Pete Doherty: I was cool growing up because my dad ‘killed Catholics’

Rocker says father’s job as soldier earned him playground plaudits

David O'Dornan

Rocker Pete Doherty has said he was feted as a child growing up in Belfast because his dad was an Army soldier who “kills Catholics”.

The Libertines and Babyshambles singer moved to Northern Ireland when he was three years old when his father — also called Peter — was stationed here during the Troubles.

Pete (43) revealed: “He was a sergeant major when we were in Belfast, but we never talked about his Army life at all.

“Being in Belfast with him when he was stationed there in the early ’80s is the first strong memory I have of living anywhere.

“Belfast was one of the few times during my childhood when we didn’t live on a barracks.

“I suppose living in a Protestant community, in Army-provided housing, in Belfast was the equivalent of being on a barracks.

“The kids at the primary school I went to would say, ‘Hey, we love your daddy, he kills Catholics’.

“We looked under the car every morning for car bombs.”

Hellraiser Pete spoke of his time in Northern Ireland in his new memoir, A Likely Lad, and told how his dad once chastised him after he picked up a rhyme with racist connotations.

He said: “I was in Lambeg County Primary School, and I vividly remember coming home one day singing a song I’d picked up but didn’t really understand.

“It was a corruption of the children’s counting rhyme ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a n****r by the toe’, and my dad got really angry with me. I was upset and scared.

“My Nanny Doll was visiting, and she said, ‘Oh leave him alone, he’s just a kid’. And my dad went, ‘No, he’s got to understand this’, and he sat me down and said, ‘Right, how many people does Wembley Stadium hold?’

“And I knew at the time it was 100,000, and he said, ‘Right, now times that by sixty,’ quite a complicated sum for a six-year-old, but I said, ‘Six million.’

“He said, ‘Right, that’s how many people died in Nazi Germany because of songs like that.’

“I used to repeat that to people. I was on holiday, years later, and some kid at a swimming pool said something to a Chinese kid and I said, ‘Oi, how many people does Wembley Stadium hold?’”

Pete also revealed that his sister AmyJo had life-saving surgery carried out at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

He said: “AmyJo was born with a hole in her heart, and when we were in Belfast, she had an operation to fix it, and it was a success.

“She was told before she went into the hospital, which was right on the Falls Road, if anyone asks you what your dad does, you tell them he works for the Post Office.

“It was only a few months after that, in 1986, my mum went to hospital again in Belfast and came back with my little sister Emily.”

The rock star said that his dad suffered mood swings during his time as a soldier serving here.

He explained: “There were times when he was in a black mood and just wouldn’t talk to anyone in the house. It was really dark, really weird.

“He was holding it all in. I don’t know what it was about. When I was little, I thought it was what was going on in the Army, but I’m not sure.

“I adored my dad, absolutely idolised him. He was born in London, grew up in a tight-knit Irish Catholic community.

“His dad, Ted Doherty, came over to England from Ireland just after the Second World War, in 1946.

“Ted would sing rebel songs in the pub, so it was quite controversial when dad joined the British Army.

“He was an airborne soldier, a paratrooper, but he wasn’t in the Paras, the Parachute Regiment.

“He was in the Royal Corps of Signals who were attached to the Paras, 216 Parachute Signal Squadron.”

A Likely Lad by Peter Doherty is on sale now.

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