Pulling back the veil on the worst of a decade

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As a product of the 1980s, like many of my age, I have looked on with no little bewilderment as the decade which hosted my childhood fast becomes an embarrassment.

The jailing of everybody’s favourite television artist at a time when television really was important still feels surreal even though the evidence against him was compelling enough to warrant a guilty verdict and a prison sentence stretching nearly six years.

Rolf Harris who was a fixture in living rooms after school for millions of kids, even though some would not admit to watching him, is confirmed as a sex predator, paedophile, pervert, the list of unwelcome monickers goes on.

Harris is different to Jimmy Savile, as the public has long since reconciled with the fact that the creepy former DJ and charity do-gooder is the most high profile sex abuser this nation has ever known.

There had long been whispers about Savile but Harris, although regarded as an eccentric, didn’t seem to be on any radar, which is why his guilt has shocked and repulsed so many people.

It is barely more than two years since he took to the stage at Buckingham Palace to take part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations – he was that embedded in the establishment, which seems to be the problem. Prior to the unmasking of Savile it now appears there was a group of men who believed they too could hide behind their public larger-than-life persona and never be caught.

Stuart Hall is behind bars along with Max Clifford, a man who was so entrenched in the heart of the celebrity culture that he cannot have thought for a second he would be banged up.

Then there was Cyril Smith – it seems everybody knew what the high-profile politician was up to, I first heard the rumours some 20 years ago in a Hampshire lecture theatre, a world away from the streets of Rochdale where he committed many of his crimes.

It was that well known, yet there are now allegations that some in the establishment sought to cover it up. It now seems that this conspiracy ran even deeper with claims that more than 100 files containing information of child sex abuse were lost by Government officials.

It seems the unravelling of a decade has a long way left to go but already a generation is seeing aspects of its childhood in a totally different light.