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Pete Doherty on Kate Moss: ‘Our relationship became a running battle: highs and then crushing, violent lows’ | Pete Doherty

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A lot of mine and Kate’s early meetings were quite clandestine. We’d meet in strange back rooms of restaurants in London. Despite being this multimillionaire, she was saying how she was really just a girl from a council estate in Croydon, so in the first week we were together, I insisted she get on a bus with me. She went everywhere in a limo usually. We got dressed up in disguise, put on wigs, and jumped on the bus around London. We used to have a bit of a laugh, really. We got matching tattoos that first week too. I think I insisted on that. I wanted her to prove her love, so I said, you’ve got to get a tattoo with my initials on, you’ve got to get branded – it was more of an insecurity thing on my part.

I met her parents early on and got on quite well with her mum. My mum and dad and little sister Emily came and met Kate at this new little flat I’d moved into in Islington. I’d filled it with a load of red plastic furniture and a couple of inflatable chairs. My dad said to Kate, “What do you do?” She was only small, and he didn’t associate her with the supermodel from the papers. She just laughed.

I thought we could just make a go of it as a couple and fuck everything else, that was my approach, but she was more like, no, you’ve got to get clean and then everything will be fine. That was the running battle for the next two and a half years, really, the drugs and her obsession with the tabloids and her image. Kate’s big thing was “not taking her for a cunt”. It was her favourite expression.

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I’ve always wondered if the big Kate exposé, where she was photographed appearing to snort cocaine in during a Babyshambles session, had something to do with Paul Ro [Doherty’s acquaintance Paul Roundhill]. The pictures were supposed to be worth £300,000. They were used on the front of the Mirror on 15 September 2005, under the headline “High As a Kate”. Paul had everyone’s mobile number, and he was always trying to set things up with the papers. He’d say, “I’ve been in touch with a guy from the Mirror or the Sun and they want to do a positive piece,” and he’d end up brokering the deal.

There had been times in the past when photos had been taken off my phone and used in the press, so after the “High As a Kate” thing Kate turned against me. She said, if you didn’t sell the photos, how did they get in the papers? And I couldn’t say. I just presumed a friend of mine must have done it.

The whole thing really fucked up Kate’s contracts – she lost loads, including a reputed £4m-a-year deal with H&M – and all her people were fuming at me. The police even wanted to speak to her, but she wasn’t charged because of lack of evidence. As a sort of mea culpa, she went to treatment at the Meadows in Arizona, a well-known celebrity rehab place. She was also supposed to have dumped me, but we were actually still in touch – the agreement was that after she’d gone to rehab, I’d go for a month as well. There were all these stupid things in the papers about us breaking up, but it was all bollocks.

When I set off for my treatment at the Meadows, I had all my drugs hidden in my luggage and fell asleep on the hard shoulder on my way to Heathrow in my Jag. I’d stopped for a pipe. I was woken up, with a crack pipe in my mouth, by a policeman banging on the window. He went, “All right, Pete, you off to rehab?” It was like he knew what was going on, and then I followed the police car all the way to Heathrow. It was so weird.

Doherty, photographed in France last month.
Doherty, photographed in France last month. Photograph: Laura Stevens/The Guardian

When I got to the Meadows, they found all the bits in my baggage, plus what I’d hidden inside the lining of my jeans – they really knew their stuff. It was a different vibe than UK rehab – a mix of absolutely loaded trust-fund kids and people trying to avoid federal convictions by doing rehab. After two weeks, Kate was supposed to come and visit me and take me to the Grand Canyon in a helicopter, and I got the right hump when she didn’t show up. In the end I did a runner.

When Kate found out I hadn’t finished the treatment, she told me point-blank that that was it, there was no way we could see each other now. I said, yeah, but you were supposed to come and get me in a helicopter for a day trip to the Grand Canyon. The split was all over the press. Kate was quoted in the Mirror saying, “I wish I’d never met him. He’s a user in every sense of the word.” Everything was falling apart.

Luckily, Kate had me back for Christmas. She called on Christmas Eve and said, I’m sending a car for you to come down to the country. It was all supposed to be secret. It was amazing, actually. One of her security guards, this Māori bloke, had all his family there, and they sang their equivalent of Christmas carols in the big stone reception hall. After that me and Kate would just have these clandestine meetings. James Brown [Moss’s friend, the celebrity hair stylist] would get in touch with me, call from a certain payphone using some code word, and I’d have to go to this flat in Pimlico, across the river from Battersea. It was like a strange tenement flat that was used for that purpose – we’d meet for the night, or for a couple of hours sometimes, but I wouldn’t be allowed to tell anyone.

We were attracted to each other. I really loved her, and I knew she loved me – there was just all this messiness in between us, with all her chaos and my chaos. Sometimes we just needed to see each other. Basically, she’d click her fingers and I’d come running.

I think Glastonbury 2007 was the last time Kate and I stepped out together. Something of a fine memory, set in stone. Just wandering about, enjoying a stress-free Glastonbury. I played the Green Field acoustic stage. I remember giving Stella McCartney’s husband the heave-ho from the caravan we stayed in after he made some strange comments about the state of my health. I had them all chucked out of the caravan. I had a massive shoebox full of drugs – really happy times.

Kate Moss and Pete Doherty at Glastonbury festival, 2007 – the last time the couple stepped out together.
Moss and Doherty at Glastonbury festival, 2007 – the last time the couple stepped out together. Photograph: PA Images/Alamy

There was not really one specific incident that finished the relationship. Our worlds were not really compatible in the end. There were all sorts of incidents. She had this panic button by her bed and a panic button in the kitchen. One day, when she was away somewhere and I was scrabbling down by the side of the bed, for a dropped rock probably, I accidentally pressed the panic button and 12 armed police ended up at the cottage in St John’s Wood. She was really unhappy about things like that. It became a running battle, really, that relationship. It was always the same, for all those years: highs and then crushing, violent lows. It was not sustainable.

I’m quite fragile, really, within myself. That kind of destructive relationship, there’s nothing glamorous about it – it wears you down in the end and turns you nasty.

There was one final big old kick-off. Kate desecrated this 1930s Gibson I had, smashed it up. Then she covered this teddy bear of mine, called Pandy, in petrol and set him alight – it’s not funny. I used to carry him round London with me.

Deep down in my heart I like to think it’s just a lie and Kate didn’t really destroy him, that she’s still got him, but no, as far as I know, he’s dead, ashes. It still rankles – it was the one thing I’d held on to. The only time I’ve spoken to her since was eight or nine years ago in Paris. She called me up out of the blue. I just said, “Have you still got the tattoo?” That was the only thing I could think of to say.

This is an edited extract from A Likely Lad by Peter Doherty and Simon Spence, published by Little, Brown (£20) on 16 June. To support the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply.

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