A Vicious Love Story review

As some of you may know already, Teddie Dahlin first made a name for herself through the Melhus Communications book Sid's Norwegian Romance in 2011. It highlighted the story of a sixteen-year-old translator that worked with the Sex Pistols during their tour of Norway in July 1977, who shared a brief relationship with Sid Vicious. The book came with an almost extortionate price tag and sold very few copies as a result. Possibly because of this, Teddie's initial reception into the punk community was not warm and many fans of the group questioned the authenticity of her claims, even though she was not paid one penny for her contribution.

In a bid to make the story her own again, she announced a new book last year (her debut as an author) that weighs in at a much lower price and with a higher word count. Part biography, part testimony, A Vicious Love Story expands on its predecessor, addressing all doubters directly and tucking them up in bed like good little girls and boys.

When I first spoke to Teddie, there were some strains as I was administrator of the affiliate discussion board (now expired) for this very website and debates regarding her story were not healthy. I eventually acquired Sid's Norwegian Romance to see for myself, and found it to be a great read. Teddie's story really shone through and because no one in their right mind would pay thirty-five pounds for a 128 page paperback (I certainly didn't), I felt it was unfortunate that this interesting woman from Norway and her incredible tale were dismissed because of an expensive publication that she had no control over.

We made contact and have maintained a mutually respectful friendship over the last year or so. At the time of our first communication, her new book had the working title of Sid & Teddie (yeah, I know...) so I suggested A Vicious Love Story as an alternative, which was lifted from the title of chapter six of my own yet-to-be-released biography of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, Punk and Disorderly. I thought nothing more of it until a few months ago when I saw the title posted on her Facebook wall. To cut a long and obvious story short, I'm happy that she decided to use it instead of the former.

Earlier this year, Teddie submitted a rough chapter of the book to Love Kills, detailing the events of the Sex Pistols after-show party at Samfundet in Trondheim. Although the segment was short, it provided a previously undocumented side of the band's inner workings, including juvenile one-upmanship and amorous frolics all thrown into the pot. Naturally it whets the whistle, so I'm happy that it hasn't been a terribly long wait to get my mitts on the finished product.

From the first page, the reader is immediately sucked into Teddie's "it's grim oop north" honesty, the adjustments she made as a child, adapting back to the culture of her homeland after living in Yorkshire for a decade. The years from her birth until the age of sixteen are only briefly covered over a few pages, primarily serving as a humble introduction. Let's make this clear from the off: Teddie Dahlin is not pretending to be someone that she is not. End of story.

Here on in, we are transported to 1977, amidst the twinkle of a glitter ball and the echoes of ABBA, following Teddie (and her friends) through nights out at the disco, cinemas and pizzerias, leading up to her friendship with a local events organiser who would go on to book the Sex Pistols' concert in Trondheim. As a link was needed between the Norwegian-speaking crew and the band, Teddie was employed as a translator. We view the full two days through her eyes and memory in impressive detail, occasionally being treated to scene-setting interludes from the likes of Pistols road manager Steve "Roadent" Connolly, who recalls an incident with John Lydon dropping bottles of Elephant beer out of the window to thirsty fans queuing outside Daddy's Dance Hall. Other contributors include prolific photographers Eileen Polk and Peter Gravelle, and even Teddie's mother pops in for a cup of tea to chat with us. It's highly readable with the pages literally turning by themselves!

The real meat of the piece is obviously her blossoming relationship with Sid, taking up a large portion of the book overall. We have all been there before when it comes to falling in love as a kid and Teddie puts her feelings to paper beautifully. I was often taken back in time to when I first fell in love and the butterflies you get with every awkward, bumbling twist and turn. I have even been the poor sod outside the hotel room door drunkenly pining for someone who would rather spend her time with a better looking guy. I totally expected a moody love story but what I got was a wonderful John Hughes-esque teenage romance, which not only appeals to the younger generation but also the old school punk crusties.

For fear of spoiling anything further, I will keep schtum on the finer details but all the ingredients for a compelling book are present: a band at the height of their fame, a teenager at the height of her emotions (it should be stated that Teddie was NOT into the Pistols), and more than just a static charge of ‘shock’. Pistols fans will also find a ton of information here that is unavailable elsewhere, making A Vicious Love Story the most insightful book on the subject in a number of years.

It is not without some flaws but all are minor in the grand scheme. There are some typographical errors (which will hopefully be tidied up in time for its physical release), along with one or two opinions that die-hard Pistols historians won't accept as one hundred percent fact. Taking that last comment into consideration, this is Teddie's story and she is only relaying to the reader not what she has researched but what she remembers and understands as someone who was there, so it makes the experience all the more authentic for it. Little Acorns Publishing house the document in a swish cover, albeit like Elle magazine, and inside are scattered a generous amount of rare photos from the gig.

In summary, it's a must-have for anyone who has a remote interest in Sid, the Pistols or love stories in general. Tenderly written upon a jagged edge, A Vicious Love Story is arguably book of the month material. That may sound biased given that I manage an archive dedicated to Sid and Nancy, but the truth of the matter is that it's wholly engrossing in its own right away from punk rock. Raw, honest, and heart-wrenching, grab this bittersweet memoir while it's hot.

Buy A Vicious Love Story @ Amazon

Brett Dunford (13/7/12)
Cover by Peter Cunliffe