Confrontations and Tangled Relationships
Michael arrived in Sydney ahead of Paula, in September 1996, to promote the album 'Elegantly Wasted' . One evening he dined with Michele and some other friends along with Colin Diamond and Australian barrister Andrew Young. Throughout the evening Diamond and Young took every opportunity and great pleasure in bringing up Bob Geldof's name and revving Michael into a frenzy over him. They referred to him as 'Satan Bob', which was a not-very-witty play on the 'Saint Bob' handle the press had given him, and encouraged any conversational theme which put him in this light. Michele said later to me that she felt she was observing the poisoning of Michael's mind.
This is not the first time that Diamond and Young's malign influence has been reported by Michael's true, old friends. Many of them were concerned that he was being brainwashed. Michael was convinced that Bob had special power and was above the law because he was so revered in the United Kingdom - after all he was knighted. This, of course, had to mean that Michael needed Diamond and Young's services even more because they were lawyers and could advise him on anything that came up. Due to travelling, house moves and the fact that he was not getting all of his messages, Michael was not enjoying much contact with his old and faithful friends. By now he was living in a bubble, pervaded by only a select few, which included financial advisor, attorney Colin Diamond, accountant and tax specialist Andrew Paul, solicitor Andrew Young and of course Paula.
INXS were promoting their album and due to perform at the ARIA (Australian Record Industry) awards ceremony in September of 1996. Paula arrived in Sydney with Tiger Lily and joined Michael at the Hotel Sir Stamford. Ross and I were staying at the nearby Ritz Carlton so that we could spend some time with them. At first Paula was busy having fittings and deciding on hairstyles, and we were all invited to the home of INXS' publicist, Shawn Deacon for a party with some industry people. Paula was sitting between Kell's wife Sue and me on a sofa, breastfeeding Tiger Lily. She suddenly motioned us to listen to a secret she wanted to share. In hushed tones she announced that Michael had finally asked her to marry him and they would be making the announcement shortly. We were both quite surprised, but congratulated her. Sue rushed off to give Kell the news and I stood up and walked over to Michael who was in another room. I kissed him on the cheek and congratulated him. He said, “What for?” I told him what Paula had said, and he threw his head back and laughed, saying, “That's silly, she's just having you on, we're not getting married.” I was still standing there in shock when Kell, who had by now heard the news from Sue, came up to give him his best wishes also. Michael just shook his head, continued to laugh and said, “She's mad, she's just having you on, I'm telling you.” Kell and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. I continued to pay attention to Tiger Lily that evening, but tried to steer clear of conversation with Paula. This was made even more difficult because Michael wanted to party on with his friends, and he sent Paula back in the car with us.
The following day, two days before the ARIA show, and while Michael was at rehearsals, Paula called to invite me to go out shopping with her. I thought this was strange because she was always grumbling about the aggressiveness of the press and also she had not been too friendly two months earlier in South of France. After some consideration I decided to go so we made plans for me to meet her at the Sir Stamford. I still wanted to get to know her if only for Michael's sake, and I wanted to see Tiger Lily.
When I arrived she was very chatty and pleasant, and I was even allowed to play with Tiger Lily. Time passed and I mentioned our shopping spree. She said, "I can't go. Tony [the bodyguard ] said it's better I stay in. We'll have some tea and talk." As with most Australian hotels, there were tea facilities in the room and I made the tea, thinking this was very strange as she was acting like a close friend - in fact my new best friend. She began to ask me about Kell. How we met, about our marriage, about the divorce, how he reacted when I divorced him. She told me about her problems with Bob and her mother. It was a strange conversation to be having with her, all very 'girlie' and confidential. Then she told me that she might not be attending the ARIAs. I was astounded and asked her why. She told me it was all no use, that Michael had told her he was not going to marry her. She said she had tried everything. What do you say? I suggested that she try harder. She said that there was nothing more she could think of doing. Paula admitted that she had been asking Michael to marry her for some time now but he always refused. Privately I felt that if he were going to marry her he would have done so much earlier in their relationship when he was so wildly enamoured with her. I thought that he must be staying around because of Tiger Lily.
Just then, her phone rang and as I walked outside onto the balcony to give her privacy, I turned around to see her reach down under the bed and flip off a small machine that appeared to be a tape recorder. I had a terrible feeling that she had been taping our conversation, although I had no idea why. After her phone call was over I went back inside and was playing with Tiger Lily when Paula jumped up and said she had to make a call. I went to the other end of the room but I could hear her saying "probably tomorrow, no don't do it today..... I'll give it another day...if not do it tomorrow.. no, he refuses, definitely not... I've tried everything… I'll see you soon." This was all in hushed, urgent tones and I could not make sense of it at the time.
The following day Ross and I went to a movie and on our way back as we passed their hotel, I noticed about thirty photographers outside. My heart jumped. I had no idea what was wrong but I was sure it had something to do with Michael and Paula. We decided to go back to our hotel and call from the room. Michael answered and when I asked if he was all right he said yes, all was well. I mentioned the press outside crowding the little street. He said, "Don't worry, I have no idea why they are there. Come on over if you like." I was thinking that maybe Paula had leaked a story of a wedding. After what I'd overheard the previous day I seriously wondered if this was her plan. Michael had said on an earlier visit that Paula always leaked wedding plans to the English press, to the point of describing her wedding dress. It did not bother him in the beginning she saw it as big joke at the expense of the press. He assured me again that all was okay, so I decided not to go over until the next day as I did not want to walk through that herd of paparazzi.
The following morning the newspapers and television were flashing the headlines, "Drugs Found in Paula's House - Under the Bed" . My first thought was that this could not be true. I have been in that house and she slept on a seven foot futon, there was no 'under' that bed. I called Michael who said Paula was leaving to go home to sort this out. She apparently believed this was a set-up by Bob or Anita as she thought that Anita sided with Bob on most issues. Michael asked me to go over before Paula left for the airport. When Ross and I arrived at the Sir Stamford Michael was deeply concerned and really did not know what was going on. Anybody in England who read a newspaper knew they were out of the country. Paula said that she thought that Bob was going to take Tiger away from them and Colin Diamond and Andrew Young, who were also present, agreed. I thought this was unlikely. Certainly he had some legal leverage as far as his children were concerned, but what would Bob Geldof have to do with Michael's child? But I wasn't the one advising them - they had two solicitors doing that and they didn't waste any time.
That day there were many hushed meetings involving Colin Diamond and Andrew Young. Colin had convinced Michael that even though it was Paula's house, the authorities would think him an unfit parent with this latest development and that Tiger would be taken away from them. He was petrified of losing his daughter so to prevent a possible ugly scene at Heathrow they decided that Paula should leave for London to face things alone the following day, the day of the ARIA Awards. Michael would return with Tiger at a later date. Diamond's plan was to have Mandy take care of Tiger Lily, as it would be impossible to retain a trustworthy nanny or nurse at such short notice, considering all of the intimate information being discussed. When it was time for Paula to leave she was furious – which I can understand - and just shoved Tiger into Mandy's arms and left without a word -which I cannot.
That night, Michael sang "Searching" -"If you could face the pain, and I could do the same, it would be clear tomorrow, but would it start, but will it start, again". He sang with such feeling, and I wondered how he could be in such control with all that was going on around him. Mandy had stayed at the hotel with Tiger Lily and Zoe Angel.
The following day Michael chartered a flight to take him, Mandy, the two babies, Colin and Tony to his house on the Isle of Capri on the Gold Coast. Colin was trying to control things, so he would not allow Rhett to stay at the house, nor would he let Mandy or Michael leave it. Rhett came back to stay at our apartment, which is near Michael's. In retrospect I see that this must have been hard for him and it did cause a lot of resentment. Michael and his minders were worried sick that the press would find them. Ross would play pool with Michael to pass the time and we would take food in for them. Mandy and I repeatedly heard Michael complain to Colin about having Tony there, saying that the house had an excellent security system and he did not need someone looking over his shoulder all the time. Colin convinced him otherwise. Michael did bring Tiger Lily to our house for dinner one night and he arrived with Tony in tow. I asked him to leave us for a couple of hours so that we could have some family privacy. I didn't trust Tony and did not want to risk anything getting into a newspaper. Michael did not object to this: I think he felt relieved.
Tony got back at me the following day although I was not to realise this until after Michael's death. Michael called and invited us to the beach. He knew of one down the coast, which was very private. He asked us to be downstairs in thirty minutes, and would we bring an umbrella for Tiger? We packed for a day at the beach and waited downstairs for almost an hour before calling Michael's house. No answer. Then Tony rang to say he had taken Michael to the beach and they would not collect us as he had checked out the area and had seen several photographers. He did not want to subject Michael and Tiger to that circus. We could see no visible signs of paparazzi and from our balcony we can view both front and back entrances to our secured building and would have noticed them while looking out for Michael's arrival. We were disappointed at not spending the day with them, but we thought little of this and waited until the following day to see Michael and Tiger. Michael and I did not discuss this incident at all. However, Mandy recently said, that what Tony had confided to her and Michael, was that he had heard that I had called the press to tip them off that Michael would be by the house shortly. He advised that he take them directly to the beach to outsmart these photographers. He recommended that Michael not take this up with me and unfortunately he never did. To this day I regret that Michael allowed so many people to make decisions for him, and that he would have been led to believe that I would do such a thing. It hurts so much to know that he actually imagined that I had betrayed him and now it is too late to set the record straight.
While Michael was hiding out with Tiger Lily, Colin visited us. He told Ross and me about a piece of property he and Michael had purchased near Lombok , in Indonesia . Colin said that Ross and I would be able to stay there. He and Michael explained that they were building several homes on the plot - enough room for the whole family. Mandy actually saw a video of the property while she was staying at the house and told us it looked like paradise.
Meanwhile, on the Isle of Capri, Mandy witnessed Colin's growing control over Michael, but sadly she didn't warn us of this information until it was too late. During this stressful time Michael confronted Colin about his brother Stephen using the Isle of Capri house as if it was his own. Michael wanted it rented out when he was not in the country. Colin smoothed it over and promised to have Stephen vacate the place within the month. Michael was increasingly and belatedly concerned about his properties and investments and the cost of Paula's ongoing battles. Again, Colin assured him that he was taking care of things.
We have since found out that it was during this visit, in fact the day after arriving on the Gold Coast that Michael revised his will. He had not signed a new one since 1992 when the only beneficiaries were the immediate family Rhett, Tina, Kell, and myself. It was therefore imperative that he now include Tiger, who was by then nine weeks old. Michael told Mandy that he was going to Colin's office to take care of some business and on October 3, 1996 , he made and signed a new will. Again, it was straightforward. Apart from generous gifts to both Amnesty International and Greenpeace, he bequeathed fifty percent of his assets to Tiger Lily, which she would not see until she is twenty-five-years-old and the remaining fifty percent is divided evenly between Rhett, Tina, Kell, Paula and myself. Colin was named as guardian to Tiger Lily. The executors were Andrew Paul (Michael's Hong Kong based accountant) and Colin Diamond. Colin's brother Stephen witnessed it.
It must have been signed in a hurry, unless Michael had his mind on other things, because his own daughter's name is incorrectly spelled as ‘Hirani' and Tinas' was typed as Christina 'Ellen', when it should have been Christina Elaine. My name is also incorrectly typed as Ann. My correct name is Agnes Patricia – as it was typed in Michael's previous will. I have never been known as Ann. You might overlook one mistake, but out of this will's six beneficiaries, three names were incorrect. This was a straightforward will, without any special conditions and our names had all been correct in his previous one.
On the day Michael signed his new will, twenty-four hours after Paula had returned to London , Tiger Lily suffered another seizure. Mandy told us Colin sent for his father, a retired physician, who in turn called a paediatrician. There were hushed meetings but no explanations given for Tiger's seizures. When I asked Michael what reason was given for them he said he was told it could be many things. I now know that both he and Paula were being treated for depression, which involved calmative medications. I can only wonder if the baby was getting the effects of the medication through breastfeeding and that she was now having withdrawals.
Over time Mandy noted that the extreme stress and paranoia that Michael exhibited in Sydney upon the initial news of the drug charges gradually lifted. He spent time with his daughter and spoke of the many plans he had for the house on the Isle of Capri. Eventually, Colin arranged for an Australian passport for Tiger and Michael left the secure confines of his house and once again tested his nerves by returning to London . He took with him a nurse for Tiger. She was hired by Colin's father, from a local hospital and Michael referred to her as ‘Bentley'. I felt so sad for Michael having to live this way, and all the time I was reading in the press that I had little Tiger Lily in my home.
The real story behind the 'drug bust' is still a little hazy. Michael, with the help of Colin and Paula; was convinced that it was instigated by Bob, Anita, and Paula's friend Geri Agar, Paula's publicist. Boosting Paula's image must have been a daunting task given the amount of negative press attention she seemed to attract. As I have read it the story goes that Geri's children were spending the night with the Geldof girls in Anitas' care at Paula's house. They had been watching television in Paula's bedroom and later went to their own beds. In the early hours of the morning the alarm on Michael's Cherakee jeep began to raise fury out on the sleeping street. Anita panicked, trying every way she knew to turn it off. Finally, she began to search Paula's room for the papers to the vehicle, maybe an instruction booklet but came up with nothing. Because Paula spent most of her days in her bed she had a habit of leaving papers around the floor and when Anita frantically moved some magazines she came across an envelope containing a couple of Smarties tubes, themselves containing a brown substance.
Anita finally found the off switch for the car alarm and immediately called Geri Agar. On hearing about the substance in the Smarties tubes, she went around to collect her children but not before she and Anita conducted a search of Paula's bedroom. Anita called Bob who picked up his children too, along with Anita. Later, it was alleged that the brown substance was opium. It was Geri Agar after some urging from Bob, who called the authorities. Geri and Paula were famously to part ways, but no convictions were ever brought. However this did not prevent the press in both Britain and Australia devoting yards of column inches to speculation and analysis of the situation. Paula and Michael were once again in the eye of the storm.
I still think it was an incredibly odd move for a publicist to call the authorities on her own client. I also question why Anita found it necessary to call Geri and Bob in the middle of the night. After all what harm was there in allowing the children to sleep through to breakfast and send them off. Geri maintains that after calling the authorities she was subsequently harassed and threatened, and that attempts were made on her life -all instigated, she says, by Michael. This seemed even more ludicrous. Her description of Michael resembled that of a heavyweight, who controlled thugs. I do not know if Paula's conversation which Mother overheard at the Sir Stamford had anything to do with the discovery of the opium, though the conversation kept going round her mind. "....no don't do it today I'll give it another day, if not do it tomorrow......." The story did hit the news desks on the day after this conversation, and over the years we had observed strange impulses on Paula's part, which sometimes lead her to create turmoil.
All of this is difficult for most people to understand. Why would Paula want to deliberately place herself in the nightmare eye of a public relations storm? Who knows what goes on in another person's mind. I just know that there have been many times that Paula could have avoided the media's attention. For instance many high profile people refuse to give interviews unless they have something to promote and even then they decline to discuss their personal lives. The interviews I have read with Paula, revolve entirely around her personal life. It has been suggested by some that Paula is a borderline personality, and that would account for much of her behaviour. In a June 1998 interview with journalist Tim Rayment, in the London Sunday Times, Dr Oliver James, a clinical psychologist with whom Paula worked in television said, “She (Paula) is liable to feel that she does not exist unless she is at the centre of a crisis, which she likes the tabloids to chronicale because they make her feel significant.” Dr James describes Paula as a borderline personality.
In November of the same year, INXS was in Los Angeles to shoot the C.D. cover for Elegantly Wasted and I invited Michael over for Thanksgiving as the other band members were going to Jon Farriss' home. He arrived with photographs of Tiger Lily, and was surprised to discover that Paula had neglected to send one to me, he left his with me instead. My other guests were Venetia and Gary Berwin, and their son Sasha. Erin and Sasha had begun pre-school together, with Michael Reagan's son, President Ronald Reagans' grandson -who used to arrive everyday accompanied by his two secret servicemen. Michael loved hearing about this.
Michael was always excited to run into fellow Aussies and he had not seen Gary and Venetia for some time. I had first introduced them in 1983. He spoke of his house on the Isle of Capri, and he and Gary traded stories about deep sea diving and boat racing. A dinner party was never dull when Michael was a guest. That night he told us a story about four wheel driving through the outback of Australia with Helena Christensen. It was one of his typical vehicle-in-distress tales. Apparently they had attempted to cross a running stream, and had become stuck in the mud by the edge of the water, which housed who knows what kind of snakes and critters. He took on a wonderful, heavy Aussie accent when describing the locals who had helped them out of the mud.
Gary later said: “I was particularly glad to see Michael that day and we went about catching up on our lives. When we first met his manager was trying to put a record deal together in the United States and I owned the Hollywood Athletic Club, also known as the Berwin Entertainment Center . The B.E.C. was known as a happening place because of its' famous rock and roll tenants. It housed Van Halen, the Beach Boys, Blondie, Jose Feliciano and Baby' O Recording Studios. Michael sent me a video to present my tenant and friend, Lionel who headed up Island Records. Lionel was preoccupied with Bob Marley and his new hit, so nothing came off with Island and INXS. Sometime in 1985 my wife Venetia and I were dining with Lionel. The subject of INXS came up and I reminded him of the tape I had given him. Lionel's eyes grew wide and he threw his head down on the table, saying “No, no, that was INXS?” Needless to say he was very upset with himself for not taking the opportunity to sign up such a talented young star as Michael.
Michael and I laughed about this that Thanksgiving and we talked about many other things too. He impressed me as he spoke of his concerns about nature and the environment as I am also an advocate of conservation. I was so impressed that this rock and roller was so sensitive to mankind and nature. Michael was involved with some marine environment projects and was putting money into studies, his positive participation meaning he was using his fame to some good.”
Following dinner, Michael and I talked about his plans for 1997. I asked him about his solo album and he replied that he doubted that he could get the record company to release it until his obligations with INXS were completed for Elegantly Wasted. Anyway, he was still perfecting it. He spoke of U.S. tour for the Elegantly Wasted album and although he knew he couldn't take a little baby on tour he expressed his sadness at missing out on daily life with her. Other band members had taken children on tours, but Michael did not believe in doing this, and it distracted him. This is why he had always wanted to wait until he had a more stable home life before having children. He told me he despised his life in London , something confirmed by his manager Paul Craig, who once said that upon landing in London , Michael would literally pale before his eyes. Michael blamed most of the turmoil in his life on the complexities of Paula, although he could still not understand why the press persecuted her. As he spoke he picked at his purple nail polish which had been applied by the makeup artist for the shoot the day before.
Throughout the evening he had few kind things to say about Bob Geldof but I had trouble believing all the calumnies. He said that Bob was trying to gain custody of Tiger Lily but the more I told him that this was ridiculous the more adamant he became, adding that Colin Diamond and Andrew Young had assured him they had seen court papers on it. I really don't think he was thinking rationally at the time. I asked him about the drug bust and he just insisted that the opium found at Paulas' had been planted by Bob who was trying to gain custody of his children at the time. He assured me that he had a lawyer, Andrew Young who was a "pitbull", an unbeatable force in a negotiating situation. Michael said that although he was an international ‘roving'lawyer, his main practice was in Australia but he had a lot of powerful friends. I specifically remember him telling me that Young was formerly with the CIA. Actually, Bob later corroborated this to me. Everything he was telling me was so dramatic that even a credulous innocent like Michael must have had some concerns. I had never heard of a ‘roving' lawyer before and it did not make sense to me to be paying someone for legal advice if they couldn't actually stand up in court for you.
I thought about all of the published photographs I had seen of Michael playing with the Geldof girls. This would be hard on their father and any mother would know the impact this would have on her ex-spouse. I thought Paula could have resolved her differences with her ex- husband in a mature and dignified way without involving Michael. It was one thing to fund her legal battles, but Michael should never have been drawn into hand to hand combat. I thought Paula was using mind games to fuel Michael's passionate and illogical fear that he would lose Tiger. To me it was very obvious but Michael, maddeningly, refused to recognize this. When I suggested that Paula was exaggerating, he reacted like a teenager defending someone his parents disapproved of. It was okay for him to complain about her spending habits, and her irrationality, but don't you say anything. I was walking on eggshells. This continued to be a problem over the next year as I became increasingly aware of Michael's volatile state of mind and did not want to risk igniting it. It was truly a Catch 22 because with all the fueling he was receiving, I was timid in bringing anything up that would upset him further.
The more I questioned Paula's reactions to Geldof's reported behaviour, the more he defended her. It was clear that he did not want to hear any negative talk on Paula from his family. This suspicious state of mind was unfamiliar territory for me as far as Michael was concerned. I had the distinct impression that due to his depression and the constant attention from the press, and his withdrawal from ‘normal' everyday life as he knew it – he was living in a bubble. At that stage I did not know how cut off from his old and trusted friends he had become.
My brother spoke of moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Being realistic, he recognised that he would fail to give it his all if he lived outside of the United States . Never before had he expressed an interest in a Los Angeles home to me. He said that he could not take the depressing London weather and looked forward to the endless sunshine of Southern California . He said "I give it six months and Paula and I will be back here with the kids." I was thrilled. Finally we would once again be living on the same continent, even in the same city. It gave me hope, for I knew that distance would possibly soothe tempers and heal wounds between Paula and Bob. This would make Michael's life more tranquil, although I doubted they could bring the Geldof girls with them without fierce opposition from their father.
After his death I found out that in the thirty two months that Michael spent with Paula, most of them on the road or in his own homes, he only actually had a half-dozen conversations with Bob Geldof. So his strong impressions of him are all the more bizarre. Only when I look at the photographs from Thanksgiving 1996, do I see how physically, and mentally, Michael was far from well. In the pictures his face is slightly bloated, his body hunched over, and it reminds me of how when he spoke of Geldof his eyes shifted and darted in a manic way. Many people who have seen those pictures and heard me describe his manner, have since suggested that it was obvious that he was using heroin, if only occasionally.
At Christmas 1996 Michael and Paula bought the Geldof girls and Tiger Lily to his house on the Gold Coast. I was on crutches that year, due to a back injury. He wanted to drive over to see us in the Bentley and we made arrangements for it to be parked beneath in our building but they arrived in the four-wheel drive. Michael was not very happy, as he did not get to drive his beloved Bentley often. Ten minutes after they arrived, Colin Diamond was buzzing our security door with another man who was tall, dark, swarthy, and who gave me an uneasy feeling. As Colin and this man stood outside on our balcony talking, Michael walked out to join them and he and Colin had a heated argument. I heard Michael threaten as he walked back in "and it's my house too you know!" I would not understand the significance of this remark until after his death.
On this same day after Colin and the other visitor had left, Michael was in Ross' study, looking at his old flight logbook. He was always fascinated with Ross' medals and memorabilia. Paula came over to me and quietly said, "Anitas' writing a book and there are some really damaging things in there about you". I asked her what she meant. She just shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Nice Christmas greeting… I was stunned and tried to ask her about it. Paula called the children over to cut off our conversation. With what I now realize was a deep and senseless cruelty, Paula was planting a huge anxiety knowing very well that I had no means of dealing with it except fret and worry. In fact Anita did no such thing so far as I know. To change the subject I admired Peaches' dress even though it was much too large for her. Paula said it was hers. Pixie chimed in that they had packed some really special dresses for this trip and made reference to a wedding. I inquired about who was getting married and they just giggled, saying that their mother had a really special blue dress, but that they could not say more.
From all this I decided that Paula must have some serious problems dealing with reality. I assumed it must have been the stress. After all, what would Anita have to say about me? It was more likely she would have something to say about Paula's lifestyle. Michael and I had a running joke. I once wore a red dress to an awards show, and when Michael complimented me on it I said "I will wear it to your wedding". It became 'the' wedding dress and from then on whenever Paula mentioned a wedding, I would ask Michael if it was "time to bring out the red dress?"
We had champagne, as usual, during that Christmas dinner. It was the first time I had seen Paula drink. Michael gave Ross the pair of cufflinks in the shape of the Tiger Moth and Ross still treasures them. Ross had given Michael the bomber jacket which, he had worn in Korea . Michael loved it and called a few weeks later to tell us to watch him wearing it in an interview.
In January 1997 Michael returned with Paul Craig to Hong Kong to present a special for MTV. He gave a tour of Hong Kong through his eyes. He was happy and relaxed, but when it was time to return to London his mood changed. A little later he flew to Los Angeles with the rest of INXS to promote Elegantly Wasted . While he was in town, it was Jonnie's birthday and he celebrated it with her. During that evening he had several volatile calls from Paula and after the last one he got off the phone and poured out his concerns for his daughter, and his many problems in London .
INXS worked the press and played some warm up shows in anticipation of the March release of ‘Elegantly Wasted' . They played two private acoustic shows at ABC Studios in Sydney for the Australian media; six days later, a special show in Aspen, Colorado which was recorded by VH1 called, ‘INXS Rocks the Rockies' ; ten days later they were in London to play on the television show, ‘TFI Friday' ; most of the following four weeks was spent promoting in London and Paris. The tour began on April 4 th , and on April 16 th while in New York they appeared on the ‘Rosie O'Donnell Show' where Rosie called Michael a ‘cutie-petootie' . On April 20 th they played a show in Dallas with Matchbox 20 and Beck; David Letterman had them on his ‘Late Show' from New York where they performed ‘Elegantly Wasted' ; and they spent the next two months doing shows and promoting in the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Scotland, Wales – where they played a festival with several other groups, and headed on to Germany to play the Rockpalast Festival with Simple Minds, Sheryl Crow, and Nenah Cherry among others.
In April they played the Mayan in downtown LA. It was an excellent show. While they were in town, Michael took Ken, Erin , Joshua and me out to a wonderful brunch. When I hugged Michael he winced in pain and explained that he had fallen and bruised his ribs while working on a video. I observed him laugh out loud and hold his side while in conversation with Joshua, who has a wonderful dry sense of humour, which Michael appreciated immensely, but his ribs hurt him every time he laughed. Part of the conversation centred, around royalties as there had been stories in the news about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones selling off much of their publishing rights. Michael's comment was that he and Andrew owned theirs' outright and would never part with this income, as it was ongoing. His exact words to Joshua were, “Yeah, yeah, don't understand that at all. I mean that is all you have for sure, the royalties are everything and they just keep working for you and your family. Long after you are gone, your children and your children's children will benefit.” Laughingly he said that it was his retirement.
He left us with some copies of Elegantly Wasted and I played it over and over, liking it very much. I have always tried to listen to new INXS music as an objective fan for the first day or so. Then I listen to the lyrics more carefully, trying to figure out what he is saying, or who he might be referring to. But it was Erin who saw that the song, I'm Just A Man , referred directly to our family. I played it again and listened carefully.
I immediately called him in London , and told him I thought it brave to bare his soul like that. I wanted to support him, as I was certain that it had been difficult to release those words for the world to scrutinise. At the same time I wondered how the rest of the family would read them. He thanked me profusely but by the end of the conversation he was sobbing and he made me cry also. I was glad I had called and assumed that his tears were a reaction to the fact that I had acknowledged his bravery. Rhett told Mother that he played that one track over and over. Mother wrote Michael a poem in response, and faxed a copy to me:
I got your message, heard it loud and clear,
A very private message, for all the world to hear.
I knew our lives had changed forever,
The day we took that plane,
The two of us so quiet, my reasons then seemed sane,
I had to take you with me, my love for you so strong,
Couldn't leave without you, yet couldn't carry on,
Didn't mean to hurt your brother, my reasons seemed so clear,
He was born with so much anger, and I lived a life of fear,
I didn't want to marry, was feeling too much pain,
But we marry for wrong reasons, hoping we can love again,
'He' knew that there were two of us, he said 'Don't worry Hon',
She will have my name, But soon we had two sons,
'She' became invisible, unacceptable -a daughter,
He's lived too long The Eastern Way,
Girl babies sent to slaughter!!
If that sounds hard, it's meant to be, he really didn't try,
To be a husband and a Dad means listening to our cry,
He didn't seem to notice, didn't seem to care,
He had his sons, his 'Trophy' wife, but he was never there,
He never kept his promises, he left us all alone,
I couldn't really cope with this, and ran far away from home, You're so sensitive in nature, very much like me,
'Though some may call it arrogant,
The truth's hidden deep inside of you and me,
Yes! I got your message, heard it loud and clear,
A very special message, for all the world to hear.
Michael phoned me during the European leg of the last tour, in late June 1997. They had reached Vienna , and for the first time I could 'feel' his depression. I asked him what was wrong. He said "I can't take it anymore, I don't want to finish this tour. I'm so unhappy". He went on to say that Paula owed lawyers $2 million and was expecting him to pay. He was worried about money, sensed that something was wrong in the way his affairs were being handled and said he was finding it most difficult to reach Colin Diamond. The fighting between Paula and Bob had been escalating and making him crazy. I asked him to try to hold on, finish the tour and think about the baby. She was his first priority, he assured me. He loved Tiger so much it hurt.
Over the course of our conversation I had a growing sense that he was feeling trapped. He felt trapped in this relationship and said he wanted to leave but was feeling hulity as Paula had sold him on the whole notion that her problems were his since in her new, revised scenario, she had left Bob for Michael. Thus all of her woes were due to him. She continually used threats: he would never see Tiger again, or she would sell a story to bring in money. Sometimes she would say that she would harm herself and the baby. She wanted marriage and he would not discuss it. So her mind games continued. But she was dealing with a man on the edge.
Although I knew Michael to be non-confrontational by nature, I couldn't quite see how he'd been bullied into this passive corner. In any case, I was concerned by this conversation with him from Vienna . I wished I could be there to give him a hug and reassurance. I knew he was fragile, but the idea of his suicide did not cross my mind. At worst I thought he might walk out on the tour. Yet I did feel helpless and so far away. When I called back Michael asked us to come over to Los Angeles where he would be taking a month off. He would be arriving there in the first week of July. I was pleased: we would have the chance to talk and I could see Tina as well as reassure myself that he was basically all right. We checked into his hotel and when I saw him he looked happy that I was instantly relieved. He said he had anonymity in Los Angeles , he felt free to walk around without the media following his every move. He was temporarily released from the Paula/Bob pressures and his spirits had lifted. It was nice to have two of my children in the same city at the same time. Maybe too nice to spoil things by too much heavy talking…
Between his other commitments, including discussions about his future film work, we spent a lot of time with his friends, old and new, and he seemed so proud and loving when he was with us. I had not seen him this happy in a long time. We would sit around the pool at the hotel and talk about old times. It was also great to see the rest of the band.
On our first evening, Michael told us to be down in the lobby in fifteen minutes as there would be some limos to take the whole band to a private screening of "Face Off" , a movie starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage which featured a track off the Elegantly Wasted album. When we reached the lobby Michael introduced us to a very tall, attractive girl, whom he described as a journalist doing a special behind-the-scenes story for Rolling Stone . My sixth sense kicked in at once but I said nothing. We all enjoyed the movie, went back to the hotel and sat around the Sky Bar which is owned by Cindy Crawford's husband; as the restaurant was closed. I spoke with the 'journalist', whom I will call ‘Blair', who questioned me about Michael's upbringing, his siblings and also told me about her parents while Michael went off to find someone who would get us some food. I asked her why she did not take notes and she said that she had a retentive memory. She reminded me of the younger Helena I had met seven years ago in New York.
The following night Ross and I went to the final INXS concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles . Tina and Ken came along with Erin, Joshua, Brent, Milan and some other friends. The Greek is a beautiful outdoor venue, like a theatre in the round. I could tell from the audience that a lot of the crowd, were long time fans. Michael was performing better than ever. Afterwards he appeared to be looking for someone. All of a sudden, he raced downstairs and arrived back with Blair and her two friends. I introduced her to Tina who noticed that she had a throwaway camera and thought this strange for a journalist who would usually have the best equipment or even a top-notch photographer with them.
The rooms backstage were crowded. I glanced up to see someone wearing a woolly cap pulled down almost to his eyes. He was peeping around the door but didn't come in, I brought this to Michael's attention and he walked over and brought back his friend Johnny Depp.
Over the next ten days Michael and Martha Troup were busy with meetings at studios. Tina, Ross and I had run into an old friend, Peter MacGregor Scott who Tina and I had worked with in Hong Kong , and was producer of the Batman movies and who was working on pre production for "A Perfect Murder" with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. He was interested in meeting Michael and Martha and I passed their contact numbers over. Peter had been interested in Michael's career, and had not seen him since we left Los Angeles to return to Australia . I actually sat next to Martha one morning as she waited for Michael and people were coming up to her, offering deals. She said, "Wow, this is great, I don't even have to walk out of the hotel".
I saw a lot of Blair too. Blair getting into a limousine and heading off to the San Diego show, Blair stepping into a limousine on the way to a Santa Barbara show, Blair constantly getting out of the hotel elevator, even though she lived in Los Angeles . I liked her very much and rather hoped she was more officially 'with' Michael. She was so obviously making him happy and she had shown a sincere interest in our family background whenever she had spoken to me. Michael said that she was not only beautiful, but smart too.
Blair in truth was no Rolling Stone reporter but was studying communications at a local college while she was working on an acting career. She met Michael while waiting in the lobby of his hotel. She was standing near the reception desk, when Michael walked up and asked a clerk about how to get in touch with Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant who were also staying there. They had given him their pseudonym and room number but he had forgotten both. Quite correctly the clerk behind the desk could not give it out. Blair and Michael had a short conversation and soon he had asked her to join him for a drink with some friends. She remembers something that I find very significant. Within minutes of their first conversation Michael surprised her by very pointedly explaining who he was when there was no need. Of course, as she had recognized him but I think she would have been interested in him anyway. Great sadness washed over me when she told me this. I had never before thought of Michael as being in need of recognition. His self-esteem then must have been at maximum low. Initially Blair was hesitant to take Michael up on his offer. But she did find him attractive and extremely witty and this evening turned into a four-month liaison. During this time, Blair brought out the old romantic and charming, playful side of Michael. One evening she emerged from the bathroom to find he had strewn the bed with rose petals. Another time they had a whole evening free and he asked what he could do for her. When she told him she wished he would not have to take a phone call for once, he responded by leaping about the hotel suite, wrenching the phones out of the wall jacks, announcing, "Done". He could just as easily have called down to the front desk and requested them to hold all calls. When she arrived at his suite on their first dinner date, Blair discovered that in order to please her he had ordered a dozen different selections on the menu, as he wasn't sure what she would like.
Whatever his own tormented agenda might have been, Michael told Blair that his relationship with Paula was over, though he had made it clear that his child was the most important person in his life. Early on Blair witnessed his anger and desperation over his tangled relationship with Paula. They were sitting in a bubble bath with a drink when he became melancholy. He spoke of his love for Tiger Lily and the hopelessness of the entangled upheavals he had been through over the previous twenty-eight months. He could not understand why Paula thrived on so much drama. He began to sob, and suddenly smashed his glass against the wall in frustration. Even after Paula arrived into Los Angeles for a short visit Michael continued to see Blair. She was determined not to chase him and continued with a social life, which had been buoyant prior to Michael. But often, while she was with her friends, Michael paged her to meet him at Johnny Depp's house. If she agreed, it was with the knowledge that he would not be returning to his hotel and Paula that night. She told me how often Michael spoke of his love for his little daughter, and his fear of losing her. On one appropriate day the undemanding Blair simply brought a small stuffed tiger for him to take on the road for comfort.
I had spoken with Martha who was in Los Angeles earlier on some INXS business for Paul Craig. That day she was very dismayed about the ticket sales and said that she was not going to let this happen to the band. She would insist that the record company purchase tickets and she was determined that the venue be filled. She was also worried about the other dates but Los Angeles was the most important. She must have pulled some strings because the venue was filled. Actually INXS, along with their support band The Cunninghams, received some wonderful reviews. One writer said, "Both bands delivered. The Cunninghams gave every indication of being an extremely rockin' club band. As for INXS, they put on one very slick, professional, and entertaining show. Michael Hutchence is so natural it's scary. Of course, I was too busy motivating in the aisle to give them less than a stellar review. I couldn't help it, there's just something about them that makes me sweat." The Cunninghams were signed as the support band on the West Coast tour, and lead singer Seven Pearson, who went on to lead another band, 'Jimmy Girl' , later recalled for me his first encounter with Michael.
"It was the third show that I finally had the balls to go up to Michael. There were about ten or fifteen fans surrounding him as I watched from afar. He was gracious and very happy to be a part of these fans precious moments. I have to admit I was a huge fan as well, and when I finally had the nerve to introduce myself to him he made me feel like a long lost friend. That's when I realised the special thing about Michael; he made everyone feel that they were a part of his world. I told him he smelled great, to which he replied, "I do, don't I ?" We laughed, and I felt I was in great hands. What inspired me the most was the camaraderie INXS had between themselves and those around them. To this day I try to create the same kind of friendships with my bandmates that they held. Their roadies, managers, family and friends are what matters and I realise that their 20 years together is a tribute to that."
The day the band was travelling on to San Diego I was meeting Mother for lunch and as I walked into the lobby of the hotel, Martha stepped out of the elevator and approached us. She talked about a deal that had made a deal involving a commercial for the theme park Sea World and whether this had been a wise move. She suggested that I talk to him about it – not that I felt any expert. We were huddled together discussing the matter when Michael approached. As he hugged me, I asked him if we could talk briefly before he got into the limo. When I doubtfully mentioned the issue he looked very sad and shrugged. He said he was concerned about Paul Craig's well being if he let him go as Paul had a family and he had been there when others had not. I agreed that Paul was a nice person and that it was difficult to let someone go under such circumstances, but it was his career and he had to think of the rest of his life. Michael said he would give it some thought. He looked miserable and I wished that I had not said anything, although I still hoped that I had done the right thing. How lucky Michael was with so many people to look after him I thought. He had an accountant so that he never had to worry about making the cheques out to the utility companies, or the telephone people. He did not have a mortgage, and he did not have to balance his chequebook. He had a financial advisor who looked out for his investments and a manager who believed in him and was willing to work hard for him.
Just then we were interrupted by some fans who had gifts for Michael and were asking if they could get a photograph with him. I recognised one of them as the schoolteacher with the Tiffany boxes. I really detested that we so often had to have conversations out in the open like this, with people standing by watching and waiting for the moment to approach him. He came back with another hug and told me not to worry, he would think it over and do the right thing and he followed Blair and Martha into the waiting limo. Blair later told me that the discussion of using the song ‘New Sensation' for a Sea World commercial continued all the way to San Diego . The concern was the usage of his music for a commercial. I did not see how leasing a song for a commercial could be detrimental to Michael's career, after all some of the biggest names in the recording industry have done this. Three days later Michael called Paul Craig with the bad news. Martha was now his sole manager. I remember thinking, everything will be smooth from now on, Martha will take good care of him.
Eventually, it was time for Paula to arrive. We were downstairs with Michael, waiting for her car and it was getting dangerously close to the time that he had to go and tape a television panel show called Politically Incorrect . A car was waiting to take Michael and Martha to the studio just as Paula came running in. She was holding Tiger and the driver was carrying an overnight bag. Michael was excited as Paula had told him that Tiger was now walking. She had called him from London a week earlier to say that she had got down the front steps to her house and went "running" down the street. Michael hugged and kissed Tiger, then placed her on the marble floor of the hotel lobby and encouraged her to walk, but she just plopped down on her bottom. Again I felt sad for Michael. He was needlessly embarrassed and disappointed.
There was drama from the minute Paula arrived on. She announced that she was going to the studio with him, even though she also said that Tiger appeared to have a fever and that she had lost her bags after travelling for approximately twelve hours. Things sounded terribly complicated, and I didn't envy her.
On an afternoon when Michael and Martha had some meetings I called the room to see if we could take Paula to lunch. She was very short with me, saying that she was having a hairstylist come to the room for a colour job. I asked if I could take care of Tiger while she was doing this and she said she would prefer to have her in the room to feed her. When Michael arrived back at the hotel he spotted us at the pool and asked had I seen Tiger? No, but I would love to I replied. We went back to our room and he called and asked us to come up. While we were still on the phone talking about Tiger's fever and possible dehydration, I suggested Pedialyte, a product that Tina had mentioned. I could hear Paula yelling in the background as she overheard his side of our conversation. She demanded to know who he was speaking to. He answered, "I'm talking to my mother." I recall that she issued a tirade of swear words, adding that she had four f---ing children, had written fourteen f---ing books on child care etc, etc.. Michael was angry with her: this was a Paula whom he did not like. Once again he was embarrassed that I had heard her.
Paula was adamant that doctors were unnecessary for Tiger. I relayed this story to Tina who suggested that if she were to take Tiger to a doctor in Los Angeles , she (Tiger) might be given blood tests and perhaps Paula's milk contained traces of prescription drugs or something illegal.
Ken and I were joining Mother, Ross, Michael and Paula at the hotel for dinner. I called that morning to re-confirm and when Paula answered she was in a mood not to be reckoned with. Enraged, she told me that Michael had not arrived home until breakfast time. I chose not to ask her to elaborate, having a very good idea where my brother had been, but felt this was a private matter. I just wished Michael could learn to be more honest. It was obvious to me that Blair was giving him the support he longed for at the time, so why couldn't he confront Paula instead of making it hard on himself? Whatever he said about only being with Paula for Tiger's sake I realized by then that he still had a strong and passionate attachment to her. This did not, however, prevent him from seeking simpler pleasures elsewhere. I wished that he could be confident enough to convince Paula and make her face the fact that he wasn't yet ready to commit to just one woman, let alone marry her. He had made it clear to those closest to him that he saw his role as a father as paramount. But like most performers, he wanted approval all of the time, and dodged uncomfortable situations. He may not have known how such evasions can eat away at the subconscious. Other women had accepted that sooner or later Michael would move on and even though the break up might be difficult and painful at the time, they bowed out gracefully and remained friends. Anyone who knew Paula was aware that she couldn't walk that route, despite what she claimed about understanding and tolerating ‘road' relationships.
When we arrived we found Mother and Ross by the pool waiting for Paula to bring Tiger down. Eventually a shoeless Paula appeared, wearing a fantastic dress, Tiger on her hip. I remarked on Paula's exquisite dress and she told me that Michael had taken her shopping on Rodeo Drive , where they had spent far too much. This was actually my first face-to-face meeting with Paula. Most of the photographs I had seen were unflattering, but Mother had often assured me that she had beautiful skin and was more attractive in person. I thought she looked much older in person. It was difficult to believe that she was about the same age as Michael. Perhaps I recall things in a different light, since now there is so much history and grief. But even then I resented Paula for not taking responsibility for herself. After all, she had come across in her autobiography, as a woman with strength as well as warmth so would have expected her to be capable of handling her divorce and custody issues alone. But in my view, given what I had heard, she had encumbered Michael with her problems. She seemed to me to be so self-absorbed, that I'm not sure if she even realized, how badly this had affected his physical and mental health. She seemed emotionally dependent on Michael and I just could not marry this up with her public persona. I begrudged her that and I suppose it coloured my first impression of her.
We sat around the pool until Michael and Martha arrived, he carrying the small toy tiger, which Blair had given him and he presented it to Tiger Lily. Molly Meldrum along with several other friends came by for a chat. Michael appeared to be happy in the company of friends. He kept introducing Mother, “This is my Mother. Look isn't she great, no surgery.” When we were ready to go in for dinner the maitre d' came over to Paula and gently requested that she retrieve her shoes. She told him that she did not have any shoes. There was no cute smile and apology about her shoes being upstairs in her room. What had she worn from the airport? What had she gone shopping in? I wondered and I had a little flashback about the car-seat tantrum in France when she was reminded that California health law prohibits anyone without shoes going into an establishment without wearing shoes. It rarely has to be enforced. Michael jumped up and took the surprised maitre d' aside to put him in his place. When he returned to the table he confessed that he had embarrassed himself as he had mistaken this mild mannered employee for someone to whom he had given concert tickets. He had demanded to know why the tickets had failed to buy him in some grace. This maitre d' had no idea what he was talking about, he was just doing his job. Michael said he would have to think of some way of making it up to him.
Paula meanwhile was oblivious to the attention our table was attracting, although the rest of us were embarrassed. She was not asked about her bare feet again. Things calmed down until shortly after the main course was served, when there was a burst of flashbulbs at a table outside on the patio. Even though it was obvious to the rest of us that the cameras were not professional and the person taking one of the pictures had his back to our table, Paula became agitated and insisted that photojournalists were stalking her, making Michael jumpy. Sitting to my left, with Tiger's high chair on his other side, he leaned closer to me in case the culprits were trying to catch a photograph of him with Tiger. It took the four of us to convince them that this was just a table of friends taking social photos of each other. Michael and Paula both launched into a tirade of how difficult their lives had been with the press persecuting them. I did not see why they thought they had a problem in Los Angeles , because LA is the celebrity capital of the world, where people did not know Paula's name let alone her face. Even when Michael's star was shining brightest he had never been hassled in blasé LA where there are always dozens of more famous faces around.
Paula picked at her food and before we completed the main course said she was tired and wanted to go to the suite with Tiger. Michael quickly announced that he was going to the Viper Room to see Johnny Depp. So much for a getting-to-know-you family meal. I guessed that he needed to do this in front of us his family to avoid a scene. Paula, who for obvious reasons, could not now make a miracle recovery, threw him a 'not tonight you don't' look. Michael ignored it and escorted both her and Tiger Lily back upstairs. It was a very abrupt and uncomfortable finale to dinner as Michael did not return to the table until well after dessert and coffee.
That same week, Tiger Lily celebrated her first birthday and Erin 's nineteenth birthday fell four days later so I organised a small lunch at home. Michael was so attentive with his little girl. I have many photographs from that day and although his eyes are bleary he is beaming with pride in all of them and seemingly oblivious to whoever else was in the room, although I remember him laughing with Joshua. I introduced Paula to my friends, and within seconds heard her announce that her daughter Fifi had refused to speak to her for a year. I don't think the startled friends knew where to go with that.
Paula said she loved the pictures of my wedding dress and asked to see it. In my dressing room she told me that she was planning a wedding on one of the South Sea Islands . I asked her if she had a date and she replied not as yet, but that she would soon. I thought she was kidding herself. It was clear to me that Michael was not going to marry her, besides, she never seemed to announce a pending wedding when Michael was in earshot.
On our last day a worried Michael came to our hotel room at the Mondrian for a talk before taking off with Martha for meetings with producers. We knew that we would not be seeing each other until December when the family would be spending Christmas together. Michael said that Paula had changed a lot, that turmoil seemed to appear around her. I imagine that this would be hurtful and shocking to Paula had she heard it. But as I've said before, Michael had a non-confrontational nature. The constant stories to the press of an upcoming marriage were not funny anymore. He said that she was drinking heavily now and her legal bills were soaring. After his death some of his friends said that he had aired the same concerns to them. Michael said that he wished she were the same woman he remembered. He was not happy with her but he was totally involved because of the baby. I asked about his plans for the future and he said he had signed with an agency for his acting, and had been offered some work in the States. He seemed excited by these possibilities. He had been taking some private acting classes and his life had changed for the better. Los Angeles was where he wanted to be and his only concern was his daughter's safety. He would like to be able to anchor himself in Sydney and commute to LA. He still seemed to fear that Bob had the power to take his daughter away.
He hoped to get Paula out of London with Tiger Lily and the Geldof girls. I thought that it was one thing to want Tiger to be in a safe environment away of the glare of the tabloids and close to relatives but I was doubtful about the rest. It was such a dilemma for him. How could he have his daughter close by when her mother had three other daughters whose father resided in a country he no longer wanted to live in? I later wrote him a carefully worded letter about all this. My letter was in the room of his hotel when he died .
When leaving my room that day, he took my face in his hands and said "No matter what, I am not going to marry Paula. Ignore the things you read, we have never discussed marriage together, so until you hear it from my lips, don't you believe it." I somehow have the feeling Paula blames me for his refusal to marry her. But just as she made the decision to have his child, whom he adored, he made the decision not to marry her.
We had invited Paula and Tiger Lily to have lunch with us around the pool, this would give me a last opportunity to see Tiger before we left. Michael advised me to ring Paula and remind her of the plan as he would be out until the early evening. I called soon afterwards and Paula was not in her suite so I decided to start packing as she had accepted our invitation the previous evening. I called her room a few more times, always leaving a voice mail message. Anyway, I became concerned that Tiger might still be ill, though Michael had not mentioned it. Nor had he mentioned that he had stayed out all evening with Blair and the huge fight, which unsurprisingly ensued. Ross and I decided to have our lunch and then went back to finish packing. I called their suite around 5pm to see if Michael had returned and still hopeful of seeing Tiger before we left. A very sleepy Paula answered the phone -and I hung up, embarrassed that I had woken her. Fifteen minutes later, Ross answered the door to a very agitated, Paula, who was carrying Tiger. I asked her what happened. Why she could not come to lunch or answer our calls?
She said that the last thing she needed was me laying into her. She said she'd been up all night on the phone with Bob – evidently there was a court hearing that day. She said words to the effect that she wouldn't have lunch with me that day or ever, and Michael should have told me that. I cannot replicate her vocal style, especially as it was littered with the 'f' word. I felt myself shaking with shock and my heart was pounding so much I could hear it. Ross was also shocked, his face was white, but like me did not respond to this outburst. When I finally got my voice I told her that Michael had asked me to call her but it would have been nicer if she had called us out of courtesy. She kept screaming, "That's his problem not mine, I don't want to talk to you now or ever."
I said, "I know that Paula. Even when I called to wish you a happy birthday, you said 'can't talk' and hung up." She did the same to Tina and Kell, and has never once acknowledged our Christmas or birthday gifts to Tiger or her other children. I had wanted so much to like her as Michael's happiness was all that mattered, but she intimidated me so much and I didn't want to say anything to Michael about how she treated us when he was not around. I had heard from him how much she needed to be part of a family as she had been abandoned by almost everyone she thought loved her. I'd now come to the stage where I thought, if this is the way she behaves I'm not surprised. I think things changed when Tiger Lily was born. After that, it seemed to me none of us mattered. In my experience Paula can turn from timid to intimidating in seconds. That day, I felt crushed. In retrospect this was one of the worst days of my life.
I never wanted to lose Michael's love or trust but sadly Paula was part of his life and clearly we weren't going to get on. An enduring regret is that I invited her to lunch that day, a devastating end to a happy reunion with Michael and the last time I was to see him.
She had dumped Tiger on the couch in our suite and gone back to hers. I sat there feeling ill, not knowing what to do or say. Paula had never even allowed me to have Tiger for five minutes alone. Tiger is such a sweet, placid, child and I wanted so much to cherish this short time, as it was only an hour before we had to leave. However, not knowing what was going on, and being only certain of one thing - that at that moment Paula was capable of saying anything that came into her head- I decided to take Tiger Lily back to her mother. There was no answer. I went back to our suite and then Tina arrived.
When Ken and Erin and I arrived at the Mondrian Hotel to say our goodbyes to Mother and Ross it was evident to us all that something traumatic had just taken place. Little Tiger was there without Paula for one thing. Mother was sitting on the couch with her while Ross worriedly looked out of the window. I walked over and hugged Mother and could feel her heart pounding. Tiger was smiling and going through Mother's purse. Erin picked her up. I hugged Ross and his heart was all but jumping out of his chest. Mother motioned me to speak with her in the bathroom where she could hardly get the words out in an attempt to explain what had just taken place. I then left her to compose herself and went out to Ross. He told me exactly the same story. We were all trying to keep calm so that Tiger would not feel bad vibes. Their concern was that their car to the airport was due in less than an hour and they would have no time to rectify this horrible incident.
Ross called for their luggage to be taken down to the lobby. We rang Paula but she would not answer her phone. It was decided that I would stay with Tiger if their car came before Michael arrived back. As we waited downstairs, Tiger was laughing, making cute baby sounds to our songs and games, oblivious to the commotion surrounding her. We continued to call Paula's room, to no avail. Finally, just before Michael's arrival, she appeared with a smile and giving no hint of recent anger. Mother and Erin and I continued to hold Tiger who simply giggled. For once Paula did not insist on taking her, and Tiger did not make any motion to go to her mother. When Michael ran into the lobby it was minutes before Mother and Ross's departure. I was holding Tiger and said, "There's Daddy". She stretched her arms out to him. There was great, silent, tension. Paula adopted a suitably upset expression the minute Michael ran in, which seemed to puzzle him. Mother and Ross depressed and bewildered, said their goodbyes with the saddest of faces. As Mother leaned in to say goodbye to Paula, she whispered, “Let's forget about today.” If I had not been with Ken and Erin I would have followed them out to the airport to help comfort them. Yet I also I wanted to stay and explain to Michael what had taken place. Instead, the valet handed me my keys and motioned to my car which was blocking the driveway, and I had to say a hurried goodbye too.
How many times have I castigated myself over this. Why didn't I just ignore the valet or have Ken take the car? I should have stayed and spoken to Michael then and there. I wish I could have told him things from our point of view. How were we to know, although we would be speaking with him over the next fifteen weeks that this awful day, would be the last time Mother and I would see Michael alive. The last bone crushing hug, the last infectious smile, the last wink, the last wave - the last picture I have in my head of Michael alive.
It took me a while to realise Paula's plan must have been to have Michael think I had taken Tiger from her. Michael had stayed out all night with Blair and she was angry and I was in the line of fire I suppose. Michael then came back to find Tiger with Tina and me. I don't know what he would have made of the situation. He seemed confused when we talked about it later. A not-inconceivable scenario formed in my mind. Her plan was to allow him to find me with Tiger, just as I was packed and ready to leave town. Her timing had to be right, however. She refused to answer our calls, yet she was in her room all the time. She must have called Michael on his mobile as he neared the hotel and she came down to the lobby shortly before he walked in. She wanted him to find me or Tina with Tiger, and he did. That in itself was not the problem: the issue was that she had told him I had taken Tiger from her. At least this is what Michael conveyed to me when we spoke later. He denied it was true, and told her it was ridiculous. I was on my way back to Australia , how could I possibly think I could take a child at the last minute, with or without a passport?
I wrote to Tina shortly after I returned home, saying how devastated I was by the incident. Something had blown up out of all proportion, had become terribly exaggerated. And I doubted we'd really get to the bottom of it with Michael. I so never wanted to lose his love or trust. He had to much on his mind right then; his career, Tiger, all the litigation problems that circulated around him and Paula.
But it was a sad ending to a special holiday, which started out so absolutely happy, just perfect. All of Michael's friends were so nice to us, it was lovely seeing Tina, Brent, everyone, although I hadn't got to see much of Tiger. She is so precious, and Michael was so sweet with her.
I really didn't want to worry him –he had enough to think about, and he would no doubt have to be loyal to Paula, which I understood. I just hoped against hope the incident didn't mean I would never get to see my grandchild. If Michael didn't marry Paula, she might be unlikely to go to Australia with him. If they split up, who knew what the custody arrangements would be.
Shortly after Mother and Ross left Los Angeles , Paula's children arrived. I left several messages with Paula, and even at the front desk, but I never received a call from Michael. When I finally did catch him he said that he and Paula were taking the children to Sea World and Disneyland and they would be staying down the coast at a beach resort. It may have been my imagination but I felt an aloofness. Paula and the girls returned to London immediately after this trip. Michael was already on his way to see Blair before Paula's flight took off.
It would be several months after the incident at the Mondrian Hotel, in fact five months after Michael's suicide when, upon speaking with Bob Geldof, that I found out he had no idea that Paula was in Los Angeles with his children in the summer of 1997. He also denied having any conversations with her at this time, especially any pertaining to legal matters. In fact, it was not Bob who had kept Paula up and put her in such an unsociable mood that day, it was the fact that Michael had not come home the night before. I can only assume that she decided to punish Michael through our mother.
When Michael called about two weeks after we left LA and it was as if nothing had happened. I asked him if he wanted to talk about that last day, at the hotel, and he declined emphatically. "Well, I do", I said, and I proceeded to tell him my thoughts. He was very quiet and listened, then Ross took the phone and said "Everything your mother has said is true, Michael." He handed the phone back to me. Michael said "I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I love you Mum, and I know that Ross would never lie to me either."
He was about to continue his U.S. tour and since he was on the road, we only spoke sporadically. During one conversation Michael told us that he had taken an unscheduled flight back to London between shows after receiving a phone call from Peaches informing him that she had found her mother on the bathroom floor with an empty bottle of pills beside her. Tiger meanwhile was crawling around by herself. Paula had taken a few pills and was drinking. This was a major scare. He was trapped. He said, "I think that she and the girls would be safer in Sydney , closer to family who could keep an eye on Tiger." I could only agree.
A month before arriving in Australia Michael had Martha issue a press release denying any upcoming marriage. Paula had once again leaked that she and Michael were planning a wedding, on Bora Bora this time. Martha's dismissive statement said that it was totally untrue and it was something which was dragged up every year when he came out to see his family in the hope that a story could be conjured out of their assumed surprise about it.
Michele Bennett had several calls from Michael while he was in Los Angeles. She said he sounded strange, a little out of it, scared and angry. On one call he began laughing for no reason and rambled. Just as she was inquiring about his mood, there was a knock at his door, and several noisy people came in. He hung up without saying goodbye. A few days later in Sydney , at a fortieth birthday party for Tim Farriss, Michelle saw Colin Diamond and spoke of her concerns. He blew her fears aside and assured her that Michael was fine. He was great, he was happy and he had no problems on the home front.
END CHAPTER ELEVEN