Troll Models

Jimmy Savile wasn’t my hero. I’m not just saying that now, even when I was a youngster I could barely look at him he was so creepy. But I liked what he stood for – Possibility.

In retrospect it was about Jim, not you, making things possible, but I didn’t see it that way as a kid. It was possible for a young boy to fly in a glider, meet Michael Jackson, stand on the football pitch at the start of the F.A. Cup Final. I didn’t need Jim to fix it for me, fortunately, it was just amazing to think that these things were even possible.

The fact now that Jimmy has been outed for serially taking advantage of children is bewildering. I shudder to think of all the people who knew but felt they couldn’t say anything.

I don’t often share my views on paedophilia because they’re not necessarily palatable to everyone but I’m thinking the subject may not come up again soon, if at all, so I’ll go for it whilst it’s out there.

I don’t think we should exhume Jimmy and hang him. I think we’d be hanging ourselves.

The way I see it, paedophilia is society’s responsibility, every bit as much as the individuals. We have demonised these people. We’ve made it almost impossible to talk about paedophilia. I wouldn’t rush out to put my name on the register and risk universal scorn. Would you? And we don’t have to live with the torture of having been tortured ourselves as children. The crushing double burden of seeing yourself as worthless and society seeing you as evil.

Talking about paedophilia doesn’t make it socially acceptable. It just makes it possible to explain to those who need it explaining to that sexual contact with someone too young to be able to sense its significance is intensely damaging to that child.

Still, for all the harm done, I can separate Jim, the man who inspired me to wonder about all the things I could do in life, from Jimmy Savile, the grotesquely scary paedophile who inflicted his illness on more children than I even care to think about. Either way, he was no hero.

But then there’s Lance Armstrong who was unquestionably my hero. He ticked every box. His tactics are masterful. He studies the route to the last bend and traffic island. He learns about drag-coefficients and respiration to the point he could lecture on them.

A supreme commander, no team-mate gets left behind in his battles, and he’ll be the first to drop back and rescue the injured. A true sportsman, he will wait for his nearest rival to get back in his saddle after a crash because, when Lance wins, it must be fairly and squarely.

Or so I fucking thought.

I can’t reconcile Lance in the same way as Jimmy. Neither of them told the truth, both of them held themselves up as beacons of possibility, but Jimmy was a fruit-cake whereas Lance looked like he would sit well as a (good) politician.

I believed his oft repeated mantra that after the torture of his unusually intense, but life-saving, cancer treatment he would never put another unnecessary substance in his body again. And now I’m told he was racking up lines on his handle bars half way up a mountain. It’s all a bit much to take in.

In SkooshKarma I know that I am too setting myself up as a model of possibility. Of what happens if you give back as much as you take. And I expect to be challenged on that. If it gets off the ground and suddenly my knuckles are pulled to the floor by bling I hope some decent soul slaps some sense into me. If you catch me cruising about town in a bright yellow Ferrari, feel free to gently ram me off the road.

But I don’t hold myself up as any sort of moral authority, I can tell you that right now. I only know what I want to believe is true, and if Lance is too high on narcotics to get any sense out of and Jim is too busy fiddling with kids to fix it for me, I’m going to have set the standards for myself. Perhaps that’s the only way.

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