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Saturday, November 3, 2012

I was seven when my parents divorced and 11 when my mother died of an overdose: My sad, scary childhood, by Peaches Geldof

By Alasdair Glennie

At seven, her idyllic childhood was torn apart when her parents divorced. By 11, her beloved mother was dead from a heroin overdose.

Now Peaches Geldof has spoken for the first time about her heartache, telling Elle magazine how she is determined to give her baby son Astala the stable family life she never had – and how having him was like a ‘rebirth’.

The 23-year-old said she had never really got over the divorce of her mother, Paula Yates, and father, Sir Bob Geldof.

'Rebirth': Peaches Geldof reveals all in the interview saying her son Astala has transformed her life

And while she admitted turning to drink and drugs as a teenager, she said the memory of her mother always stopped her spiralling out of control.

In the interview, Miss Geldof said: ‘My parents had gone through a very public, bitter divorce and I was very much old enough to see what was going on. People talked about us and I knew it was horrendously bad.

‘I was completely aware of the whole situation, the transition of my mother who was amazing, who wrote books on parenting, who gave us this idyllic childhood in Kent; and who then turned into this heartbroken shell of a woman who was just medicating to get through the day.

‘On top of that, there was my father who was very embittered and depressed about it and for us children, an environment that was impossible, veering between a week with my mother that was complete chaos, and then with my father, which was almost Dickensian – homework, dinner, bed – because he was trying in his own way to combat what was going on at my mother’s.

Divorce and tragedy: Peaches' parents Paula Yates, who died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2000, and Sir Bob Geldof divorced when Peaches was seven years old

Off the rails: Peaches admits to experimenting with drugs and alcohol as a teenager

‘It was like living on a permanent see-saw and very scary and sad. Those feelings have always stayed with me, they just never went away.’

Miss Geldof was six when her mother left Boomtown Rats star Sir Bob for INXS singer Michael Hutchence. Her parents divorced in 1996.

The following year Mr Hutchence was found hanged in a Sydney hotel room, and three years later Miss Yates died from an accidental heroin overdose.

Miss Geldof said: ‘I remember the day my mother died, and it’s still hard to talk about it. I just blocked it out. I went to school the next day because my father’s mentality was “keep calm and carry on”.

‘So we all went to school and tried to act as if nothing had happened. But it had happened. I didn’t grieve. I didn’t cry at her funeral. I couldn’t express anything because I was just numb to it all. I didn’t start grieving for my mother properly until I was maybe 16.’

Happiness: Peaches with her son Astala Dylan Willow Geldof-Cohen, and with her husband Thomas

Life transformed: Peaches says her life changed when she gave birth to Astala and that she is determined to give him a stable family life with a mother and father 'together forever'

At one time, there was speculation Miss Geldof could follow her mother’s tragic decline, as she faced allegations of shoplifting and drug taking.

In 2008, after a whirlwind romance, she married musician Max Drummey in Las Vegas. The pair split up six months later.

In the interview, Miss Geldof admitted: ‘I did experiment with drugs, I did get drunk and go to parties, but I was never that wild,’ she said.

‘I could have been, I could have let myself spiral but all the time I remembered what happened to my mum.’

Now Miss Geldof is a mother herself, and says her life was transformed when she gave birth to Astala in April. She married his father, singer Thomas Cohen, in September.

Of Astala, she said: ‘His birth was like a rebirth for me, and I honestly never thought anything in my life would ever be good. I’m obsessed with getting it right.

'The second I held him it was like this missing piece of my life being put into place; everything started to heal.’

She added: ‘The very worst thing that happened to me started with my parents’ divorce, it really affected the rest of my life.

'Even if it’s an archaic idea I want Astala to have a mummy and daddy together for ever. It’s a commitment. I want to be a good wife, a good mother, a good person.’



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