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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A 'fix-it' of Savilles

I was at Headingley over the weekend, for days three and four of the test match between England and South Africa. It was a treat to witness Kevin Pietersen’s remarkable innings of 149; his effort put England in a position to at least consider the possibility of a positive result, something that didn’t seem possible after South Africa’s first innings.

The ground was full on Saturday, with the so-called ‘Barmy Army’ in particularly boisterous mode. There are those within the game who lament the rise of this loose affiliation of supporters, believing that -for all of their undoubted enthusiasm- their beer-fuelled antics are downmarket, often disruptive and, frankly, more suited to a sport like football. A large number of ‘Army’ members sported fancy dress. In between overs, I spotted a phalanx of Wally’s, an assortment of super heroes, a handful of mutant ninja turtles and a troop of Mounties. Also on display were various members of the clergy, some Mexican bandits and others in general drag, complete with over-sized, gravity-defying comedy breasts. One group came dressed as the cast of the old TV show ‘Rainbow’ and it was amusing (at least it was the first time) to hear Bungle and Zippy being implored to behave in ways which would certainly have been deemed inappropriate on pre-watershed television.

Towards the end of the day, several folk in the raucous West Stand got a bit animated; I’m no expert, but it just might have been something to do with the amount of beer they had consumed. They got into a bit of a fracas with some stewards, who then tried to persuade them that it would be in their best interests to leave the stadium. Words were exchanged, there was some pushing and jostling and it all threatened to get a bit spicy. As this was developing, it was interesting to note the reaction among some folk in the crowd: they got their mobile phones out and recorded the incident, presumably in the hope that it might develop into something that would be worth uploading to youtube later on. If it had really kicked off, no doubt the protagonists would be internet sensations by now.

In the fancy dress stakes, the top prize went to some fifteen merry souls dressed as identical Jimmy Savilles, sporting red track suits, peroxide wigs, copious amounts of bling and the trademark big cigar. Now then (guys and gals), I wondered what the collective noun would be for a group of Jimmy Saville look-a-likes? A ‘gaggle’ of Savilles perhaps? Or maybe a ‘track suit’ of Savilles? I’m tempted to go for a ‘bling’ of Savilles, but I’m not sure that that word was in use when Jimmy was at the height of his fame. I think that a ‘fix-it’ of Savilles is appropriate, in acknowledgment of his long-running Saturday night show on BBC 1. ‘Jim’ll Fix it’, for those too young to recall, was a show designed to make dreams come true for young viewers who would write in with specific requests. Those dreams might have involved meeting a pop star, or appearing on a TV show with a favourite actor. One girl might have asked to get tennis lessons from a Wimbledon champion, while another boy would write: “Dear Jim, could you fix it for me to go skydiving?” There was one group which, memorably, wanted to eat a meal while riding the rollercoaster on Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach. Jim, of course, fixed it for all of them. On Saturday, the Headingley fix-it of Savilles was raising money for charity, in the same week that the late DJ's personal possessions had been auctioned off to help support some of his favourite causes.
It occurred to me that some of the activities we take for granted in 2012 would once have merited a letter to Jimmy Saville. Three or four decades ago, advanced technology belonged in a sacred domain, a magical, arcane world serviced by elite professionals deploying extraordinarily expensive machines and gadgets. Now, if you want to make your own pop record, film and edit your own video, or speak to your cousin in Australia, you can do it all from the comfort of your own bedroom.

We have everyday access to technologies which once belonged in the realms of fantasy, but -far from manufacturing dreams- we’re more likely to capture images of drunk folk misbehaving and then share those images with the world, allowing those drunk folk to enjoy a minor, anonymous, ephemeral notoriety. Jim could have fixed that back in the seventies, although I’m not really sure he would have wanted to.


  1. How about A duchess of Savilles?

    1. Good call, but perhaps only those 'in the know' would get the reference.