Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Jim'll Fix It

I have a confession to make. As a kid I used to love this programme. I nearly wrote to Jimmy Savile asking him to 'fix' something on several occasions. And I once met him personally, having waited outside his flat in Scarborough to get his autograph. That, I now realise, might have been a very close shave.

I'm not being flippant; I'm not in any way trying to make light of the many heinous crimes the man committed. What I am doing is asking this question: does the bad someone has done negate the good they may have achieved? 

Two things set me thinking about this. One, the Panorama report this week into Savile's work at Broadmoor Hospital. In serious need of reform, Savile was appointed by the government to help the hospital (bizarre as that now seems) because - as one former employee said - he could get things done.

We know now this was a huge mistake because of the abuse that occurred as a result of the freedom he was given. That was - is - far too high a price to pay for whatever he might have achieved, of course. But if some good nevertheless was done, should we ignore it?

The second reason for thinking about this question is the rise and fill of the Crystal Methodist Paul Flowers. Flowers was for a time the Minister at my parents' church in Bridlington. They've recently been to stay and the subject of his fall from grace came up in conversation.

Flowers (pictured) did a lot of work with drug addicts in the area; he challenged local prejudice and was on occasion inspirational in the pulpit. (I once heard him preach what I still believe will probably be the best sermon I will ever hear. And I've heard an awful lot of mostly awful sermons in my time...) 

Flowers' spectacular fall from grace has left a lot of people feeling let down. But does that make him any less of a preacher? And his sermons less impressive? 

Martin Luther King was a womanising philanderer; Ghandi seems to have been less than a diligent, loving father; even Abe Lincoln seems to have been less committed to the ant-slavery cause than we commonly believe.

I'm not suggesting for a minute either Savile or Flowers or any of the others fall into that category.

But I am saying no one is perfect. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and no matter how bad, how evil someone might turn out to be we shouldn't have to deny ourselves the memory of the good times, if there were any. 

And I really did like Jim'll Fix It.

But I've thrown away the autograph.

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