Sweet sister T, she loved so long and hard
Kept to herself
Until that right man came along
Some men they lie
Some men they cheat
But now she's found
Someone who can be as strong
(Just A Man lyrics by Michael Hutchence)
I had been divorced for twelve years and friends always told me that I would not meet anyone by working long hours and sitting at home. Michael said that nobody was going to knock on my door. Well, I showed him. Ken Schorr was a 48-year-old divorced, successful businessman who moved into my building and literally knocked on my door in January, 1996. After a three-month courtship with huge arrangements of exotic flowers arriving every day at my office, he asked me to marry him and we planned a wedding at Michael's villa for mid-July. It was Mother's idea to be married in the beautiful garden there and when I called Michael not only did he agree to the plan he was thrilled that the 'family' vacation home would be used for such a happy event. He always felt like we did not make enough use out of his favourite home, and encouraged me to involve Linda and Nestor in the organizing of it all. His only concern was that it was close to Paula's delivery date and said that he might have to bring her down from London by train. This plan changed several times; at some stage he decided to leave Paula in London and bring one of the Geldof girls. He finally arrived alone.
On April 4th, 1996 , I received this fax from Michael.
'Dear Tina and Erin,
Great to get your fax, you're right it has been long time no see, but
that's just the way it is, and although I'd obviously love to see more
of everyone I know we all love each other and shouldn't let it get to
us too much. You're a great sister I've always been very proud of
you and your many achievements and lets not forget my fantastic
niece, I'm so proud of you Erin I can't believe it please send me
some photos or bring some work (her artwork ) out when you come!
As (not to mention Brents scholastic achievements!!) it was always
my secret ambition to be an artist, I do paint occasionally, but I've
decided to set up space properly to get serious about it.
Paula is about 6 months pregnant, and looks radiant and happy,
I feel ‘her' (the baby's ) kicks all the time and sing to her in the
morning. I'm starting to get very excited for our baby daughter -
Heavenly is one name we've been playing with -I'm also looking
for a Polynesian name like Herani, Lani, etc.
I don't want to mess everybody up - I just need to know exactly the
schedule you all have(re bedrooms). You see a long time ago I
promised Dad to help him out a bit as far as a long holiday in the
sun goes (like 3 months in France ). Starting around June or so.
But anyway he wont be coming till afterwards now - Aug. or Sept. - anyway I'm sure it will all work out - let me know your feelings on
this and schedules, etc.
As far as hotels in Paris/London go....... you can probably stay in
my Chelsea studio, (in a bazaar court decision, while Michael was
now staying at Paula's house, Michael's house in Chelsea was
being used by Bob Geldof) and in Paris there's a place in
St Germain in the 6th arrondissmant, I'll try and remember the
name. The one place I remember is La Perla, or if you want history there's L'Hotel - its where Oscar Wilde lived and died 'Beyond my means' I think was the quote.
All together we have been very happy with the baby coming, we
have been through an unimaginable hell with the press, the police,
fire, four burglarys, litigation, and at the moment Paula is on the
verge of being made bankrupt as Bob has taken everything
including her own house they lived in and has refused to help out
on anything $ wise so suddenly we have 7 or 8 writs on our hands,
etc, etc. It's all very complicated but as you can imagine we have
lost a lot of faith in society and the system - bank managers who
would rather see her broken than help even though she has put
millions of pounds though the bank. A woman has been living in
her father's mansion in Wales and has sold off her inheritance
while fighting her with free legal aid, etc etc. But we are strong
with love and truth and she is an inspiration to me.
Love to you both and Brent. Michael XXXX'
He had only recently moved in with Paula, and he tagged the fax number onto the end of the page. He obviously thought I faxed the office because I did not know her home fax number. With everything else going on in his life, I felt I could not tell him that I was faxing him at his office so that he was sure to get it.
I felt so bad for him. How could anyone deal with all this turmoil? But I was impressed, not many men would stand by a mother of three, facing many legal problems. Of course I recognized that the impending birth of his daughter had a lot to do with his loyalty, but I was amazed that he was able to cope with all of this, even work on his solo album and write the new INXS Elegantly Wasted album as well. There were many calls and faxes back and forth between Linda and Michael and Mother and me. Linda was excited for me and happy to have a wedding to organize, albeit a very small, private one. She was in a continual flap because the date we had decided on was Saturday, July 13th-the eve of Bastille Day. In France this is like Independence Day in the United States , or Australia Day on Sydney Harbour -party time and everything is booked up or shut down.
Legally the United States would not recognize a marriage in France between two U.S. citizens/residents and the French government would not give us a marriage certificate at such short notice. It would have to be a symbolic wedding so we were formally married in Los Angeles two weeks before I left. The final plans included Erin and me spending a week in Paris to do the things we do best- shop, visit all of the museums and art galleries, and take in the French cinemas. We had a marvelous time, Erin was only days away from her eighteenth birthday, and we treasured this time as a kind of symbol of her move into adulthood. Brent and his friend were planning to tour Europe and would be arriving at the villa two days prior to the ceremony.
While we were in Paris Michael called to check on our plans. He told me that Paula had redecorated the inside of the main house. He said that as a surprise she had Nestor repaint almost every room and as he had not seen it, he wanted my opinion. Erin and I flew to Nice, ten days before everyone else. Nestor was waiting at the airport and we greeted each other warmly. He had his own opinion on the new decor, with a running report for the thirty minutes it took to reach the villa. He was very distressed, and almost in tears at describing how Paula had insisted he paint the beautiful, huge, four-hundred-year-old wood beams in brilliant colors! In his eyes, this was sacrilege, and when I saw it, I had to agree.
Before Paulas' work the whole interior had been white, with lovely thick natural dark wood beams. Helena had been instrumental in the choice of furniture and decorative objects. Old candlelabra were placed throughout the rooms, there were fine paintings and antique pieces, all very tasteful, and in keeping with the traditions and spirit of the beautiful old home. I find it difficult to describe the 'feel' of the place as it stands today. All I can say is that the interior resembles a bordello. Paula had had old chairs, some with stuffing coming out, driven down from her house in London . They now had colorful old pieces of fabric thrown over them. I have never before seen so many fabrics and patterns and ugly colors in one room. The living room alone was painted in a yellowy-green, baby-waste colour. Everything, even the stairways and lamps had odd pieces of fabric flung over it. There was such disharmony that it was actually uncomfortable to sit in many of the rooms. I changed bedrooms three times (there was an unwritten rule at the villa- 'first come, best bedroom') and finally settled on the tiniest one in the house, because Paula had not got to the walls yet. I tore down the fabrics, which draped the rest of the room. I resisted calling Michael because there was no way I could tell him my true feelings about this new decor.
Before this makeover the house had been available for hire as a location for fashion shoots, commercials and movies. I saw one aerial shot of it in a magazine where they claimed it was Helena 's property! Now, it was deemed unsuitable and the house was eventually taken off the books.
The weather was brilliant, and the gardens looked magnificent. Nestor always worked very hard, and loved Michael's garden as his own but he had outdone himself in readying it for my wedding. The rose garden was flourishing and I basked in the scent of fresh blooms each day. Sometimes I could see baby rabbits hopping away as I approached the flowers. One evening Linda and I were going over the table setting for the reception when I noticed that we were missing a crystal wine glass from a set of twelve. I commented to Linda about this and she told me that she had to discard one. Why would you 'discard' an expensive crystal wine glass? She was embarrassed as she told me that during a visit to the villa in mid-1995, Paula had used one of the glasses to take a home pregnancy test, afterwards leaving it in the bathroom. Linda felt that it was not enough to clean the glass, she simply could not use it to set a table knowing this. I made a mental note to look for another one.
Michael called before arriving in Nice, and asked for his Aston Martin to be at the house. As with most of Michael's cars, it had actually spent more time in his mechanic's garage in Nice than in his garage at the villa. Nestor and I drove off to collect it and I got to drive it back. It is awesome to navigate those bends in the south of France in an automobile like this. Michael's romantic attachment to this magnificent piece of machinery was understandable.
When he flew into Nice the day before the nuptials I was shocked when he walked toward us. He was slumped, his face was bloated, and his hair was dyed a harsh, unbecoming, black. His shiny curls were all but gone, the chemicals that had been used on his hair had stripped it of its' usual luster and bounce. When I inquired about the new hair colour he replied that Paula messes with her hair colour all the time and she fancied this on him. I thought, what was he going to allow her to change next? He announced that he was on a health kick and refused any alcohol, apart from champagne. I do not know how long he had been abstaining but he did not look healthy to me. Looking back, I remember not only his shocking physical appearance, but also his quiet manner. He seemed to be preoccupied but I attributed this to imminent fatherhood. Calls from London , with updates on Paula's condition, were coming thick and fast. When I asked about his feelings on the birth of his daughter, he spoke enthusiastically about the future. But his eyes remained dull. It was almost as if his spirit was broken.
On the morning of the wedding, which was set for 3pm , we stocked the house with fresh oysters, shrimp, lobster and other delicacies and of course champagne. I was getting ready in my room, which was next to Michael's master suite and we were sharing a bathroom. He walked out as I entered, and I noticed some prescription drugs on the counter. He was looking so unhealthy, his face was pale and still slightly puffy. On the label, I read 'Michael Hutchence' and 'Prozac' . When he came back into the bathroom he zipped me up and gave out a wolf whistle. I asked him then what the Prozac was all about. He replied that it had been a troublesome year, he loathed having to spend so much time in London being harassed by the press and having his life controlled by Bob's whims, and sometimes he got so low he really needed it. I had not heard much about Prozac and it was a hurried conversation as we were both running late, and Father Guerrero was waiting in the garden to bless my marriage. I made a mental note that I needed to speak at length with Michael. But when? He was only in the South of France for one more night during that visit as Paula was due to give birth at any moment, and I was off to a honeymoon in Venice .
During the reception on the terrace Michael played his solo tapes. These were songs, which he had recorded separately from INXS, at his own expense, and he was planning to put them together as a solo album. The music was quite different, and varied. Some songs were edgy and there was a little blues thrown in. His voice sounded better than ever. We were all impressed and asked to hear some of the tracks over again. On the two evenings Michael spent at the villa he took Erin, Brent and his friend Dan to a number of all-night clubs, returning for breakfast. The kids had a wonderful time. As Erin tells it; wherever they went, they were taken directly to a reserved table and drinks were automatically brought over. On the first evening, the four sat at a cafe and discussed many things, including drugs. Michael expressed his concern for Rhett, and wondered aloud if he was staying clean. He admitted to having tried heroin himself but assured them that he had quickly stopped, when he learned how destructive it was and how habit forming. He said that it had made him feel ill. He made it clear to them that he indulged in illegal substances only lightly, preferring to occasionally heighten his senses with pot, or ecstasy.
At some point he disappeared from the club for a short time and when he returned, Erin said, it was obvious that he had taken something that spurred him on to dance and move around the room, bringing girls over to the table, introducing them to Brent and Dan. He later admitted that he had found some ecstasy. On the second evening Ken and I had left the villa to be alone and Michael and the kids were taking a late night swim when he jumped up and told them to get dressed, it was time to check out the clubs. He thought that Brent and Dan couldn't possibly be having fun, after all, they hadn't met any girls.
On the roads back to the villa, Michael, at the wheel of his Mercedes jeep, drove directly over several roundabouts. When they reached the house he continued ahead to the property behind his, and did some more four wheel driving, squeals and laughter pealing over the quiet countryside from the three passengers in the jeep. This was the frightening pattern of behaviour continued over the long weekend until Michael returned to London for the birth of his first and only child.
I returned to the villa the following day before continuing to Venice , but Michael, in his usual way avoided the subject of depression and Prozac, making it clear he wanted to enjoy his time at the only private retreat he had left. By now he could not walk out of his front door in London without being mobbed. The villa, with its large electric gate and driveway was the only home which could not be invaded by the press. However in speaking with friends after his death, I discovered that Michael had not been entirely truthful about his involvement with drugs when talking to Erin and Brent. I can understand why of course, and appreciate that he did not want to divulge the full extent of his substance abuse to his niece and nephew. I now know that Michael was hiding his dependency from the whole family. By mid 1996, he was very fond of opium and ecstasy and a physician in London was supplying both he and Paula with prescriptions for both Prozac and Rohypnol. I should have remembered from my concerns about Rhett that people addicted to substances are often accomplished liars about their level of dependency.
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence was born on July 22nd, nine days after our wedding, while Ken and I were continuing on our honeymoon in Paris . Linda broke the news when I called the villa. Upon reaching Michael in London , I could barely get the words of congratulations out before he embarked on an excited description of the birth. He was naturally ecstatic over watching the birth of his little daughter. Paula's original idea had been to have friends at the house while the birthing process was going on (although not necessarily in the same room!) and he had invited us over to London for the event. I declined this invitation because I wanted to savour the rest of my honeymoon. I knew I would see the baby soon anyway. In subsequent phone conversations we discussed his new daughter, his upcoming tour and new video clips. We did not get a chance for serious conversation on the merits or demerits of Prozac until we spoke at my home in California in November of that same year, when he came for Thanksgiving dinner.
Ross and I were on our way to the villa for Tina's wedding to Ken, intending to continue on to Santa Margherita and Portofino before returning to see our new grandchild, Michael's little daughter, who was due in late July. We stopped off in London to visit Michael and a very pregnant Paula. Paula was moving house as she and Bob were doing a swap. After one more court date, in a very unusual compromise, Bob was moving into Michael's house in Chelsea for six months. I felt sorry for Paula as her house was full of packing crates and wondered if she was quite ready for the birth of her baby. Michael assured me that there was plenty of help for her and somehow it would all come together.
Michael wanted us to return to London for the birth but watching a home delivery was not my idea of fun. Anyway I was worried about Paula having the child at home. Though she had her other three children at home, she was now 37-years-old. I worried about her diet, for she certainly didn't look healthy. I didn't voice my concerns but I didn't support the idea either. After a couple of days, getting re-acquainted with the children again, we flew to Nice. Nestor met us at the airport happy to see us again he talked of the changes made to the villa –the drama it caused, the colours and the many times he had to paint over his work. Most of all his horror at Paula insisting he paint the dark old beams in those outrageous colors. Linda gave us another lovely welcome. Tina and Erin were already there: it was my birthday and they had organized a cake. The garden was as peaceful and colourfully fragrant as usual but the interior of the house startled me. Tina had warned about changes but I thought she might have been exaggerating but I was unprepared for what I saw. The peaceful old farmhouse had been changed to the bright bordello look which was favoured by Paula, who proudly boasted, “I did it myself”. What a shame Paula got to it before Tina's wedding.
After the wedding party we took the train to Genoa , where Ross had a car waiting to drive us to Santa Margherita about an hour away. When we checked into our hotel room there were three messages for us, but before I had time to look at them Ross began fiddling with the television as men do. As I was opening the first message, I looked up to the television screen and to my surprise there was a photograph of Michael, Paula and Tiger Lily. It said on the screen, 'Welcome Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily - Congratulations Paula Yates and Michael Hutchence.' It was already on the newscast.
My three messages read; Michael phoned, please call him; Linda phoned, please call Michael; and Michael phoned, please call, its a girl! I phoned Michael and the line was busy, busy, busy. Linda phoned me to say that as we were driving out the gates of the villa, her phone, as well as the house phone were ringing. It was Michael wanting to speak with me as Paula was in labour. She could not reach us until we arrived at the hotel, almost eight hours away. Meanwhile Tiger Lily had arrived. I put the phone down and Michael called through. He was so happy, said Paula was well, and gave me the vital statistics. He said they were drinking champagne with a few friends and he was a Dad. He couldn't believe it. I sent our love and kisses and hugs and he said he would call back later that day.
Ross and I walked down to the little village to find a florist, and after choosing some flowers to send to Paula, Tiger Lily and Michael, went back to our hotel to unpack and toast our new grand daughter. On the way we passed a paper stand and saw the news was front page in an Italian newspaper.
Later, I phoned Michael and Paula back, and Michael's manager Paul Craig answered the phone. We spoke of Tiger Lily; was she beautiful, who did she look like, the usual things, and in the course of the conversation he said something which bothered me very much. He said, "It was lucky they were able to release the cord." The cord had become tangled around the baby's neck. I asked Paul to elaborate as Michael had not mentioned there had been a problem. When I spoke to him, I broached the subject cautiously and he said that he did not want to tell me, as he knew I was against the home birth. He said that there were two trained midwives in attendance and the cord was released from around Tiger's neck just before the paramedics arrived at the front door. He said that Tiger Lily was healthy and so beautiful, I was not to worry.
We spoke several times over the next ten days and made plans to meet them at the villa as Michael desperately wanted to get away from the press. I had asked Paula what she needed so that I could have everything ready, but she kept saying she needed nothing for Tiger Lily. When we returned to the villa we went shopping immediately and chose a gorgeous stroller with an umbrella for the garden and a car seat, as we knew they did not have one.
They eventually arrived by charter flight, and as there were seven of them, with Nanny Anita and the three Geldof girls, Ross took another of Michael's cars to help transport them to the house. Nestor attached the baby car seat in one of the cars, and he and Ross set off for the airport. Linda and I were jumping out of our skin at the villa, awaiting the arrival of the baby.
When Paula saw the car seat at the airport, she refused to allow Nestor to put Tiger Lily into it. She just insisted that she wanted to hold Tiger, she said that the baby needed to be close to her. Nestor explained that it was against the law and very dangerous to transport a child without a car seat, yet Paula still refused. Michael insisted but she remained adamant. They stood out at the cars, nobody budging, Nestor refusing to drive. After much begging, Paula finally gave in.
When they arrived at the house, it was a fight between Linda and me as to who was getting first cuddle! Paula was pretty cool towards me that day, why, I do not know. It was not just directed at me, she was disagreeable with everyone. To be fair, she had just given birth and the travelling may have tired her. This was a very different Paula to the friendly, breezy one we had met 12 months before. When I gave her the little stroller, she just said, "Hmm" And walked away. The children took it outside to play, and I never saw Tiger Lily in it, or even got a 'thanks', except from Michael.
Tiger Lily was such a sweet, pretty little baby, so docile, sleeping all day long, as did Paula between feeds. In any case, I did not get to see Tiger Lily until around 6pm each evening when Nanny Anita would bring her downstairs. Paula told me (through Anita) that she had to be fed every 30 minutes and for this reason she and the baby stayed in the master bedroom all day long. Of course to say that a baby had to be fed every 30 minutes, was absurd, but I realised that it was Paula's way of saying 'I don't feel like being social.' I did not even see Tiger Lily's eyes for a couple of days, as she just did not want to wake up when she was brought downstairs. On a number of occasions, Nanny Anita had to hold her under lukewarm, then cold, running water to make her stir. Anita appeared concerned and said that this was not usual. We were in the bedroom next to the master bedroom and I never heard a peep out of the baby. I thought this unusual, but did not think it my place to say anything. Shortly after this visit to the villa, back in London , Tiger Lily's lips turned blue, her eyes transfixed as she suffered a seizure. Michael was very hesitant in telling me about this, but said they were having it checked out.
We sat around the pool, Ross swimming with the Geldof girls who are brilliant swimmers and Michael joining us on and off as he was also catching up with his business ventures which involved visits to Nice and Monaco . He worked in his garden with Nestor, which involved trips to nearby villages for supplies. Paula seemed determined not to allow me to be close to Tiger Lily. If Michael was out on business, or working in the garden, he would return and ask me how his lovely daughter was today. I would say that I had not seen her, or Paula. He would bring her down to me, and what seemed like five minutes later, Paula would amble downstairs and say; "I have to feed her now" or "The girls want to see her now". This visit was almost pointless, though I wanted so much to see and be with my new little grandchild that we persevered.
After several days like this, Fifi, Pixie and Peaches were beginning to become super hyper . Their nanny Anita was really wonderful, and loved them very much, she had been with them all their lives after all. But it was obvious that they felt as though they had been pushed out of their mother's life. The girls had been through this pregnancy too and had waited so long for Tiger to arrive that they naturally wanted to see their sister. They wanted to be a part of the day-to-day events with their mother and Tiger. When they did spend time with her they were affectingly gentle, but this could never last more than about ten minutes before they were bundled off to be on their own for the rest of the day.
One day Ross and I had gone to a neighbouring village, Michael was in Nice shopping with Linda and Nestor, and Anita was down the end of the garden. We returned to find that the Geldof girls had created quite a mess. They had chopped the fruit off many of the trees, pulled flowers out of the ground and ripped long hanging bunches of grapes off the vine over the front door. They took fruit from the kitchen, hacked it up and threw most of it into the fishpond. The rest was scattered on the lawn. They had dragged the white bedspreads and pillows out onto the lawn for a picnic, only to have the sprinklers start up. Candy wrappers, baguettes and every towel from every bathroom were thrown into the pool, along with Barbie dolls and cotton buds. Oranges had been stuffed into the toilets, which were now blocking up. The kitchen was a mess, cereal plates were full to the brim or had overflowed with milk. A three tiered tin of biscuits had been ravaged, a bite taken out of every single cookie and then returned to the tin.
We were speechless at the sight of the devastation. I could hardly bear to see Michael's face when he arrived home not long after us. He went crimson with fury then ran upstairs to Paula. I could hear his voice raised in anger. They had a terrible row. Then he went to the girls' room, and I heard him uncharacteristically shouting . He was the most angry, I had ever heard him. The girls did not attempt to placate him with excuses, clearly they knew they had done a terrible thing. They ate in their room that night and went to bed early. Linda and Nestor spent hours cleaning up the mess. Later Nestor, whose vegetable garden had been desecrated, came out to us on the patio, enraged, as was Linda. This was one of many incidents they had to contend with. It always made them nervous when the Geldof children were visiting. They were close to resigning that day and if Michael and Paula had not had Tiger Lily I think they would have done so.
We were leaving the next day. I had ordered a vase for the villa from the glass blower at the art gallery in Valbonne and Michael was readying to drive with us to collect it. Suddenly, Paula came racing out the front door, running ahead of us, barefoot and with her hair uncombed. She jumped in Michael's jeep. This was the first time I had seen her without Tiger Lily welded to her shoulder, or before noon , in the whole time we had been there. It was obvious they were not speaking. Michael stepped behind the wheel of his Peuget and started the motor as we climbed into the back seat. Paula jumped out of the jeep and into the Peuget. The message was clear: she did not want him alone with us. Maybe she was afraid I would say something to him about the girls' behaviour, but this was not my style, I don't interfere. Besides, Michael was a grown man and he had to learn from his mistakes.
There had been an exhibition of beautiful work at the gallery and there was a photographer from Paris -Match covering it. He came over to me, pointing to Paula sitting outside in the car, and asked, "Is that who I think it may be?" I said, "You got that right". He said, "That's Paula Yates?” and walked away shaking his head. I was really surprised that he didn't attempt to take a picture of Paula. She wasn't exactly looking her best, barely recognisable. I thought this was what photo-journalists lived for. Instead he turned back to Michael and asked if he could take a photo of Ross handing him the vase and it ran in the Paris-Match two months later.
END CHAPTER TEN