A couple of days ago, I posted a short blog mentioning what a government minister had told my chum mad inventor John Ward about Jimmy Savile’s knighthood from the Queen – not to be confused with the papal knighthood he, as a devout Catholic, received from the Pope. I had not realised John actually met Jimmy Savile.
Time-Life has called John “possibly the best English eccentric inventor living today.”
“I did meet Jimmy Savile about 1981-ish,” John told me yesterday, “when I organised a charity football match and we got £926 from it. At that time, it was the highest amount raised from one event in Northamptonshire – and off we all went to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to hand the cheque over to The Blond One.
“Among the two dozen or so of us that went, one girl was 23 but looked about 15 or 16 – something she did not like as she was refused drinks in pubs.
“When we got there, it was like Ken Russell’s film of The Who’s Tommy but, instead of Marilyn Monroe statues being wheeled around, we had The Blond One wandering about with his assistant – some middle-aged woman clad in jeans and a tee shirt with DAILY EXPRESS in large letters across it.
“People filed up in a line up as if they were being introduced to Royalty and in some people’s minds – judging by their gushings – we were. Old dears were close to wetting themselves because, to them, it was like meeting the Queen or the Pope and The Blond One patronised them something wicked.
“I can see why nobody would complain about Him – and no-one would believe complaints – as this bloke was a Saint in their eyes. He was the ultimate double glazing rep but all he was selling was himself and what a job he did of that!
“After about an hour, while we were still in a line waiting to see The Blond One to hand the cheque over and get the photo done, the 23 year girl came up quietly and said to me: “‘Ere – He’s been undressing me with his eyes.” At the time, I thought she was perhaps over-reacting due to the moment and where we were. But now…
“When we met him, he was quite abrupt depending on who you were. He changed his tone. He seemed to have more time for the elderly and the very young.
“Anybody close to his own age range – middle-aged – he was quite cold. There were three old dears, average age about 70, who had raised less than a tenner by knitting dolls – He was all over them… But us, who had raised over £900, he barely wanted to know – except for the 23 year-old girl who looked 15.
“Most of us agreed that, with him, what you saw was not what you got. He was a cold, calculating person/machine. After that, nobody within our lot ever did anything else to raise funds for Stoke Mandeville.”