casual appropriation of her name, while denying the girl’s existence – seriously, how chilly and unfeeling a geek would you have to be?