Turning out the lights on life’s fallen heroes

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THE past week has been nothing if not all about shattering illusions, created by powerful men who have spent years pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.

In a matter of days the nation’s best known charity fundraiser, the late Jimmy Savile, has gone from being an eccentric television uncle to millions to a predatory paedophile.

Then there was Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist once regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen in world and an inspiration to a generation, courtesy of his successful battle with cancer and his subsequent tireless charity work (there’s a theme here, don’t you think?).

Last week this Lycra-strength reputation appeared punctured for eternity after US anti doping experts accused Armstrong of being the biggest stinking drugs cheat in the history of sport.

Although revelations like these are like atom bombs to legacies and reputations, and deserve to be exposed for the world to see, they do leave me ever so slightly bereft as, particularly in the case of Savile (he will never again be known as Sir Jimmy), a little bit of the magic of yesteryear has been shattered forever.

We all knew Savile was a big headed odd ball but the wider public never had an inkling that the man was a child molester and rapist.

I am not sure about you but I now feel ever so slightly foolish that I was taken in by this monster who made it the ambition of schoolchildren everywhere to have their obscure dreams and ambitions fulfilled by Jim’ll Fix It. How inappropriate the name of that once popular programme now sounds.

So already feeling a bit delicate it was a risk that I should take my family - She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Sleep Thief and two relatives, both in their nineties - on an ambitious trip down memory lane, ie Blackpool Illuminations.

Visiting The Lights is a rites of passage for any child north of Wolverhampton, but not without its pitfalls, the biggest one being that you might not get to see them at all, with the only thing to keep you entertained the ‘My Other Car Is A Porsche’ sticker on the rear windscreen in front, alongside the hilarious, ubiquitous nodding Churchill the dog.

But so determined was I that my three-year-old should experience the magic of the illuminations just like I did we joined the thronging masses on the seafront as early as we could.

I had blocked from my mind all those backseat scraps I used to have with my brother and the endless widdles against Blackpool lampposts.

I had resolved that, no matter how heavy the traffic became, we would stick it out for the sake of the little one?

Did we enjoy The Lights?

We didn’t see them because the adults lost the will to live after moving approximately 200 yards in an hour. But all illusions are there to be shattered.