Wednesday 20 February 2019

The tragedy of Paula and Peaches

The eerie similarities between tragic Peaches and her beloved mum, Paula, were always more than skin-deep.

The poignant picture of Peaches as a baby with her mother, which she tweeted hours before her body was found on Monday
The poignant picture of Peaches as a baby with her mother, which she tweeted hours before her body was found on Monday
bob and paula
Peaches holding her son Astala with her husband Thomas Cohen, who bears a resemblance to her father, Bob Geldof
Peaches Geldof

Deirdre Reynolds

History tragically repeated itself this week with the premature death of Peaches Geldof.

The young mum-of-two was found dead at her home in Kent on Monday and, ahead of a post-mortem today, police yesterday were treating the death as "unexplained and sudden but not suspicious".

News of the passing of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates's middle daughter came less than 24 hours after she tweeted a picture of herself as a baby with her mum.

With her flaxen hair and elfin features, Peaches may as well have been looking in a mirror as she posted the snap of her TV presenter mother, who died of an accidental heroin overdose on her younger sister Pixie's 10th birthday in 2000.

But the eerie similarities between the pair have always been far more than skin deep.

Parallels between the it girl and her late mum soon became impossible to avoid.

While rock journalist Paula shot to fame presenting The Tube on Channel 4, model and journalist Peaches got her big break penning a column for Elle Girl, before presenting a string of reality TV shows including Peaches Geldof: Teenage Mind and making her debut at London Fashion Week in 2007.

So when topless snaps of Peaches emerged online in 2010, it made it even easier for the press to compare her to her wildchild mum, who had posed naked for Penthouse back in 1978. As she grew more like her tragic mum in looks and lifestyle friends of the family felt a chilling sense of déjà vu.

After Geldof was reportedly treated by paramedics for an overdose in 2008, Yates's friend, author Gerry Agar said: "She really has become like the replacement Paula.

"She even uses the same arguments to try to convince people that comparisons between her and her mother are unfair, and that she is just having a good time. It is so frustrating because I am watching history repeating itself."

Nowhere does this sentiment ring more true than in both women's love lives.

Boomtown Rats frontman Geldof and Yates wed in Las Vegas 1986 and had three daughters together: Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie.

But in 1995, the troubled star left her husband for INXS singer Michael Hutchence, with whom she had another daughter Tiger-Lily, later adopted by Geldof.

Two years later, the Australian singer died of an apparent accidental asphyxiation in a Sydney hotel room, and a devastated Yates was later admitted to a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide.

It was while being treated for a nervous breakdown that Yates had a brief fling with an ex-con and heroin dealer who later sold his story to a tabloid paper – just over a decade before a US student posted topless photos of her daughter on Reddit.com.

Nonetheless, by 19, Peaches had acquired 11 tattoos and her first husband, American musician Max Drummey, whom she dated for a week before they wed in a Las Vegas chapel in 2008.

Geldof herself conceded that the marriage had been "a bit nuts", while dad Bob branded it "a bit silly", and the couple split six months later.

But for all their similarities, Peaches had vowed not to emulate some of her mother's lifestyle choices, at least.

When photos emerged of the 17-year-old Geldof seemingly holding a roll or paper, used for snorting cocaine, she insisted it was a roll-up cigarette: "I've never done coke. My friends do drugs but I never use them."

Yesterday police confirmed there was no sign of drugs – or a suicide note – at the home she shared with her husband Thomas Cohen and their sons Astala, 23 months, and 11-month-old Phaedra.

Professionally, Peaches' most recent projects hinted at a more settled side too, including Comic Relief series Top Dog, featuring the star and her pet Golden Retriever Parper, and a charity campaign which has helped raise £9 million towards children's cancer research.

Last October, Geldof –whose Twitter profile described her as "waging a never-ending war against dirty nappies" – said her party days were behind her.

"I grew up a lot when I had the children," she said. "It healed many things in me that were painful. When my sons were born I could be reborn as a wife and mother. Getting married to the right person changed me too."

Yet even on the happy occasion of her marriage to Cohen in 2012, the tragedy of her mother's death at 41 was never far away.

Exchanging vows in the church where her mum's funeral was held 12 years previously, Peaches told Hello! magazine: "I feel her presence all the time but especially today. Mum loved family celebrations and she would adore Tom and the fact that we've married here."

And as the father-of-the-bride quipped it was a "relief" to see his second eldest married off, few could fail to notice the likeness between his beaming daughter and her shaggy-haired groom and Yates and Geldof a generation before.

In a further twist, Peaches even gave birth to younger son Phaedra Bloom Forever on April 24 last year – what would have been her mother's 54th birthday.

Elder son Astala Dylan Willow was due on the same date in 2012, but arrived a week early by Caesarean.

"It's like mum was very determined that one of her grandsons would be born on her birthday," Peaches said at the time. "There's this kind of crazy synchronicity to it."

This week it's a synchronicity that has left another Geldof generation to grow up without a mum.

Just as Peaches remained as close to her mother as they were in the heartbreaking photo she posted hours before her death, widowed Cohen has promised that Astala and Phaedra would never forget her: "I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts everyday."

Geldof's girls

Sir Bob Geldof's statement over the "unexplained and sudden" death of 25-year-old daughter Peaches on Monday is sure to have snapped the hearts of parents throughout the land in two.

Following the death of Paula Yates 14 years ago, the late star once told how her dad's attitude was to "keep calm and carry on". But the former Boomtown Rat singer has revealed how this latest blow has left his family – "fractured so often" – "beyond pain".

Bob, as well as partner Jeanne Marine, are now comforting Peaches' three sisters, Fifi Trixibelle (31), Pixie (23) and Tiger Lily (17), who was adopted by Geldof after the death of her parents, Yates and Michael Hutchence.

For Fifi, who works in PR, it's an unwelcome return to the headlines.

Apart from an early arrest for being "drunk and incapable" in 2002, the eldest of the Geldof girls has kept a low profile. Yesterday she broke her silence to pay tribute to her "beautiful baby sister" on Instagram.

Like Peaches, meanwhile, model Pixie couldn't resist following in her mum's footsteps, with the pair being nicknamed 'Boomtown Brats' by the British press.

However, although she was hailed the next Kate Moss, these days the 23-year-old is far more focused on her fashion career than fame.

Meanwhile, Peaches' youngest sister Tiger is hoping to study acting in New York when she finishes school, her uncle Rhett Hutchence revealed earlier this year.

Irish Independent

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