'Alex Higgins is my father and I love him’
In a rare interview, which first appeared ahead of an RTE television documentary about her father, Lauren Higgins tells of growing up in the shadow of the ‘People’s Champion’
“The way my mum looks at it is this: my parents have two children together, me and Jordan. Obviously mum was attracted to dad. They got on. For seven years there weren’t any children keeping them together.
“He was a character and I think my mum gets upset about how he is now.”
Did her mum ever remarry? “No. I think dad put her off!”
He was the ‘People’s Champion’ and Lauren Higgins is in Dublin to talk about her famous father, who is the subject of Kevin Burns’ documentary in the RTE True Lives series.
Lauren was the most famous baby in the world when Alex insisted on having her in his arms to celebrate regaining his world snooker title in 1982. The marriage went downhill soon after and Lauren, now 25 and working in the legal department of an insurance company in Manchester, and Jordan (22), a fitness instructor, still live with their mother.
“Jordan is very good at sports. He goes to the snooker club.
“He looks like my dad, has all the expressions — he’s like a younger version,” she says. As Lauren was growing up, Alex was one of the most famous faces in these islands. And not always for the best reasons. Sometimes it was the snooker wins; sometimes it was the tabloids.
It may not all have been true but, with Alex, plenty of it was. Headbutting a snooker official. Jumping out of windows. Getting stabbed by a woman friend. Alex was a tabloid godsend.
“Any child who has a father that is famous knows that you do get stick at school. But when he has been drunk and it is in the papers, children can be cruel. I remember going to a birthday party and everyone asking for autographs and when you are little you don’t understand. When I was a teenager I remember watching TV thinking, ‘please don’t show me up. Please don’t embarrass me’.”
There were children of other famous people in Lauren’s school in Manchester. Some had fathers on the United team. Others were on Coronation Street. But Alex’s fame eclipsed them all. And as such an individual character he was an obvious target for the TV impressionists. “I used to hate Bobby Davro. He used to do the sniffing. We all know my dad does that. He’s my dad and at the end of the day I love him.”
Love him, yes, but there were times it was better if people did not know who she was.
“When I was at university there was a girl who was from Belfast and she said: ‘Lauren Higgins? Alex Higgins’ daughter is called Lauren’. I just said: ‘Is she?’ I just don’t tell anybody I am his daughter.”
For a time Lauren was angry with him: “He is off in his own world. Then ... I realised that is the way he is.”
Now she is immensely proud of her father and believes that if it wasn’t for alcohol, he would still be a force in world snooker.
“I’m not saying that my dad is an angel, but he was the People’s Champion. He should be celebrated for what he did. He came from nowhere — then he has a Rolls Royce ... and he couldn’t drive.”
This article first appeared in the Sunday Independent in 2005