I have just started reading David Nobbs’ new novel The Fall and Rise of Gordon Coppinger (thanks Jane!) and came across something very interesting on page 12. The hero, Sir Gordon Coppinger, is wondering whether the press had information about an infidelity of his and whether they would write anything about it:
He was invulnerable as his fellow ‘sir’, Jimmy Savile had been, because the great British public would not allow him to be attacked. They loved him so much, just as much as he in his turn hated them.
The story in the book starts in the autumn of 2011, on the morning of Monday October 31st to be precise, so just a couple of days after Jim’ll died. It is due to be published next month, but I got my copy at the end of September at about the same time as the allegatins started going public though obviously it would have been written some time before. I don’t know how long Nobbs takes to write a novel or how long it takes for the finished article to go through the various stages before printing but can safely assume it is at least several months.
I found it interesting because the impact of that throwaway line is so different now to how it would have been anticipated or intended, but it is such an elliptical comment. I do wonder exactly what the author is alluding to. As a writer with a long and distinguished career in television Nobbs must know all sorts of people and know all sorts of things. Had he heard rumours? Specific rumours? Anything more concrete?
Interesting that even though Savile was presumably dead by the time this was written everything is still kept vague and suggestive an what about the idea that the British public would not allow him to be attacked? It has certainly been proved wrong this month, but is that how it was seen at the time? Were anti-Jim stories spiked because he was so popular?
I just think it is cool that a novel, which necessarily has a quite long lead time, can be so topical.
Now trying to decide if David Nobbs is a visionary who knew what was coming, an evel genius who engineered the whole of Savilegate to get publicity for his book or just plain lucky. Doesn’t matter really, he is still an excellent writer who is perhaps unfairly just seen as a sitcom writer.