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Terry Prone: Like mother, like daughter? Let's hope not for both Bob's and Peaches' sake

On the face of it, to be fired by an underwear brand is a pretty sad place to get to when you're only 21. And that's the point Peaches Geldof has reached: the point where a company that makes knickers believes your behaviour is so bad it would turn people off buying their product.

"Miss Ultimo is a brand geared towards a young female audience and as a company we have a social responsibility to ensure we are promoting only positive role models that young women can aspire to," the company said, before sweeping the pictures of Peaches off every counter and display area they could reach.


If the controversy didn't involve his own daughter, Bob Geldof might have waded in to say "Get a grip, lads. Who the hell appointed you moral guardians of the young women of the world? Since when has flogging underpants given you the right to preach about role models?"

But, of course, on this one, Bob Geldof couldn't wade in. And anyway, the portentous drivel talked by Ultimo wasn't the worst aspect of this sad, silly, sordid episode. The worst aspect was the statement her own lawyer issued. High-minded, it was. Idiotically so.

"The allegations that our client was carrying and injecting heroin are denied," said the statement, "our client having consumed alcohol with the other individual leading to the 'highs' described and portrayed in the photographs."

In other words, it's perfectly okay for a 21-year-old to have squalid pictures of her on the internet, very much the worse for wear, and in an apparent one-night-stand with a disreputable drug taker, if she was just drunk at the time. Perish the thought that Peaches might be high on heroin.

To be the son or daughter of one famous person is tough. To be the son or daughter of two is even tougher. You grow up in a world of mixed signals.

When you hit your teens, if you're pretty and lippy and seem to have something of the talent that got your parents to where they ended up, you receive offers you'd never have received if you were merely pretty and lippy. Which, in itself, is a mixed signal.

Easy money. Nice work if you can get it -- but nice work that comes with a tag attached which reminds you that if it wasn't for your parents, you might not have got it at all.

Not only can you not trust any of the people around you, since they may be getting chummy with you only to get vicariously close to one or both of your parents, but you can't trust yourself, because unless you decide to do something light years away from whatever they made their name at, your reputation and your position in the public mind is based on their fame and talent, instead of yours.


Of course, Peaches Geldof could have looked at her mother's story and decided never to drink alcohol or ingest drugs. But the reality is that every generation arrives with the rooted conviction that they, unlike their parents, can manage drugs or alcohol.

There's no use in tut tutting about Peaches Geldof and wondering why she didn't get her act together and fly straight after that disastrously brief marriage, as any sensible girl would.

The fact is that at least part of this young woman's childhood was spent with a drug-addicted mother, who died of an overdose before the kid was in her teens.

Recent years have given us some insight into the damage done to children in their formative years by overt abuse. Growing up with a drug-addicted parent is just as damaging. It turns a child into a carer and removes the certainties they need around them, growing up.

Peaches Geldof didn't learn from that first marriage because she didn't need to. Now, she desperately needs to learn, but it may be too late. Too late to stop the slide into notoriety, rather than achievement, into clinics and rehab and relapses, rather than progress into hard-won personal fame.

Bob Geldof, watching from half a world away, must be filled with fear that her life will echo that of her mother, and that all the bright potential will be lost.

Not to mention the fears he will have about the dire influence on his other daughters.