Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Late, Great Jimmy Saville.

Jimmy Saville has died, aged only 84, in Roundhay, Leeds.
I would see him jogging along the Ring Road in the environs of Roundhay Park, where his penthouse flat was located.

He lived there before I ever came to Leeds, and after I left.

Jimmy worked most famously in Leeds as a voluntary Hospital Porter at Leeds General Infirmary. Seeing his sad passing on the news has brought back to me memories of the great city Leeds is, the general friendliness and warmth of the whole city like a welcome shelter from the hostile world.

Obviously Leeds has it's quota of outright bastards, life-forms and danger, but when you're in you're in with a crowd that welcomes you as a brother; I am reminded of my time at the Yorkshire Evening Post, a three hundred year old newspaper, where I was privileged to see the last days of traditional newspaper production.

I was in transport, and sometimes we would all be standing around cracking jokes and drinking coffee because somebody really did shout 'stop the presses!'.

We worked together day and night, like a secret island in the middle of the cyclic life of the city. We knew everything and everybody. The lads could get you anything from a pound of sausages to a 9 mm, all on the sly of course.

I was taught how to make a homemade grenade, and where to get the ingredients, all legally, in case my neighbours turned really nasty; I was told how to buy properly sorted cars on auction from the company.
I learned the code of the road that meant I broke records on the Scarborough run at 2 am for two and a half years without getting stopped by the police even once.

I learned most of the newsagents' locations in Leeds, and a good part of the private paper rounds for kids making a penny.
We worked together, sang together, drank together. I didn't go to casinos, but many of the lads turned a profit gambling as well.

They were great days. And I even worked at the LGI as a hospital porter.
Leeds was a super little city. Long may it remain so, and I'm sorry to see Jimmy go.

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