There seemed to be no stopping Quartet in 1981. Children’s books were a specialized market that conventional wisdom said was better left to those experienced in the field. Nevertheless two illustrated books appeared: Liza’s Yellow Boat by Bel Mooney, the well-known Fleet Street journalist; and The Adventures of Chatrat by Venetia Spicer, whose father was a director of Lonrho. Despite both titles achieving reasonable sales, Quartet took a policy decision that this line of publishing was not really their forte. The experiment had been well worth the effort but the possibilities were not pursued. The only exception to the rule was made in 1983 for a charming book by Paula Yates, illustrated by Sophie Windham, called A Tail 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 to his ingratiating behaviour. All of this inevitably irritated Porky, who always got the blame for Rowdy’s escapades. It was an amusingly entertaining tale of the trials and tribulations in the lives of two cats.
I had known Paula Yates since she was fifteen, having met her at the home of my friend, Michael Deakin. 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. In 1978 she posed for Penthouse magazine, and in the 1980s became widely known as a co-presenter, with Jools Holland, of the Channel 4 pop-music programme ‘The Tube’. In 1986 she married Bob Geldof, whom I first met in New York through Sabrina Guinness. We 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, always full of mischief. She was a child of her generation, out to try anything to create a sensation yet invariably great fun – a gifted extrovert whose zany personality endeared her to her many friends.