Victoria Mary Clarke – Journalism

Articles & Interviews


My Priory Diary

My Priory Diary copyright Victoria Clarke 2000

This article first appeared in the London Evening Standard in 2000

Day One: 11am.

We stayed up all night last night,  at somebody’s studio, having a  final bender before we check into the Priory this afternoon. We’re  going there because I’m depressed and Shane wants to  give up the drink. I came home  early because I’ve no idea what to  pack. What do you wear in the Priory? It’s probably full of supermodels and footballers, all Guccied up. Fuck it, I’d better bring everything I’ve got. I’m already  depressed and anxious and nervously exhausted, without being underdressed as well. Maybe I’ll  phone Kate and ask her what to  bring.


Kate’s not home. Or maybe she’s just not picking up. I’m always afraid with famous friends that I’m far too unfamous for them to  like me. I hope they can cure me  of this in the Priory.


Shane’s not home yet. He says he’s on his way, but I hate being late so I’m going without him.  I’ve booked a taxi.


Okay, I’m here. I’ve got to admit I’m excited, even if I am depressed. It’s so glamorous, checking into the Priory at last. I really feel as if I’ve arrived. Everyone who’s anyone has been  here. General Pinochet was here.  This could be a career move. I’m  not disappointed so far. The  facade is splendiferously grandiose. I can’t wait to see my room, but I have to see the shrink first.


This is weird. I’ve been interviewed three times now, by different people, and I’ve told them each a slightly different story. I  hope they don’t compare notes.  They all wanted to know how much I drink and how many drugs I take and if I’ve ever tried to kill myself and if I feel suicidal right now. What if they `Section’ me? I only wanted a rest and  some nice therapy. They’re taking this way too seriously. The shrink asked me if I hear voices  or see things. Does it mean you’re mad if you see things? I’ve  seen angels frequently and I talk to dead rock stars but I’ve decided not to admit to anything  like that just in case.


I’m in shock. I need to lie down, but my bedroom is tiny and I’ve only got a single bed, a metal one  with a rubber mattress, like you  get in hospitals. No fluffy bathrobe and slippers and the towels  are thin and small, like the ones in motels. I checked and all you  can see from my window is a wall. The window doesn’t even open properly. This is scary. I’m pretty sure there’s no cable telly  either. It looks like a Travelodge. I’m sure this will make me even more depressed. One of us has got to go, as Oscar would say.

The nurse who showed me my room was highly suspicious of my  luggage and wanted to know if I’d brought any medication or sharp objects. Apparently, my bags will be searched and I have  to surrender my vitamins and  razors and nail scissors. Do they really think I could kill myself  with a Ladyshave? The thought of handing over my herbal remedies upsets me terribly. I take all kinds of stuff on a daily basis,  which I’ll collapse without. Ginseng, aloe vera, green algae. I’ll  never manage a bowel move ment. The nurses says I’ve gotto go down to dinner now and  it’s only six o’clock, which is ludicrous.


I might have to discharge myself. I’m not kidding. There’s no way I can eat this food and not put on  weight. And it’s not even organic.  I can’t believe I’m sitting here  eating deep-fried fish and chips  with mushy veg. It’s worse than boarding school and not remotely  holistic. The trouble is, I’m eat ing it because it’s comforting and  I’ve got no will-power. Now they’re offering me crumble and custard for dessert. I wonder where Shane is. I’m nervous. I  don’t like sitting on my own in the restaurant. I haven’t seen  anybody famous in here either.  Maybe the supermodels eat in  their rooms so they won’t get fat.


I’m in my room, feeling sick. I don’t know if it’s the crumble or the walls, which are my least favourite shade of bridesmaid’s-dress peach. I’m watching telly and I’ve lit some incense to calm myself down. They want me to  pay a cash deposit of ›3,000  each for me and Shane. I’ve told  them I didn’t bring any money.  Shane will have to sort it out  when he turns up.

I’ve just had a horrible thought. Supposing he doesn’t turn up? What will they do to me? I’ll have to call my agent and  ask him to lend me the money. Maybe we can sell my story to The Sun.


Shane’s arrived and they’ve put him in the room opposite me,  which is nice, so we can watch  telly together. The nurse comes in every 15 minutes to check on us. You get put on different  observation levels, depending on  how long you’ve been here and how much you can be trusted.  There’s nothing nice to eat in the  rooms, and there’s no room service, so I’ve ended up eating white sliced bread and jam and  drinking tea, which isn’t herbal, out of a plastic cup. You have to make your own tea and coffee in the kitchen and they don’t have proper cups, or even spoons. We could have gone to the Dorchester for what they’re charging us. But I’m glad we’re here and not at home. Our place was getting  too messy; even our cleaner had given up on it. It feels safe in  here and it’s nice and clean.


I’ve been awake all night. My bed is so small, I probably wouldn’t  have slept anyway, even if they hadn’t kept observing me and  waking me up. I shouldn’t have  told them my life isn’t worth liv ing  they’ll never let me get any sleep. I am getting breakfast in  my room, though. I’ve asked for scrambled eggs on toast. They’d better be free-range, or I won’t  be able to eat them.


My scrambled eggs were cold and the toast was soggy. Yuck. I  hate mornings; they just make me  want to go back to sleep. The nurse says I have to get up for Group Therapy. I like the nurse.  He asked me if I know Ronnie  Wood and I said yes and he was  impressed.


The admission office keeps call ing me about the deposit. Neither me nor Shane has any money. I promised them my agent will call  with a credit card today. I hate  worrying about money, it  depresses me and makes me think my life’s not worth living. I’m serious.


I didn’t have the heart to dress  up for Group Therapy. I was too depressed, so I just wore an old  tracksuit and last year’s pashmina. Luckily no-one else dressed up either. I feel much  better now. I hate having to try  and be glamorous. For group everyone sits around the lounge on armchairs, in a circle. You  have to say your name and how you are feeling and then people take it in turns to talk about their  problems. I was horrendously  nervous, naturally, about having  to speak in front of all those people, but I Felt the Fear and Did  it Anyway. I said I was glad to be  in here because it gives me a break from having to decide what  to do every day for the rest of my  life and from worrying about  what a failure I am now and how I’m going to cope with the mess at home. The others mostly had  more serious problems, which  I’m not allowed to discuss  because the group is confidential,  but they were very welcoming  and sympathetic, even so. And they seemed normal enough. I  like it when people listen to me  nicely and don’t just tell me to  get a job and be sensible.


I got apprehended on the way to lunch by the lady who wants me  to pay the bill. My agent hasn’t  called. I was too anxious to eat  lunch, even though there were chips and ice cream. I feel hopelessly inadequate now. I sat on my own at lunch, and pretended  to read a book, because I was too shy to talk to the others. My con fidence vanishes when I feel inad equate and I can’t think of any thing to say.


We had Dream Therapy just now, which I liked. I wish I could  get a job doing something like  that all day, just playing stupid games. I would have been an actress but I’m too afraid of rejection to audition for anything. Now we have a relaxation class. I can’t relax because I’m still afraid  they’ll throw us out any minute.


Shane’s having dinner with me in  the restaurant. I’m highly anxious, because I think everyone’s  staring at us. I have a phobia  about being embarrassed in public. Shane always gets stared at, but he’s doesn’t give a shit. He’s  got no shoes on and his suit is covered in filth and cigarette ash  and he’s reading to me, out loud, from a book of Irish history. I hate this, because I secretly have  a desperate craving for fame and  success, which I can’t do any thing about, because of my fear of embarrassment. I want to watch telly now.

Day 3 9am

I dreamed I was driving a sports  car which was out of control and  I couldn’t find the brake pedal.  The nurse says we have to eat breakfast together, in the restau rant with the others, and I don’t want to because they’ll stare. I  heard people talking about Shane  yesterday, because they read in the Sun that he’d been thrown out already. I haven’t had time to  look for the swimming pool or the gym. I need a massage, but  there’s more Group Therapy  after breakfast.


I confessed to the group that I think everyone’s staring at me  because of Shane and thinking nasty things. They were all very  nice about it. The group leader said maybe I should learn to see  myself as a separate person, even if they are staring at him, and stop worrying about what they might be thinking, because that’s Mind-Reading, which is a symp tom of anxiety. I’ve signed up for  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy,  which is supposed to change the way you think about things.


I phoned a friend and told her  I’m in here and she said she was  jealous. She said she’d like to be  in here, having her nails done  and chatting up footballers in the  Jacuzzi. Actually, I’ve discovered  that there isn’t a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a pool, either. There isn’t a gym. There’s only a crappy exer cise bike in the lounge. I’m horrified. Exercise is supposed to be  good for depression. There’s noting to do in the evening except watch TV or sit in the smoking  room with everyone else, where  they have a couple of board games and some paperbacks. Oh yeah, they do have ping-pong. Fantastic.

Day 4 10am

I dreamed I was being stabbed to  death with a carving knife on my  mum’s kitchen table, with the whole family watching. There’s  still no news about the bill being  paid. Shane says he’s asking his  publisher. I’m completely useless,  I never seem to earn any money  and Shane always has to pay for everything. I want to be safe and warm in a place where I don’t have to worry about anything. I’m not cut out for being alive. I  hate myself and I want to die but I have to get up and go to group.

12 noon

In the group, the three people  before me all said they were  ashamed of being depressed  because they felt like they should  be grateful for being alive and should count their blessings. That made me feel better. I’m having lunch with some of them  today. They’ve got far worse  problems than I have, death,  divorce, children, that kind of thing, but they’re very sympa thetic, regardless. It feels good to  have them to talk to.


My psychiatrist is very soothing. I feel like he cares about me, like a dad. My real dad never even phones me. I told him I get depressed about the fact that I’m not famous and I think people are only interested in me because of Shane. Sometimes I want to kill all the famous people, so I  can be the only one, like Mark  Chapman wanting to kill John  Lennon to get himself noticed. I  know it’s psycho and I know I’m sick, so I wouldn’t actually do it, in case you’re famous and you’re  reading this and you’re getting worried. Especially if you’re George Harrison. I just read too  many magazines and watch too  much telly and I’ve been brainwashed into believing that if you’re a VIP that makes you a better person. I do want to be  cured, honestly. But I get  depressed when I read about par ties that I haven’t been invited to.  I got depressed when Posh and Becks didn’t invite me to their wedding. And I’ve never even  met Posh and Becks. Shane says  I’m way more fucked-up than he’ll ever be.


Our friend Martin Mc Donagh is paying our bill! I’m so relieved I  could die.  Now I’m  playing ping-pong with a lovely heroin addict I met in one of the groups. He’s really good at ping- pong because they always have ping-pong in rehab.

Day 5 11am

There’s yoga this morning, which  I’m looking forward to. Last  night I dreamed that Posh and Becks were my friends and they  were phoning me to ask if I’d like  to come shopping with them for  clothes for baby Brooklyn. This morning I was allowed out into  the park, to walk around the lake thing. That means I’m sane  enough to go into the village, if I want to. I didn’t want to, though;  I just kept to the park. I’m not  sure I’m ready for the outside  world. But it felt good to be out side with the ducks. There’s a  tennis court, in the park, so maybe if I can find someone to  play with, I won’t get too fat.


I think I need a Sense  of Purpose. Something I can believe in and be capable of doing. I don’t know what


Yoga wasn’t very good. It was easy stuff, no headstands or anything, and they didn’t have mats  or a proper floor, just carpet. Sort  of over-60s church-hall type  yoga. Not like Triyoga in Primrose Hill, where I usually go.  Madonna would have hated it.  They’ve got vegetarian pasta for  lunch, but I’ll probably eat the  chocolate ice cream with it. I’ve decided I’m a compulsive eater.


This afternoon, we had Stress Management. We had to fill in forms, challenging our negative beliefs. Mine was I am inferior to people who are more famous than me. I listed lots of disad vantages to thinking that way,  but I’m still convinced that people who are slim and rich and successful and good-looking and famous are considered more  attractive, in general, than fat, poor, ugly, ordinary people. And  they get invited to more parties  and allowed to be on the cover of magazines and stuff. Is this just me or is actually true? We had to fill in charts, too, to see how much of a perfectionist we are. I ticked most of the boxes, which means I’m setting myself up for failure because I always move the goalposts when it gets too easy to  score. For homework, we have to see if we can stop being perfec tionists, so I might just not bother to do the homework.

Day 7 10am

Last night, in my dream, my Guardian Angel appeared and took me to the Clarence Hotel in  Dublin, where Bono was having a party. Me and my Guardian Angel were trying to get past the velvet rope, but the bouncers asked us what kind of passes we had; VIP, VVIP or Extra VIP.  We didn’t have any passes at all. Then Bono himself arrived, in a limo, with Naomi Campbell and the Corrs and I waved at him  frantically, but he didn’t see me.  The angel said maybe we should  just go to the pub, and I said no.  I wanted to go home and cry. So the angel went to the pub on her  own.


I had a visitor, which was nice,  because there’s nothing to do at  the weekends. You can go home,  if your consultant says you’re  allowed to, but I don’t want to go  home. I rang my dad to see if he  would visit me but he’s busy. He  asked me what it’s like in here and I said they make us wear  straitjackets. I think he believed  me. My friend Carole brought  me a card that her daughter,  Phoebe, made for me and flowers, which made me want to cry. Phoebe hopes I get well. I do get lonely in here. Shane’s busy writ ing songs and I’m still shy, so I hide in my room. They teach you here that depressed people usually hide from other people because they think no-one will  want to talk to them. You’re supposed to make yourself talk to  people or else you make it worse. But I can’t imagine anyone want ing to talk to me. I’m selfish and  boring and pathetic. I wish I could do something useful with  my life, like become a nurse, a teacher or help the homeless. I have thought about doing some thing like that, truly I have, but I  don’t think I’d be doing anyone a favour by inflicting myself on sick people or kids and I’m sure the homeless have enough problems already. You’re not supposed to think things like that, because that makes you more depressed.  I’m writing down all the bad  things I think, so I can change them.

Day 9 4pm

In last night’s dream, I was in a field with Joe Strummer and we  were being chased by a pack of  ferocious sheep. I tried to get into  the Social Phobia group this  afternoon, instead of the class I was supposed to be doing, but the door was locked when I got  there. Then the man who teaches it came along and said I can’t do Social Phobia because I haven’t been assessed for it. He was quite  abrupt. I feel excluded. Then I went to Psychodrama and the lady said I should go away and  come back on Wednesday. What  does this mean? I think I’m sup posed to be doing Pottery, but I  thought that might be too frivo lous and I want to be cured as  quickly as possible. I’m embarrassed now. It reminds me of  being in boarding-school, with  the wrong colour uniform on,  and getting sent home. I’m starting to worry that I may have  BDD, which is where you think you’re hideously ugly and you don’t want to go out.

Day 1011am

I was so exhausted this morning from the driving dream, which I had again, I almost couldn’t get  up for breakfast. But I’m starting  to enjoy it, once I get there. I’ve learned to let Shane get on with  it and I ignore what he’s doing and talk to people from my  group. They already know I’m  embarrassed, which makes it easier.


Today we did Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. You have to write down a situation or event that makes you depressed and  then list the negative thoughts that come into your head, automatically. Like for me it’s waking  up in the mornings. I immediately think, Oh no, it’s time to  get up I hate getting up I’m too  tired I’ve got nothing to get up  for I just want to go back to sleep where it’s safe. That kind of thing. Then you write how it  makes you feel, thinking those  things because your thoughts create your feelings, which then cause more negative thoughts. Then you write what that makes  you do. Like stay in bed every  day and feel guilty about it. The difficult part is where you have to challenge your negative thoughts  and dispute them. I tried to think  of situations where I might look  forward to getting out of bed.  Like winning the lottery or being on the cover of Vogue. The trick  is not to lose hope that some thing nice might happen, I suppose. After that, we had to plan a  new way of reacting which would be more constructive, like getting  up and doing some exercise  instead of lying in bed. I think I  need a Sense of Purpose. Some thing I can believe in and be capable of doing. I don’t know  what.

Day 11 11am

I got up early this morning and walked in the park and watched  the squirrels. I love squirrels. I  wish the Priory was my house  and I could wander into the park  every morning before breakfast. Thinking about the squirrels  makes me want to get out of bed,  especially if it’s sunny.


This afternoon, we had Art Therapy. I loved it. I did a painting of  me and Shane in a black hole  together, on a sofa with lots of  nice colouredy bits floating  around the outside, and I called  it Home. Then I drew my Inner Baby, covered in blood and stab bing itself in the stomach with a carving knife and asking Is this  what you want? It was fantastic.  I was so pleased with it I did a  whole series of Inner Babies in different situations, and a paint ing of all my friends, looming  over me like spooks, asking me  why I’m frightened. I’ve defi nitely found my vocation. I’m going to be a famous artist like  Tracey Emin.

I have to go home soon. I’m  scared. I want to live and do Art Therapy every day and eat fattening food and never see anybody  thin or glamorous again. I even like my room now and I like the way it’s decorated. It makes me feel safe. The psychiatrist said it’s common for people to feel safe in here and not want to go home. He says I’ve got to think about how I’m going to manage on the  outside. I’m very worried about it. It’s so much easier, having other people to plan your day.  Maybe if they won’t let me live here, I’ll join the army or become  a nun. I don’t like being a writer  because there’s no-one to talk to at work and nobody to tell you  what to do. And I’m not successful. The CBT man says labelling yourself a success or a failure is a  Thinking Error and is guaranteed  to make you depressed. I’ve only  got a few days left. I hope I don’t need something drastic, like  ECT. I’ve got a friend who had  ECT and he liked it, though.

Day 12 12.30pm

In the group, one of the women  said she’s planning to kill herself as soon as she gets out. I asked  her why and she said because  she’s a useless mother and her  kids would be better off without  her. We spent the morning trying  to convince her that she’s not  useless and she shouldn’t kill herself. A lot of people in there think  no-one would miss them if they  killed themselves. Hearing other  people say it makes you realise how crazy it is. We told her she  won’t always feel this way, it’s  only because she’s depressed. I’m going to miss the other people  when I go home. It’s like living in a village where everyone know you and knows your worst secrets  and they’re still friendly.

Day 14

I’ve been home. Shane got out before me, so he’s already here,  playing his guitar and watching videos. I phoned the Priory immediately I got here and asked  them to let me back in. The nurse said I won’t be able to live  in the Priory forever, so I’ll have to try and get used to being at home, but I’m not so sure. The  cleaner hasn’t been and the mess  is worse than it was before,  because I’ve got used to things being neat and orderly. I’m not so bothered about being famous  now, but I want to live in a nice big house in the countryside and  have all my meals cooked and  play ping-pong and paint pictures. I’m not sure what this means.


Peter Doherty

Peter Doherty Interview

Vogue Hommes International Spring Summer 2007

Copyright Victoria Mary Clarke

When I arrived at Claridge’s, Pete Doherty was already there, elegant in a black Dior Homme cape and stack-heel boots.  Elegant, but nervous. I asked him if he liked the surroundings. “Yes but I’m not sure if they like me,” he whispered. His voice was so difficult to hear that you had to lean in close to catch it. Perhaps it was deliberate, perhaps not. It worked. I asked him why he had agreed to the interview. He looked at me very carefully, as if to asses whether it was a serious question. “I like reading other people’s interpretations of me. And then running into them again…” This, I could interpret as a threat, I suggested.

“Or maybe I’m just vain, and I like reading about myself in the papers”. In the News of the World that week, there had been sensational stories of Pete selling drugs and sex. “You knew he was wild, you know he was a junkie. But today we uncover the sordid secret past of rocker Pete Doherty and even his supermodel lover Kate Moss will be astounded by our revelations…”, the paper teased. So far, with his charming manners and considered approach, the truth about Pete seemed to differ from the image. “Thank God!” he laughed. “Some of your pictures are pretty hideous,” I said. “Absolutely disgraceful. Kate photographs good, though”. He mused, for a moment. I wondered how much of the hype was deliberate. The News of the World article was, he said, nothing to do with him. ‘I’m sure there are a few embellishments. I couldn’t actually bring myself to read all of it, to be honest. One headline even blurted out, ‘Pete was a £20 rent boy!’”

“But you actually did that stuff?” I asked. He scrutinised me, before responding. I got the sense that he found it difficult not to answer questions, even uncomfortable ones. “There was no shame, because I kind of knew that they were just lonely pissed-up queens. And twenty quid was a lot of money!” I suggested that maybe he should learn not to tell people so much. “If I lie to you, or I mislead you, that will make me feel guilty,” he said. “Not what you do with what I tell you.”

For one so young, he had accumulated a lot of press. There were 450,000 mentions of his name on the Internet. He seemed pleased. “Yeah, it’s building up. But there’s so much more to come out!” “Because you are very talented, don’t you kind of owe it to other people to…” He interrupted me. “What? To put all my songs on the Internet for free?” “No,” I said, “to preserve yourself.” “I am preserving myself,” he replied. I decided it was not my place to argue. Hedi Slimane, the designer behind Dior Homme’s comeback, and a keen photographer, was one of the first to fall under Doherty’s spell, authoring a book about him: “I met Pete three years ago. I began taking photos of him right away and documenting this highly unusual period during which the British [rock] scene revolved around one tumultuous group. Pete was well protected, this was in the days before his run-ins with the press. I’ve always had a soft spot for him. Especially for his music.”

The famous rock critic Nick Kent, who spent a lot of time with the Rolling Stones during their highest drug period, paints an accurate picture of Doherty and his borderline lifestyle. “Pete Doherty is a talented young songwriter whose life and career have been fatally sidetracked by drug addiction and tabloid infamy, both of which will probably end up killing him before long. He currently provides contemporary rock with a much-needed dose of bohemian glamour and genuine danger, but ultimately he’s not doing anything particularly new. The ongoing role he plays out as Kate Moss’s wayward romantic consort was done more convincingly in the ‘60’s by Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg and more explosively by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love in the ‘90’s (not forgetting poor old Sid and Nancy back in the ‘70’s). Ultimately he’s a living contradiction – the self-styled voice of the dispossessed and drug-diminished who simultaneously turns up in the pages of Voici every week with the world’s most successful supermodel on his arm. He’s clearly got a charmed life. Unfortunately for him, all the signs indicate that it’s going to be a short one, too.”

I left him alone for a few minutes to make a phone call. When I came back, Pete had made friends with the waiter, who had given him free champagne. He took out his crack pipe: a mini Martell bottle. I told Pete that I was quite sceptical about him. That I thought he was playing it up to get noticed. “I believe that at the core of everything I do there is an innocence,” he said. “I don’t care how soppy that sounds. There is a belief in dancing and unity through music and fuck everything else.” He explained about how he first came to London, from Liverpool in search of an Arcadian vision, which he had invented. “I come from a loneliness, I think. Reaching out for another world. I always stumble back into it sooner or later even if it’s for half an hour a day.”

I asked about his parents. “My Dad’s disowned me, really. It’s quite heartbreaking. Maybe it’s because he’s in the army. My mum will always love me, whatever.” It was perfectly obvious that there was a lot of love in the world for Pete. But in spite of all of it, he kept doing the drugs and he kept getting arrested, which he handled with astonishing good humour and good grace, often serenading the assembled crowds outside the courts, like a musical Robin Hood. When he wasn’t being arrested, he toured and recorded with this band Babyshambles, and my partner Shane [MacGowan, former lead singer of The Pogues] and I attended many of his concerts. He continued to entrance his audiences and to exhibit transcendent energy, even after a tabloid newspaper had printed pictures of him and Kate allegedly snorting cocaine, which resulted in much heartache and an enforced separation for the couple. It was sad to see two people who had been so enchanting together and so obviously enraptured with each other, like Romeo and Juliet, driven apart. Sometimes couples annoy me with their love, by being smug and exclusive and ignoring the world, but Kate and Pete together were like children at a party, infecting others with laughter and joy and including anyone who cared to play in their games. During this time, while Kate was away in America, Shane and I invited Pete to dinner, to try to persuade him to go into rehab. He was more than willing, he said, to try rehab again if it meant that he could be reunited with Kate.

Within a few weeks, he had checked into The Meadows in Arizona, only to check himself back out again and resume getting arrested. As it turned out, the summer of 2006 found Pete once again in rehab, this time in The Priory in London, and this time it looked like it was working. When I saw Pete again, he was in Ireland, touring with Babyshambles. Kate was with him. He was making excellent progress with his drug treatment, had stopped doing crack and seemed happy and enthusiastic about his life, even though the newspapers were still relentlessly pursuing both him and Kate, now that it looked as though they might once again be a hot item. In spite of all his problems, Pete had been writing prolifically and was showcasing new songs on the tour: deep, catchy pieces, carried by a more compact, articulate sound. One thing that I had noticed about him, in the short time I had known him was that he was almost never to be seen without a guitar and that he was apt to break into song in any location, with or without encouragement. In the dressing room, at a dinner, in the pub, in the back of a cab, absolutely anywhere.

In my years of associating with singers, many of them very popular and successful, I had never come across one so willing to sing when not actually being paid to do so. I sat him down for an interview, in between sets, at a gig in Ireland, and he immediately broke into song. “I know that a song’s just a game that I am good at cheating at…” he sang. “Talk. Yes you talk a good game, won’t you teach me the same? I never, never said I was clever…” I took the liberty of interrupting, because I wanted to get onto the subject of fashion, seeing as I was interviewing him for Vogue Hommes International. “Fashion?” he said. “Tight suits and gaffer tape?”

Pete’s mother, Jacqueline, had recently published a book about her “prodigal son” and even though Pete claimed not to have read it, I had, and was now full of inside information about his youth. “Your mum said you were always very interested in your appearance and you used to dress very well, with cravats and things. Like Oscar Wilde, she said.” “Yeah, at school I used to get called a fucking bender! Anyways, so there I am in the new tight-fitting Dior suit, Dior heels, a cape, nonetheless, and a hat, and all is well in Arcady and somebody has set a fire extinguisher off at some band, and so the band have weighed into us and we have weighed into them and the bouncers have weighed into us and we got bounced. And when I say bounced, I mean bounced! And I look and there’s an arm missing off the suit, half a leg missing and no cape. Blood everywhere. That’s Dior for you. I expressed sympathy for the Dior suit. “Will Dior give you some more clothes?”

“I hope so. Hedi Slimane, now he’s been very supportive. And he’s beautiful.”

“I hear he thinks you are beautiful, too” I said. ‘I think he is inspired by you.” “I know, its weird isn’t it? It’s one of the things that I can’t really afford to think about because it makes me too happy.”

“Isn’t that nice?”

“Well it’s more a vanity thing isn’t it? It’s all right. It’s a rare feeling for me, the feeling you get from seeing yourself looking all right. People do their level best to make me look anything but all right.”

This was true. As we had previously discussed, there had been some awful pictures published.

“Your are not photogenic really.”

“No.” But there had been a few really nice ones, too, I pointed out.

“You definitely need to do a bit of cutting and pasting before you put me on the mantelpiece, otherwise you have to keep your kids away form the fire!” he laughed.

He told me about his early modelling experiences, “Poncing down the catwalk in some fucking leather thing”, and about  clothing company called Gio Goi, who were interested in hiring him. “Would you like to be a model?” I enquired. “I dunno if I’m that into it, to be honest with you. I think I would really have to manipulate my own image in order to be even half confident.”

“Which bit?”

“Everything.” He pondered the notion for a moment.

“Kit Kat offered me ten grand to do their advert. But her majesty is getting a million off Virgin, just for going ‘Hello!’ What’s that all about?”

“Yeah,” I said. “But she’s been doing it for ages. She’s a supermodel. You’ve got to work your way up.”

He showed me a poster of him and the band in drainpipe jeans and braces, a skinhead style.

“A good look for you,” I said.

“Yeah, I used to fancy myself as a suede head with my umbrella on the tube, waiting for some old bloke so I could take him back to his gaff and tie him up and rob him…”

At times, I suspect Pete of making up little stories to provoke a reaction. This suspicion has been confirmed by an old friend of his, who told me that as a teenager he had always thought of himself as boring. His mother says in her book that he was exceptionally well behaved as a child.

“Is it true that you were an extremely well-behaved young man?”

“Yeah, well I didn’t have much choice, did I?”

“Your were punctual, polite, happy…”

“She didn’t say that, did she?”

“Do you think it’s true that people who take drugs are unhappy?” I asked.

“You must be joking! But if you are in a good mood and you take drugs, and all of a sudden you’re on a downer, that’s no place to be, believe me. If it’s not working for you, pack it in.”

“You take drugs because you like them?”

“Yeah, but at what cost? Having a spliff, or a drink, to me that really is take it or leave it. But riding the suicidal wave of getting bang on the pipe, that’s something else. And the thing is, the things you do. You try not to look, but you do out of the corner of your eye, you can see.”

He began to tell a story. “I did come a cropper once when I come up behind someone in Kentish Town. I’m there, but I’m not there really because I’ve got a hood over my head and I’m on my toes and I’ve grabbed her phone, because I was doing my bit, bringing in the money for the crack house, to keep things…”

I interrupted. “You are making this up.” “I’m not making this up! I’ve grabbed her phone and this time I chose the wrong fucking person. She was some Australian athlete and she was chasing me down the street and she’s beat me and she’s sat on me and she’s got the phone and called the fucking police. She’s screaming and roaring, and I got myself out of there. I mean, snatching phones off people for fucking rocks!”

As this tour was taking place, Pete was also attending rehab as an outpatient. It was  important that he do this, to prove to the court that he was serious about addressing his addictions.

“Don’t’ you think it’s too much work, to be in The Priory and be touring at the same time?” I asked.

“Work? Dunno. We’ll see. I just don’t want to go down, that’s all. As Kate would say, it’s not a good look! Innit? Nah. I’m going to consider this seven million pound deal with Calvin Klein!”


“Yeah, that is a joke, yeah.”

“Is it true that you were a happy child?”

“Yeah, just give me a ball and a gang of mates and streets and fields. We were happy. Dreaming dreams, singing silly songs. Putting on plays for ourselves. Dressing up. We would put on dresses and feather boas.”

“Are you narcissistic?” I enquired.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to be Dorian Gray, just for a day? Am I narcissistic? Yeah, but deep down I’m not really that arsed. What m I talking about? I am narcissistic, yeah! A very vain person. I’m a failed narcissist because I can’t get off on myself. I just can’t! I’m too disorganised to be narcissistic. Look at the state of me!”

I complimented him on the state of him. And told him that having read his mum’s book, I was quite envious of his childhood.

“Are you serious? I don’t think my mum and dad were particularly happy people, but because me and my sister had each other and we built these fantasies and we built these mad worlds that we lived in we didn’t have to deal with reality. And because of that, in my mum and dad’s eyes we were fine. We were good kids. I think it as instilled in us from a very young age what was right and what was wrong.”

“She says that things that other kids were allowed to do, you weren’t.” I tendered. “We weren’t allowed to do nothing. We weren’t allowed to go to the youth club, we weren’t allowed to borrow toys. I once swapped this marble for a steely and I got marched straight into the fucking kid’s house and I had to give it back. We were told not to swap things and not to give things.”

“How come?”

“I don’t know. I remember when I was seven, and I was old enough to know what adoption is. My dad said ‘I’ve got something to tell you. You’re adopted.’ And he showed me some book and said, ‘Look, here’s where we signed for you.’ It turned out he was only joking, but I didn’t know that. It was very strange.”

“Do you think you are born with a blueprint for who you are going to be?” I asked.

“Maybe. The treasure is hidden here in your heart, that’s where the treasure is, and you dig and you dig and you dig and lo and behold, treasure! And then you would happily share it, but people just want to stab you for it.”

“People? Like who?”

He mentioned some of the negative coverage that he was getting in the tabloids. “Most of the people who write stuff about you are jealous,” I said.

“They ain’t jealous. They genuinely disapprove of me. Or do you think it’s jealousy? I’ts been a long time since I’ve read anything about myself that isn’t prefixed with the word ‘junkie’. Junkie, junkie, junkie.”

I asked him if he judges other people. “I don’t have very strong boundaries, which means I can talk to all kinds of people. I can take in what they are saying, in a way that’s detached.”

“You don’t judge people? If I told you that I had killed my granny, would you think I was a terrible person?”

“Of course not. She might have wanted you to.”

The conversesaion again turns to Pete’s father, also called Peter. “He doesn’t want me as I am. I’m not compatible with his view of the world, what he thinks is acceptable behaviour. He thinks I am half the man I could be, if I had a fucking ounce of respect for him or my mum or myself. I represent everything he hates about humanity. A junkie and a liar. I remember once we were in a car, I was about fourteen and he pulled up outside a chip shop and he said he wasn’t happy. I said, “But you’ve got mum and you’ve got all the kids and we love you.” And he looked at me and said, ‘I know, but I will never be happy..’

And it’s weird, because it’s true.”

“Do you know why?”

“Yes, I know why. When he was nine, his mum took his sisters away. And him and John his younger brother were left with his dad, the Irish geezer. Ted. So my dad was left by himself with his younger brother and he drank, and he got kicked out of school at fourteen. He decided that he was going to become a marine. And he was a fit fucker, but the marine office was closed and next door was the army, Pete explained, his dad became a disciplined person, no longer a “worng un”. But also a disciplinarian. “Did you try and be what he wanted you to be?” I asked. Pete considered, for a moment.

“It came naturally. I knew that he was into football and I loved football.”

“Did you try and be really well behaved?”

“I never had a choice.”

“You could have been a rebellious child.”

“No. No. An army is an army, isn’t it? A firing squad. You can’t argue back, you’ve got to toe the line. Because these people are trained to put you down and keep you in line. It was only when I was older that I realised.”

“But you can see that he was only trying to protect you?” I asked.

“No, no, no. Not at all. Protect me? No, if you want to protect someone, you sit them down and fucking talk to them straight, you don’t hide behind army bollocks. I’m there for him. I’m his son, I love him. I idolise him. I’m not a wrong un. He doesn’t have to…”

That was a long, slightly uncomfortable pause.

“Yeah, but you are kind of a wrong un now,” I ventured hesitantly.

“Yeah, a little bit.”

“You’ve crossed the line.”

“I have now.”


Following on from the highly successful and long awaited Libertines reunion last year, Peter Doherty brings his acclaimed solo show back to Ireland this summer for three very special Irish shows which will see him play Dublin’s Academy on Friday 27 May, Nerve Centre, Derry on Saturday 28 and Mandela Hall, Belfast on Sunday 29.

Tickets for The Academy are priced €28 inclusive of booking fee and on sale tomorrow Friday, 28 January from Ticketmaster outlets nationwide and online

After years fronting iconic bands such as The Libertines and Babyshambles, Peter Doherty released his debut solo album ‘Grace/Wastelands’ in 2009. Recorded over the space of a year as Pete split his time between his homes in Wiltshire and Paris, and finally recorded for posterity in Olympic Studios in London enlisting the help of The Smiths and Blur producer Stephen Street. The album, which was critically acclaimed and was a top 20 hit in the UK album charts, is a brave exploration of one man’s soul, and an excavation of a heart left desolate.

Peter Doherty plays Dublin, Derry and Belfast this May. Tickets are on sale tomorrow at 9am.

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