He's the long-haired singer in a band called S.C.U.M. and marrying Peaches Geldof. But forget your prejudices and stand by for a very surprising - and charming - interview.
Thomas, top, singing with S.C.U.M and Bob Geldof with the Boomtown Rats in the eighties
Most fathers, on being told at Christmas by their already once-divorced young daughter that she was five months pregnant by a long-haired singer in a rock band called S.C.U.M, would reach despairingly for the whisky bottle and wonder where it had all gone so terribly wrong. Yet Bob Geldof’s reaction when Peaches broke the news was to crack open the champagne and declare himself ‘over the moon’.
Is such sang-froid testimony to the former Boomtown Rat’s own rock ’n’ roll credentials – or simply a measure of just how worried he has been about Peaches’ turbulent lifestyle?
In truth, given the hair-raising nature of some of his daughter’s previous romantic adventures, Bob’s relief is justified.
For despite the somewhat alarming name of his band, Peaches’ fiance, 21-year-old Thomas Cohen, is a sweet and earnest young man, with a love of smart vintage clothing and a passion for cooking. He is touchingly besotted, both with Peaches and with the notion of impending parenthood.
‘We have a huge love for each other,’ he says of his intended in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday. ‘I’ve always wanted to be a father and it’s happening earlier than I imagined. But it’s come at this time, rather than later, and it’s fine. Everything that happens is for a reason and this is full of happiness.’
Peaches, 22, and Thomas had been friends for some time but started dating in December 2010, when Peaches had just returned to Britain after living in the United States.
‘I had known Peaches for a few years and she was always so much more exciting and amazing than any other girl I’d ever known,’ Thomas says. ‘From the moment we went out with each other I knew that I didn’t want to spend a day away from her really for the rest of my life.
‘I fell in love the first night we spent with each other and it was the same for her. We haven’t looked back since. She’s funny, and clever and open and my love for her is about caring for her, being there, looking after her, responding when she doesn’t seem to be happy and listening to what she says. She knows that I really key in to her.’
He proposed last May and the couple were thrilled when Peaches discovered she was pregnant in the summer. The child will be all the more precious because Peaches suffered an ectopic pregnancy in a previous relationship and had been told by gynaecologists that she had polycystic ovaries, which would make it difficult for her to conceive naturally.
They kept the news secret from their families until Boxing Day because they had wanted to enjoy this ‘sacred’ time as a couple.
They proudly announced it to the world on January 5.
Thomas says he has been welcomed with open arms into the Geldof clan at Bob’s home in Battersea, South-West London. ‘I was nervous about meeting Sir Bob but only because he’s my girlfriend’s dad, not because he’s Sir Bob,’ he says.
‘He can see how in love we are and that’s good enough for him. He is thrilled we’re getting married and having a baby and hopefully he thinks I’ll be a wonderful son-in-law. It’s been lovely going into the Geldof family.
I fell in love the first night and knew I didn't want to spend a day away from her for the rest of my life
‘The first time I met Bob, at his house, he showed me a film about the making of one of his music videos in Spain. It broke the ice and kind of bonded us. I suppose it was partly about recognising me as another musician as well, which was good.
‘I instantly felt accepted and comfortable. I feel very at home there. My parents were then invited to dinner by Bob and his partner Jeanne so the families could get to know each other. Bob has a different background to my parents but they have a similar outlook on a lot of things. I would say they have similar values.
‘The whole evening was dominated by dogs pooping. Our golden retriever puppy Parper wasn’t house-trained yet and neither was the Geldofs’ puppy so it was quite funny really. Not a stiff evening at all – very relaxed.’
Thomas, who will be 22 on May 22, was raised in South London with his older sister Holly by their parents Keith and Sue. His father is a social worker, his mother an artist.
After attending grammar school in Sidcup, he decided against university in order to concentrate on S.C.U.M, the rock band he has fronted for four years. S.C.U.M, described as ‘art rock’ by music critics, released their debut album, Again Into Eyes, in September.
It has yet to trouble the upper, or indeed lower, reaches of the charts but their fans love them and a BBC reviewer suggested the band was marked ‘for future greatness’.
In contrast, Peaches, one might say, is marked by previous notoriety. The second daughter of Bob Geldof and TV presenter and writer Paula Yates, she was just 11 when her mother died of a heroin overdose in 2000. She has two sisters, Fifi and Pixie, and a half-sister, Tiger Lily, the daughter of Paula and INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
Planned careers in print journalism and television have failed to take off. A marriage to Max Drummey, another musician – whom she wed in Las Vegas in 2008 – lasted just six months.
Peaches has also been accused of shoplifting on four occasions and has been linked to hard drugs.
She has admitted taking drugs but insists the scale of her experimentation has been exaggerated.
However, a series of pictures of Peaches naked during an alleged heroin-fuelled one-night-stand ended up on the internet. Her lawyers denied that she had taken heroin.
None of this matters to Thomas.
‘Any of Peaches’ past boyfriends have slipped away into the past,’ he says. ‘They aren’t important any more and I don’t worry about that at all.
‘I’m always supportive and loving to Peaches. I’m there whenever, for whatever. I’m a very soft man.
‘What we like to do best is be with each other alone, we spend 24 hours a day together.
‘Peaches’ favourite thing is go to the cinema. Before I’d go to the cinema only if there was a huge event, say The Lord Of The Rings, but now she takes me to pretty much everything that looks interesting.
‘When we go out to movies, we always make an effort and dress up. I like clothing from the Forties and earlier. I don’t feel comfortable in modern clothes. I dress like an old man and that’s a good thing – old men look great. I’d much rather wear a brogue than a trainer. Peaches likes to dress pretty and young but she loves vintage clothes as well. We get stuff from eBay.’
Their idea of an exciting night in, he says, is to spend the evening wrestling his recalcitrant hair into submission. ‘This is the longest I’ve ever had my hair and Peaches does all kinds of stuff to it,’ Thomas says.
‘I’ve got very coarse Afro-like hair so we both put in quite a lot of work to make it look like this. She does the back and straightens it with me.’
When not occupied with important tonsorial matters, Thomas heads to the kitchen.
‘I cook everything for Peaches,’ he says. ‘You assume your roles in a relationship and mine is cooking. I’ll mainly make her pasta, soup and Thai food but I want to get into potato gratin. I’m so looking forward to cooking in a family.
‘I’m vegetarian. Peaches was vegetarian for quite a few years but she went back on to meat.
‘She stopped eating pigs, though, because she just loves pigs. I was never really interested in them before we started going out but now I think they’re amazing. ‘I don’t know if you can have pigs in Whitechapel – I think a dog, a baby and a pig is a bit much.’
Thomas Cohen is besotted with his fiancee Peaches Geldof and is looking forward to fatherhood
I was nervous
Sir Bob but
dad. He can
see how in
love we are
and that's good
enough for him
Whitechapel is a reference to their new home. The couple have been living at Thomas’s one-bedroom flat in North London – but at the end of next month they will move into a four-storey townhouse in Whitechapel in the East End.
Thomas is delighted with the house – which they have bought with a joint mortgage – and particularly by its old radiators. He also seems genuinely pleased that the floorboards are going to need sanding.
‘It’s a blank canvas, I’m definitely looking forward to doing it up,’ he says. ‘We’ve bought seven Forties chaise-longues. Peaches is amazing at buying sofas. We’ve got rugs, a big mirror, paintings, lights but there’s still a lot to buy.
‘Peaches likes modern wallpaper that looks old and I prefer the actual old stuff – that’s our only disagreement. Apart from that, we’re very much together with our interiors.’
Their nest-building has taken on a note of urgency. Their child, a boy they plan to name Astala Dylan Willow, is due on April 24, Paula Yates’s birthday.
Peaches, who will be 23 in March, believes that this is a sign from her mother, to let her daughter know that she is watching over her. Thomas is equally alive to his own heritage. His grandparents were Eastern European Jews and Jewish culture is important to him.
He is keen to explain that the name ‘Cohen’ derives from the Hebrew word for priest.
‘My parents met on a kibbutz in Israel,’ he says. ‘I’m very proud to be Jewish and a big part of me being a creative person comes from being Jewish. The eccentricity in Jewish musicians really connects with me.’
He adds: ‘Last night Peaches and I were curled up watching Kramer Vs Kramer and I was looking at Dustin Hoffman thinking, “I wonder if he’s Jewish.”
‘Peaches paused the film and said, “Yeah, Tom, did you not know that?” I was like “No” and then I felt a little connection with Dustin.
‘Peaches is Jewish – her grandmother is Jewish – she only discovered it last year. It makes a lot of sense to me.
‘She seems to me like a Jewish woman, the way she thinks and behaves. The first present I ever bought her was a Star of David from an antiques shop in Covent Garden. She wears and really loves it.
‘I don’t know yet whether we’ll be having a traditional
Jewish wedding but my parents did and I am really proud of them for it.
‘My grandfather was knighted for social work so my parents could have got married in St Paul’s. But they had a Jewish wedding in a synagogue instead.’
However, he doesn’t embrace all aspects of Jewishness.
‘My baby won’t be circumcised,’ he says. ‘My mum didn’t want me to be circumcised either.’
He is giving a lot of thought to how Astala will be brought up.
‘We won’t have a nanny, we’ve taken that decision,’ he says.
‘I’ve been reading baby books and watched a film the other night with tips about how to make sure that he’ll be happy.
‘We’ve bought everything for the nursery already. My favourite thing is a wigwam to put outside and I’m going to put him in it. It’s really for when he’s about two or three but I couldn’t resist it.’
And Astala is assured of a bracing introduction to the world.
‘I’ll try playing him S.C.U.M music when he’s being born and see how he reacts to it,’ says Thomas. ‘He already really responds to music, we play him anything.’
The picture Thomas paints is one of utter domestic bliss but, since the announcement of Peaches’ pregnancy, cynics have been quick to sneer at this vision of love’s young dream. They point to the couple’s youth and naivety, and to Peaches’ troubled past, as factors that will tell against the relationship.
They may be right. But might not those very factors work for them rather than against them?
Certainly, they are an eccentric pair but Bob is hardly known for slavish adherence to convention.
Peaches’ predilection for tattoos and her unfortunate habit of being photographed looking the worse for wear have overshadowed the fact that she is actually a natural beauty.
She is sporting a fresh new look and pregnancy certainly suits her. She is blooming and keen to show off her bump in public.
Thomas, meanwhile, positively bursting with pride, looks like a man who has won life’s lottery and they make a handsome couple.
Peaches’ friends insist she has put her party days behind her. She has met the right man and settled down.
Perhaps, in some priest-like way befitting his surname and its Hebrew meaning, Thomas Cohen has helped Peaches to exorcise her demons.
I'll try playing S.C.U.M. music to the baby as he's being born and see how he reacts