High up on a Normandy clifftop, in a house overlooking the sea, the man I once considered to be the most beautiful musician in the world, Pete Doherty, is asleep on a sofa in a pair of black underpants. Back in the 2000s, I frequently used to see him around east London, trailed by acolytes and hangers-on, but I never once saw him asleep or even at rest. To his fans, it looked as if he was lost in his own poetic world (his critics sneered that he was lost in crack and heroin). But here he is now, having a mid-morning snooze in the home he shares with his wife, Katia de Vidas; his Siberian husky, Zeus, at his feet. No one expects an interview with Doherty to start on time, but my train back to Paris leaves in three hours, so I give his shoulder a gentle tap. He snuffles awake. “Oh, hey! OK, just give me a minute, I’ll get some clothes on,” he says in his fey and gravelly voice, and disappears. Laura, the Guardian’s photographer, and I wait nervously. Will he give us the slip? Or fall back to sleep?