Remembering the girl in the vest, cut off jeans and ballet shoes who was more than a bit tasty at pool. Saying goodbye to Amy Winehouse.
By 2005 Britpop had very definitively left the building, even the Japanese kids who had arrived in search of Graham and Liam and Jarvis, had accepted that they had long since swilled off their last pint and found something more fulfilling.
The building, mentioned above, was The Good Mixer, Camden Town, London. The boozer, turned cultural epicentre turned boozer again, of Cool Brittania. The ‘A‘n’R’ men, with their record company advances and blizzard of Cocaine snorted, had finally admitted that they actually wanted to kill their friends and staggered off home. It was, once again, just a shitey little boozer with toilets that stunk of piss and puke and the over-worked plectrums of every indie kid that stepped off the northern line and into the promise of potential stardom.
They left behind, in their quest for what they thought the kids wanted, a decent juke box, a couple of pool tables, and one of the most talented songwriters and voices of the century…
In Camden Town, the community in which she had grown up, Amy Winehouse had her own style, but she looked no more remarkable than anyone around her. She melded in perfectly with the winkle-pickers and piercings and Mohican haircuts and tattoos. She was, for many years, just another local, another character. Yep, she’d had an album out, but so had Idlewild and Gene and The Bluetones and everyone else who’d flogged their wares before her. In reality her songs were considered a bit too ‘Jazz-Pop’ to be taken seriously by many, at the time. She was treated just like everyone else. Luckily she never wished to be treated like anyone else. She appeared not to care, about anything. Good girl.
In the community in which she had grown up, Amy Winehouse had her own style, but she looked no more remarkable than anyone around her. She was, for many years, just another local.
In the summer of 2006, after the release of that first album, she’d often proudly hold court in ‘The Mixer’ for a whole afternoon, wearing just a vest, cut off jeans and ballet slippers, having dumped her handbag, which sometimes looked like it weighed more than her, at the nearest table. She’d then cockily spank everyone in there at pool. While trouncing you she’d gladly brag about the acquisition of a massive bump on her forehead, or some other injury, the product of a mammoth bender which involved drinking the whole top row of optics, and bus-loads of nose-up, a fight, and a visit to the hospital, the night before. It was not an uncommon story at the time, nobody present thought twice about it. She was simply ‘That Amy bird with that album out’ who was a bit too good at pool. Yep, she overdid it now and then, but who didn’t?
Then her second, and brilliant, album took off. ‘Amy the pool hustler from the Mixer’ was on the telly a lot more. Then more. Then even more. Then ridiculous! 25 million album sales type of ridiculous! Now and then there was talk of fleeting visits, that she’d been down the pub for a bender, (still in slippers, vest and shorts, but with a minder for the handbag) for a game of pool. She’d said hello to, and played (and beaten) the same people. The tabloid stories of deep troubles were un-avoidable and evidently true.
Camden wouldn’t see her for months at a time, other than in the news. By now we, and the whole world, hoped she’d come through. Earlier this year there were whispers that she was a full-time local girl once again. She’d bought a big house in Camden Square and been in The Mixer. Then we saw her stomping down The Parkway. Bring on the new album!
Then one night, while sitting in the closest boozer to Amy’s last home, I had a shocking text message from a mate who lives close to Amy’s new home, just a few hundred yards away. Surely it was just another daft rumour?
The girl who could knock out a cracking tune, and seven ball finish, was gone. A sad loss.
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