Thursday 9 February 2006
Deborah Orr: He thinks he's heroic, when really he's just a fool
The latter was merely up in court for the umpteenth time, sucker enough to play the tragic figure of romance, believing he's a heroic figure, when really he's just being a fool. In court his defence claimed that he was only hurting himself. If only that were true. He is hurting his child, who he doesn't see much. He is hurting his mother, who pleaded for him - via Kirsty Wark on Newsnight, of all places - to sort himself out.
He has rarely been out of the tabloids for years, and while his claims that the media's interest does not extend to his work, the truth is that it was his work with the Libertines that first attracted acclaim. His new group, Babyshambles, just isn't as good.
Nevertheless, he received a non-custodial sentence, with community service and drug rehabilitation a condition of his sentence. Compared with Andreas, of course, he got off easy. Nevertheless, his acolytes and his business associates at the court burst into applause when they heard he wasn't going to jail.
The sentence is exemplary, of course. Doherty should be able to do some fabulous community service, and he certainly needs to get off drugs - though state-run systems are difficult to access without some money as they are funded from local councils with other priorities.
Mess that he is, though, the saddest thing about Pete is that many people profess to admire his awful self-destruction. They encourage his folly and also the folly of all those whose admiration prompts them to slide too far down the same path. A student friend of Andreas's, Tijana Djordjevic, went and gave evidence about Andreas's death. She saw him snort the heroin that killed him. Nothing romantic about that. The way in which Pete Doherty seeks to glamourise heroin is awful. The poster for the Libertines' second album, for example, is a portrait of Doherty and Carl Barrat shooting up heroin.
The way in which our culture is so avid to watch addictive decline is even more dreadful. We're all watching Doherty and he has that situation to deal with on top of the other issues that more commonly face addicts.
Doherty is being treated fairly gently, because he is a talented and supported man. Others are less lucky. Addiction can make the loveliest of people behave monstrously, and addicts can be hard to help. But what doesn't help is the divisive image around drugs - evil fighting with glamour. Drugs are neutral objects, and those who take them are not evil, just people who made bad choices. In Andreas's case, the choice was final. Doherty is a very lucky young man. What a shame he seems unable to realise it.
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