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Kathy Gyngell: Poor Peaches Geldof. A salutary testament to the empty cult of celebrity


We are all culpable. Today’s sick celebrity culture trades off narcissism, practices double standards, deifies consumption and demands instant gratification. It wreaks havoc with lives.

Yet it is our interest, in some cases, obsession, that feeds this culture – whether we be dismayed, reverential or enjoying the schadenfreude.

Whatever the cause of Peaches’s death turns out to be, one thing seems horribly clear. Her inherited celebrity lifestyle – that our society encourages – was not just far from ideal,  it was dangerous.

She was born to Paula Yates, a troubled and exhibitionist celebrity mother and Bob Geldof, a surly, unkempt, LIVE AID demi-god father, a man who appears to brook no criticism of himself.

That Paula was troubled is indisputable; she came from a broken family background, her teenage years were rebellious and edged with danger; dabbling with hard drugs is the euphemism.

Insecure and still emotionally immature at 29 like many so women before her, she must have hoped having children would make her feel better – needing their love, though it is babies who need mother love.

Giving her babies bizarre names that would attract public attention she played out the role of mother in the public eye.

They did not provide the therapy Paula needed. They never do – they cannot.

This was the mother who Peaches, at the tender age of 11, learned had died of a heroin overdose; a mother who’d already lost custody of her and her sisters to Bob after running off with another sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll pop star.

With this background you have to ask why anyone in their right mind would have let, let alone encouraged, Peaches, only three years later and just fourteen, to draw media and public attention to herself.

It might well have been apparent that, like her mother before her, she was brightly precocious and needy of attention (a classic sign of low self esteem).

Giving in to her was not the answer. Yet at 14 years old she became a columnist for both The Daily Telegraph and a magazine called Elle Girl.

Everyone, from the editors who employed this underage girl down to the readers, must have wondered whether her name adorned the column solely because of the curiosity of who was, who she knew, and her tender years, rather than for her talent.

She was no fool. It must have crossed her anxious mind too – only to feed her insecurity.

In 2006 at just 17 she came seventh in Tatler’s top ten list of fashion icons – the youngest. It may well have bolstered her ego at the time but it was not to have a lasting effect. Another such boost would soon be needed.

Like her mother, her self esteem issues were not to go away – through several TV shows, two marriages and two babies her weight oscillated wildly.

Her life looks to have been a constant cry for help, which her addiction to being in the public eye may have temporarily assuaged but never answered.

When she died she left behind her two babies, yet she was still only (emotionally) a child herself. Amanda Platell has rightly written about how grief can pass from one generation to the next, fearing her children will inherit that same legacy of sorrow their mother did.

The well-being of these infants now rests on their father and grandparents keeping them firmly out of the pubic eye, while giving them, in private, all the unselfish love, attention, stability and security they can.

As for the wave of collective hysteria that has hit the Twittersphere since Peaches death, these celebrity junkies would do well to stop and pause. Their adulation, drama seeking and ‘getting off’ on her death is a habit they need to break.

For it is their obsession with the pantomime and louche lifestyles that mark celebrity culture that feeds its destructive appetites.

It is not good for them nor for the dysfunctional celebs they follow, as the short, sad life of Peaches Geldof all too clearly has shown.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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