There's nothing like a good diary, is there - written with at least the self-deluding belief that the words are for yourself alone, and not posterity, they can be honest, and revealing, and even when they've clearly been rejigged for publication, the elisions and evasions tell a tale of their own.
On the other hand, there's Pete Doherty's journals. That he's no Dick Crossman is unsurprising; but that someone has decided the the babbling, halfwitted lower-sixth stuff is worth publishing, and that Doherty has decided it is a face he wishes to share with his public - that is surprising. At the end of a long and distinguished career, the half-thoughts and quarter-lies, delivered in the sort of faux cockney that would make even Jack White wince may stand publication with an embarrassed shrug, juvenilia to feed the academics who would welcome an edited sludge to pick through. But at this stage, though aiming for a different shelf, the publication is as misjudged, premature and self-aggrandising as Geri Halliwell or Chantelle Big Brother's autobiographies.
But don't take our word for it, The Times has got some extracts to prove our point:
I - I must at all costs recover the £350 from dear lunatic Justin
II - I must make a concerted effort never to trust entirely another human being, Frank excepted.
III - I must strive to improve my diet. Fruit, vegetables, brown bread & water. My addiction to fried chicken has become horrifyingly close to Tabloid material.
IV - I must try to surround myself with a few more stable & sure characters, lest I allow the worst in me to be dragged out and pampered . . .
V - I must purchase a black bowler hat.
If this sort of list is really worth the paper, we'd imagine the Unigate dairy must be turning the place upside down to see if they can find an original Doherty "Extra pint and a strawberry yoghurt" note for volume two.
We talked of prostitution, our mutual friends in the theatre, ballet, people passing. Then she bought me a pint. We meet again tomorrow. I’m off to hers with my guitar.
Does this really sound contemporaneous? Does anyone ever write phrases like "a ballerina trained at the Royal School of Ballet" in writing purely for themselves? That's not a diary entry, it's an on-screen caption.
Lawrence Durrell - The Alexandra Quartet
Simone de Beauvoir — The Blood of Others
Truman Capote — Breakfast at Tiffany's
Anthony Burgess — Earthly Powers
Has the Times been slipped a dummy? Is this the work of Craig Brown?
Sooner or later, of course, Kate Moss turns up:
"Fantasy of clouds" is the sort of thing that at first sounds like it might mean something, but turns out to be the sort of phrase you use when you want to say something that sounds deeper than "the sky", but can't quite think of anything.
And on it goes, and on, and on...
As with much of Doherty's work, there are some arresting ideas and startling images, but they're lost under a mountain of pages that should have been discarded. There are many things that Doherty needs; most of all, he needs an editor.