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Chatting to Linda Nolan about her memoir “From My Heart”

8th March 2018

From My Heart, memoir by Linda Nolan.

Linda Nolan

You remember the Nolan Sisters? Of course you do! Their big hit was “I’m in the Mood for Dancing”…If you really can’t recall this hit, here is a little reminder:

One might forget that each sister (and in fact there were eight siblings in the family, 6 sisters and 2 brothers) has an individual history, and this is Linda’s very personal story.

Photo credit: Nicky Johnston

“From My Heart” is written in a personable and easy-to-read format, very much Linda’s own and, one imagines, largely unedited voice, and takes one through periods of her life full of all the glamour and glitz of a showbiz life, but also plumbs the depths of life behind the show curtain.

Linda started performing when she was tiny, both parents had musical talent. In search of work, the family decamped from Ireland to Blackpool, which remained Linda’s home, despite periods on the road. Here the family became known as “Blackpool’s own von Trapps” as in the early days songs from The Sound of Music became one of their star turns. The children/teenagers were introduced to the adult world very early on, and particularly when they had to relocate to London for lengthy periods.

As they became more well known and popular, they headed to South Africa and were revered in Japan (probably because they behaved themselves and didn’t lob guitars out of windows, quips Linda). Sugar sweet icons of the late 1970s and 1980s.

In her memoir, Linda charts the highs and lows of life in such a large family, the joint performances, the individual career paths. Hers was a life of highs, particularly when she got together with the love her life, Brian who became the girls’ manager for several years. But there were terrible lows, and the level of loss she endured in so many areas undoubtedly contributed to a prolonged bout of depression and suicidal thoughts.

A particularly memorable event was her stint in the Celebrity Big Brother House in 2014 when she was thrown together with her nemesis Jim Davidson, and it was their sparring (she came out of it as the ‘tough cookie’) that eventually led to her eviction. He evolved as the eventual winner. Rolf Harris had also crossed her path years before and his wandering hands hadn’t left her unscathed….

This is a very personal and at times heart rending account of a life lived in the fast lane, through life’s very hard knocks and then rising again on the crest of a wave. Appearances on the iconic Top of the Pops, touring with Frank Sinatra… you really can’t beat that!

In terms of TripFiction this is not a book you would choose for literary wanderlust – this is a book about people and life, but it does offer a great sense of later 20th Century Britain, when the country was at the forefront of popular music and dished up a froth of TV shows to entertain and titillate on a Saturday night. The Nolan Sisters were very much part of that scene.

This is a poignant, uplifting and at times very sad “ramble” (as Linda describes it herself) through Linda Nolan’s life. And a life well lived to date, through trauma, recurring illness, bankruptcy and more. You will take your hat off to “Lucky Linda’s” stoicism!

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Chatting on the phone to Linda recently….

We set the scene for our chat over the phone. She is currently living with her sister Denise, in Blackpool, since she fell and fractured her hip, the crack exposing cancerous cells which are still present today, contained but lurking like a ticking time bomb. She is talking to us from the lounge where she is sipping from a warming cuppa, a log fire and outside there is a sprinkling of snow (courtesy the “Beast from the East” which descended on Britain in the last days of February 2018).

The members of her family have all been asked to write a book over the years and with her illness diagnosed in early 2017, she feels it is now time to share her story. “It feels right”, she says. And she has the full support of her family, including her Mother’s sister who, at age 83, is the Matriarch of the family.

In the early days the girls travelled a lot. When they went to South Africa, they were away for six weeks, staying in Johannesburg and Durban each for 2 weeks and a further two weeks on the road. She, Bernie and Coleen had tutors, as they were still young, but she is quite clear that little work was actually done!

They travelled to Japan in the early 1980s when “I’m in the Mood for Dancing” topped the charts for several weeks (incidentally Wikipedia says this is how the song appeared in Japanese 「ダンシング・シスター」). It stayed at no. 1 for several weeks, a rarity for an English language song at the time, and at one point they were even more popular than the Beatles. Their concerts sold out within 2 hours of tickets being released and sold 8.2 millions records in 2 years. They toured for 6 weeks travelling from Tokyo, Kyoto, to Kobe, Nagoya and beyond.

In more recent times, Linda has been on holiday, and would invariably choose a pool-side vacation. Her sister Maureen has a house in Almeria and she fully intends to go there for some sun when she can. The family loves the sunny skies in Florida, so that would entice her to visit as soon as she is physically able. On holiday she would get up fairly early, relax by the pool, return indoors for the hot part of the day and be in bed relatively early. That is quite a change from the early days when they partied through the night!

Since her diagnosis, Linda has learned to appreciate every day as it comes. Her prognosis is good, she has a CT scan every three months, but the illness does rule her life, she says. From 2007 she felt that life just “kept piling it on” when she lost her wonderful husband, her mother and father, all in quick succession and thereafter went into a massive spiral of depression.

Reflecting on her life she feels a real sense of “wow, that this has been a pretty great life so far”. The writing of the memoir, with professional help of course, has been a cathartic experience.

Big Brother is something she would happily do again, she says. It is after all a job for which the residents are paid. She even refers to herself as a reality TV junkie and that in her words “she loved it“. There was a period of a couple of days when there were only chickpeas (an acquired taste!) in various forms to eat, or gruel (concocted for lack of taste, but with all the essential nutrients put together by a nutritionist). As a BB team they were terrible at winning the more interesting food!

And finally she hopes that people will read her memoir and, that “Silly Aunty Linda” (as her nieces and nephews call her) will come across as a nice person through her writing. And indeed she does. It was lovely talking to her and we keep fingers crossed that she continues to enjoy good health. And it’s been lovely to see some of the photos from the family album, which we have shared here….

Linda came off Twitter and Social Media after Big Brother 

From My Heart (Macmillan) by Linda Nolan is out now in hardback for £18.99. You can purchase a copy through the TripFiction database from your preferred book supplier

 

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