When Susan returned to Duncroft, she gave the records to Ms Jones, the head mistress. She found herself closely questioned about this meeting with a celebrity from the music business – she had, after all, had some previous experience of drugs, and this was not unknown in the world of nightclubs.
She replied quite truthfully that he claimed to neither drink nor take drugs. Her Mother and Father had made enquires amongst the various policemen who frequented Ed’s Barn and found that this was believed to be true – Savile was eccentric, but not ‘trouble’.
Susan’s Mother was happy for the friendship to continue.
Susan’s Mother had stayed in contact with Savile, and so it came about that Susan and her Mother were invited to the Shepherd’s Bush theatre to see one of the Clunk-Click programmes being made during another home leave. They went together and sat in the 2nd row, accompanied by a group of Savile’s friends, his brother Johnny Savile and his sister-in-law. Later that night, Savile introduced Susan and her Mother to his ‘boss’ – a man she says was known as either ‘The Doc’ or ‘The Prof’ – though both are well known Northern terms for anyone you accept as being ‘superior’ to you, so this may not be an accurate nickname.
Not long after this evening, Susan’s Mother arranged for Savile to visit her daughter at Duncroft – this was the first time he had ever been there – not ‘parachuted in’ as a result of his celebrity, as the media would have you believe, but visiting because he had taken a kindly interest in a girl who’s parents he had now become friends with. A ‘daughter’ he had always behaved impeccably towards despite temptation being placed squarely in his path by this rebellious teenager.
The staff at Duncroft were dubious; single men were not allowed to visit girls there. Accordingly, the visit was only allowed to take place under supervision – in the Head Mistress’s study.
Knowing the place as well as I do, I can imagine the scene. Gossip would have been rife, heads would have been peering round corners and hanging over balconies. Not only would there have been intense interest in this visiting celebrity (even a new gardener was enough to get us excited!) but he was coming to see one of the youngest, at 15, of the current girls, not one of the ‘old hands’ now nearing 18. Jealousy would have been flowing through the air like ectoplasm at an exorcism. As with any semi-prison establishment, there is an established pecking order, and the new girl is not supposed to get all the perks…
Worse, Susan had been invited to stand in the entrance hall along with the staff to formally introduce this gilded creature to the head mistress. Why, she was being treated as though she was something special – just who did she think she was? It got worse, one of the ‘old hands’ (I do have the name, but since she now claims to be a victim, I am not free to publish it) was instructed to serve tea – including to Susan, in a cup and saucer, no less…..I can imagine what was being said in the back corridors…
Savile had by this time established that Duncroft was then under the auspices of MIND, the mental health charity. He knew HRH Princess Alexandra through his charity work, and so arranged for himself to arrive during her formal visit to Duncroft to meet Lady Norman.
Ms Jones, for reasons best known to her, arranged for Susan to have a private lesson in etiquette and curtsying so that she could ‘present her friend’ to Lady Norman and Princess Alexandra. 1973 was still a relatively formal time, so this was no doubt considered good manners at a minimum – but you can imagine how Susan was being viewed by the other Duncroft girls. ‘Stuck up’ or ‘posh bitch’ probably qualified as compliments by comparison to the other comments. Especially when Savile mocked another girl curtsying to Princess Alexandra by hiding behind her long flared skirt – again, I cannot mention the name for legal reasons.
Sometime later, Savile arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and asked if he could take Susan out to tea. No, he couldn’t! Rules were rules. Eventually four of the oldest girls were allowed to go into Staines with Savile and Susan – and a member of staff as chaperone. Savile, being a true Yorkshireman, took them to the giddy excitement of the ABC cafe…they had a cup of tea in the virtually deserted Sunday afternoon atmosphere of a large working man’s cafe. The staff never left their side. No trip in a Rolls Royce, sorry to disappoint – they walked there and back – though Susan did manage to hold his hand fleetingly – another girl (name withheld) took possession of his other hand…
The girls had heard of Susan’s trip to the filming of Clunk-click, and they wanted to go too. Ms Jones cautiously agreed and with another member of staff travelled there in advance to inspect the venue. Susan and four other girls went there by mini-bus with Janet Theobald, the youngest member of staff, on a Thursday evening in preparation for the Saturday night broadcast.
Whilst in the theatre, still accompanied by the staff, of all the girls, Susan was the one who managed to collide with Freddie Starr in the corridor. It would have been better for her position in the ‘pecking order’ had it been one of the other girls who met him and informed him that they were there with Jimmy Savile and why didn’t he join them in the dressing room? She was becoming the unwilling recipient of a lot of jealous talk.
In the event, when they all walked out onto the stage, Freddie stuck close to Susan and they sat together. A BBC female employee handed out 50p coins to everybody and took all their names. On leaving the show, Susan witnessed Freddie Starr winking at one of the girls (name withheld) and looking over his shoulder at Savile’s large glasses lying on the side.
On leaving the studio, Savile told Susan that his glasses were missing…
Still, ever the generous Yorkshireman, Savile took the girls and the staff to – ooh, the excitement, how their heads must have been turned! – the Shepherd’s Bush Doughnut restaurant, where the 50p coins were collected up again to pay for the doughnuts…
To be continued….