IN the words of the inimitable Andy Williams, where do I begin? Perhaps allow me to give a brief insight into my life, a life that’s been colourful, to say the least. Filled with drama, some of it good, and of course some bad.
It was the late 90’s, I was living between London and my native Dublin, a time when it seemed that life for a 23-year-old me, was filled with little other than party-filled nights, and long recovery lunches at places like Daphne’s, San Lorenzo or the now-defunct Oriel on Sloane Square.
Oriel was our HQ, a place where we would inevitably meet up to dissect the previous night, before making plans for the next. In a way, we were the original Made in Chelsea, except less scripted and without a camera crew. My circle of friends were living a similar existence, showing up at various glamorous events, night after night, photographed for Bystander or the Daily Mail, falling into an awaiting car, to dance until dawn at Annabel’s, The Met Bar, or L’Equipe Anglais.
I’d return to Dublin in search of R&R, only to find there was none. Dublin, like London, was buzzing and set to embark on a period of time known as the Celtic Tiger. A glorious time of excess on every level, where it was seen as normal to down cases of vintage Bollinger over lunch, before nipping, or possibly tripping to Gucci to pick up something new for the night ahead. It was all good fun, for a select few, who called each other la Famiglia.
One night at a party during London Fashion Week, I was chatting with my dear friend, the late Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who had just signed a contract with the Sunday Times to write a weekly diary-style column. The idea being, her antics would be available for readers to enjoy in full colour, complete with a photo at some event or another. She joked it would be the perfect job for me and within weeks, I was contacted by the editor of the Irish edition of the paper, asking if I would consider writing a similar style diary called I’m It. Tara was the It Girl, and overnight, I was the It Boy.
I engaged a PR team to launch myself as a public figure. At the time Ireland was not clued up about such characters and a press release sent out by my agents, was met with laughter as well as a string of media coverage, ironically making me a household name.
My life changed, the parties continued, the pace was fast, but now suddenly people were recognising me on the streets and requests for interviews and television appearances were becoming more frequent. I had become famous for being famous. Once thrust into the media spotlight, my life spiralled somewhat and while PR firms wanted me to be seen promoting their clients- from sports cars to designer goods and such, I became so inundated, that I required an agent in Ireland as well as the UK.
For many, it was hard to believe that the guy who was so in demand and apparently the life and soul of the party, was in fact terribly shy and somewhat lost. It was at this time that I went down a wrong road and began taking cocaine, as a way to counteract my shyness and be ‘on form’ 24/7.
Without realising it, my drug habit had taken over my life and at the height of my fame I was taking up to four grams of coke a day, not eating and drinking way too much alcohol. Not exactly a good place to be considering how public my life had become. I took part in numerous reality TV shows; Young, Posh & Loaded on ITV1, Celebrity Five Go Dating on Channel 4, Celebrity Farm on RTE1, to name a few. All of which, apart from The Farm, were and remain a total blur.
Subsequently, my world came crashing down due to my addiction, and I landed in rehab. Following which, I vanished from the scene and lived in Italy, France and more recently Monaco. I am clean of drugs since 2003 and have written a novel, opened a restaurant and taken time to discover who I am and what makes me happy.
This time last year, I decided that Marbella may be a place that would be a good fit. One year on, and I must say, each day it makes me smile. I believe it still has much to show me, and I have much to show it. I shall be writing a weekly column for Euro Weekly News starting next week, so I have returned to doing something I live.