The tragic death of Peaches Geldof through her apparent addiction to heroin is a stark reminder of her mother’s death in similar circumstances.
Paula Yates died at the age of forty-one, whereas her daughter, with two young children, was only twenty-five when her life expired without warning. She was beautiful, highly talented and could have achieved great things had she channelled her energies to more constructive horizons. I only met her briefly with her father who introduced me at one of David Frost’s summer parties about three years ago. I thought she was shy but her captivating smile said it all. She was certainly her mother’s daughter.
I had known Paula Yates since she was fifteen, having met her at the home of my friend Michael Deacon, a television producer. Michael and I were planning to collaborate with her father Jess Yates, also known as ‘the bishop’, on producing a musical extravaganza for the famous Casino du Liban in 1974.
Jess was out of work after having been discredited by scandal following his antics in Spain with a buxom blonde at the same time as he was fronting the religious television programme Stars on Sunday. In the end, our efforts came to nothing, partly because Jess’s frame of mind was in total disarray and he was feeling the pinch financially.
Scandal continued to stalk him when four years after his death in 1993 it emerged that Paula’s biological father was not in fact Jess but Hughie Green of television’s Opportunity Knocks.
I followed Paula’s career over the years and kept in touch. In 1978 she posed for Penthouse magazine and in the 1980s became widely known as co-presenter with Jools Holland of the Channel 4 pop music programme The Tube.
In 1983 Quartet published her children’s book A Tale of Two Kitties. It told the story of two cats, Porky and Rowdy, thrown together by fate in the Clapham home of the Yates family. Porky had been rescued from a cats’ home whereas Rowdy, a white-haired Persian feline, had been acquired from a smart pet shop in Bond Street.
Rowdy at once became the family favourite, thanks not only to his good looks but also his ingratiating behaviour. All of this irritated Porky, who always got the blame for Rowdy’s escapades.
It was an amusing, entertaining tale of trials and tribulation in the lives of the two cats. Beautifully illustrated by Sophie Windham, the book was a great commercial success.
In 1986 Paula married Bob Geldof, whom I first met in New York through the delectable Sabrina Guinness – who was, at the time, fronting a book club Quartet established.
Paula and I remained in touch until two years before her tragic death, but I will always remember her as an impish teenager with a sharp, cheeky tongue, full of delightful mischief. She was a child of her generation, out to create a sensation yet invariably great fun – a gifted extrovert whose zany personality endeared her to her many friends and admirers.
I can well understand the unimpeachable bond that seemed to have existed between Peaches and her infectiously attractive mother whose exploits must have had a lasting effect on her.
I hope mother and daughter will reunite in happier circumstances in an extended life beyond our terrestrial understanding.