I met Rolf Harris and Jimmy Savile gave me a hand-written love note
It was two separate occasions
They’re two of the UK’s most notorious sex offenders. And I’ve met both of them.
In 2003, I saw Rolf Harris exhibiting his paintings. Five years on paedo-terror Jimmy Savile kissed my head in a Leeds hospital. Now 19, and slowly moving on with my life, I’m ready to share my terrifying story.
For me, the fateful trip into Rolf’s clutches started off a day like no other. My Dad took me and my little sister out for the morning and as the case often was, it ended with a trip to my favorite sweetshop in Redbrick Mill in Batley, West Yorkshire.
In the same building as the sweetshop was an art gallery, where Rolf Harris was making a guest appearance that day. It was by no means an intentional visit but given the opportunity, my Dad was understandably keen to see a national treasure doing his thing and he led us up there.
Eight-year-old me was as about unimpressed with Rolf’s paintings as I am with his criminal record now. Obviously I’d seen Animal Hospital but regardless, I mooched around the gallery sulking, dragging my feet across the floor with boredom and trying to stick Vimto bon-bons in my sister’s hair.
It was by no means a huge exhibition so it was a fairly intimate vibe. The local news channel were filming so Rolf sauntered round exchanging pleasantries with everyone, dragging his hand through his beard and admiring his work.
It was a complete non-event in my life, and I was pictured in a truly hideous beige cord jacket on BBC Look North, soaking up the aftermath and looking noticeably underwhelmed. Clearly, I got off lightly. But things were only going to get worse.
Five years on came my second encounter, this time with the now-notorious Jimmy Savile. I was in Leeds General Infirmary visiting my Grandad, the very hospital where Savile abused over 60 staff and patients.
It was August 2008, and a sweltering summer’s day in Leeds. The hospital was stuffy and after an afternoon by my Grandad’s bedside I decided it was high time I took a Solero break in the café downstairs.
There was a bit of a buzz in reception, and my auntie excitedly told me it was Sir Jimmy, signing autographs and offering general comfort and solace to patients and relatives alike.
I didn’t know who he was then, and I didn’t properly find out until the revelations came out years later. Regardless, my auntie pushed me over to his table, and Jimmy stood up and locked me into what was basically a non-consensual embrace.
He wasn’t cold like Rolf, this was genuine. Too genuine. It went on a good four seconds too long — a bear hug.
We finally drew apart, and he asked me if I wanted an autograph. I really wasn’t that fussed on the matter but I politely accepted, and Jimmy kindly ripped a corner from the “hospital visiting hours” sheet in front of him.
He wrote the note, and after describing me as “a very lovely girl”, enveloped me into another embrace. I’d finished the Solero by this point so I had no option but to reciprocate. We parted goodbye and he ended our brief liaison with a kiss on the top of my head.
I got a kiss on the head. From Jimmy Savile.
It was only as I made my way back up to the ward that I properly read the crumpled note in my hand. “Love to Darling Daisy. Sir Jimmy xxx”. The J was looped into a predatory smiley face and the “O” in love was replaced with a love heart. I don’t even send my Mum three kisses.
No one wants love from Jimmy Savile. Me included.
At the time I assumed he was just a weird, over-friendly old man: he smelled musty and wore a crumpled suit and worn-out shirt. At the end of the day an ill relative is enough to deal with, without a stray sex abuser thrown into the equation.
I put the note away in a box under my bed and thought nothing more of it. When the sordid revelations eventually came out in 2012, I was nauseated to my very core. This man had destroyed the lives of so many boys, girls and women, and I’d walked myself right into his open arms.
Luckily, I went through a pretty grim looking phase in my early teens. My teeth were all over the place, my nose hadn’t grown into my face yet and I basically had a mullet. I clearly wasn’t Jimmy’s type, and for that I’ll be forever thankful.
Even so, the denim shorts I was wearing on the day still haunt me. I will never shake the thought that my bare, thirteen-year-old legs were exposed in the eyeline of one of Britain’s most dangerous sex offenders.
Six years on and I’m moving on with my life, but what to do with the love note is an ongoing struggle. Showing it off always feels a bit weird, and it adds a bit of an odd vibe to my keepsakes box too.
But at the same time, I obviously don’t want to throw it away. I’m sure there’s a very niche market out there that would pay a lot of money for his autograph.
More importantly, it makes a fantastic pre-drinks story. It’s a real bridge builder with new people and those who already know about it often ask to hear it again.