Interview with Teddie Dahlin

TEDDIE DAHLIN worked as a translator on the SEX PISTOLS tour of Norway in July 1977, when she was just sixteen years old. Her debut book, 'A VICIOUS Love Story' was released last month to almost unanimous praise (see our review here) and tells of her brief romance with SID VICIOUS. After a couple of interview postponements from both parties, BRETT DUNFORD finally caught up with TEDDIE on August 12th, 2012, fresh after her successful appearance at Blackpool's Rebellion Punk Festival.

LOVE KILLS: Are you ready, Teddie?

TEDDIE DAHLIN: Okay, let's do this!

LK: So how was Rebellion last week? Looks like you scored a direct hit with the book.

TD: Thanks, Brett. It was great. I couldn't believe the amount of people that found their way up to the Spanish Room on the third floor to see John Robb and me on the spoken word stage.

LK: I would've been there myself to offer support but I've been hopelessly busy and snoozed on the tickets. They got quite a cool indoor festival there with all those rooms and stuff, and not outside with the fragrance of turds from the beach (Blackpool is well known for its high sewage levels and smell).

TD: (Laughs) I don't know what to say to that!

LK: Anyway, I'm glad you're getting so many positive reviews.

TD: I spent a year writing A Vicious Love Story and I've put a lot of work in to it. My thoughts were always "would Sid mind me telling the world this?" and I think I've made a good book.

Of course, I have kept certain things to myself because they are private details that I don't feel comfortable sharing, although I doubt Sid would've minded. I hope when people read it that they get a glimpse in to the real guy behind the image.

LK: One thing that struck me from reading your book is the staggering amount of detail when it comes to conversations, especially one in particular with Sid, which is several pages long. The whole experience has clearly left a lasting impression on you.

TD: I was young and he was the first person I ever loved completely. You don't forget that first love and in my case he happened to be a famous star who met a tragic end. But I do have a great memory in general.

LK: Did you put yourself in any particular mindset when tackling your memoirs? I mean, did you just sit down and write it 'matter-of-factly' or did you have an approach that you decided on from the start?

TD: I just wrote down what happened. Started at the beginning and went on from there. Then I had friends comment for me about the things I was writing, such as Roadent and Eileen Polk.

LK: Your narrative is excellent for a first book and I like the way you had Eileen, Roadent and Kodick (Peter Gravelle) flesh it out during the interludes. It adds more authenticity to an already credible piece. And it has a wealth of information that I've not heard anywhere before in the thirty plus years of being a Sex Pistols fan. Was it difficult picking and choosing which testaments to include?

TD: No, it was easy. I knew who I wanted to contribute. Sid and I spent our time together getting to know a lot of things about each other and we promised to be totally honest. I could ask him anything I wanted and he could ask me. We trusted each other. The details I write about isn't everything he told me about himself because some things are not for the public. But I feel I get his personality across in a good way. Why? Was there anything special you were thinking about, Brett?

LK: I just know how it is when it comes to writing autobiographical material. It can be a serious pain in the arse deciding what stuff to share and what to keep to yourself, even if the information you don't divulge is the most important.

TD: Yes, I feel Sid has been written about by so many people who didn't really know him. Who have never met him and he gets portrayed in a way that's just not him at all. The film Sid & Nancy is a good example.

LK: I really like Alex Cox's comic book movie but I acknowledge that there is very little in the way of facts in it.

TD: I couldn't watch more than five minutes and then I lost interest. They had John Lydon and Sid running around like idiots. Lydon was never like that. In fact, he takes himself very seriously and was always a bit detatched. Never giddy like the character in the film.

LK: And he's a scouser in it too! (Laughs) I thought Gary [Oldman] did extremely well with what he had to work with.

TD: Like I said, I couldn't watch...

LK: When you were writing the book, did you have any obstacles to overcome, personal or otherwise? It can be very difficult reliving painful events from the past.

TD: Bittersweet. The first chapters practically wrote themselves - I'd be up at the crack of dawn and at it until bedtime! Right up until the part where Sid left me was easy to write and it felt like I was back there again. Then came the difficult part. After he died I had trouble dealing with it. It knocked me over and I couldn't cope. I put it away and wouldn't read anything about it if I wasn't forced to. I didn't know what happened in New York until Eileen Polk decided to tell me because I needed to know the truth. So we had a few weepy chats. And I still don't like to read those bits.

LK: I find it difficult too sometimes and I was only five when Sid died, but it's the most interesting part of his life because there's not much out there that's solid. And what little there is, it's full of contradiction and bullshit newspaper stories.

TD: I learned from Sid not to believe what the papers write. It was one of the first lessons he taught me. I saw it in action fully when he left. Even now people have been online telling me stories about how we supposedly got thrown out of a shop for spitting, etc. It's just lies to make him look worse than he was.

LK: At the same time, he loved mucking the journalists about and throwing them red herrings whenever he could.

TD: Yes, he was naughty like that.

L-R: Bollocks Chops, Sid, Paul Cook, Teddie and Steve Jones

LK: Now most people who've read A Vicious Love Story will probably have one simple question for you: Why the fuck didn't you take a chance and get on the plane with him?

TD: Because if I left, my parents, well my mother, she would've come after me. She had taken my passport and my money. Bollocks-Chops and Steve [Jones] were driving the van so I could go with them, but I knew if I did she would make sure all the venues in Sweden that the Pistols were gigging would be alerted to the under-aged girl travelling with them. In addition Sid would go back to the U.K. the following week and I would have to go back to Norway, and there would be no chance to ever see him again. It was actually Roadent's smart idea to square things at home and make them see that I was serious. Didn't bloody work! I got sent to our summer house in Tromsø instead.

LK: As a teenager at the height of your emotions, you must have been on a serious downer. How did you cope with following Sid's life through the media? I can imagine you were probably quite obsessed.

TD: I kept my eye on him a little to begin with. Things didn't move as fast back then. They would be writing about events in the papers and magazines that had taken place a few months earlier. He sent me a few messages up until Christmas 1977, so I just ignored stuff about him in the press. Then he sent me a message to get to London ASAP because he was going on a U.S. tour and needed to talk to me before he left. He was happy that Malcolm [McLaren] had set up a new Scandinavian tour for when he came back from America. I was supposed to meet him in Stockholm for that one since I still didn't have my passport and couldn't get to London.

I wasn't depressed as such that autumn. More happy he wanted to see me. But I was pining away in Trondheim getting really thin. I was angry with my mother, and this was the reason they sent me to the place farthest away from Sid as possible in the Arctic Circle.

I got angry when I learned of what had happened on the U.S. tour. I was told he was spiraling out of control and I felt he chose the drugs and Nancy over me. So I tried to move on with my life.

LK: Tell me how you felt when you learned of Nancy's murder in New York.

TD: Shocked. I was sure Sid would never be capable of doing anything like that. People were telling me "it could have been you" and I wasn't listening. On one hand, I was sad Nancy lost her life, but on the other, I hoped the truth would come out and that this was necessary for Sid to pull himself together and get back to Europe. I wrote him a long letter when he was in Riker's, but I never posted it. I regret it now.

I haven't really looked at his relationship with Nancy. I never met her and I was jealous. Sid knew I would never agree to see him if he didn't get rid of her.

LK: How has the book gone down in the Pistols camp? Have you heard from anyone involved, be it band member or crew?

TD: Not yet, it's too early. It's only just come out. I will take a book with me to London next time for Roadent and Glen [Matlock], if he wants one. I was toying with the idea of texting Rambo (John Stevens, John Lydon's friend and bodyguard) at Rebellion and asking him if Lydon wanted a copy. I decided against it that afternoon mainly because I'm not a fan and I don't want to come across as one either. If he reads this he can text me if he wants one, hehe.

I'm sending one to Boogie (John Tiberi) who wants to read it. I believe he is writing his own book too. Tore [Lande] got one and liked it.

LK: So what's next for Teddie Dahlin? Got anything in the works that you want to share with us?

TD: Yes! I am looking at going on a tour of Norway with Goldblade, John Robb's band. It's not final yet but it will be a mini-tour of the main cities. The Rebellion interview went so well, we think we can do it again together and then Goldblade will play. They are really good and will tear the house down. Not to be missed if you are in Norway. I have another couple of books in the pipeline. I wont say too much but they're not about Sid. I've said all I have to say about that.

LK: Okay, let's wrap this up. If you could meet Sid one last time face to face, what would you say to him?

TD: (Laughs) None of your fucking business, ha-ha!

LK: Oh, it's a private party, huh? (Laughs) I hate you now...

© Brett Dunford/Love Kills
1. © Melanie Smith/Mudkiss Photography
2. © Arne S. Nielsen (Thanks to Teddie Dahlin)
Buy A Vicious Love Story @ Amazon