"I was not really into that peace and love and brown rice thing.
You can imagine them back stage on the Tour From Hell kicking seven bells out of each other's shins and being funny about it with the next breath, as if the recognition of pain were a concession to a higher failing. Early life was spent on a north London council estate in the teeth of post-war austerity.
"My father was a bit of a dilletante: he bought and sold TVs and cars and had a TV repair shop – always losing every penny he ever had. You'd be watching the only TV in the road and it would be carried out the front door as you watched it, by the repossession men.
My mother was very traumatised..." Eventually the family moved to Mère Pettifer's home town, Glasgow. The former Linda Pettifer-Peters-Thompson is now Linda Kenis, married to the former head of the European wing of the William Morris Agency. And I married my present husband five minutes after my divorce from Richard.
After renouncing the life of the voice in the late 1980s,and buying and selling jewellery for a posh Bond Street dealership, she has made a second vocal comeback in the new millennium. It's good for your health, having a base, especially for an emotional yo-yo like me. Really beautiful people never enter talent contests. Really emancipated women never bother with agitating about it – they just go about their emancipated way." * 'Versatile Heart' is released by Rounder records tomorrow.
And irate punters knocking on the door after buying a car: 'There's no third gear!
' You'd think it would be traumatising but I actually found it funny. I was actually married for about five minutes when I was 16, Gretna Green and all.
Linda Thompson is walking to school for the very first time in Finsbury Park. The tour – it became fondly known as "The Tour From Hell" – achieved cult notoriety for its singular mixture of brilliant music and on-stage contumely.
Back-stage fittings, Richard's shins, many, many bottles of whatever came to hand – they all took a battering in the gale of Linda's distress. By then, she had already been struggling for nearly a decade with the effects of Spasmodic Dysphonia – a neurological throat condition which periodically robs her of her voice – and with the consequences of trying to be a good Sufi Muslim wife.
"There has been speculation through the years that Elvis has his eyes done or some other mystery procedure," she writes, "but that mini facelift was the extent of his plastic surgery." The two split just eight months before his death.
She then moved on with Caitlyn Jenner, who was living as Bruce Jenner at the time they met.
Linda and Richard Thompson's marriage was fiery – so much so that Nick Hornby began a script about the legendary folk rockers. This seminal episode has stayed with her ever since. Perhaps it tells her that, almost from the beginning, she has known she is always game for a mugging? "I've never thought of that before." She isn't a mug at all, and never has been. You can tell that just from listening to her new album, Versatile Heart, which is the best work she's done in more than 30 years: a sad, funny, wise, wounded but redoubtable record of a lifetime's-worth of seeing things for what they really are; or at least trying to.