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Saturday, 30 October 2010

Lauren Booth's mother is Jewish!!!!!

'I would do anything for Cherie. Lauren? I don't even love her': Tony Booth reveals the diverse emotions he feels for two of his daughters 

By JENNY JOHNSTON
30th October 2010

One of his daughters was this week revealed to be an eBay addict. The other announced her conversion to Islam. So what does their father have to say about them...

The actor Tony Booth had a stroke a few weeks ago, so his children had to be informed. Given that he has eight daughters from a giddying array of relationships, it’s a wonder his current wife Steph managed to get hold of everyone.
But as he lay in hospital — ‘driving the nurses mad’ — it seems that she did. 
First to get the call was his eldest daughter, Cherie Blair, who calls Steph her ‘wicked stepmother’, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek. Cherie was distraught and offered to visit immediately.
Lauren Booth's recent conversion to Islam has been criticised by her father as a 'mischief-making career move'
Lauren Booth's recent conversion to Islam has been criticised by her father as a 'mischief-making career move'
Somewhere way down the list was Cherie’s half-sister Lauren Booth, who was told via email. She passed on her best wishes and asked to be kept informed.
Presumably, she at least called to speak to her father directly once he was out of hospital and recuperating?
‘Absolutely not,’ says Tony, most famous for his role in the BBC’s Till Death Us Do Part. 
‘And I wouldn’t have expected her to either. I don’t know if we’ll ever speak again. I suspect not.’
Both of these daughters — the one Tony says he would ‘go to the ends of the earth for’ and the one he professes never to want to see again — have been in the news this week due to varying degrees of, erm, eccentricity. 
Cherie, high-flying barrister and wife of the former prime minister, was revealed as an eBay addict, buying Disney videos at bargain prices and flogging her husband’s signature for a tenner, despite the fact that the pair of them are worth a reported £60 million.
Daddy's girl: Tony Booth is thrilled with Cherie's success and will always defend her
Daddy's girl: Tony Booth is thrilled with Cherie's success and will always defend her
That was then...: Lauren, pictured here on the right with her father and sister Emma, claims her childhood was characterised by violence and neglect
That was then...: Lauren, pictured here on the right with her father and sister Emma, claims her childhood was characterised by violence and neglect
Lauren, meanwhile, was pictured in a hijab, telling the world how her curious life journey — which has included stints on I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out Of Here! and breaking through the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza on a ‘peace’ flotilla — has caused her to embrace Islam.
She has stopped eating pork, she told the world, hasn’t had a drink in 45 days and has reached page 60 of the Koran.
There is nothing wrong with religious conversions — or using eBay, for that matter. But stir them into the colourful Blair/Booth family mix and you are left with a bizarre soap opera.
One commentator went so far as to call this family the ‘new Osbournes’. The parallels are certainly striking. I have interviewed Ozzy and Sharon and emerged dazed from both encounters.
The feeling is similar after two hours in the company of Tony Booth. As an interviewee, he is delightfully indiscreet. But listening to his track record as a father, you quickly conclude you wouldn’t give him a budgie to rear, let alone eight daughters.
Party animal: Tony has been a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party. He is pictured here at the party's 2006 conference with his current wife Steph (left) and former wife Gale Howard - the mother of Cherie
Party animal: Tony has been a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party. He is pictured here at the party's 2006 conference with his current wife Steph (left) and former wife Gale Howard - the mother of Cherie
Five minutes into our interview, he has confessed that the last time there were more than two of his daughters in the same room — ‘which I try to avoid because they tend to rip me to pieces’ — he didn’t recognise one of them.
‘Poor, um, was it Jenia?’ he asks his long-suffering wife, who seems to know more about his daughters than he does. 
‘I hadn’t seen her for five years. I started talking to this perfectly nice girl. After a while she smiled and said to Steph: “Dad doesn’t recognise me, does he.” ’
Steph rolls her eyes. ‘It was mortifying, but yes, he’s a terrible father. It’s awful, but rather typical, I’m afraid. I’m the one who has to keep tabs on birthdays and names. But he is very fond of them all, in his own way.’
Well, not all of them, patently. We shall get on to his golden girl — Cherie — and her eBay obsession in time, but first we talk about Lauren.
Confusingly, as if there aren’t enough female names in the mix, what with eight daughters and four ex-wives, he calls Lauren Sarah, the birth name she later changed.
He scoffs continually as we talk about Lauren/Sarah. His reaction on hearing about her conversion was to ‘laugh my head off’ and ask: ‘Whatever next?’
‘I mean, come on, the girl doesn’t have a spiritual bone in her body,’ he says. 
‘Anyway, can you convert from Judaism to Islam?
‘The things is her mother was Jewish. Sarah wasn’t brought up a practicising Jew, but it goes down the female line, doesn’t it?’
He points out that Lauren hates her mother Pamela Smith, a model, ‘almost as much as she hates me. So maybe that’s what this is all about’.
Glamorous couple: Tony had a relationship with model Susie Riley after his first marriage broke up. The result was two more daughters, Lauren and Emma
Glamorous couple: Tony had a relationship with model Susie Riley after his first marriage broke up. The result was two more daughters, Lauren and Emma
The Booth family tree is so complicated that Tony had to start his autobiography with a diagram. The fact that many of the women he was involved with were actresses and models — going by both birth and stage names — further baffles.
To summarise, Cherie’s mother was Gale Howard (nee Joyce Smith), an actress. Booth walked out on that marriage when Cherie was seven and her sister Lyndsey was five.
He took up with Pamela Smith — whose modelling name was Susie Riley. They never married, though they had two daughters, Lauren and Emma.
Two further marriages followed — to the actress Pat Phoenix in 1986 and Nancy Jaeger in 1988. He has been with Steph Buckley, a former teacher and Labour Party activist, for 14 years. 
‘All his daughters have told him I’m the last or they will kill him,’ she says.
Of all his family, it’s Lauren who inspires the most exasperation. Tony admits he has watched with mounting horror this particular daughter’s very public journey though life.
She first came to attention as a journalist — her favourite subject was her brother-in-law, who happened to be the prime minister.
Her fame, believes her father, was a direct result of her willingness to exploit her family connections. Now, with a lifestyle choice he thinks is ‘more about politics than religion’, he thinks she has overstepped the mark.
‘If I thought she genuinely believed in Islam, it would be a different matter. But I’m afraid I don’t,’ he says.
‘I honestly don’t know what her motivation is. Maybe it’s mischief-making. Maybe a career move. Is she after a job with Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network? I don’t know, but it’s madness.
‘She described this conversion as a “shot of spiritual morphine”. That’s an odd analogy.
‘Morphine is terrible stuff. I should know. I was on it for long enough after I fell into a vat of paraffin in 1979. It’s not something you should seek out.’
The paraffin story is typically Tony Booth. In short, he nearly burned to death when, during a drunken attempt to get into his locked flat, he fell into a lit drum of paraffin.
Tony and Lauren haven’t spoken for some years, after he lashed out at her for ‘the things she said about Cherie and Tony, which were unforgivable’.
 
She in turn, hit back with lurid accusations of what a dreadful father he had been — a hideous tale of abandonment, neglect and violence.
‘Am I ashamed of her? Yes, I am. I used to just feel sorry for her and guilty for what part I might have played in making her the way she is,’ he says.
‘But in my opinion she crossed a line quite a while ago and there’s no going back. It is time for her to grow up and stop playing the victim. She’s 43 for goodness sake.’
Trying to untangle the rights and wrongs of this particular father/daughter relationship is impossible.
Since the four-times married Tony walked out when Lauren was not yet in her teens — something that was to be repeated with pretty much all his daughters — it is tempting to point the finger in his direction.
His account of the relationship breakdown is telling. He keeps saying they were close when she was a child, but offers scant evidence.
At one point, he starts to talk about reading her a particular storybook, then says: ‘Oh, actually, that was Emma, her sister. Come to think of it, I was always closer to Emma. She was a very sweet child.’
But weren’t we talking about Lauren/Sarah?
‘Oh yes. Sarah was always more difficult. She was a very . . . flouncy child. She wanted to be an actress, you know. Started out as one.
‘She asked me to come and see her, and asked for my honest opinion. I told her she wasn’t very good and should forget about an acting career. She didn’t listen, of course. But I was right. She was wooden.’
You tend to love even your most difficult children, I say. Tony sips his tea studiously and says nothing, so I turn the observation into a direct question. Do you love Lauren/Sarah?
‘No, I don’t think I do,’ he says, which causes Steph to slap her head and say: ‘Oh, Tony, you can’t say that.’ But he has.
‘Well, that’s the way I feel,’ he says, defiantly. ‘It’s sad, but what can you do? The line was crossed a long time ago and once you cross it, there’s no going back.
‘Sarah is entitled to her opinions — but she’s not entitled to exploit her family position and contacts. I’m afraid she has been doing that for years.’
Steph interjects to say that, when you are a parent, ‘the door should always be left open for a child’. But Tony won’t have it.
Later, she says: ‘He’s as bad as Sarah is. They are actually quite alike.’
Does she think there can ever be a rapprochement? ‘I am in touch with Sarah. I email her. I want to keep the lines of communication open. Her father is 80 next year . . .’ she says.
Will there be an invite to his birthday party for Lauren/Sarah?
‘I doubt it,’ he says, huffily.
The animosity seems odd enough, but in the light of what follows — an account of his relationship with Cherie, which amounts to half an hour of him polishing her halo —– it is stranger still.
There were many years when Tony and Cherie had a fraught relationship, too, yet today he says he is ‘as proud of her as any father could be’.
He tells me four times about her brilliance in her Bar exams, her scholarships and her talent as a lawyer, mother and campaigner. In short, she is everything her half-sister is not.
‘She’s loyal, too,’ he says, which might be the nub of it. ‘She has defended me to the hilt, even when I haven’t deserved it.
‘I heard recently that someone had slagged me off and she laid right into them. Good for her.’
He’s brutally honest about the fact that he was a ‘terrible father’ to Cherie. When she got married, he was in hospital recovering after the paraffin incident, so he didn’t give her away at her wedding to Tony Blair.
It’s not clear she would have even wanted him to at that time, anyway, given that he was a drunk. (He gave up alcohol during his stay in hospital and credits Cherie with his rehabilitation.) 
‘She came to visit me every week, which I didn’t deserve,’ he says. It sounds as if Cherie did the compromising in this relationship. Steph has an interesting take on why they are now close.
‘His other daughters — especially Cherie — have found a way of dealing with Tony. They accept him for who he is, with all his failings.
‘Sarah has never been able to do that. She wants her father to be the sort of man that fathers should be. Tony can never be that man.’
Lauren once accused her father of being unable to think of anyone but himself — and he does have an astonishing ability to put himself centre stage.
Steph rolls her eyes and says: ‘He’s an actor. They are odd creatures.’
Tony nods and launches into a passionate explanation of how, when you command your audience, you feel god-like. 
‘When you come off the stage, though, you are b*******,’ he says. 
His politics have always run alongside his acting career, and he was delighted when he learned that his daughter had taken up with a young Labour hopeful called Tony Blair.
What did he think of Tony when they first met?
‘I thought: ‘‘Thank God.’’ ’ He bursts out laughing. 
‘You should have seen some of the others.’
His strident political opinions caused much consternation at No. 10 when the Blairs were in residence. Booth is openly anti-private education and marched against the Iraq war.
He once — ‘actually more than once’ — put the phone down on Blair’s media fixer Alastair Campbell ‘because I won’t be told what to do’.
He’s fiercely loyal, though, refusing to condemn Blair for any of the ‘tough calls he had to make’.
‘I marched against Iraq. I didn’t agree with it, but I believe to this day he acted for the right reasons. He is a decent man,’ he says. Despite this, it appears that Booth was more than happy to play court jester during his times in the Blair household.
He tells a wonderful story about Cherie chasing him around the prime minister’s country residence, Chequers — ‘to give me hell’.
He had driven them there and ‘got us lost on the way, and she wasn’t having any of it’.
On another occasion, Tony Blair emerged from a day of meetings to find chaos reigning.
‘Oh, that day, my grandson Euan was being a right pain in the a***, and the other grandchildren and I decided to teach him a lesson.
‘There is a pillar in the flat in Downing Street and we tied him to it, then scarpered. His Dad came in eventually and asked: “What the hell is going on here?” ’
So is he a good grandfather? He becomes suddenly serious.
‘I hope I am. I can talk to them about the mistakes I’ve made — and hopefully they won’t make them too. But they are good kids, solid. Cherie is a terrific mother.’
To him, too, it seems. For what comes across from his account of their relationship is that she very much plays the part of forgiving parent to her errant father.
‘Every time she sees me she says: “Now, what on earth have you been up to?” ’ he says, cocking his head to one side and doing a good impression of his daughter. He seems quite frightened of her.
‘Oh yes, she can be terrifying when she gets going. And believe me, she’s let me have it many times. You don’t mess with Cherie.
‘But I’m still her dad. I still give her cuddles when she needs them, and I do love her. I tell her that, too.’
He pooh-poohs the whole eBay escapade, dismissing it with a laugh and the comment: ‘Who cares?’
‘So she messes around on the computer after she’s finished her work. Doesn’t everyone?’ 
But not everyone tries to sell a former prime minister’s signature. Surely even Tony Booth can see this is deeply questionable.
He opens his mouth, then shuts it again and says: ‘No comment’. 
As it always does with Booth, it ends in laughter.
I ask if he’ll be offended if he gets a Christmas present from eBay and he plays along, quipping: ‘At least I’ll be able to look up the internet and see what she paid for it.’
In return, Cherie will probably get a book from him.
‘It’s become something of a joke. She’s always saying: “This from the man who bought me The Female Eunuch for my 13th birthday.”
‘I come right back with: “And it was the making of you.” ’
As for Lauren/Sarah, there is unlikely to be any present at all. Perhaps it is for the best that, due to her new religion, she won’t be celebrating Christmas anyway.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1324985/Cherie-Blairs-father-Tony-reveals-doesnt-love-daughter-Lauren-Booth.html#ixzz13scK9EDO

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