What is it about other people's misfortune that usually initiates a sudden arousal of public interest. Take the Manic Street Preachers for example. The band had more chance of selling ice to an eskimo when they were at their creative peak, then the main songwriter seemingly vanishes off the face of the earth and...hey presto!...they become international megastars. Then you've got the wannabe graverobbers, the ghouls who have to display a public sense of loss for someone they've never met yet feel the need to behave as though their own son or daughter has been taken away from them. This week has seen the untimely death of Brian Clough - a true maverick it has to be said in a profession of overpaid yes-men - and yet already over the past few days scenes of Princess Di-mania has hit the East Midlands. Which brings me onto the main subject of this piece, Peter Doherty.
Now I've not been the most vociferous of allies to this mythical concept of "Albion" that Doherty and his estranged buddy Carl Barat have been responsible for creating. In fact, having seen The Libertines just after 'What A Waster' came out my initial reaction was Clash tribute band steals Strokes' wardrobe - here today, gone tomorrow. But of course history, being the unceremonious bitch it sometimes is, has since proved me wrong.
The thing is, everything connected with Doherty just reeks of contrivance, from the burglary of Barat's flat to his stretch in prison and subsequent exit from the band, only for him to rejoin the day he gets released and walk straight outta the clink and onto a stage in Chatham for one of these so-called low profile "guerilla" gigs that every man and his dog somehow got wind of! Was it really worth going to all that trouble just to promote your new single? Particularly as 'Don't Look Back Into The Sun' stood out in its own right as the best thing the Libertines had recorded up to that point at any rate. Or maybe I'm just being overly cynical...
So it was with some trepidation that almost a year to the day, history decided it was going to repeat itself. Doherty's drug problems - well he is a rock star after all kids - suddenly became front page news, and lo and behold, with an album soon to be released and a number of high profile festival dates announced, he's out of the band again! Now what are we supposed to think? I mean, you wouldn't kick yourself out of your own band right, not when they are on the precipice of major league success. And to add intrigue to injury, at least half the tracks on the album seem to quite publicly condemn Doherty's self-destructive "condition" (listen to 'The Saga' or 'Road To Ruin' and tell me otherwise).
Which brings me onto the next bit. His "condition", his "state of mind", his "illness"...HIS FUCKING ILLNESS!!! The guy is a junkie for crying out loud. Nobody forced him to stock up on glass jars and aluminium foil. Nobody forced him to inhale the rockiest plantations of South East Asia and South America every day. Now lets get back to Brian Clough, apparently one of Doherty's heroes as it happens (more of which later). Sure he liked a drink or two, but he was struck down by the biggest 'C', not crack bloody cocaine, a real ailment. An incurable ailment. As are many others who would gladly swap their life threatening conditions for just a glimmer of the lifestyle Doherty appears to want to throw away like some spoilt brat hurling his rattle from his pram. And yet certain people who should know better seem to be spending most of their precious time hailing him as some musical Pied Piper whilst sending out the "Get well soon, Pete" messages like he's just gone into the Queens Medical Centre to have an appendix out! Open. Eyes. People. The guy's a junkie. Deal with it. It's time he did.
And so on to Tuesday night. Despite there being no real love lost between myself and The Libertines, curiosity got the better of me. The musical train wreck also known as Babyshambles came to town, although it only just made it on stage. A ramshackle outfit if ever I've seen one, where the ability to play in tune, never mind actually write one, can only be described as wishful thinking. Seven "songs" and half an hour later, it was all over, and after a couple of topples off the stage, the odd dedication to Cloughie, and a brief strip show from Doherty which revealed the exact horror show of his undernourished torso, and subsequently established just why I've little time for those who seemingly have everything on a plate yet would rather swap it for a spoon full of brown powder and a bunsen burner.
What a waster indeed. Never has a truer epitaph been written so autobiographically.