Having read A VICIOUS LOVE STORY, and taken the crash course about its subject, only one task remained before I felt that the mission had been completed: talk with the author...or, in this case, chat via email ....isn't it funny how transatlantic calling remains so bloody expensive in this age of never-ending technological hyper-stimulation?
Anyway, I found plenty of natural areas of inquiry to explore with Teddie, who answered them gracefully through the magic of Facebook: read them for yourself, and make up your own mind. We start this installment, Take I, by exploring how A VICIOUS LOVE STORY came about in the first place...
CHAIRMAN RALPH (CR): The million-dollar question, of course, is: why now, after all this time? Some will accuse you of exploitation, others will ask, what's all the fuss, it was only two days out of your life. How do you respond?
TEDDIE DAHLIN (TD): I haven't spoken much about my connection to Sid before now because I didn't think anyone would be interested and because it's personal. As this wave of punk nostalgia hit us a year or so ago, I was annoyed to read all the lies that were written about him. It infuriated me when people exaggerated things just to make Sid look more outrageous and extreme than he was. People started asking me questions about him and I decided I would put my story to paper. Tell it as it happened and try to put some sort of truth out there.
When Sid died I didn't handle it very well at all and I didn't deal with it. I put it away and avoided anything about him. My friend Eileen Polk (DeeDee Ramone's ex-girlfriend) was a friend to Sid's mother back in the late '70s and she too had trouble talking about what happened back then. So together we decided to help each other work through it. She filled me in on what happened the night Sid died. She sat with his body until the coroner came and she was at the funeral and scattering of the ashes. So I decided that it was the right time for people to know the real Sid. It was as you say only two days of my life, but it changed me forever.
If people have any negative feelings about my motivation for writing this book then my answer has to be, don't read it then. Sid was a really intelligent, tender, gentle guy. He was a real person with feelings and he has been made to look like a moron in certain books and films. I want people to see another side of him.
CR: As you acknowledge at the start, you weren't really a fan of the Sex Pistols. Has time made you one since? What do you get out of their music now, with the benefit of hindsight?
TD: No, I'm still not a fan of The Sex Pistols. It's not what I like to listen to. I understand more now how important they were for music at the time, but it's still not my music of choice. I'm not a “fan” of anyone really. I've never been the sort of person to idolize someone. They are just people really.
CR: I'm still amazed at the never-ending hunger for info on the Pistols. How does Norwegian -- or, dare I say, Scandinavian -- society look back on the whole experience?
TD: I think Norwegians are pretty grounded when it comes to the Pistols' Scandinavian Tour. I know there is a documentary in Sweden in the pipeline looking back at historical concerts, but Norway hasn't really joined the bandwagon of punk nostalgia. There is some activity, but not as much as in the UK and the US certainly.
CR: Sid strikes me as one of those mythic pop culture figures -- like Billy the Kid, or Dillinger, and so on -- on which people can project their hopes, wishes, and dreams. Given that burden, what do you think people most consistently get wrong about him?
TD: You have to remember that I only knew him for a very short time at the begining of his Pistols career. He has become the iconic symbol of punk and I think the notion that it's OK to get off your skull on drugs and fucked up is the thing people get wrong about him. I wouldn't let him do any drugs around me. He wasn't heavily into them at the time I met him. He was a nice, intelligent man, but very naughty. He loved to shock people, but it wasn't the real him. They did it to make headlines and get PR. People expected them to be shocking. But privately all four guys were just really nice and really funny people. John Lydon is extremely clever. Sharp as a knife intellectually at the time. He and Sid were like this double act.
CR: The book ends with Sid's death, and your own reactions, which is most likely your intention -- how did you change as a result of your two days with him? What did you learn about yourself, in the process?
TD: Lesson number one was “Never let anyone get that close to me again”. I was too young and I let Sid get as close as any human gets to another.It made me wary and careful. I believe he too let me in to his heart. For the months after he left Norway it was a cherished memory of the first person I'd ever loved completely, no matter how short the time I spent with him. It was also agony because I was stuck in Norway and couldn't get to spend more time with him. As time passed the feelings became that of love lost. I felt cheated. I always thought I'd see him again. I just needed to hurry up and get a little older.
When Sid died it totally fucked me up. I was angry at first and then I couldn't handle it. It knocked me over. I felt guilty, like I'd let him down for not doing more to get to London. The only way I could move forward with my life in 1979 was to stop looking at it and put everything away. Not think about it and I hoped my feelings would go away, but that's not how it works. It comes back and hits you just as hard at some point and you have to deal with it. I have dealt with it now as I wrote my book. It's been really difficult reliving it all. I am lucky because I have fond memories of him.
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