amy winehouse

The Winehouse Years

winehouse

We moved into a flat in Camden, London in February 2007. The springtime arrived as I walked the canals. Tried to make me go to rehab I said no, no, no was the soundtrack not just to our lives but everyone’s. As the tendrils of blossom in the air led to open windows and summer started to take hold, you heard it everywhere. From cars, in department stores, late at night in Woodys kebab. Her voice, her pain, her darkness. The poetry in those words seemed to echo my own scribbles from an earlier time. Like everyone’s early-20s angst. She captured something. Meet you downstairs in the bar and hurt, your rolled up sleeves in your skull t-shirt…

We hit the pub. We hit the pub, we hit the pub. When we didn’t go to the pub, we drank at home. You could buy a bottle of O Gallo wine for less than a fiver. I sometimes felt embarrassed how many we bought and how often we’d be over there in the dusty corner store. Camden in the mid noughties. And I worked in Primrose Hill. Worst fulltime job of my life. But it was living like a rockstar goth. My boss was from Gang of Four and I’d see Liam Gallagher in the local pub. Actually you heard him before you saw him. No one else talked quite like that, that accent, in London. Ran into Led Zeppelin in the local off-licence. Slim and still got the hair. What a fox. Whispering excited at spying Grohl in TopMan, racing home to match his tattoos online.

We were all chucking it down every night. And I’d tread a troubled track… so many times I’d walk home with a skinful, mournful but delighted. My music, the sky and me. We drank all the time. On the weekends. Hanging out in the horrible toilets at Big Red and dancing to 20s swing with trannies. Oh, what a mess we made. And now the final frame…

We saw her once in the Hawley Arms. The tottering beehive, black-crayon eyes. She was so tiny and she held us all in her throat with those songs. Her carcrash life. It’s never safe for us. Not even in the evening, because I’hhvve been drinking…

Daydrinking in the beergarden of The Lock Tavern, where you’d ascend a teetering outdoor fire-escape staircase to reach the ladies’ loo. Look out from three-stories high over Camden and London and the pink sky and feel like you could die with the beauty of the world and a table full of friends and being in your 20s and so much wine and it’s Sunday tomorrow. A whole day for recovery. The poignancy of those moments when everything was. Just. Right. I will not forget. I would not change a thing. She walks away, the sun goes down, she takes the day, but I’m grown…

Vale Amy the artist on International Womens’ Day, soundtrack to some of my best-worst years x

Pic: https://www.undergroundarts.org/event/1542691-back-black-philly-tribute-philadelphia/

Some context: I quit drinking in January, so I’ve been thinking and blogging a bit about this stuff. It’s a fascinating journey, life. Thanks for indulging me. 

The Unicorn and The Lion

Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom / wikicommons

 

When I moved to London town

I saw unicorns all around

Trotting, prancing, showing off

Their silky manes, both street and posh

Amy Winehouse with her hive-horn

Too quickly turned to crown of thorn

The gorgeous, lovely and the torn

Who’d bring it on the Tube each morn

And outside London, thought I found

Unicorn habitat all around

The ancient magick of the land

Emerald glades and pebbley sand…

I didn’t spot the British Lions

Sitting noble at their pints

Wanting to protect their pride

Gath’ring power, biding time

Shaking out their mangy fur

Memories of what they were

So golden, graceful, deadly, sleek

King of the jungle is not meek!

Claws were sharpened, teeth bared

Lies were told, tempers flared

Fighting, snarls, self-righteous rage

Ugly beasts who won’t be caged

Cruel attacks from either side

Barbs that puncture both their hides

Boris, Farage, Cameron: cowards

Rich men turning lion’s gold sour

And finally the ivory spike

Overcome by fear and might

A heavy blow, ruthless, loud

And unicorn lies in a shroud –

A silly, worthless mythic creature

Dreams slashed of charm’ed future

Now I hear the lions roar

And nothing will be as before