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.