Another bit of a blur

All That

All That Glitters by Pearl Lowe
I never, to my knowledge, met Pearl Lowe – singer with Powder, partner of Danny Goffey out of Supergrass, scenester extraordinaire – but I don’t know how come. She reigned during Britpop, the ultimate envelope-opening attendee and party girl and photo-op. I was there, albeit, it transpires, behaving like something of a lightweight compared to what she, and Goffey, were getting up to with the Supregrass millions. Her book – a grimy flipside to Alex James’ Bit Of A Blur – is a confessional, the kind that often results from 12-step rehab, part of the process of cleaning up and making peace, in other words. As such, it’s an unforgiving portrait of the dangers of self-absorbed excess, as Lowe moves from coke to heroin, her addictive personality putting her in all sorts of scrapes, and costing her a bomb. (At one stage, she and Danny have to downsize from their Camden mansion, but they’re allright now.) She basically pulls the rug from under her archly-named band – who I don’t remember being much cop, and certainly not as “famous” as she paints them (it was she who was “famous”, or at least in certain North London circles and the pages of the boy-run music press) – and even after she’s cleaned up and gone healthy, the smack creeps back in to spoil everything. The Primrose Hill set go mostly unnamed – only Sean Pertwee gets a speaking role, and that’s because he tells her to stop drinking and drugging – but I understand she and Goffey have forsaken them anyway, and the book has led to her excommunication. They now live in the country, like Alex.

I enjoyed – if that’s the right word – the relentless spiral of drug-taking and child-ignoring. (Lowe would be the first to admit she’s been an absent mother to her kids, the eldest of whom, Daisy, 18, is showing her bosoms on the cover of some fashion mag currently, but you can’t help but tut as she abandons them to the nanny once again so she can chase the dragon with her junkie pals.) It’s not well-written in the sense that nobody is described apart from the author, and thus there’s little sense of the supporting cast being real (as I say, the Primrose Hill set are anonymous, except for Gavin Rossdale, father of her first child, who comes across as a nice chap, then a dick, but then he was married when the paternity question arose, belatedly). It’s all about Pearl. There’s little clue as to why she is so self-destructive (her parents seem normal, and supportive, always baby-sitting while Lowe is having her stomach pumped or she’s at a “health farm”). However, reading it, you do realise what a sanitised account one usually hears of Britpop. It’s to her credit that she’s revealed the darker underside.

I remember rumours of smack, but I never saw any. Certain members of certain bands clearly needed a more serious fix than a snifter off a toilet seat, and we now know that Brett Anderson and Justine Frischmann were among them. They either kept it well hidden, or I was too naive to see it. Anyway, Pearl and Danny survived intact, which is a good thing. Although he comes across as a very unhelpful boyfriend when Lowe’s struggling with her addiction – he seems to prefer her when she’s out of it, ie. having “fun”. I recommend the book only if you’re keen to make yourself feel better about your own occasional lapses into hedonism. Chances are, you’ve never taken coke in hospital just after giving birth, or ruined the white upholstery of a limo taking you to your smack dealer with a miscarriage, then wiped it down and gone back to the Ivy to resume dinner. Phew.

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38 thoughts on “Another bit of a blur

  1. Andrew, are you the last person to ever have an autobiography about a nice, happy life published? I’m heartily sick of the trend for the ‘misery memoir’, even though a professional aquaintance of mine has just got a deal for one, for seventy grand. That must be a lot of misery to reveal for the money, and I wonder if emotionally, it’s worth revealing so much about yourself in such a public arena. Even for 70K.

  2. Andrew, are you the last person to ever have an autobiography about a nice, happy life published? I’m heartily sick of the trend for the ‘misery memoir’, even though a professional aquaintance of mine has just got a deal for one, for seventy grand. That must be a lot of misery to reveal for the money, and I wonder if emotionally, it’s worth revealing so much about yourself in such a public arena. Even for 70K.

  3. ‘The Last Party’ (by John Harris) also does a lot of ‘lid-lifting’ on the drugs’ front. I wish that people would comment more on Brett Anderson’s music: the solo debut is criminally underrated; it’s a beautiful, moving, and heartfelt piece of work, and deserves to be celebrated.

  4. ‘The Last Party’ (by John Harris) also does a lot of ‘lid-lifting’ on the drugs’ front. I wish that people would comment more on Brett Anderson’s music: the solo debut is criminally underrated; it’s a beautiful, moving, and heartfelt piece of work, and deserves to be celebrated.

  5. ADDENDUM: Lowe didn’t bleed on the white upholstery in the car because of a miscarriage – she had the miscarriage while performing with Powder at the Reading Festival – it was internal bleeding because she ignored doctor’s advice to “take it easy for a few days” after cervical laser surgery and went out to take loads of drugs instead. Sorry about that.

  6. ADDENDUM: Lowe didn’t bleed on the white upholstery in the car because of a miscarriage – she had the miscarriage while performing with Powder at the Reading Festival – it was internal bleeding because she ignored doctor’s advice to “take it easy for a few days” after cervical laser surgery and went out to take loads of drugs instead. Sorry about that.

  7. I can’t say I’ll be reading it – it sounds a bit too horrific for my liking, although I was once sick in a friends car after one too many alcopops. That was a very very long time ago but my kind friends still bring it up.PS – Thanks Andrew for the link to my blog. Much appreciated.

  8. I can’t say I’ll be reading it – it sounds a bit too horrific for my liking, although I was once sick in a friends car after one too many alcopops. That was a very very long time ago but my kind friends still bring it up.PS – Thanks Andrew for the link to my blog. Much appreciated.

  9. I can’t remember Powder AT ALL from the Britpop era, although I did I see them on TV about a month ago on some BBC4 retrospective. They seemed rubbish.In fact, the only time I’d ever heard of her before this book came out was when her “beautiful home” was featuring in my wife’s interiors mag. Or rather, danny our of Supergrass’s beautiful home, which was how I noticed it. It really was a beautiful home. Very white, I remember. Would be a bugger to find it if you put your smack down for too long in there. No wonder they moved…

  10. I can’t remember Powder AT ALL from the Britpop era, although I did I see them on TV about a month ago on some BBC4 retrospective. They seemed rubbish.In fact, the only time I’d ever heard of her before this book came out was when her “beautiful home” was featuring in my wife’s interiors mag. Or rather, danny our of Supergrass’s beautiful home, which was how I noticed it. It really was a beautiful home. Very white, I remember. Would be a bugger to find it if you put your smack down for too long in there. No wonder they moved…

  11. Sounds dire. I agree with Clair; the misery memoir has LONG outstayed its welcome. I couldn’t give a rats rear-end about the bloody woman and the nightmare she made of her life.

  12. Sounds dire. I agree with Clair; the misery memoir has LONG outstayed its welcome. I couldn’t give a rats rear-end about the bloody woman and the nightmare she made of her life.

  13. You’re right, DTaylor, John’s book was the first to touch on the heroin aspect of Britpop (Justine and Brett were both candid in their interviews for The Last Party). Pearl’s story carries more tradedy because she has kids, and had kids throughout the bad times, I think.The miserable memoir is far from spent, I fear. Glance at the paperback non-fiction Top 10 on any given week and it’ll be full of Why Are You Hurting Me, Daddy? and Care Home Kid, or whatever the latest batch are called. I suppose it’s an empowering thing that you don’t have to be able to write to have a bestseller any more. All That Glitters falls somewhere between the miserable memoir and the celebrity memoir. I can totally understand why you might not want to have it in your house! Maybe I was drawn to it because I moved on the outskirts of those circles. (Thank God it was the outskirts.)

  14. You’re right, DTaylor, John’s book was the first to touch on the heroin aspect of Britpop (Justine and Brett were both candid in their interviews for The Last Party). Pearl’s story carries more tradedy because she has kids, and had kids throughout the bad times, I think.The miserable memoir is far from spent, I fear. Glance at the paperback non-fiction Top 10 on any given week and it’ll be full of Why Are You Hurting Me, Daddy? and Care Home Kid, or whatever the latest batch are called. I suppose it’s an empowering thing that you don’t have to be able to write to have a bestseller any more. All That Glitters falls somewhere between the miserable memoir and the celebrity memoir. I can totally understand why you might not want to have it in your house! Maybe I was drawn to it because I moved on the outskirts of those circles. (Thank God it was the outskirts.)

  15. Hard to muster a ‘boo hoo’ for Pearl, I feel. I like P Doherty’s music but the junkie thing is barely of any interest. At least he has an ounce of talent. Powder were awful.

  16. Hard to muster a ‘boo hoo’ for Pearl, I feel. I like P Doherty’s music but the junkie thing is barely of any interest. At least he has an ounce of talent. Powder were awful.

  17. “In the misery dictionary. page after page…”I remember flat lad Ian Brown singing something like that in one of the Roses first tunes, that was a stinker and I’m sure Pearl’s book is too.Poor you AC, never invited into the heroin-taking inner circle of Britpop royalty.wonder what is the correct parlance used to offer heroin?

  18. “In the misery dictionary. page after page…”I remember flat lad Ian Brown singing something like that in one of the Roses first tunes, that was a stinker and I’m sure Pearl’s book is too.Poor you AC, never invited into the heroin-taking inner circle of Britpop royalty.wonder what is the correct parlance used to offer heroin?

  19. I’m not sure what the current parlance for offering heroin is. Mick Wall recounts his first offer from Phil Lynott in the mid70s: “do you like the Fleetwood Mac?” [rhyming slang for smack apparently].Wall replied that he liked the early stuff with Peter Green. Sadly they resolved the confusion and Wall swiftly joined Lynott in addiction. His rather misnamed book “Paranoid: Black days with Sabbath and other icons” might interest you if you haven’t already read it Andrew.

  20. I’m not sure what the current parlance for offering heroin is. Mick Wall recounts his first offer from Phil Lynott in the mid70s: “do you like the Fleetwood Mac?” [rhyming slang for smack apparently].Wall replied that he liked the early stuff with Peter Green. Sadly they resolved the confusion and Wall swiftly joined Lynott in addiction. His rather misnamed book “Paranoid: Black days with Sabbath and other icons” might interest you if you haven’t already read it Andrew.

  21. I interviewed Powder at a teeny venue in Canterbury for my fanzine, back in – I think – early 1996. They, particularly Pearl, took us drunken teenagers under their wing and got us suitably mullered. Years later I interviewed her again, just before she was due to release her solo album (which I never actually noticed appear?)…she was still a seemingly sweet person, full of zest and I’m intrigued to hear about her adventures as the Britpop era (as crap as it and its output so often was!) holds such brilliant memories.

  22. I interviewed Powder at a teeny venue in Canterbury for my fanzine, back in – I think – early 1996. They, particularly Pearl, took us drunken teenagers under their wing and got us suitably mullered. Years later I interviewed her again, just before she was due to release her solo album (which I never actually noticed appear?)…she was still a seemingly sweet person, full of zest and I’m intrigued to hear about her adventures as the Britpop era (as crap as it and its output so often was!) holds such brilliant memories.

  23. Congratulations on being a very worldly thirteen-year-old. When I was 13, I didn’t even know how babies were made. Anyway, thanks for confirming that I was naive after I’d written the words, “I was too naive.” I think we’re all clear on that now!

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