I mention this only as a matter of record. In November 1973, when I was eight years old, our Friday afternoon art project at Abington Vale Primary School was to make a papier-mâché puppet. If I remember correctly, we moulded the head around a balloon with strips of newspapers and glue, let it harden, painted it, decorated it, then added the hand-puppet body using rudimentary dressmaking skills, which actually seem fairly sophisticated for an eight-year-old boy, especially the padded hands, although I suspect we had assistance in this.
This brief was fairly typical of the modern, co-educational thrust of comprehensive education in the early 70s: boys and girls mucking in and blurring the distinctions between gender-specific crafts and activities.
As noted in my 1973 diary on Friday November 16, “Today it was art and we are making puppets out of papier-mâché. I am making Jimmy Savile but I haven’t put his hair on yet!”
Thanks to my own adult predisposition to archiving (otherwise known as “hoarding”), I can present physical evidence of the completed Jimmy Savile puppet, with the trademark hair, fashioned from string. The key creative decision, aged eight, to make Jimmy Savile “evil” was, I have to admit, less a prescient appreciation of the darker side of the nation’s favourite kids’ TV host (as previously stated, we loved Jim’ll Fix It in our house), more a reflection of a general boyhood obsession with horror films, as filtered through Monster Fun comic, Aurora glow-in-the-dark kit models, Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Monster Mash (a reissue of which 1962 novelty tune was a hit that October) and Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies. I equated blood running out of nose and eye as “evil.”
Who knew? (That is the question.)
What this Puppet seems to show, is that an eight year old boy was not blinded by an abundance of ‘blond’ hair, as seemingly many adults were, but could see the full horror of the situation, albeit unconsciously.
Frankly, that is terrifying.
I might have nightmares now.;).
I don’t suppose you have a puppet for Gary Glitter… make it a set?
I intend to borrow the concept of “archiving” for immediate and repeated domestic use.
Before the scandal broke, what I never got about Jimmy Savile was the (apparently) vast amount of public mourning on his death, from his multitude of fans. I mean, had anyone ever met a Jimmy Savile fan? Did anyone’s heart beat a little more quickly on finding out that he was going to be on the radio or presenting Top Of The Pops?
This isn’t an argument about whether I thought he was competent at what he did – there are lots of views on Chris Moyles or Steve Wright or Simon Mayo or Lauren Laverne, for example, but I can easily see why each has their admirers. As far as I was concerned Savile was always just there, but there was absolutely nothing about his presenting style which leapt out at me as worthy of fandom. Nothing funny, nothing spontaneous, nothing thought-provoking. (Although if we’re getting into whether he was any good, in fact, I’m pretty sure I remember a Word podcast in which either David Hepworth or Mark Ellen – Hepworth I think – observed that Savile was particularly bad at what he did, hence why links in TOTP had to be padded out with “yes indeed, now then, over here…” etc.)