Thursday, 24 October 2013

A Tarnished Childhood

My blog is now over a year old – happy birthday Domino Effect – so I thought I had better write something to acknowledge this.

But every time I turn the laptop on to start writing I seem to draw a blank, writer’s block! I have struggled to make fun of anything recently. Well that isn’t strictly true, but nothing that can cover a blog piece. I mean little things have tickled me, like if vegetarians care so much for animals why do they steal all their food? I also wonder why you either meet a nice old person or a mean old person. There seems to be no in-between.

I also would like to know why people can’t just be blunt. Why do they have to go round the houses instead of saying what they mean or feel?? Everyone seems to do it nowadays. Just call a spade a spade and have done with it. This is a no secret zone!!

Then I switch on the news and realise my whole childhood was one big lie…

I grew up in the 80s and like most kids in the 80s was hooked on Saturday television. So in the mornings it was Going Live with Phillip Schofield and Sarah Green, followed by the likes of Teenage Mutant Hero (they couldn’t use Ninja back then!) Turtles, Inspector Gadget and Heathcliff – that crazy cat terrorising the neighbourhood (Whoooo oooo whooooooo yeah!).

But the one show I loved was Rolf’s Cartoon Club (did you know, you can join today!). And join I did!! I sent in drawings of cartoon characters I had created. I created all kinds of characters. I had a scrapbook of creations such as TV Tim. TV Tim was the hero of a comic I created with his trusty sidekick who was a telephone dog. The TV wasn’t plasma back in the 80s so Tim was based on the big brown, faux wood looking, family tube TV with actual buttons and dials! The telephone dog was a proper turn dial telephone (red in colour) and the bad guy of the piece was Rad Radio (original eh), who, you guessed it, was a radio complete with aerial and tuning nob! He was a DAB hand at being bad (Groan!).

Incidentally when older I created another comic strip called Super Sperm who lived in a big pink cock shaped mansion and when needed flew out of the “sky light” at the top of his mansion! His arch nemesis was Chlamydia!! I didn’t know how to represent that in cartoon form, so basically made it look feminine (after all it is women that pass on this kind of thing surely????).

Anyway, Rolf replied, although thinking back probably not in person, and I was a fully fledged member of Rolf’s Cartoon Club (you can join today! Honest).

Then Saturday evenings came and the whole family would watch Jim’ll Fix It…

One letter was only the start of, one letter and now you’re a part of it!! Jim’ll fix it, Jim’ll fix it for you and you and you and…

I loved that program although in hindsight it was shit. I mean, you can ask for anything in the world and stupid kids asked for crap things like meeting their local Mayor or opening a new supermarket!! Jim can fix it for you stupid!! Ask for something decent!!

Dear Jim,
I am James, I am 9 years old. Please can you fix it for me to visit Hugh Heffner at the Play Boy mansion…?


Dear Jim,
My name is James and I am 10 years old. I am poorly in hospital at the moment and have no company due to only a small side room being available. Please can you fix it for me by coming to visit…?

Actually it’s that second part that is the problem… but more on that later…

After Jim had let some kids ride in a fire engine or the back of a police car (and looking at some of the kids on the show I’m sure it wasn’t going to be the last time they had that type of ride), we changed the channel (back then kids, we only had 4 to choose from!) looking for something to watch before stumbling across Jim Davidson’s Big Break!

Oh yes, Saturday evening prime time on the BBC at its best. People of the public paired up with a snooker star…

“And Geoff you have picked the green ball which means you have Jimmy White!!!
George, you have the pink ball and you will be partnered with Steve Davis…
Dave, you have the brown ball and have Joseph Bloggs…. (Who the fuck is that???)

There was always that one person who got paired up with someone that no one had ever heard of…

Then Jim Davidson would crack a few jokes, say some one liners on the cusp of being a bit blue. The adults in the room would laugh at the innuendo and we kids just didn’t get it.

Unless you were a lad in my class at school called Stuart who knew what the word cunt meant from about 3 years old… Every time I said I “couldn’t do” something (but lazily said “I cunt” do something) he would grass me up to the teacher for swearing.  I didn’t have a clue what he meant!!

After the days TV the family would switch on the radio and we’d listen to the sounds of Dave Lee Travis, or DLT as he was known… (Ok, this bit is totally made up, we never listened to the radio as a family, but then this ending just wouldn’t work if I didn’t include it).

The children went to sleep happy after a wonderful day of watching their TV hero’s entertain them and make them laugh. Thinking happy thoughts, thinking about what to write to Jim about next time or what to draw Rolf in the hope he’d see your artwork and demand to meet you…

The innocence of my youth, the innocence of the 80s…

Fast forward to modern day and flicking on the news to see the Yew tree arrests (Yew tree being the code name for a sting operation involving paedophiles).

“Today it has emerged that Jimmy Saville of Jim’ll Fix it fame, who died last year, has been found out for his years of paedophile activity stretching across the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s…. Jimmy Saville would often prey on children at local hospitals… “

“As part of the Yew tree operation Rolf Harris has been arrested on suspicion of indecent assault….”

“Today Jim Davidson was questioned over allegations of child abuse at a London police station…”

“Dave Lee Travis, known to millions as DLT, was today arrested as part of the Yew tree investigation…”

And in the space of 12 months, 2012 – 2013, my entire childhood 20 odd years ago was destroyed! Everything I loved and talked about in the playground, tarnished. It seems they all were at it, and getting away with it because of their fame and fortune.

I remember when the news story first broke on Jimmy Saville. The reporter stood outside a hospital in Leeds “Jimmy Saville made his victims do things that, as a child, they didn’t understand…”
At first, before I knew the truth, I instantly thought “Sudoku? The evil bastard…”

My Dad would sit there at the time saying “I don’t trust that Saville… He looks like that bloke that sits out side the school gates…”

Suddenly it became evident that everyone thought it, everyone seemed to know it, but everyone turned a blind eye because they were famous, because they were popular, because they were rich.

Destroy a child’s innocence, sat vulnerable in a hospital, or keep the ratings up?? No brainer!

Everyone with a beard, who wore a tracksuit or who used an over abundance of sexual innuendo seemed to be a paedophile! Everyone seemed to think it. Everyone who matched that stereotype seemed guilty at the time and suddenly was guilty now (well, it’s all alleged let me point out… but where there’s smoke…).

My Dad would pipe up that they should have arrested the lot of them back then. But on what evidence if no one came forward? On the evidence that they look like paedophiles!!

So maybe we should introduce a new law where if you look like a paedophile, so have a beard, like sexual innuendo too much, have that creepy smile going on, wear brown slacks and a raincoat (even in summer) and carry a jotter and camera with you, then then you will be locked up (and we would have less train spotters standing on bridges too!).

You will be guilty even if you haven’t done anything because you will end up doing something!

You will destroy the innocence of youth, you will destroy someone’s life and you will tarnish the memories of a wonderful 80s to people like me.

Prevention is better than cure after all, so nip it in the bud before anything serious happens!!
We will have lynch mobs gathering in town centres ready to hang the likes of Arsene Wenger (raincoat wearing; creepy look), Mr Motivator (lycra and track suit), Brian Blessed (beard) and Keith Lemon (over use of sexual innuendo!).

Oh and in case you were wondering Jim did reply to my letter by the way. When I was very ill, lying in a hospital bed, he came to visit me… I was touched.

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