Is your name Peter, I asked? Just to make sure. “Because you’re causing a bit of a commotion inside my boat.”
He confirmed it was him, and asked if he could play. He’d return Sunday morning he said. Fat chance said my crew back in the boat. “Not if he’s got a concert.” He’d be up late partying they assumed. Nice try though.
Come morning my team wasn’t there, but Pete Doherty was. Along with a retinue including his keyboard playing wife, Katja, from the Puta Madres, and his sled dog — which settled down to study the swans from the roof of a narrowboat double-moored next to me.
A mate tuned Pete’s guitar while I fumbled with the sound system. He was about to start when I remembered he’d neither signed in, nor recorded the statement I wanted every artist to make. Who were they? And why were they playing for free in the cold? Useful for future grant applications, I hoped. Would he mind?
“My name is Pete Doherty,” he spoke into the mic. “I’m an artist and a dreamer…. and it may sound corny as hell, but to be here on someone’s canal boat playing music… it’s just that kind of Arcadian vision that in the midst of everything…. the pandemic and all the evils in the world, we can still have these moments of joy.”
And then he created one. Roaming my stage with an acoustic guitar, a teddy bear of a man, playing for sheer pleasure. Upbeat tunes with a lilting refrain:
“In Arcady life trips along. It’s pure and simple as the shepherd’s song.”