THE BEGINNING

t’s been two months since the death of Amy Winehouse – an event made all the more salacious and tragic due to the singers young age and plain tragic because she was clearly a good person.

Illustration by pierrepaulpariseau.com

Illustration by pierrepaulpariseau.com

AUSTIN LAIKE’S NEIGHBOURHOOD HAS BEEN OVERRUN BY TOURISTS OF THE MACABRE

It’s been two months since the death of Amy Winehouse – an event made all the more salacious and tragic due to the singers young age, and plain tragic because, beneath the beehive and bedlam, she was clearly a good person.

You can see Amy’s house from my flat, if you crane your neck. And without moving a muscle you can see those mourning her death. Two months later and still they come, everyday, although most of them don’t act like your typical mourner.

Amy Winehouse’s house-as-a-tourist-trap began the very day her body was found, on 23 July 2011. The road was cornered off by police tape and news vans arrived and extended their satellite dishes beside a large crowd of locals craning like me. It wasn’t widely known that Amy lived at 30 Camden Square, and suddenly her death in the property was international news – the reaction was hardly surprising. Amongst the media hubbub there remained a definite air of sadness though, and that continues, for some visitors, to this day. But it didn’t take long for morbid curiosity and ‘I was there!’ bravado to take over.

On the evening of July 23rd I returned home at midnight to find that the street was slightly less cornered off and that candles had been lit and vigils left in Amy’s honour. There were still plenty of people there, respectively silent, staring at the house. There were also people smiling and posing for pictures in front of the tributes and property, though, as if they were about to get on the London Eye for the first time. The following day a rather opportunistic ice-cream van turned up, and as that first week stretched on, Amy Winehouse’s house was never short of people outside with their thumbs up for the iPhone, even at 4am.

Since, those travelling to London NW1 to pay their respects to the memory of Amy Winehouse have looked more and more bored once they get here. They sit on the facing curb with a look of can-we-go-now? on their faces, or peer over the tall black gates only to look disappointed that there’s not much going on at all. Plenty still bring flowers (even though the council have now erected a note saying that tributes will be cleared daily), and plenty feel compelled to come and say goodbye to a great talent. But so many others come to say they saw it, like Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise.

Not every young death receives this kind of prolonged hysteria, and it’s a testament to Winehouse’s legacy that so many still trundle up to Camden Square. Mostly, though, it’s a testament to how obsessed we continue to be with dead pop stars. Far more than ones that are alive.

By Austin Laike

Originally published in issue 31 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. September 2011.

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