“Titanic sinks, North East Man Loses Pound in Broad Street”

I have today purchased both the Independent and the Guardian at a cost of around £3.90. Somewhat unusually I even took a peek at the Sun and the Mail but will try to avoid the Sunday Post in the morning which is quite easy since it only has made up news which no one would believe anyway. Billed on their website as “a colourful, upbeat paper, with pages packed with news, views and features of a particularly Scottish flavour and part of Scotland’s culture for many years, successfully retaining the best of the old with the zest of the new”, I feel quite dizzy when confronted with a copy. Recent frontpage headlines include “Esther Blasts Saville Probe” and a “Free Photo Print for Every Reader”. The victims of Savile and the 1370 redundant Jessops staff members will no doubt be very amused.

I digress. I bought the newspapers because I am a voyeur of all things odd. We all are to some extent I think.

Folk used to turn up at public hangings in Aberdeen city centre. The condemned person would be forced to walk out of the townhouse windows onto the scaffold, make a wee speech in front of the assembled crowd then hung for all to view. There are many contemporary accounts of such judicial killings in the book “Hangman’s Brae” by Norman Adams, which I highly recommend.
One is the somewhat heart-rending recount of the execution of Kate Humphrey in 1830. Convicted of the murder of her husband, her last words were “I die innocent, I loved my husband, I love my life, Jesus Christ have mercy on my soul” upon which her body dropped. It took six minutes for her to die and afterwards her corpse was transported to Edinburgh to be dissected at Dr Alexander Munro’s dissecting rooms.
A sad end indeed but it makes good reading if you like that sort of stuff!

I have to report however that I am so far unable to read the reports about that Saville man in my newspapers of choice. It’s not because I am a coward or a wimp. It’s not because I cannot face the issues. It’s not because the issues are unimportant.

In fact it’s the opposite. When that man in Dunblane, whose name should never be mentioned, murdered all those children a few years ago the site of the atrocity was demolished, the law in Scotland was changed to prohibit the ownership of guns without good cause and the press focused mainly not on the perpetrator but on the victims and the need for change.
Rightly so in my opinion.
In the case of Savile the reporting often seems to be sensational in the extreme and directed purely towards the selling of newspapers at the expense of good unbiased articles. The victims seem to have been somewhat sidelined.

I sincerely hope that those who suffered at Saviles hands can have closure on what is an horrific situation however I am of the opinion that the press, including that newspaper we all like and love in the North East which carried “Savile Victim in Aberdeen” as a front page headline, should back off and show some respect. The headline seemed to me to be proclaiming that Aberdeen was not going to be left out of the scandal.

The oddest thing about Savile is that for decades he was known by many in power to be a rapist, paedophile and sex offender yet they did nothing much about it until after his death.
Reminds me of Ronnie and Reggie Kray somehow. Actresses, Bishops and even Policemen loved to have their photographs taken with the jolly pair. They kept order in the East End of London after all and most importantly they loved their old mum.
Mind you they did have an unfortunate habit of nailing folk to coffee tables to convince them of their errant ways.Image


About Duncan Harley

Author, photographer and feature writer.
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