Thursday, June 21, 2007

Let's sneak into my room, just to read my diaries

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:

Things to do

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 met as planned outside High St Kensington Tube and walked in the cold drizzle towards the park amidst a sorry, soggy crowd of Sunday shoppers & grimacing motorists. What a pretty picture I paint . . . but so light was my spirit as I walked with her. A ballerina trained at the Royal School of Ballet she has grace, poise and an enviable body. Witty and open — but somehow on guard as well. Through Kensington Gardens in the suddenly beautiful rain. The green of this city is so sudden, so shocking, I react always as if a mile or three of this sparse open space was Arcadia itself . . .

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.
Recent books

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:
Last night after festivities or rather derangement of the senses in Kate’s Cannes Hotel room . . . mirrors were smashed & I covered my love & the whole room in Bloody Mary. Well now we’re on the flight back to London from Nice & that was the first “holiday” I’v had in so long, well, since Prison really. Now the Boeing 767 glides us home through a fantasy of clouds.

"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...
Aint it just my luck? It’s said that to write in red is all bad luck upon the writer’s head . . . and oh no, fuck, every night I’ve been writing in blood red blood and now the nick is all in sight again: could it be with the lighter dim . . .

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.


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