KEITH NEWBERY Jimmy fixed it to shun the usual life of a big celebrity

When you’ve been in this job a few years you begin to realise just how many celebrities you have rubbed shoulders with.

To be strictly accurate, it’s not so much shoulder-rubbing as mutual back-scratching. They’ve usually got a show or a book to plug and you’ve always got a lot of column inches to fill.

I’ve met several interesting characters on this treadmill of expediency, and seen at first hand the capricious nature of fame.

Barbara Windsor, her career in the doldrums, was once reduced to trudging from newspaper office to newspaper office (including mine) to promote one of her autobiographies.

As she click-clacked through the accounts department, past the advertising hub and into the newsroom, no-one gave her a second glance.

A couple of years later – when EastEnders had restored her fame and fortune – she could not poke her nose outside the front-door without being ambushed by burly blokes with coruscating cameras and twittering matrons brandishing autograph books.

Another intriguing operator I encountered was a hack from one of the nationals who was doing his best to push a worthy but uninspired novel.

As he left I asked about his next project.

“I can’t tell you anything about it at this stage, but if it comes off it will make me a millionaire,” he replied with a smile.

His name was Andrew Morton, his next book was the definitive version of the splintered relationship between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, and the rest, as they say, is part of Royal and literary history.

Yet the most memorable character I ever met was Jimmy Savile.

The encounter happened more than 40 years ago and he spoke for the best part of 45 minutes. And the more he talked the less I got to know him.

He peered out at the world from behind a self-generated force-field of blustering evasion which was impossible to penetrate.

I have since witnessed everyone from media psychiatrist Professor Anthony Clare to Louis Theroux try every trick in the book to uncover the ‘real’ Savile – and they would have had more luck trying to staple smoke.

He left this life as he had lived it – unknown and unfathomable – which for a man who spent most of it in the public eye is quite remarkable.

* Right decision – but for what reason?

Nothing sums up the state of this country like the diminishing respect for Remembrance Day and those it is intended to honour.

All over the country war memorials are being desecrated as greedy, disrespectful scumbags fund their worthless lives by stealing the metal they contain.

Then came the news that Poundland – one of the rare retail success stories in these parlous times – had banned staff from wearing poppies as it was in contravention of their ‘dress code.’

However, the Facebook and Twitter community soon worked up a head of steam and threats of a mass boycott quickly led to a change of heart.

However, I’m still not sure whether this was a victory for common decency or commercial pragmatism.