Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freddy McConnel

Without wishing to intrude upon the grief being felt by his parents and his sister, the recent, and very tragic death, of Freddy McConnel has shone a very welcome light into some of our culture's darker corners.

Freddy, 18 at the time of his death, was the son of James McConnel, a composer who suffers from Tourette Syndrome, and who wrote of how his illness was ameliorated by the effects of alcohol, of his subsequent slide into alcoholism and his ascent from it, in his memoir 'Life, Interrupted', a book which, while it might not be perfect, should be mandatory reading for the parent of every child diagnosed with our illness.

Very shortly before his death, Freddy had become friendly with a young woman known as Peaches Geldof, the daughter of Bob Geldof, a man who, in my opinion, has no respect for anyone or anything. A very sad and touching interview given by his parents to the 'Daily Mail' shortly after his death was announced recorded the following -

"Freddy formed a friendship with Peaches Geldof, the 22-year-old, wild-child daughter of Sir Bob Geldof. Extraordinarily, the Mail can reveal that Peaches this week telephoned Freddy’s father to confess that — although she had nothing whatsoever to do with his death — she had given money to Freddy to buy drugs in the months before he died.

In their first interview since their son’s death, James and Annie expressed their fury at Peaches and criticised the way that young drug-taking celebrities are all too often portrayed as cool and bohemian rather than indulging in a terrifying activity which destroys lives.
James says: ‘Peaches sounded more interested in protecting herself when she phoned me this week than sorry for what had happened to my son. She confessed to giving Freddy money to buy drugs. She said she had done it only once, but who knows?"

If it is not illegal for one person to provide another with the means to buy narcotics, it bloody well should be. It is astonishing to note the rise of what one might call the 'Geldof class', for he is a perfect example of that breed, a very common one in the so-called music business. The times he has lived in, and presumably also the astuteness of his career moves (the professional rebel is the most astute of all careerists) has enabled him to parlay what is in my opinion a minimal talent for the production of sound into a three-decade long career. Like a Napoleonic field marshal who has risen to nobility from the ranks, albeit one who started off not with a baton but a microphone in his napsack, his title and fame seem to have become heritable, regardless of his descendants' merits. I am sure Peaches Geldof has some. She just didn't seem to exhibit them to Freddy McConnel.

It would be very interesting to know just how and why the two became friendly. Hopefully Peaches Geldof saw Freddy McConnel's qualities for what they were, and saw the clever young man underneath the one who idolised Pete Doherty. From the outside, the establishment of the friendship seems puzzling. Although there was only four years of an age difference between them, at that age it is still a large one, particularly where the male is younger than the female. I hope to live long enough to read her memoirs, and to read how and why her friendship with Freddy McConnel came into being. She might even be working on that bit right now, for all I know.

The sooner we disengage ourselves from this horrible 'celebrity' culture, appearing to worship nothing but fame for fame's sake, the better and more wholesome our culture will become, one where talented and clever young men like Freddy McConnel won't die needlessly because they're impressed by someone so apparently vacuous as a rock musician. Since the turn of the millenium, Peaches Geldof, possessor of the daintiest of cultural footprints, has been one of that culture's poster girls. Let us all hope for a new look.



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